Tyax Lodge, outside of Gold Bridge, B.C., feels deserted. A fabulous location, picturesque to the point of overload, Tyax should be bustling at the seams with tourists. Instead it’s quiet to the point of being our private lodge. There’s no menu for breakfast, the Chef simply prepares what you ask for free form.
The ride in would make Tyax an amazing adventure destination, and that leaves me thinking the lodge owners are missing the boat… Except for the room price which is an exorbitant rate for summer.
Markets gained and lost in one deft blow. With soaring gas prices and the Canadian dollar nearly par with that of the US, lodges like Tyax could well be feeling the pinch.
The ride out isn’t as swift as in, I’m feeling my quads something fierce. A month ago a friend asked if I was “going to train up for the ride.” Obviously I haven’t, an unconscious act of refusal to renege the title of “Worst Planned Adventure Ever.”
Why? Aside from it being a catchy title, there’s a point. Very seldom has media put adventure in approachable terms. We’ll see how that all works out, because the truth is every time I stand my thighs scream a little more.
There’s a quick detour back into Gold Bridge for fuel. I’ve done some Internet legwork and the quoted ranges for the KTM 990 adventure vary from 220-290km, and I’ve not had time to determine how far my own clockwork orange will take to unwind a single fill up.
At Fred’s, the gas station in Gold Bridge, we talk with what I assume to be the man himself. Reports for our proposed route through the Mud Lakes vary greatly. Last night Lori said it should be all clear, with the exception of snow. This morning at Tyax one of the staff suggested there would be several knee-deep stream crossings. Fred seems to agree with the latter.
A day ago they had snow, and the streams are likely still swollen. Yes, snow in July.
Photographer Kevin needs to get to a sportbike rally in Osoyoos, and given my fledgling adventure state I just plain and simple chicken out at the potential of a watery drop. So it’s to Lillooet, BC where we’ll part ways.
The Lillooet Pioneer Road skirts Carpenter Lake, running from verdant flats just outside of Gold Bridge to a rough, rugged and steep topography painted with conifers.
Meanwhile, the road oscillates between pavement and dirt in a waveform dictated by government finances rather than logic. Not that the KTM cares.
In Lillooet, I decide to take on a portion of the Fraser River Trail.
That runs from Lillooet to Barkerville, the dirt road start point for me is the Pavilion-Clinton Road. The area’s tourism guides have this to say about the Fraser River Trail, “In the late 1850’s the Fraser River Trail was the choice for most prospectors and travelers heading north on foot or by horse to the emerging Cariboo Goldfields from Lillooet.”
This is a route dripping in history. Now it’s dripping in my sweat.
There’s been a recent rain, so the roadway was damp and rutted. That’s fine on the uphill. Even shooting along the crest though ranchland fields of sage scenting the air, still not a problem. What comes up must come down… Actually that was the part I was hoping to avoid.
Deep-seated in my navigational impairment was the thought that Clinton was substantially higher than Lillooet, rather than the more obvious “I’m about to cross the Marble Mountain range.”
It’s hard to execute a graceful descent, “standing on the pegs and shifting your weight to the back of the bike” when the bike has bodged on Ventura Luggage filled with camping equipment and two spare gas cans. Add to that a minor tussle with the logic of shutting off the ABS…
Hint to new KTM 990 Adventure owners. Start bike, shift to neutral, apply brake, hold the ABS button till it flashes three times, release button just before the third flash… or maybe it needed to be in gear? Perhaps sacrifice a chicken to the Gods of Braking? Unfortunately, the 990 Adventurer has room for the toolkit or the manual under seat. I chose the toolkit.
14% doesn’t seem like a lot. Until it’s a downhill grade on a one-vehicle wide road.
I can’t remember the last time I received this kind of adrenaline charge from road riding, nor the sense of accomplishment, nor the workout.
Nonetheless the pavement of Kelly Lake Road was a welcome sight. I am a wimp, as if further proof were needed. There are other destinations along the route, Jesmond, Big Bar, Alkali Lake, and Dog Creek, but they will wait for another trip. Now solo, I’m feeling a bit cautious and weary.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Whoso walketh in solitude, and inhabiteth the wood . . . into that forester shall pass . . . power and grace."
Spoken like a man who’s never been lobbed of a cliff and having done so I've no desire to repeat the experience. Going solo is intoxicatingly absolute, but I’m willing to sip at that beverage gently.
Needing a dirt breather, the rest of the day was spent whipping though the Cariboo’s back roads. The joy of an adventure bike is the versatility to take the routes you want; a sporting romp along Green Lake Road to avoid drone-way 97 for example. All in aid of arriving for a “rough” night at my parent's place at Egg Lake.
Eventually I’ll have to break out the camping gear and worse the camp stove. After all I’ve brought boil-in-the-bag.