Ghost towns during a pandemic

jeckyll

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Like everyone around the planet, my plans for this year have changed. Which is quite something when you let that sink in.

After last years trip to 'The North' my original plan was to spoon on a more road oriented tire and hit up some of the most twistie and fun roads to that little country to our south. But, with the borders closed my plans have shifted.
So this year I'm going to spend time in British Columbia, exploring Ghost Towns, which is something that I've enjoyed on the Super T ever since first picking it up. In fact, the first trip I took was to Bodie, in the eastern Sierras.

My contract ended on Monday and by Wednesday I was on the road, heading just a bit North for a bit of camping, and weather permitting, some exploring. Of course, the weather forecast was wrong and I pulled over (not quite soon enough) to through on some rain gear.





Not a huge deal, I finally got out of the rain gear north of Whistler. Michelle was camping at a friends property with a friend of hers and I joined them.
Which meant we ate well :D


The a small creek flows right past the property


And the next morning it was indeed sunny, but as sometimes happens, I hadn't sleep very well and wasn't sure how far I wanted to push. So I let things warm up and eventually headed out to see if all the "please don't stop in our community" signs were still up as I headed further East and if they were, there I'd stick to the main highway and just to a pass over Duffy Lake.

Sure enough, rolling into Lillooet the signs were all still up, the parks were closed and I turned around to do Duffy Lake road again (it's a great twisty and generally lonely, read: not heavily policed, road, so not a hardship ;) ).

History of course is everywhere, so I stopped to take some of it in:


I guess it's down there somewhere?


My goal for this ride report is to try and link to some of the actual history when possible:

At the lake:


I glassed some of the avalanche shoots but it was a bit far away for the small 8 power binoculars I had on me. Didn't spot any bears.


Glamour shot


That evening we kicked back, watched the hummingbirds and squirrels and drank one or two beer.


And when I got home, there was a new Tractionator GPS ready to go on for when I'd need it...


I was planning on heading further North this weekend, but the weather still doesn't look like it's going to play along, so the next destination is TBD.



 

jeckyll

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Well, there will be a small delay.

First, there is a bunch of flooding in the areas I was planning on heading.

Second, my 'remote base of operation' isn't available. My father lives 6 hours north of where I am, and I'd planned to explore a lot around there. However, his wife just had an accident with a horse and is now waiting for surgery for her broken ankle. The closest hospital where they do it is 3 hours from where they live, so I won't be staying there for a bit...

Hopefully, the weather will settle down and I can head in a different direction. :)
 

jeckyll

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Episode 2: Still close to home.

This morning I headed out for a trip to some local spots. The weather was still variable (much of BC is flooding right now) but there were things within reach.

First up, the Hope-Princeton slide. While it was warm when I left, by the time I got to the turnoff the temperature had dropped from 68 to 54 F (my bike is from the US originally and the temp doesn't switch to proper units when everything else does...).

Visibility was not great:


Basically the entire mountain came down, killing a number of folks:




Wet going up and down, but luckily it dried up on the way to the next stop


Link to information about the slide:


Kilby:


Not fully open, but a cool old spot I'd always wanted to stop at.




Kilby is the only thing that remains of Harrison Mills (beyond a pub that a lot of cruiser guys like to hang out at). But life used to be different around here :)

Some more photos (I couldn't walk around much) https://kilby.ca/photo-gallery/

I stopped by the river to have a snack and noticed that there was some carved wood, mostly burned. Not sure what the story was. River is very high down here.




Now refreshed ( and a bit warmer) I stopped at one more point by the river, the level is normally about 4 feet lower. Numerous parks were closed due to flooding...




Well, that was all for today. More soon, hopefully the weather improves a bit and I'll head further into BC :)

 

Cycledude

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We have also stopped at the rock slide site, it’s a very interesting story for sure. Thanks for posting the links.
 

jeckyll

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OK, the campground I want to head to is open and they have space, my gear is packed, the oil in the SuperT is changed and there are at least 7 different locations I'll want to check out. Everything from simple 'signs to remember' to standing towns. Should be 3 - 4 days on the road.

Having a coffee now and making last minute decisions on what gear to wear.
 

jeckyll

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Episode 3 - To the "Valley of the Ghosts"

After waiting for it to warm up a bit, I headed out shortly after 9 am to head East. Once again going past the Hope Princeton slide, this time in better weather, through Manning park and into Osoyoos where I finally stopped to take some layers off after climbing over 1500 meters in Manning (i.e. cold) and now dropping into one of the hottest places in BC. Some food was also in order.



Afterwards it was back into some higher elevations and across 'Boundary Country'

Image from "https://boundarybc.com/maps/"

One of my first planned stops was Anaconda, which has become part of Greenwood.

Even the signage is a bit rough:




Both the little 'stop of interest' and remaining large smokestack


Anaconda history:

I'd hoped to explore and get closer to the old smokestack and slack pile, but I'm out of practice for long days and decided not to spend too much time here. Onto Phoenix (BC that is).

Except that I must have missed the first turn off, and when I took the one marked for the Ski area adjacent, it was on a different part of the road. So I missed the single concrete marker that remains, a first world war memorial, but I did have a stunning view


Phoenix history:

No more stops after this, onto Nelson for gas and cold beer and then to Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground.

I wasted no time, found a level site and got set-up.


Gourmet dinner (bit shaky, I must have been hungry):


Last year I switched from the Coleman propane burner to this smaller one. It's heats only the center of the pot, so much more stirring is required, but the setup is significantly smaller.


Then it was off to meet some neighbours, drink some beer, at a socially responsible distance of course, and talk about motorcycles, the state of the world, new riders and pretty much everything else, with Jason from Alberta

I caught him mid 'thumbs up' and his arm is all blurry.

We didn't see eye-to-eye on some current topics, but had a great conversation and a good time :) Jason gets a new bike almost every year and this year he's touring on a very well setup Yamaha Tracer 900:

He used to be a Harley riding coach (I didn't even know such a thing existed).

Day one summary (excuse the obvious smudge on the lens ;) )


Tomorrow: The Valley of the Ghosts!
 

jeckyll

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Valley of the Ghosts

The plan was to stay at Toad Rock for at least a couple of nights. But, with people partying, then fighting, till 3 AM and me getting very little sleep as a result, that plan changed.

So instead of having no luggage on the bike I slowly started packing up. Making some breakfast and chatting with the neighbours, Rick and Wayne from Vancouver Island.



They're both out with the daughters who are 14 (admirable on both sides perhaps?) and doing day trips around the area.

Rick and I chatted for quite a while about riding, tires and the history of Vancouver Island (I'm reading a book right now to prep for my trip over there and he had some great local knowledge).

Eventually I got everything packed up and got going. The plan was ... well the plan was out the window, I was heading towards Sandon and then ... who knew. Highway 31A between Kaslo and New Denver is still one of the best highways in the province for spirtied fun riding and there wasn't much to see at Retallack, and Zincton, so I keep on scooting straight to Sandon

But for reference:


Sandon itself had 'the worst flooding since the big flood of 1955' according to their website and they were not open on Tuesday, but it was good to look around, see the old buildings and the strangely mis-matched trolleys :) The unfortunate part is that I had planned to ride up to Idaho peak, but the road had been washed out and was closed




Equipment is around in many places




And a few buildings have been kept up


The fact that they had some explanations of the equipment was great. Air powered locomotive!




I spent some time just bumming around, got my little camera out and played photographer


Breaking this up due to image limits ...
 

jeckyll

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Someone has a passion besides the local history ;)









Probably only meaningful for Vancouverites ... but that's OK





Reminds me of the early beetles





This is more like it!









The Super T doesn't quite measure up ... not far off in weight though ;)





The view from across the creek. Note the fresh dirt, they've been busy fixing the washouts





There was a picnic bench and I needed a shack. So I stopped for a bit.





This was very new, don't remember it from the last time I visited... then I realized that was over a decade ago. Time flies.





The creek was calm and pleasant today





At Sandon I'd asked one of the women about access to Cody. She solemnly explained that she went there the other day and her she was glad she had good ground clearance, and that on a bike it may not be a good idea, but I could hike in. She drove a CRV. I thanked her. And then said that since I had a 'go-anywhere' bike, I'd risk it, because, what's the point of having a go-anywhere bike if you don't go anywhere?!



The road had some bigger exposed rocks and the Super T was bloody top heavy, but it was fine. I didn't go all the way, but stopped at the first abandoned building. There is more further on, but I didn't want to pick up the bike :)



I'd reached Cody.












No drama on the way back out, except for some deer that were out in the middle of the day. And on one of the quicker gravel bits. No pictures, was busy avoiding the fawns :)



Continued...
 

jeckyll

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Now I had to decide where to go next.

But first, they are still mining in the hills, I stopped and took a quick photo from the road:



My original plan was to spend a couple of nights at the same campground and then to head back home, maybe with an additional stop, weather dependent. Now, I wasn't sure. But as long as I had water, I could make food and would be fine. So I headed west, towards the Needles Ferry, as some great roads were on the other side.

My back wasn't exactly cooperating and the ride out became a bit of a trial, with me moving and trying to make sure it didn't lock up completely.

Luckily I didn't have to wait long at the Ferry (it was getting quite warm)



Beautiful on the water


The ferry is cable operated, which is pretty neat



On the other side, I let everyone go, stopped at the rest area and had another granola bar. It was after 1 pm and I that was going to be my lunch.


I had enough water to get me through the next couple of hours. My plan was to let all the cars, bikes and trucks get well ahead of me and hopefully trigger any 'enforcement' that might be along the way. Which worked fine as I had nobody traveling in my direction for over 60 km. I had a wonderful run though some tight, banked corners and things were going well.

Except for some cows on the road, there was no drama, just amazing lonely roads that I had to myself. Closer to Lumby I did catch up to some traffic, but that was OK, I'd had a lot of fun.

But, being a bit low on both gas and energy, it was time to stop and refuel both the bike and the body. The temp was up in the 30's C (that's 90's F).


Coke, Twix and BCAA maps (that's AAA for those of you in the US). I was undecided where to go next. Some campgrounds were around, but I given the heat I didn't want to stop yet.

Outside of Lumby things got a bit pear shaped. Just seconds before I came around a turn a cruiser rider sideswiped a car and was laying on the pavement. People were running with first aid kits and I checked, they'd already called 911. I couldn't do much else, and rode on, waving at oncoming cars to slow down before they got to the scene. Luckily the rider was conscious and up on one elbow, but with the lack of gear his lower leg and foot didn't look good. Jeans, t-shirt and I didn't see any shoes, certainly none were on the foot I could see...

After that, I thought it maybe good to stop in Vernon or Kelowna, but when I got there it was even hotter and the hotels were that I passed had No Vacancy signs.

Further West, over the big climb of Hwy 97C (over 1600 meters) and then toward Merritt. It got bloody windy, so camping in the flats before dropping down to Merritt wasn't very appealing.

I pulled over to figure out what to do.


There were some camping and even wild camping spots close, but it was only 6:30 pm. I was about 3 hours from home... and a very comfortable bed. So I decided to push on, head south on one of BC's 'superhighways' meaning speed limits of 120 km/h and a good way to cover a bunch of distance quickly.

Pushed on, made good time (the Super T was in it's element, though my gas mileage dropped significantly ;) ).

Got home shortly after 9 pm. My "short 2nd day" turned into an 11 hour day, with over 9 hours actually on the bike.

But I had a good time :)

Final for day 2:


Over the last couple of days I've been reading up on the history of Vancouver Island abandoned settlements and mining camps, and may head that way next if I can figure out camping locations that aren't overflowing. :)
 

jeckyll

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Interlude: Some dualsporting on an adventure bike. I didn't get photos on the tougher parts, because I was busy keeping it upright ;)

Fun day riding with some folks from DualsportBC. I definitely got a workout riding with the smaller bikes. Makes me miss having something that's lighter and less work to wrestle around...

In the clouds


Rivercrossing






We were up in that cloud earlier ;)


Sunny on the other side of the valley


Detour on the way home


View through the trees


"Action" shots




Couple of more as we waited for the train. One of these bikes is slightly larger ... ;)




Great day for riding, good company!

Bjorn
 

jeckyll

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Another interlude: "Up Chipmunk Creek without at Paddle!"

This time with no SuperT content (I know, dramahhhhh! ) but hopefully still worth checking out.

After a fair bit of time, I got the KLR running again.

Took it out for a shakedown ride with Daniel (the guy with the FE550 above) and as it was a long weekend, we expected and saw a fair bit of traffic, though we got onto some more technical stuff, that wouldn't have been any real fun on the SuperT for me. A lot of deep drainage ditches, and rough stretches, which caused the Jeeps and 4x4s to crawl through (with at times only inches to spare front & rear to the bumpers).

We alternated the lead, and I didn't get any good photos of the difficult parts of the road, as that's where I was hanging on and riding hard :D

Starting the Ascent.


Panorama


Glam shot of the 550, you can see the road just drops away behind it.


Daniel looks like he's having a fun time ;)


At the top (well, as far as we can ride)


Hiking only from here


Daniel wanted a photo of the bike by the waterfall... and he decided to wash the right side of the bike setting up for the shot :D Short guy, tall bike problems when you're in a dip


The top lot was overflowing a people had to park along the road, it's actually a decent incline, but can't really tell the way I shot it


Road in the distance, this was the flat part at the top


Beautiful scenery, even with the clouds


Yup, KLR was the right choice for this, WR250R or 690 would have been even better ...


Good time!


One more look back



There will be more SuperT content, hopefully next week :D

 

jeckyll

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2 interludes and an actual 'ghost town' update coming up:

The last couple of weekends, I've been riding with Michelle (my significant other :) ) as she's wanted to get out and do more dirt on her DR200.

We rode the same road two weeks in a row to help her get more familiar and confident with riding on gravel. I'm still on the KLR though the last trip the rad leak came back and I need to pull it back apart.

Some photos:



Out to Chilliwack lake and more gravel to get to this viewpoint


I managed to get my thumb into the picture ;)


Weekend #2, a slightly more challenging climb to get to this lookout


Action shots:




It was at this point that I noticed my boot was wet and the KLR was busy 'marking it's territory'


Today I went out on the SuperT to make a quick stop at Cabela's and then to finally check "Old Clayburn" off the list of ghost towns.




It's too bad that the buildings are all gone, with the bricks re-used.

The old general store is in the background


Some information on Clayburn village:

Luckily a fun twisty road is just east of it and then I went exploring. Found some new gravel going up Sumas mountain. The beginning is pretty rough, with pot holes so large... well they wouldn't swallow a Super T, but they might swallow a DR200, we'll find out in the near future.

A fun ride up and I went till the road stopped.




Back at the viewpoint, I talked to some folks I'd passed. The helped a couple of girls who had some issues with the pot holes lower down, and apparently tore open the oil pan on their Civic. Not a road friendly to sedans :)


The view was excellent, you can tell how impressed I am.




I stopped at the lowest lot and managed to get another nice vista


Then it was back home. :)


 

jeckyll

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Episode 4: Onto some real ghost towns!

I finally started the trip North, towards two key spots, Barkerville and Quesnel Forks.

Both had been on my radar for a while, with a visit to Barkerville originally planned when I returned from the Arctic (https://www.yamahasupertenere.com/index.php?threads/glaciers-and-deserts-and-meeting-great-people.26881/)

However, as I was packing the bike a neighbour mentioned to me that they now required reservations for a visit. So... we'll we'd see.

I had time the first day, didn't need to rush as I knew where I was staying. Still, getting stuck on a shut down highway in the heat wasn't ideal.





It did give me the opportunity to remove some layers though.


BC's interior plateau is a big place (and one the camera didn't want to focus on)


I stayed with my dad and his wife, we had a fire and a few beer and then I watched the sunset.


Tomorrow it was time to go exploring and get to Quesnel Forks!
 

jeckyll

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Today was about exploring some potential hunting spots for the fall and getting to Quesnel Forks. I decided that reservations and having to leave all my gear unsecured and out of sight on the bike in Barkerville was not going to happen.

But first I had to break out the tools, as my battery was acting up. I had a spare at home but hadn't put it in before I left (long story). Always good to have proper tools, and a hand made custom tool roll (thanks MIchelle!)



Turns out both terminals weren't quite as tight as they could be. Things were better after I torqued them. Given that it was getting cold over night (down to 1.6 C) it's important to have cold cranking power :)

The first bit of gravel was more of a highway, though the logging trucks kept it interesting. Once it got very lonely I decided I'd gone far enough and turned back.


There were a lot of cranes around this year. Though I managed to focus on the foreground (need to put the glasses on, but it's tricky while photographing off a running bike :) ).


The sandhill cranes are in the green stuff ;)

I promise the rest of the photos will be in-focus!

So many lakes up here.




On this stretch of road there was a lot of bear activity. BIG piles :)

After a bit of highway, it was back onto a small dirt road to Quesnel Forks. Here is a panorama of the ghost town on the river.





More photos in the next post.
 

jeckyll

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Quesnel forks

The site is mostly restored though now gated as people were apparently camping in the site. So I left the bike and walked in (it wasn't far ;) )


I was by myself in this isolated location and it was amazing, beautiful day, nice breeze and comfortable temperature with the river going past. I took my time, read the info boards, had a snack and took photos









Not everything has been restored








The last occupied building on the site




One building even had a tub left


Finally someone showed up on a bicycle and I moved on. The graveyard is well maintained, but I'd re-mounted and didn't feel like walking among the headstones.

On the way back I stopped at ...




I always like it when the clouds line up for a photo :)


I scooted into town for some cell service, gas and beer (it was an enthusiastic run on the Super T) and decided to ride a road back that had recently been 'fixed'. I guess 'fixed' meant that the deep ruts in clay were filled with very loose gravel, so you couldn't see them anymore, but they still sucked the bike in. At one point it just about jerked the handlebars out of my hands.

Then I ran into a Bison!


He wasn't supposed to be there. I waited. Honked at him. He didn't care. And I didn't want to ride past and get charged. So, eventually I turned around and rode all the 'fixed' stuff again.

Continued due to picture limits :)
 

jeckyll

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After a tasty dinner, we had another fire and drank a few more beer.



The shadows got longer




The moon came out




And the sunset was even better than yesterday


The next day was all about getting home.

I rode hard for the first few hours, only stopping once gas became critical (and my bladder did as well). Stopped by a big lookout, but this time on the 'other' side of the highway


Then decided to go the scenic way home. Before Lillooet there was construction. I stopped beforehand and changed layers and took some photos. I edited these after, but it was a washed out day, so you're getting the originals, not digitally enhanced ;)







I love how the field just drops off into the river


One more stop after Duffy Lake.



Avoided the speed-tax collectors shortly after this (the guy who rode past me while I was parked here didn't). And then it was traffic and heat and rush hour all the way home.

Just over 1500 km in 3 days, with the middle day mostly offroad. Good trip, but I was bushed when I got home!
 
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