Alaska – On the Road

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Hatheume Lake off 97C BC Interior

Departure Day (D minus -2)

 

Ralph and Lois left the lake a week early to visit their children and grandchildren before our Alaska trip. After a few days we got an email from Ralph stating they would leave a day earlier, Monday instead of Tuesday as was the official departure date.

When I heard this I was jealous and so I set in motion our expedited preparations. I finished my chores and packing a couple of days ahead of schedule and then approached the management (Lynda) about my scheme to leave on Sunday. TWO days early. With raised eyebrows, she answered, “I’ll get back to you”.

It had been a busy summer at the lake, lots of company, community events and projects. I was feeling a need to be somewhere else, escape. My thought was Lynda and I could spend a day alone camping before we hooked up with the group for our Alaska tour.

Pennask Lake, a wilderness area a couple hour’s drive north of us was our destination. I heard of the area and the lake’s excellent fishing many times but had never taken the time to check it out.

Late Sunday morning we said our goodbyes to friends and neighbors and headed for Pennask. We drove highway 5A north to Aspen Grove and then east on highway 97C to Sunset Main road, a well-used resource gravel road. Forest Service roads in BC have recently changed to Resource Roads, my guess is to accommodate mining and logging.

I printed the directions to the lake from the BC Parks website. The directions read, drive xx kms, turn right, drive xx kms, turn left, not an exact science. It was guess work at best. We drove for hours; our 2 hr. trip turned into a 5 hr. dust gravel road tour. We didn’t find Pennask Lake and ended the day at Hatheume Lake after following signs to a resort that didn’t offer camping, only cabin rentals.

During our tour, it was necessary to turn around multiple times at dead ends or wrong roads. It was during the first turn around that I jackknifed the trailer and bent the wheel rims causing the trailer wheels to wobble.

Hatheume Lake is a pristine alpine lake probably not as large as Pennask I’m thinking but equally as picturesque I’m sure. We set camp, lit a fire, enjoyed wine, heated dinner over the campfire and enjoyed a peaceful evening. Only one other young couple with a tiny daughter occupied this Provincial Recreation Site.

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Hatheume Lake BC Provincial Rec. Site Lynda enjoying the campfire
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Hatheume Lake BC Provincial Rec. Site

BC offers many such free Rec. Sites usually on a lake in the forest. The amenities are few, picnic tables, pit toilets and fire rings. Hatheume Rec. Site is nicer than most, a peninsula  with all campsites next to the lake and a bonus of free firewood although a chainsaw is necessary to buck the logs.

Early to bed, Lynda and I were obviously tired from preparing for our trip. We enjoyed an eleven-hour sleep interrupted by rain showers on the camper roof. By morning the rain had quit and the sun was beginning to poke through the clouds.

The stuff inside our open utility trailer was covered in mud, the gravel road tour the day before and the overnight rain turned the dust inside the trailer to mud.

We left Hatheume around nine on departure day minus 1 (D-1), one day before our scheduled departure day. We retraced our route on highway 97C past Aspen Grove to Merritt.

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Old Farm House on Hwy 8 Merritt to Spenses Bridge BC
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Old Church in Spenses Bridge BC

Earlier in the week I contacted Ralph and Lois and agreed to meet Monday at Skihist Provincial Park in the Thompson River canyon. Henry and Allyson should leave home Monday as well with a stop in Merritt to visit Henry’s brother, then continue to our rendezvous in 100 Mile House Tuesday (departure day).

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Skihist Provincial Park is nestled in a grove of Ponderosa pine trees on the side of the Thompson River canyon. The region is in the rain shadow of the coast mountain range, a dry climate almost desert like. We arrived around noon after a stop for fuel and a wash to remove mud from the previous day in Merritt.

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Skihist Provincial Park our campsite Ralph & Lois’s 5th wheel behind.
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Lynda & Ralph enjoying the campfire Skihist BC Park

The campground was deserted except for the park operator. After a half kilometer climb into the park I pulled our truck, camper and utility trailer into the first spot. We had obviously beaten Ralph and Lois. We quickly set up camp which only involved checking the camper for level, dropping the stabilizing camper jacks and setting out the camp chairs.

Lynda made a sandwich for lunch and as we were finishing Ralph and Lois pulled up and parked in the next spot. We spent a great afternoon hiking down to the edge of the thousand-foot-deep breathtaking canyon to enjoy the view and take pictures. After the hike I lit a campfire, enjoying reacquainting with our good friends over wine and then supper of hot dogs and beans, a true camping meal. 

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Thompson River Canyon BC
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Thompson River Canyon BC

Departure Day – Hurray!!!

If you have read my previous article, “Our Alaskan Itinerary”, you would know our planned departure date was to be Tuesday, August 23. The plan was to meet at 100 Mile House, BC, a decent size logging and agricultural town about 4.5 hrs north of our home.

After more than 6 months since the idea was blurted out by Henry and Allyson we are finally on our way.

Ralph, Lois, Lynda and I left Skihist Provincial park with patchy blue skies and sunshine. Travel time this first day was to be about 2 hrs. The trip was uneventful except for waves from passing motorists pointing our my wobbling trailer wheels.

We stopped for lunch at a fruit and vegetable stand in Cache Creek and bought some perfect looking fruit and veggies. According to management, the prices were about the same as a grocery store but the quality and freshness didn’t compare. Southern BC is full of seasonal farmer’s markets featuring loads of organic produce.

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Fruit & produce stand just north of Cache Creek BC

We arrived in 100 Mile House early afternoon. As we entered the town and approached a red light a wave and a gesture from a trucker was the last straw, Lynda gave orders to have the wobbling rims replaced PDQ. Surprisingly the procedure was less painful than I envisioned and after an hour and $160. my trailer was sporting 2 new rims and one new tire, so I would have a spare. This was recommended by Ralph who accompanied me to the tire shop.

The plan was to spend the night at the Save-on-foods store parking lot as I had done on many occasions traveling through on the way to or from an interior fishing trip. I guess their policy had changed and a sign limiting parking to 3 hours was very visible. Fortunately, there was an empty gravel lot behind the Chevy dealer next to our original overnight spot.

Most everything seemed to be going according to plan until a phone call from Allyson explaining they would be delayed until after dinner. The air bags on the springs at the rear of their truck had collapsed and were not repairable. They estimated the repairs would be completed by the closing of business.

Henry and Allyson arrived just before nine to a very happy group of friends, Hmm maybe the wine. Lois was especially happy, she won the lottery as to what time Henry and Allyson would arrive.

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Happy Hour at Ralph & Lois’s waiting for Henry & Allyson
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Overnight in 100 Mile House behind the Chevy dealer north of town

Next stop Quesnel, BC and Dragon lake for a couple of fishing days.

Check back soon for updates.

If you would like to read about our Alaska RV tour from the beginning please click this link

Or click on categories in the right column and scroll to OUR ALASKA RV TOUR and click.

Thanks for visiting

Gord B.

 

 

 

 

 

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