-------- i wrote this 2 weeks ago, it's a story from a month or two ago --------
i'm definitely in vancouver now, for a few days infact. My toes have that need for defrosting, my sleep patterns are heavily disturbed and outdoors doesn't seem it. The fall is well it's journey and these rumours I'd heard when I was here a few months ago, relating to constantly terrible weather, which at the time i could not believe, are true. It's not too bad, wet freezing toes are probably the worst bit.. not being able to revel in the sun's unrivalled ability to produce light/warm/dryness is definitely the worst bit.
On a personal level I can't get back to sleep when I wake up, at all, I've spent the last 4 morning pondering miscellaneous issues with despair as my ponds are plagued with the illogical and sleepless mind that comes with waking at 5am and having to twiddle my thumbs, which is something completely new for me, as a dedicated sleeper. i can get to sleep if i've been sleeping for 20 hours plus. If the weather was nice I could've played outside.
so I'm going to tell a tale of a voyage that went down on my last trip up here, when the weather was as it is now but the prospects of it being better than worse were greater than they were lesser.
the last expedition of my canadian stay was probably the most outrageous of the entire 2 months. It was a spontaneous trip with a rough plan of getting to a base camp town about 4 hours of normal driving north of Vancouver, staying the night there in a miscellaneous bush and then take the plunge to mystical road of heavenly delights, accessible only by treacherous four-wheel drive tracks/serious logging roads. We were a carefully assembled insertion team of 6, specialising in goodtimes and love for the road and adventure. It was myself, Yatesy!!, Josh Wright (resident new yorker), Charlie Darragh (grom thats not a grom and one of the radder dudes in life) Guff (oh lawdy i can't even) and Frankie (road goddess).
That was the plan, on the trip to the bush much changed… In true Charlie form, about 2.5 hours into the drive, he remembered that his family had a cabin in the exact zone we were travelling too, and he hooked it up. hooray! forget camping in a wet bush when you can luxury in a hand-made lakeside cabin. Our destination hadn't changed, only our pace, as we met up with a buddy (Ben D/loveliest dude) in Pemberton, about 30 minutes north of Whistler, for a chat and some hi-5s. He had a plethora of happy go lucky french canadians in which laughs were shared before we continued our northward trajectory. Through the rain we navigated some serious highway driving, big mountain passes, sketchy mountains passes and riverside roads stopping only to shotgun beers, revel in rain and vistas and celebrate the glory of British Columbia.
We made the destination with some hours before dark, which we needed to properly land at charlie's cabin. with the fire and bedding sorted, we quickly turned our attention to shotgunning more beers and cooking dinner, a process that Frankie took charge of and crafted one of the finest meals i've ever eaten, and she did it with kitchenware that seemed at least 1/2 a century old on a wood fire oven.
finding the cabin
It was an early night, a great sleep, an early rise and a short drive to our last port of civilisation, a small town affectionally named Wild Onion…. which is a translation from the native word, and official name of the town, Lilloet. I say affectionate because it's not the nicest place in the general sense of the word but it's a place presenting some undisputedly harsh landscapes, huge dirt mountains, massive ravines that give way to heaving glacial run-offs and boulders.
a Lilloeetian in his natural environment, a beautiful place scarred by powerlines.
In town we managed to find the single source of wifi as to confirm our route and get coffee and supplies. The route we had, the only route available, had a dedicated conditions report website named "I survived **** **** road, which was both comforting and incredibly concerning. comforting because it gave us a rough idea of what was ahead and incredibly concerning as we were told to avoid the road at all costs, 4wd access only and certain risk of death. It's a logging road but the trucks we saw whilst traversing were hardly trucks, more like extraterrestrial all terrain vehicles. The dirt gave way to gravel to not a road to more dirt but eventual returned to mostly patchy bitumen and graded dirt, we made ground quickly and were honing in on the skate mirage.
In a classic case of badluck we arrived just as it started raining :( but needles, this hill was spectacular and most likely frequented by no one (in the summer.) multiple kilometres of lovely pavement (which intrigued me, as we were far far far faaar out of anywhere) and some epic corners. unfortunately the weather was as it was so we couldn't properly grasp the vistas that were undoubtably right infront of our eyes. Our mission was to assess it for potential future filming operations but i didn't think it was worth it. great for a road trip and little video but there were plans for full scale productions…
We had a quick jam and a bunch of shotguns before driving to the little town perched at the very top of the run, i think the population was 7 but it had a hall which i broke into and found a miniramp (?!???!) so we jammed there and ate lunch before getting kicked out.
We rescoped the road, made our final assessments and took a stab at another piece of pavement we'd seen just around the mountain. It was alright, not in the leagues of previous hill but the top led us to a LOVELY lake!!! we swam and shotgunned and generally lurked for goodtimes as we knew the rain was not going to subside any time soon and decided to make the trip back to some sort of civilisation.
yates being the responsible driver
The concerning factor was that the light was almost done for the day, we had part 2 of the access road to deal with and it had really began to rain. To summmarise, we had to drive 70kms on a 4wd-only pothole ridden road, in pouring rain, with 0% chance of seeing a sole and no contact with the outside world… plus we were in a van.
To be more specific, 70kmh road was shut due to conditions, presented a 2 km altitude change, in no consistent fashion, the rain had filled the potholes so yates had zero idea of how deep they were!
a supply of beers that would most likely run out but there was only one option and it was take a chance. So we did, honestly i was never concerned, partly because of the shotguns but entirely because yates was at the wheel and there is not a soul on this planet that can instil confidence behind the wheel like yatedawg.
so, this.. We pulled over for a view, lurked the spot for a short while and a car comes up. They pull over and I walk over to greet these fellow adventurers.. Buddy hops out and says 'do you know adam yates' to which i proclaim 'he's driving.' turns out buddy and Adam went to school, on the goldy, together and had rarely shared company since........ it was a giant wigout.
i had front seat and spent 75% of the time gasping at another facet of BC's potential beauty.. I know i am visually home in that place. mountains are my muse and BC has some of the best.
naturally, we made it (thanks dawg) and proceeded to casually destroy the last leg, back to the frenchies house. Even to this day, with weeks of watering down, i struggle to conceive that such a day could've existed in a 24 hour period. I've had some great days in my life, this is definitely one of the best of that bunch.. much adventure. such explore. wow so beauty.
ben d ♥ ♥ ♥
So anyway, Ben and co were lovely enough to give us some floorspace that consumed me rapidly!! i took a classic dive into deep zzzs and didn't resurface until well after i should've, but today's pace was oppositional to yesterdays. It was still raining in the morning so we began late, went and ate some food and jammed the local park.. which seemed to take just about as long as it needed for the roads to start to dry, so we headed back to ben's in order to get some time on one of BCs more historically significant downhill runs. in true frenchie form they'd defaced our car (dirt scenario from yesterdays fury) with huge penises, butholes, swear words and basically anything else someone may consider offensive, but we didn't want to clean it until we got back to vancouver (that night!!?) So we hit the duffey and got some shit down, a few runs and a bit of coverage before we bailed, mainly due to some maniac who put all of our lives in jeopardy.. funnily it's those people, the ones that almost kill you, that always call the cops :/
ben jammin duff.
we headed back to town for a quick lurk before heading south to some make distance home but also to skate some classic downhill runs along the way.. The first one was a hill that i found emotionally confronting, as it was were a great buddy of mine hit a car and had a real hard time, it didn't take me long to realise the gravity of this hill… steep, tight, fast, blind.. all the things that make for road based treachery! unfortunately for us it was wet but a few were down to skate, there was no shooting to be done so i just lurked out in the front seat (this whole trip, and 1.5 weeks before, i'd been broken off, nursing gaping wounds on my knees which allowed me no knee bending [otherwise they would continue to re-rip open]) but i got to sit there and see quite the spectacle… Having travelled with ben through japan and a stint in san fran i am well aware of his personality, riding ability and style, which to sum up i would say he's the best rider at riding gnarly shit. He's not concerned with big slides or having his arms in certain directions, he just navigates, somewhat ignorant to form and probably generates more stoke than most.. He's also one of the most relaxed dudes i know, a fellow with minimal concern for much and someone whom i endeavour to spend as much time with as i can as he's such a great source of good feeling and great vibes. So with that in mind, it shouldn't have surprised me when we were at the top of the hill and he realised he'd left his board at home, that he had no second thoughts about riding yates board. which he'd never ridden, nor was it at all equipped for fast hills, on wheels he'd never ridden.. etc etc, the list goes on, all points pointing to him not doing it. but he did, and in the rain he gracefully descended in a manner unacceptably rad, to all of us on the hill. classic ben.
at the bottom of the hill we parted ways, ben hitched back north to his home and we continued south back towards vancouver.. on the way guff guided us to a waterfall called brandywine falls. it was majestic to say the least… a 70m fall into a huge chasm of earth, widening with time and landslides the cave like landscape induced much awe and gasp. We lurked there, shotgunned, took some fots and hit the road.
we hit 2 more hills on the way home, 1 a super tech hill that we aren't allowed to skate, out of respect for locals and one of vancouver's main mountain bombs, the road up to Cypress. Cypress is a big ski mountain, seen to the north from all points of vancouver (when not obstructed by stuff.) pretty big bomb, on dusk, another enjoyable feature of the trip, froth glands still excreting… Which leads me to the end, a short drive back to vancouver where we jettisoned crew, washed the van, had some food and went to bed.
This trip was the last i took on my extended north america stay and quite possibly the most memorable. 3 days with such crew and locations, diversity to the trips id been on previously and execution of the task at hand made for much good feeling and a perfect finale to one of the best and 2nd longest trips of my life.