Thursday, 9 July 2015

You can't get there from here

Aleza Lake area, British Columbia. Eaglet Lake is on the far left (click the image to enlarge, the link to explore)

A little more than 100 people live in the area shown on this Google Earth image. On the 23rd of this month, my friend Monte, myself and my coydog Tristan will be setting out on a 1,400+ kilometer road trip there and (hopefully) back. The goal of our expedition will be to reach Monte's quarter section (160 acres). You can see an implied cleared rectangle of land west of Hansard Lake and north of Aleza Lake. That is a section, and Monte owns the top left hand quarter.

A couple of years ago, we tried to get in on foot, going between Aleza Lake and the small nameless lake to the left. We ended up at impenetrable marshes and had to turn back. There used to be a bridge across the creek that feeds into Hansard Lake From Aleza Lake, but it is no longer in any condition to cross. The land to the west is owned by a rancher with the improbable name of Lloyd George. While he cannot grant Monte permanent access, he can reach Monte's land across his and has let his cattle graze there, and has agreed to take us in on that route the next time we are there. We are going to try and find our own route through Crown land.

We will first drive (4WD) up Camp 27 Road, which you can see snaking up to the left and then to the right from the Upper Fraser Road to the east of Eaglet Lake. We will then take the fork to the right at the point where Camp 27 Road starts to head to the left. From there, we will the go north east past the approximate 50 acre rough square of cleared land and then downward to the quarter section bordering Monte's land to the east. Monte recalls that land is owned by someone in Calfornia, but providing there are no "private property" notices, we can legally cross it. We might have to find a route through Crown land directly to Monte's quarter section. The map is deceptive: it shows Monte's land as freshly cleared which make the aerial photograph about fourteen years old. The forest can change dramatically in that time. From photographs taken recently from a small plane, Monte's land is now mostly meadow dotted with a few trees. Lloyd George told us that the beavers have moved in on the main creek that meanders through Monte's land. This should be good and hopefully what was a marsh surrounded creek is now a series of beaver ponds created by their damming the creek.

My InReach Explorer will be taking GPS readings every ten minutes and sending emails with a short message and the map coordinations by email via satellites to our friends and families back home. If a tragedy strikes and we are too injured to walk out and the 4WD has failed us, an emergency beacon will be activated and a helicopter will be dispatched to rescue us. I will have Google Earth on my tablet (there is no cell-phone reception there), other maps, a compass, bear spray, hand flares, Bowie knives, machetes, a chain saw, gold pan, camping gear etc. I will also be taking a tiny "ghetto-blaster" with Bluetooth which can play tunes from my tablet. I am thinking that another bear deterrent will be some loudly played songs from Einstűrzende Neubauten:

I am hoping the bears will think we brought a small army with us. Another gadget we are bringing is a radio-controlled drone quadcopter with a video camera attached. It can fly more than 150 feet up and get video footage of what it sees. Monte is also bring his video camera to document the trip. I think it unlikely that there will be much of a problem from forest fires as that area is much damper than a lot of British Columbia, but there is a still a province-wide ban on even campfires in a campground (there are no campgrounds, motels, gas stations or shops in the area shown on the map). We will be camping some kilometers to the east, at Amanita Lake (don't eat the mushrooms) not far from McGregor river (I must get a jet boat one day):

See how desolate this area is?

Even before we reach the general area , we will be taking another risk: driving to the upper Fraser from the Yellowhead Highway via the Bowron Forest Service Road. It will save us an hour and a hundred kilometers. That road has potholes, an "iffy" old wooden bridge and it sometimes gets washed out. A similar road not far away is this one that someone risked exploring on a motorbike:

This is exactly what we will be facing (another road off Eaglet Lake through the forest). You can see how the forest reclaims the roads that people make through it (for logging, gold mining and hunting):

When the man on the video says "This would be even hard to walk", he is telling the truth. Monte and I walked along an overgrown ATV trail there in 2013, but it ended in marsh. A bear growled at us from its day bed in the forest close to us, but it (thankfully) did not make itself visible to us (grizzlies will often charge if surprised thus).

Finally, this is Amanita Lake where we will camp at least one night:

Wish us luck!


  1. Hi John:

    Good luck mate and have a great time, and maybe, catch a few trout?


    John Howland

  2. Hi John,

    I was just "Windows" shopping for fishing tackle before I saw your message. From what I read, Amanita Lake used to be stocked with rainbow trout, but they have stopped doing that because the trout would slowly die there unless someone mercifully caught them for breakfast. Eaglet Lake should be much better and unless Amanita Lake is so much fun we do not want to leave it, we might also camp at Eaglet as we did two years ago. I'm bringing water purification tablets, btw. There are white sturgeon in the area, but it is illegal to fish for them. Too bad, Canadian (farmed) white sturgeon caviar can sell for $100 an ounce here,



  3. Please, take John Howland with you.