Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lost and Found

After the serious downpour near Oliver, I had decided to hit the laundromat to dry out the sleeping bag, and then to find a cheap motel so that I could get some real rest. I crashed for most of Monday, and had two showers to get some of the road dirt off.

I went looking for the Custom bike shop that I had ended up at last year, when I broke my foot and hobbled into Penticton. I had seen it the day before, but I will be damded if I could find it again. I had wanted to take some pics of the custom Harleys that I remembered from last year, and to also thank the fellows in the shop, who had looked at my broken bike, and offered to help as well. I thought that it would be good to tie that loop off, and thank them while I was standing and not grimacing in pain. Oh well, the dudes with the classy bikes and the tats that have the custom bike shop in Penticton were cool, and I promised them that if won the lotto, I would be back and buy a few bikes from them. The promise still stands....

I headed out of town,and found that the Green Mountain road was directly opposite to the Timmies where I had taken coffee for the last two mornings. I not have a better understanding of how Penticton is laid out. I don't us
ually head down that way when I am in the Okanagan. While I was passing through Oliver, I had a deju vu all over again about a long lost girl friend who I think lived in Oliver, but I am damded if I can remember her name. Sigh...

I headed up the Greeen Mountain road towards Apex mountain. The road is a nice twisty type of ride, and I had a good time gaining altitude and hitting the Ponderosa pines and the open sage country as I climbed towards Apex Mountain resort.

I just had to stop and take a picture of this guy:





I think that this is a Model A Ford.  My Dad had a Model A pickup in the late 40's.  I would have been only 3 or 4, but I have the distinct memory of crawling into that truck and starting it, as the starter was on the floor.  Whether I started it, or just wore out the starter and clutch, I don't remember.  Nor do I remember being on the roof and helping Dad with the roofing, although at one time that was a family story.  Maybe I fell off.  I do remember that it was common knowledge that Georges' cow kicked me when I was two, and maybe that is why I don't like horses...


I kept on climbing, and it became cooler as I climbed up the mountain passed the ski hills onto the Hedly Nickleplate road.  I had travelled this road in the opposite direction about three years ago, and the road was wide, as I assumed that it was a haul road for the Nickleplate mine further on.

My friend Doug and I had climbed up the Nickleplate Hedley road from the highway side when both of our F800GS were new.  Travelling the other way, with an overloaded bike, and alone, was going to be interesting.  I hoped that there was not going to be a lot of traffic when I reached the steep part.


There were a  couple of trucks, but I was able to anticipate them and get over, and I made it to the bottom  without tipping over.  I headed over to the native church which is directly opposite to the entryway to the Nickleplate road from the Highway.


It looks like lightening or God has taken a swipe at the steeple, and the cross is lying on the roof.  The church and First nations and these funky little buildings seem to go hand in hand.  I wonder how much of the reconciliation hearings addressed the other impacts of the Church upon the different First Nations.  Perhaps someday history will address the issue, and perhaps there will be a generation of First Nations children who are truly in touch with their Spirituality, and not the contrived, canned Churchy messages imposed upon their great grandparents...

I rolled into Hedly, and had a great coffee and muffin and did a tour of the town and the museum.  The mining history of this little town is phenomenal.  Without getting into a rant about the status of resource-based communities in BC, Headly seems to be striving to make something of their little town, and I guess that tourism and a very active museum society makes all the difference in a community.    The museum was very interesting and there was a great collection of photographs of the early mines.  The museum had a telescope that was trained on the mine workings which were a few thousand feet higher up above the town.  The fact that the mine was established on that huge  and steep face is interesting in itself.   While wandering around the town, I had a good sense of the community, and it appeared to be laid back and rural, which is my kind of town.

While I was chatting with the locals, I noticed on the map that there was a road between Headly and Pemberton that looked like it said "Wills-Smith" Forest Service road.  Now this was too much of a coincidence for me not to explore this road, if I could figure out how to get across the Similkameen River.
My grandfather Alfred Wills married my Grandmother, Amy Booth Smith, and I had not seen the combination of names before, so I figured that I needed to check this road out, and try and find out the origin of the name.




I left Hedly and travelled down the highway until I was able to cross the river, and I soon found a road, according to the map, which headed towards the Gold Mountain road, which eventually, according to the BC Mapbook, broke off into the  Wills-Smith FSR.  

After about an hour and half of travelling on a good gravel road, and and following the mile markers to about kilometer 35, I was beginning to second guess myself.  The road was good travelling, with a light sand base, and there was not any mud to speak of.  I had made a few turns, taking what I thought was the main road in each case, and paying a bit of attention to my compass.  My lessons about having good maps from last weeks' incident hung with me, and I wanted to make sure that I did not go down, as it is a pain in the ass to take all the gear off and wrangle Blondie to a standing position.  After another half an hour, I was really beginning to second guess my second guesses: I still had enough fuel, and it was early afternoon.  I knew that I was somewhere between the main highway, and the Hope Princeton, and the road looked travelled enough that I thought that it had to come out somewhere.  The mystery of the Wills-Smith road was secondary to me getting out of the hills.  I was essentially on a plateau, somewhere south of Princeton.

I came to a fork in the road, and the mystery of the Wills-Smith road was solved.  Someone did not know how to spell Wills:

With that, I looked more closely at the BC Mapwook, and the errant "i" became more clear.  I was somewhat relieved to find this road, as Smith had somehow got lost in the translation of time and forks in the road.  I felt confident that I was on the right track, and as the kilometer signs started down sizing from 38, I realized that I was not heading off the plateau, and that I would eventually come out somewhere.


I think that these signs are up there as encouragement for the logging truck drivers, but the message fit this rider too.  I soon came to what I learned was the Copper Mountain road, and I could see a mine off to my right.  I think that is the mine that we pass when we head up the Hope-Princeton highway.  I followed a couple of mine trucks into Princeton and celebrated with a root beer.