Horsefly… yes it is a town… and a river and a lake. There is even a Provincial Park named after this pest. It seems the town is trying to pretty it up. We head to the provincial park to have a shower. Such a disappointment to find this park does not have showers. Back on the road we head into town. As we drove along, I spotted a most unusual sign. “Showers” just ahead? Really? We drove into the driveway of a lovely home and were greeted by a large friendly dog. A woman was mowing her lawn. She stopped, got off her tractor and came over. “I knew someone would come today” she yelled to her husband. They had set up a shed with showers for tourists. For $3.50 we were in Shower heaven.
They had been operating this side business for a several years. The shed was delightful. The walls covered with pictures out of magazines, cute poems and cartoons and some crafty things.
She had a guest book and supplied shampoo and creams and a hair dryer. There was a laundry set up as well.
After we were cleaned and dried, we stopped at a picnic area for lunch.
There was a trail along the river with huge chairs along the way. A great way to soak up some warm sunshine. I relaxed for a while. When I got up, I found the chair covered in ants and so was I. I did the creepy crawly shivers dance and shook them off. Did I mention I hate creepy crawly ants crawling on me?
We gassed up and bought some water and ice. There was a small notice posted at the bottom of a bulletin board outside. It warned that the road to Barkerville was closed. We asked around and an old geezer told us it was an old sign left over from winter. No worries, there were some rough patches, but not to worry. He told us of a place along the way that we should not miss. Ghost Lake. It would not be too far out of our way.
It was getting late so we stopped at a Forest Service campsite named Ladies Creek. There were a few other campers near the beach, but the best campsite was free. It was on the cliff about twelve or so feet above the lake.
We sat at the water’s edge watching the sun dip below the mountains while we drank green tea.
The water was so still. The reflections were amazing. We could see some snow-capped mountains in the distance. The sky grew dark and looked like an eerie warning.
In the morning, we came across a disturbing sign.
So far it seemed ok, maybe a few potholes, but passable. We arrived at the turn off to Ghost Lake just as the rain decided to turn it on full blast. The lake was just a rainy lake but the nearby falls were huge. The water thundered down over the rocks in a grand display of power.
A little further along we came across an obstacle. A tree had fallen across the road. John had a path cleared for us quickly and we were on our way. Travel was slow on this mountain road. There were a lot of potholes. The average speed was about 30 km per hour. We did not care, we were in no hurry.
We were not, however, prepared for the next obstacle. A tree seemed to be growing in the middle of the road.
John managed to squeeze past it on the shoulder of the road. We thought about the road closed sign and knew that the old geezer was wrong. This landslide was the reason for the closure. Thankful we were able to get by, we happily carried on.
We did find some of those rocks the signs warn you about. I was glad to see the guards protecting us from crashing into the canyon far below. Not far down the road, there were signs of the edge of the road cracking and sliding off the cliff. We drove slower and closer to the mountain side.
We kept our eyes open for bear. It was weird. Not only were there no cars, there were no animals. Not even a mouse. We felt very alone. It is not a scary feeling really, just weird.
The next sight though, did scare us. The road had broken away and slid off the canyon edge.
I was glad I wasn’t driving. I closed my eyes as John drove us quickly past. In a way, we were relieved. So this must be the reason for the “closed road” sign. We were getting closer to Barkerville. I settled back and turned up the tunes as the rain started up again. I was happily singing along to a classic Abba song when John hit the brakes.
What now? We were only 25 km to Barkerville, but our gas was too low to drive back. We have been on the road for hours. We surveyed the washout. It was bad. Really bad. And those concrete blocks were not moving.
We were in a dilemma. Should we hike to Barkerville? Then what? Get gas and walk back?There is no cell service, nowhere to get help. More than half the road is missing and we are not sure how safe the remaining part is. John looks at the mountain side of the road and tries to flatten an area for the van to drive on. He had to fill in some areas and carve out other parts. I am so scared. Looking over the edge to the treetops and the canyon floor below, I know there is no way of surviving a fall. John makes me stay out of the car as he gets back in.
I held my breath as John drove over the small piece of road that remained. My first thought… my survival kit was in the car. I would literally be left with nothing. I imagined the horror of watching the car slide off the cliff. With a sigh of relief, that danger was past. Now to get past the barrier. I had to watch to make sure that the van would clear the rocks underneath it. John inched over the narrow rocky road he had made.
We soon arrived at Barkerville. It was four o’clock so there was no charge. Something was finally right with this day. They would stay open until six. We enjoyed walking up the long street, poking into the stores, looking into the church, the school, the blacksmiths. We bought some fudge and visited the prospectors store. John mentioned to the owner that we had travelled the road from Likely. He was shocked. At this end they had the clear signs. He had something to do with the council and would be making some calls to make sure the signs were clearly posted on the road. It seems there is a conflict about who should pay to fix the road. The government or the mining companies who had maintained the road for many years.. So nothing was being done.
We spent a little while talking and getting some great tips on how to use a gold pan. He was a four-time champion gold panner. (They have competitions?) I was eager to strike it rich. John bought a pan in Nevada. I bought one in Barkerville. We tried our hand at the local stream.
We camped at another free site. We have renamed Whiskey Flats to Mosquito Flats. I think they were waiting for us. Buzzing and biting us. Thank you Deep Woods Off for saving us.
The small lake was a weird green colour and there was a large rusty metal contraption submerged at the bottom of the lake. It looked like this had been a mining operation. There were huge piles of rock at one end of the lake. Tonight we would call it home.