Placer Lake - Whipsaw Trip ReportAuthor: Me! Bill made the first draft of this. Larry and Dave had added bits and pieces as well.
Location: Southern mainland B.C., Canada between Hope,
Princeton, and Merritt
Planning this trip, we did what we usually do and notify almost every- body we can, expecting the usual turn-out of about 25-30%. This time, almost everyone turned out. Larry and I began sending emails back and forth wondering what-to-do?!?! We'd never had handled or expected a group this big, were worried things would go too slow on the trail, that people would get grouchy, that we wouldn't have enough room at the lakes to camp together, etc., etc. We were very apprehensive about this trip.
Day 1: (Saturday)Backing up to Friday, Jan and I in the Comanche left the island to borrow a couple beds at the Hansens' house, so we wouldn't have to get up at 4:30 Saturday morning to catch the first ferry. That evening led to an exchange of stories, looking at pictures, etc. over a few beers. Lots of fun. Jan and I also got to meet one of their cute daughters, but alas, she had to work so couldn't come camping.
The plan was to meet at the Wendy's in Chilliwack around 10:30. But for the first time ever, Larry was early! And surprise, everyone was early! This was a good sign, a good start to the weekend. Bonus, the weather was sunny and the latest forcast was promising, but not perfect.
So off we went to East Gate Esso near Manning Park to meet up with Bill, Carolyn, and Chris. On the way, everyone discovered just how much Yen-hsen enjoyed talking on the CB. I had remembered my water-gun, but hadn't had a chance to use it yet. After tanking up, we meet up with Chris at Copper Creek, at the start of the trail going into Placer Lake. Chris, Bill, and Carolyn had camped out the night before to get an early start on the long weekend.
Most of the trail to the lake was quite easy. Maintained gravel roads. But dust quickly became a concern for the open-top Jeeps, and Dave in the Grand Cherokee started getting threats from people wanting to de- fuse his air conditioning and power windows. We quickly aired down and disconnected sway bars, all eager to get into the fun stuff. Larry was in the lead, and all of a sudden he turns off the road. What's he doing? Well, this short short-cut would take us down a very long, steep hill. There was a fantastic view from the top, but we all took the hill in either 1st or 2nd low range. This is not a hill you'd want to let the vehicle run away on you.
After a few more miles of gravel road, we came to "the hill". In the BC Fourwheeler's Companion, it writes this section as quite difficult, where most vehicles will have problems. Rocks are supposed to be covered with rubber from frustrated drivers. And the description was right. But since most of us had at least one locker, the only vehicles to have trouble were the two stock YJ's. Larry turned around and took them up a different way into the lake. Listening to them on the CB, they had some fun in some mud, and Larry got to try his newly-mounted 8274 winch. Even though I'm sure he'd deny it , he managed to get stuck twice in some bogs. The stockers didn't have a problem here. What happened Larry?
Larry adds: ACTUALLY, I got stuck in ONE mud bog and then looked for the bypass route. I eventually decided that it was the trail which travelled along the floor of a muddy clear cut before climing up the hillside, and linking back up to the road that the rest of the group was on, but just past the rock hill where the stock YJs had problems. On the climb up this trail, we had to drive through an uphill mud section. Jim had problems here so I turned around and winched him through. Stefan amazed us all by driving through on his own.
When we pulled into the lake, we were pleasantly surprised by how few other people were there. About 6 other trucks, total. A group of three 4Runners (including one piloted by Mark ????, the author of the BC Fourwheeler's Companion) Mark Bostwick, and some TLCs. We pitched an early camp (on sloping ground) and did the camping thing. At this point, the weather, which was so fair so far, began to cloud over. Some chuckles were heard when Pam got out a fitted truck cover for her Jeep (she was vindicated when it rained during the night). Pam also got to do some fly fishing. The fish were jumping all 'round the lake, and nibbling, but not biting. So much for a treat for supper.
The mosquitoes descended on us where ever we stopped. They were so bad that Harvey had taken to wearing a mesh head bag while the rest of us wore as much clothing and bug repellent possible.
During the night:
Day 2: (Sunday) weather cloudy with light showersWe all got up around 6 or so and broke camp. I guess this was in part due to Mark getting up so early. At this time, one of the 4Runners (driven by Cary and Lucy) from the other group joined our party. Pam and Dave knew them as well, since they were members of the same club. We were now (temporarily) 12 trucks strong. We drove down and out along the "easy" route. It was pretty boggy but with firm bottoms so no problems were encountered. We then drove out towards the Copper Creek bridge. Along the way, we did a hill climb up the same long, bare hill which we had descended the first day. Again, no problems. At least, none that were noticed (several vehicles had damage during the trip but pinpointing the exact location of the mishap is difficult).
At Copper Creek, Dave, Pam, Lucy and Cary, and I turned off towards Whipsaw (Friday Creek variation) while the rest went back to the Eastgate Esso. At the Esso station, we filled up with gas and supplies and bid goodbye to Stefan and Ryan (stock YJ) who had to leave. We were now back to 11 again.
For those of us that continued on, right away things were fun. I hadn't remembered exactly where we had to turn off the highway, or off the road onto the trail. And things changed. Some logging had been done in the area. Well, I quickly said "let's go this way", which looked right but was contrary to the instructions in the offroaders book. Hesitant, the rest followed me. Judging on how much dead wood was on the trail, it looked like we were the first in there this year. That was a good feeling, but clouded considering we weren't positive this was the trail until we got to the hill.
After replenishing, the other group headed back to Whipsaw. Along the way, Larry and Sue (lifted YJ) discovered that their tire was low. It turned out to be a slash in the sidewall and the tire had to be changed. Half the group stayed with him while the rest pressed on.
Friday creek was narrow and heavily overgrown. Pinstriping was inevitable. So I decided it was now appropriate to mention that "oh yeah, you'll get a few more scratches in your paint..." Nobody seemed too concerned. Bill's group eventually met my group at the steep downhill where the Friday creek variation joined up with the main Whipsaw road. My group was playing on the hill, climbing up and down. Dave and I were able to climb up the hill but Pam was defeated. Cary & Lucy elected to sit it out. It took Dave and I 3 tries each to make it up there. It was a long, hard climb which crossed up your vehicle all the way. But we did it. That was a good feeling.
All the trucks in the two groups then met at the logging landing at the bottom of the hill to await Larry's group. Larry and crew were only 10 minutes behind and shortly we were all together again. Group pictures were taken and lunch was eaten.
We then all got on the main Whipsaw road and headed onwards to Wells Lake. The route was straight logging roads for the first part but then gave way to an old dirt track. This was not too difficult but was quite scenic as it led through alpine meadows. We would have got some fantastic views if it weren't so misty.
Along the way, we noticed that Dave was dragging something behind his Grand Cherokee. It turned out to be one of his Rancho 9000 shocks. Fortunately, one of the nuts from his detached sway bar was the right size to resecure it. It turns out they were loose again by the they got home, so he's going to replace the bolts and stuff.
Dave adds: The problem turned out to be lock nuts used a few times too often. After replacing them, everything is tight and staying tight.
Also along the way, Rob & Jen (TLC) lost their CB antenna but it was recovered and they were able to remount it.
Somewhere along the line, Bill & Carolyn took the lead and went on to Wells lake. At the lake itself, Bill took the road he used last year (in the autumn, when it was dried out) and promptly got stuck in a bog. Larry came up and winched him out while the rest of us went on to the camp site, another 100 yards around the lake.
Larry adds: There was concern that a large group of "rowdies" from Kamloops would be camped at Wells Lake. Their drinking and discharging of firearms was such a hassle last year that the Lionsgater's 4x4 club abandoned its plans of camping at the lake this weekend. So it was with great surprise and relief that we discovered that we were the only ones there.
We then set up camp at Wells lake. Along the way, Pam had become concerned because she seemed to have lost 4WD. At least the light was inactive. Dave spent some time working on it while she set up their tent. After he finished, he reached in to turn on her engine to test it. Unfortunately, she had left her jeep in reverse and the runaway jeep backed over their tent and a small tree before it could be stopped. Luckily, no one was hurt. Yen-hsen lent them his tent fly and rods, and things were once again ok.
Larry adds: Setting up a tent behind a truck had always made Sue worry about being run-over by a runaway truck. I had always kidded her about being paranoid. I don't think she'll let me forget that incident for a long time to come -- gee, thanks Dave
After a bit more tinkering, Dave and I decide to make sure the front axle was engaged. ...to the trails! But we weren't the first. Right after camp was set up, Bill & Carolyn drove off in their Ranger up to the steep hill (we call it "Falcon Hill" in honour of a Ford Falcon that made it up). Along the way, they encountered a fairly recently abandoned Scout II. The wheels were gone but most of the rest of the pieces were there, along with a quantity of camping supplies. They radioed in their find back to camp and waited while Dave and I drove up. Dave was now driving Pam's jeep to test it out, while Pam was preparing some Caesar salad to go with our steak supper. After viewing the derelict, we all drove off to the hill.
At the hill, Bill met a CJ and a stock Jimmy. They informed him that there was a group further up. It turned out to be a group of about a dozen vehicles led by John of 4Ruf Road. We knew that he was leading a group of his customers in the area but we didn't expect to meet him. As it happened, one of the trucks in his group had thrown out the rear blocks while attempting to climb the hill; they were then stuck on the hill for 5 hours while repairs were made. Bill & Carolyn managed to say "hi" to them just before they drove off. The Ranger, YJ and Comanche were able to climb the hill with no problems at all. Then, while we examined the plaque commemorating the Falcon, the stock Jimmy that we had met attempted the climb. The driver was gunning it up, spinning and bouncing but couldn't make it. He was eventually stopped by a flat tire and had to turn back. After he got off the road, we all turned back to camp.
Interesting side note: these were the SAME two people who we saw up there last year and they didn't make it up the hill then, either!
When we arrived at camp, I decided to have some fun and jokingly mentioned to Dave to "try that spot where Bill got stuck, for a grand finale to a successful test of Pam's Jeep". Dave decided to see just how well the YJ worked...and...well...it required some massive tugging by my truck before he was freed. You could hear the fan splashing the water, etc. When towed out, water ran out of the headlights! The entire Jeep was absolutely covered with mud. It's a good thing we hooked up the tow rope before he entered the mud.
Camp was a bit wetter than the night before but much more scenic. At least the ground was level. We all were a bit more tired than the day before and turned in earlier. It rained almost all night. Steak was great. Beer was great. Company was great.
That night a few of us woke up to a sound. Time was around 1:30. Something was rummaging through the garbage bags. First we thought it was Larry, then a bear. But next morning Sue said it was Rocky, Lucy's dog. Never a dull moment.
Larry adds: Also, some time during the night, a 4x4 had arrived in the camp, stopped for a minute, and left. All the while, Sue was trying to get me to go outside and see what they wanted. After Dave's tent incident, she was terrified that we were going to be run over by a 4x4.
Day 3: Weather is misty with light showersWe got up at about 6-7. The rain had abated somewhat and we were able to pack up in relatively dry conditions. We also picked up most of the garbage left by previous campers and were loaded up and on the road by about 9:30.
The first barrier was, of course, Falcon Hill. Somewhat surprisingly, no one, not even the stock jeep, had any trouble and we motored on up and through.
The trail led along some more alpine meadows interspersed with mud holes
and stands of trees.
We now decided to take the Badger Creek exit and turned off the main trail. This variation went down the hill to Badger creek where it met a logging road. Along the way we had a few more mud holes (the stock YJ needed a tow) but then the road reached the edge of the hill and started down. The downhill road was narrow and steep with tight turns. The F150 required some 3 point turns to manuever. As we descended, the weather dried out and we saw sunlight, as well as some fine vistas. When we reached the logging landing at the bottom, we could look back and see that the mountain was topped by a cloud. That explained why it was so misty and rainy.
Shifting into 2WD, we headed towards Coalmont at about 100m intervals to cut down on dust. At least some of us did; others (you know who you are!) followed closely and dined heavily on dust. As we went, we called out the kilometer markers to make sure we were all together and accounted for.
At Coalmont, we aired up our tires and had lunch at a greasy hamburger joint. By this time, the weather was again fair and dry and it was nice to relax in the sun.
Damage checks at this time revealed that Pam's Jeep had somehow, somewhere broken its panhard rod again. A few minutes later it was off. Some of us also reconnected our sway bars.
When we left, it was around 3:00 and we had plenty of time to get home.
The trip through the logging roads to the Coquihalla passed without incident. It was fast and furious. At one point, we bypassed a bridge and forded a creek. We didn't even stop to go into 4WD. Further along, we were passed by a full size pickup that insisted on driving through our group. Jerk.
Finally, we reached the Coquihalla highway north of the toll booths. We crossed the road and headed up into the hills on the other side. Near the top of a pipeline road, we passed through a destroyed gate (magnificent scenery here). When we stopped to take pictures, Chris (M38) discovered a hole in his radiator. He also had some broken body mounts (although that may have been previous damage).
Since Chris's jeep was wounded, we elected to forego another detour and just headed down the hill to the Coquihalla (on the south side of the toll booths now).
On the Coquihalla, we now merged with holiday traffic and headed home. The speed limit was 110 Kph and we were doing around 95. The rest of the traffic was going at 140 or so.
At Hope we gassed up (it took awhile; the stations were packed) and headed back on the Trans Canada. Dave and Pam left us at this point.
When we reached Chilliwack, we stopped to eat. Jim & Landon and Chris decided to press on and we bade farewell to them here.
After dinner, we then all drove home, dropping off at various exits along the highway until the last truck (Rob & Jen) arrived back in North Vancouver. Jan and I caught the 9pm ferry and were home by 11:30pm, concluding another great trip.
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