If you remember from one of my previous posts, Adventure is just bad planning, I figured that bad planning was what made a big adventure. I found out what else makes for a good adventure: ignorance, confidence, and brute force.
I left Boston Bar around 8:30. From there it was about 60 km to Gillis Lake, what should have been about an hour or so. I’ve done the route a few times before, like I’ve mentioned, so I turned up my mental radio, cranked the hooliganism, and brapped along like the seasoned Dakar rider I imagine myself to be.
I really like night riding. Kyle and I did this route in the dark a few years ago with me riding my old bike with poor lighting and it was still a great time. This time around with twelve Cree LED’s to supplement my stock headlight I was unstoppable. The cool thing about night riding is that the most dangerous hazards on the road are mitigated, logging trucks and other drivers. They are either at home sleeping or they also have their big lights on meaning we can see each other from around corners fairly easily. The other awesome thing about night riding is that it allows you to see the topography of the road better. Obstacles, big and small, will cast shadows allowing you to quickly and easily judge the severity of a obstacle based on the size of the shadow it throws. In the sunlight, everything tends to blend in making it hard to judge hole or bump size.
Something about night riding and being a hooligan is that as soon as you pick up the front end of the bike, you go blind. Correction, you can see the tree tops and the roads corridor, but not the road itself. Its frightening as hell the first, second and third time you do it, but after that you know what you’re getting into and start doing it just for shits and giggles to keep you awake and on your toes. An old Baja 500 veteran when asked how he combats fatigue and drowsiness while he’s racing said “Drive faster. Drive faster than you ever have before and be scared. You can’t fall asleep if you’re afraid for your life.”
Around the 18 km mark (featured image) on the Uztlius (pronounced Useless) FSR I stopped for a water break and to grab a couple photos. When I stopped here I almost dropped my bike. About three of the rocks around me jumped out of the way and startled the shit out of me.
These green bastards almost made me drop my bike for the first time! Why the hell they were sitting in the middle of the road is beyond me, it seems like a rather miserable place to be for a slimy hopper. Anyway being the kind character I am, I took it upon myself to heard them off the road and into the ditches. I can see it now, Mark Preddy, professional Frog Herder. Toad Wrangler perhaps, I don’t my know mammalia very well..
So after saving Kermit and Mr. Toad, I fired up my noise maker and carried on my merry way. Around the 35 km mark I reached a T in the road. I remembered that there were two major T’s that I have to pass to get to Gillis, right at the first, left at the second. Dewdney FSR goes right and Dean Fire FSR goes left. I didn’t remember which is the right name, but lets go right. Thanks memory. I went about two or three km along Dewdney. Shit. I didn’t recognize anything… (maybe that’s because its dark you knob)
I turned around and went up Dean Fire. Cue ignorance and confidence. I carried on that way for too long. About 10-20 km up Dean Fire I knew I had messed up, I should have been at Gillis by now and absolutely nothing is familiar. I admitted defeat and opened up my GPS.
My GPS system is a Nexus 7 tablet with the BackCountry Navigator app in a water proof case known as a Ziploc bag. The app depends on you pre-downloading maps so you can use it in an offline environment. You know like at 10 PM in the middle of the woods, in the pitch black, and in the rain. Did I mention it started to rain? Well it had, not much but enough to slightly, dampen, my spirits.. Sorry. Anyway for some reason the maps I downloaded weren’t showing up. Shit. I could still sort of see where I was when I zoomed way out from a previously cached overview map I had. I ended up having to use this in conjunction with a PDF version of a Backroads Mapbook
I realized that I was way off course but my latitude is approximately correct. I saw that there were some little spur roads that looked like I could make it through to the road Gillis is on, Murray Lake FSR. Cue brute force.
Damn it. I had put on about 25 km trying to follow little spur roads to the main road. The GPS does an automatic rotate that makes it hard to follow where exactly you are because your frame of reference is always changing. (I’m used to using paper maps) I was good and properly turned around and found myself at the end of a power line trail with no turn around and steep drop offs on either side. I dropped the bike for the first time trying to turn around here. Following some obscenities, arm flailing, and general brush and undergrowth vandalism I got the bike turned around and out of there. Remember when I mentioned it had started to rain, but not much? Well Mother Nature apparently had enough of me that night with my obscenities, arm flailing, and general brush and undergrowth vandalism so she opened the heavens and started trying to drown me. It was about 11:30 at this point.
I decided that Dean Fire is what screwed me over. I tried following my tracks back to the T but they are mostly washed away by this point. My goggles were all fogged up so I was stuck with just my glasses which don’t protect my face from the rain, which really hurts by the way. I had to do a bunch of extra back tracking and GPSing to eventually found my way back to Dewdney but I prevailed and found my way to Murray Lake FSR. This time I knew which way I was going. Left. Everything was familiar for a change!
It was about 12:30 when I finally rolled into Gillis. Only took 3 hours and 80 km extra than “planned”. The main campground was full and everyone was asleep. Sorry for waking everybody up. I went to the upper campground on the other side of the lake and there was a raging bonfire with a bunch of people partying around it! I pulled up, jumped off the bike, and ripped off my helmet as I walked over to their bonfire. Screw social niceties, I was freezing and needed this fire.
Turns out it was a stag party for some dude named Jay! They were all from Surrey and once they heard I was from Langley and that I road up from Langley on the back roads, I was adopted into the party. Beers were had, I met a guy named Steve, and got to eat some tortilla chips. I have no idea what happened to Jay, never met him. He must have partied to hard and passed out early.
I went back to my bike to setup my tent after promising to return shortly. I didn’t make it it back. I made the mistake of stretching out in my sleeping bag for a few moments as soon as I got into dry clothes and fell fast asleep.