August trip 2011

Back from a 2.5 week trip into the southern interior of BC. It was a bit of a rush to get the van ready for the trip, the last week or so of camperization was a mixture of success and compromise. I did not get the upper bunk installed in time, I hit a few snags that I will write about later. To add to the pre-trip frenzy, the day before we left I noticed the front outer CV boot on the driver’s side was ripped. Fortunately the local VW dealer had boots in stock, so the night before we left I put on a new one. It was a fairly straightforward job; jack up and support the van, remove wheel,undo the axle nut, undo the sway bar drop link on that side, remove the 2 socket head bolts holding the ball joint to the upper A-arm, let the spindle swing out, undo the inner CV joint, wrestle the axle out (tight), pull the inner CV joint off, pull the ripped outer boot off the free axle end, clean and repack joint, install new boot…. yadda yadda.

Next day we left, wife, son, 2 large dogs, and a borrowed canoe (my 18′ cedar canvas canoe was too heavy for the stop gap rack I had installed on rear of van). Here is the van at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. It really does look like a Westy now, doesn’t it? And to my eyes, it looks a lot better than the other RVs in the line up.

On the mainland we headed east to Hope and then on to Manning Park. It has been a tradition with us to stop for a few nights in this park. While the campsites at Lightning Lake can be busy, it only takes a little bit of effort to get away from the other campers. The air is clear and with the elevation (+4000 ft) the nights are cool. I really recommend stopping here and exploring. Here is our campsite.

A black bear was around and it wandered through our campsite one evening (luckily our dogs were out on a walk with my wife) and again the next day it passed behind our site, this time the dogs did raise the alarm. Of course the camera was not handy. We did some canoeing in Lightning Lake, and I portaged the canoe to the next lake (Strike?) and we did some more exploring.

There is a trail around all of the lakes, I took the dogs for a look.

Plenty of Devil’s Club.

Next day I took the dogs on a hike up the Skyline Trail which leads from Lightning Lake up onto a ridge in the alpine. The trail goes through an old burned out area and the alpine flowers were still in bloom, and there were patches of snow around.

Then on the last day my wife and son paddled the canoe from the campsite over to the day use area where we loaded it on to the van. You can make out the burned trees on the Skyline Trail at the top of the ridge in the background. We met an older German (Berlin) couple at the park who were taking 2 months in a rented RV to tour BC. Nice folk and they really enjoyed Manning Park.

Then it was on east to Princeton, and from Princeton, north towards Merrit. The countryside is much drier now. Yup, that’s a nice maroon Vanagon Westy heading this way.

We were heading to Kentucky-Alleyne Provincial Park. It’s a busy and popular park and we started going there when our son was young, so we went back for old time’s sake. The lakes are kettle lakes, with no real water in flow apart from snow melt, and the lake level has been dropping for the last 10 years. So now the lake shore is about 30 metres further out than when we first went there. When we arrived, we could not get a lakeside camping spot, so the first night was back up on a site on a ridge between the lakes.

A lot of the impressive Ponderosa pines have been killed by the pine beetle epidemic. Next day we moved to a lakefront site and did some relaxing.

We ended up spending a few days here, with one trip into Merrit for supplies. Then it was on north to Kamloops and then further north following the North Thompson River to Little Fort. West from Little Fort (and up a 10 km 8% hill which forced the van down to 2nd gear, the old engine is tired but it did not over heat) to Bridge Lake, then south on logging roads to Scot Lake. There is a Forest Service campsite here and it is another one of those places we first camped at when my son was a toddler. We did not stay at the campsite proper, but up on a hill about 200 meters west, over looking the lake.

Compare the last picture with this one taken a few years ago when we were using the old faithful ’82 Westy.

We stayed here for 6 days, fishing, exploring, canoeing, reading. Sandhill cranes were calling, but we only saw some when a couple flew over one evening, coyotes were about, making noise and exciting the dogs, most of the Lodgepole pines around were killed by the Pine Beetle, but lots of new pines were coming up. The Spruce trees (and of course the Aspens) were mostly unaffected.

Here you can see the tell tale pitch extrusions from the beetle affected trees.

And another picture of the van, the cloudy day when we left. I have to say, coming from the damp coast, the climate around Scot Lake was wonderful. The air was clear, the sun hot (30-33 C ) and the nights cool (2 C at 7 am). There was absolutely no dew on the ground or the van in the mornings, something I found amazing.


I had my gold pan with me and one day I thought I’d see what was in the coarse sand by the side of the lake. I struck iron! I can reveal the secrets behind panning for iron, send me $9.95 and I will detail the simple but clever method to extract gram quantities of this amazing metal šŸ™‚

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of my tires. Good old Michelin Agilis 81, crap in mud or snow, but great for the dry and they are a very tough and durable tire.

Another goofy pic which led my son to declare me a “doofus hipster wannabe”, making a simple pasta sauce with shallots, garlic, sun dried tomato sauce and pimenton, and the computer.

We left Scot Lake the way we arrived, back south to Kamloops then east to Armstrong to visit friends. Then back west again, passing this nice collection.

Back through Kamloops and instead of heading south there (Coquilhalla Hwy) I decided to head on west to Cache Creek and head down the Fraser Canyon. I like the stretch of road between Kamloops and Cache Creek, and sometimes you see things of interest.

In the Fraser canyon we were held up for an hour by a tandem trailer that had spilled its load of lumber. I don’t know if anyone was hurt, a helicopter did fly off from the scene.

Was another chance to take a picture of the van.


And the CPR railway was on one side of the river, the CN on the other side (lots of history here). A few model trains passed by during the hold up šŸ™‚

Then it was a mad dash to the coast and the ferry. The delay caused us to miss the 9 pm ferry to the island, and there was no 10 pm sailing… so we took the 10:45 pm sailing to Nanaimo (further up the island from where we live) and drove down the island to home, arriving at about 2:30 am.

The van ran great throughout the trip with one exception. We had about 1.5 hrs of bucking and hesitation driving south from Scot Lake. A fresh fill up of gas solved that. Previous fill up of fuel was with 10% ethanol blend, I wonder if that had anything to do with it?



  1. #1 by Ed on September 4, 2011 - 11:25 am

    nice trip, great photos! Thanks!

    Sounds like you were running short on time near the end but the way back to the coast via Lytton, Lillooet, Pemberton, Whistler (Duffey Lake Road, aka hwy 99) is pretty scenic and fast too (especially if you are going to Horseshoe Bay for the Nanaimo ferry.) You likely already know that though šŸ™‚ I lived in Lillooet for 3 years and traveled the Duffey many times – it was gravel/dirt/mud back then. I also especially like the stretch of highway (12, I think) between Lytton and Lillooet beside the Fraser River – just gorgeous.

    • #2 by albell on September 4, 2011 - 11:36 am

      Hi Ed,

      I agree about the Lytton, Lilloet etc way, we’ve done it a few times and would have this trip but you are right, we were running out of time. I also like the back roads north along the Fraser to Canoe Creek than on across the Fraser to the Gang Ranch, then on to Hanceville (and then back onto dirt roads to Nemiah Valley).

      This last trip really was a lazy one, not so much driving, lots of reading and lazing around.



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