Was it only 8 days ago that we left Wells? So much has happened, and we’ve come so far, so slowly. We’re in Lytton, in the cute and cozy Totem Motel, while outside the tailwinds are howling, the sun is shining, and the cycling gods are calling. But more about that later.
We left Wells with a small posse in a bit of a rain storm. So typical! That’s why we are heading south, isn’t it, to find some better April weather. We know it’s out there somewhere. (And it’s true, we’ve found it. For the time being). Our first two nights were spent in the company of friends – great food and warm cozy beds. This was part of our plan to ease gently into this trip, not having done any extended hard-core activity for a while. However, we clocked 96 km on our second day, so we hardly eased into it, after all!
Our first evening of camping at the forestry rec site at MacIntyre Lake was less than stellar – we cooked and ate dinner between bouts of hail and rain, and we had our first tick encounter. Just how do those little buggers get around so quickly, anyway? We woke to the quiet sound of snow falling on the tent. Luckily, we had a short day’s ride down into Farwell Canyon, and the sun was shining and the wind was blowing to dry everything out by the time we got there.
Our next day was a big one – climbing out of the canyon seemed pretty easy, really, even in the light drizzle. The smell of the damp sage brush and the fresh cottonwood leaves were so powerful in the air, I’m sure that is what propelled me up the hills. The next 4 or 5 hours, however, were a relentless slog up and up and up, through boring high plateau forestry cut-blocks. The thrill of the afternoon was having Tim pull a tick out of my neck while a big flat-deck truck came barreling towards us. I was mere moments past my anxiety attack when the trucker pulled up beside us to ask if we were lost. Things finally started to look up when we turned onto the Gang Ranch Road to start the looong descent back down to the Fraser River. We went down 930m in 20km, through the Gang Ranch, a huge and stunningly scenic piece of land. It was a very chilly descent, and I was a tired and stiff ice cube by the time we got to our camp at Churn Creek – we had been in the saddle more than 7 hours to go a mere 77km!
In the morning, we crossed to the east side of the Fraser River on the Gang Ranch Bridge, climbed up out of the valley bottom, and went south along one of the most beautiful bits of road I have ever seen. The road turned east eventually, and we climbed up into the Canoe Creek valley – also stunning! I have never seen so much ranch land in my life, and here it is, right on my doorstep. We spent that evening camped high in a secluded spot near Jesmond – we were trying to hide from the rather inebriated locals who were trying to get us to throw our bikes into the back of their sheep-shit-laden pick-up truck and come to a party with them! Needless to say, we weren’t inclined to party, but we really enjoyed the ice-cold beer they gave us out of the cooler conveniently located just behind the passenger seat in their truck.
By this time our bottoms and legs were both a bit weary, so we opted for a short day. We spent a delightful afternoon and evening at a closed provincial park at Kelly Lake. It felt like being at a resort – we had a shelter, a dock, clean water, grass to put the tent on, an outhouse WITH paper, sunshine, more picnic tables than we could use, and rubbish bins – all to ourselves. Perfect for resting up for the next day’s adventure. The only thing missing was a store selling ice cream, chips, and beer.
Our next task was to climb a steep but short pass to get over the hills to Pavilion, and from there to Lillooet (the first town big enough to have a store since leaving Quesnel). There was about 1.8km of snow and ice in the pass that we had to push our bikes through – a challenge, but still fun. Once over the pass, we were elated to come out of the high ranch country and down once more into the valley bottom. This time, we had more reason to be excited – we could have a beer! And a shower! And wash our clothes! We were proud of ourselves to have made it this far, starting from home carrying all the food and gear we needed for a difficult week. And then this: we were stopped by a man in the Fountain Indian Reserve who rushed back to his house especially to get us a piece of dried salmon – more reason to be happy to be back in civilization!
Once we were washed and laundered and fed (twice) and beered and moteled in Lillooet, the necessity of taking a day off seemed to fade from our minds, so yesterday we were on our bikes again heading for Lytton. Again we were following the Fraser River, and again, the terrain was stunning. Unfortunately, nothing was stopping the little bugs that were multiplying like crazy in Tim’s belly – we made it to within 15km of Lytton and then Tim could go no further. We hitchhiked the rest of the way, and NOW we are taking a day off. Tim is starting to feel a bit better this afternoon, after having strained the plumbing works of this old motel for the past 18 hours or so.