Search Results for: camper creek

Trip – yes, once more to Camper Creek area

The weather this September is fantastic, warm and sunny, and we took advantage of it last weekend by making another trip to the Camper creek area NW of Port Renfrew. So no surprise if the pictures look familiar to the ones in this post, or this post, or even this one.












Trip – Camper Creek watershed again

My wife and I revisited the Camper Creek watershed that we went to a month ago. We had it in mind to see if we could find the trail down to Camper Creek, near the park boundary. So we set of on Thursday afternoon and arrived at our campsite around 3 pm.  Funny thing about my stitched panoramas, the centre portion of the pic ends up narrower than it appears in real life. A bit of fog on Juan de Fuca strait, Neah Bay is over there on the other side, close to the middle of the picture and some smoke from (I think) slash burning up the hillside to the right of Neah Bay. Cap Flattery to the far right.

This fog evaporated as the afternoon wore on and we could see some of the marine traffic in the strait.

Neah Bay is behind the leftmost ship.


I’m guessing you get the idea that we didn’t do much once we got to the campsite, not much except sip cocktails, look out over the strait, and read mystery novels.  Oh and then before you know it, it was dinner time.


And three Nighthawks appeared, diving and buzzing. Very hard to get a picture of them.



A bit of an apocalyptic sunset.



Next morning the fog was back.


I took us half the day to pry our selves out of the chairs and stop reading long enough to do some exploring. We found what we think is the trial down to Camper Creek, but the dogs were acting excited and we decided not to go down it for fear of running into something that the dogs would chase. There are lots of bears around this area, no shortage of bear poop, and our dogs have a history of going after them. So we decided to drive as far northwest as the logging roads would allow, heading to where Walbran/Carmanah Park “T’s” into Pacific Rim National park. It is a logged area between Cullite Creek to the north, and Sandstone Creek to the south. Interesting area but no great campsites so back we headed to the original spot. On the way back we had a dip in a nice pond in a gravel pit (often find blasted areas at the side of the roads. The rock used for logging road construction). I’d give this pit 4 out of 5 stars.


Back to the book. I was reading “Voices” by Arnaldur Indridason. The fog never did lift form the straits that day. We wondered about the number of fog days Neah Bay must have. Here is a link with some weather data. Seems that Neah Bay has at least 14 days per month of fog.


As the sun set, the fog crept up towards us.



But then the wind changed to a land breeze and the fog was pushed back a little.


Following morning was pretty darn nice.


We packed up around noon and headed back out towards Port Renfrew. We did explore some logging spurs, nothing much to report except to say that expect some bugs when going down dank, alder lined roads like this.

There was one productive side trip, up Braden main a few kilometres. A couple of female elk trotted across the road, finding and fumbling with camera got me this “Bigfoot spotted in PNW” class picture.


Then we found a nice spot where a bridge crosses Braden Creek.



We had a dip in the (cold) water then headed home. The van ran fine throughout the trip, but I’m really starting to get tired of the front springs – I still have the originals (tin top) on, and they are just not up to the task of supporting a westy conversion. I’d like a little more lift up front and I had been thinking about spring spacers, but now I’m wondering if those 2wd westy springs I have might be worth a try. I’ll need to look over the spring data again.










Trip – Camper Creek watershed

Just back from a couple of days exploring the area NW of Port Renfrew. My wife and I made a trip there back in May but bad weather limited how much exploration we did. This time it looked like our summer had finally arrived so we headed out there to see what was what. Turned out the gate on Grierson main was locked so we could not make it up to the nice view point we camped at back in May, so we headed west on Camper main and found a spot just on the southern edge of Walbran Provincial Park. Yup, another campsite on a logged off area – we joked about writing a book “Slash Camping on Southern Vancouver Island”.

But the view was magnificent, looking over the logged area of Camper Creek watershed, to the south and west the virgin forest of Pacific Rim National Park (West Coast Trail), and Juan de Fuca Strait and Washington to the far south. This panorama doesn’t show the park boundaries, but just to orient you, Port Renfrew  is pretty well behind that dip on the left.

I’m not going to go on and on trying to defend our habit of camping on logging spurs, we’re just different, ok?

A bit of haze was coming in over the straits as the sun set.

Next morning, thick marine cloud had arrived.

We packed up and headed down the slope and further west, exploring spurs and dead ends. All the way to the Pacific Rim National Park boundary. On the way we found another logged view point. You almost can see our first night spot back up on the ridge to the left, middle of pic, narrow vertical grey logged area.

About 950 metres further west is the National Park boundary, it is logged right up to it.

I don’t know why I take pictures of giant stumps without some object in frame to give an idea of size, but I do. This cedar stump really is bigger than you think.

Had a look at Sandstone creek.

And then back up to to the previously scouted campsite.

It really wasn’t that bad. See the cloud still on the deck in the background?

The low cloud made the sunset quite spectacular.

The cloud started to form around us after the sun went down.

And in the morning, we got the cloud full on. Damp and chilly.

On our way back home, we stopped at a spot on the Gordon River, a few km upstream of the marina.

All in all a pretty good trip. No one got hurt, no van problems, no run ins with bears (plenty of bear poop around), and plenty of food and drink. What more can you ask for?

Addendum: some more pics from trip.

We often came across signs of cedar shake block cutting, folk salvaging something from left over wood. On this trip it was all Red Cedar, on our previous trip in the area we saw Yellow Cedar shake block cutting too.

Apart from locked gates (mostly to restrict access to active logging areas – protecting machinery), many roads are “decommissioned”. Can take the form of large ditches and gravel berms across road, or taking out bridges. The latter shown in this pic, and a tree across the road to stop folk before they go over the edge.

My quick and dirty levelling ramps worked fine.

One of our two dogs looking noble. We don’t usually have any problems with them and the local wildlife but they have chased off a bear on another trip.

And here he is, dog tired.

As I mentioned before, lots of bear poop around. I think the bears are feeding on Salmon Berries.

Another shot of the marine cloud and West Coast Trail boundary. Where I took the pic the temperature was in the mid to upper 20’s C. Next day when we were in the cloud it was around 14 C. We were sympathetic for the hikers on the trail, they probably had no idea it was so nice and warm 150 metres higher.

Not the biggest slugs in the world, but pretty big.

Some of the sandstone outcrops.





Trip – stopped by snow but fun anyway

This past weekend my wife and I headed off for a quick overnight trip. We didn’t plan a destination, but ended up, again, in the area north of Port Renfrew. Snow level was much higher than it was back in January, and we managed to get up Grierson main and we had hopes of getting to the viewpoint we visited last May.

But the combo of thick crusty snow and a steep final approach thwarted us.


No really, it was steep.


We really wanted to get to the end of this spur, but no way. Just above that steep section the road flattens out.

What it looked like last May.


And this time.


And the spur we wanted to camp at, as it was last May.


And this time.


Our fire pit was still there.



So we went back down the road about 200 metres.


Wasn’t too bad, sunshine and a nice view.


Walked down the road a ways and looked at the desolation after logging.

If you look closely you might be able to see the yellow shoots of Skunk Cabbage poking up at edge of the water.

Pretty little oasis amongst the logging.

One of our dogs, loves the snow.

Cape Flattery, Olympic Peninsula, Wash. State.


We had the Go-Westy rainfly up, and the Westy pop top insulation blanket installed inside. We also brought along the Olympian Plat Cat heater (not used when sleeping). The set up worked very well, and with the pop top vent cracked overnight, we have very little condensation on the windows in the morning. Must have had some sort of chimney effect going.


A little bit of snow falling next morning.


Breakfast, and the tell-tale sign that someone in the family is a Molecular Biologist.


The old “Excelsior” at work again.


The dogs taking up space.


Then off we drove to explore more of the area. The weather cleared a little, if it wasn’t for the wind it could almost be described as mild.

Nice little lake, second growth forest.


Edinburgh Mt. in the background, steep logging in the foreground.


And wouldn’t you know it, we even checked out the Camper Creek area campsite that we spent so much time at last summer.


Ooh, kindling!


Notice how the mirrors take a bit of a lashing on these trips?


Came back home via Gordon River and Cowichan Lake (a round trip we have done many times before). Saw signs of kayakers along the Gordon – crazy folk who paddle down the canyons.



Trip – overnighter, or looking for snow in all the wrong places

Edit: I forgot to post up some sort of map to give you an idea of where I was.

Google map ref to general area.

Rough placement of stops.

map overview

This past Saturday afternoon I decided to head off for an overnighter. I wanted to park in the snow, on some viewpoint, and relax. I headed to the area north of China Beach Park, just NW of Jordan River where I had a nice night there a couple of winters ago. The approach is logged much more than it was back then.


I hit snow, deep hard rutted tracks, past some parked cars (day trippers: X-country skiing and snowshoeing) and on until the ruts came to an end. Met a snowshoe wearing hiker who told me that trees were down further up, road was impassable. Ok, back down the road but turning left (east) before the hwy. Road wound along the side of the hill, came to this spur going up. It doesn’t look like it and the camera always seems to flatten things, but it is as steep a spur as you get, probably 25% slope.


No real view at top, so back down.


Kept on going, turned out I was heading up the west side of the Jordan river canyon.


On up to the dam and reservoir (view from the other side of this canyon in this trip).


Was getting darker, I thought if I couldn’t get a sunset, then I would find a spot for a sunrise. Went up a spur… ladder?


Turned around so sliding door facing east, got out to look around, and… dammit, voices from above me. Some guys yelling down from spur above that the gate would be locked tonight. The gate way back where I “turning left (east) before the hwy”. Was truly dark now, got down onto the hwy and headed towards Port Renfrew. I don’t know why, but both my headlights and aux. lights seemed feeble on the logging roads. I’ve used 100/80 W bulbs in my H4 headlights in the past, I might switch back to them. My H1 bulbs in the aux. lights are only 55W, maybe I’ll up the wattage in those too. Don’t worry, all of them are relayed 🙂

Came to Loss Creek, ah, hell with it, I’ll go on up a kilometre or two. Turned out the road had been bulldozed (I won’t say it was engineered) further than I got before. Found a fairly flat spot, popped the top and snacked, drank, read, and slept.


Grey reality of morning – I was looking for a sunset view and I ended up here.


It really does look like the road (which years ago, used run up to the aforementioned reservoir) was just bulldozed. No ditching or culverts. I wonder if it is being put in to service a mining claim rather than for logging. As bad as some logging roads are, they are much better made than this road.


See the pop top?


Was a good thing I stopped where I did, road got a bit sketchy 50 metres on.


Before turning around and heading out I had to move a small fallen tree – hey Peter in Austria, it’s not a Stubai axe, but rather an Iltis Ox-Head.




I now remembered I had the GoPro with me. How to make the wrong diagonal across a ditch. BTW, vids can be viewed in HD.

Loss Creek never seems to get the sun in the wintertime.


Hoarfrost galore.


Exciting video!

Couple of things: first, the front spring install seems to be working out fine. I think I can say the added height has helped in the ditches, and certainly the van handles no worse than before. Second, you really appreciate the short length of the Vanagon when you have to turn around on these roads. Even though it sometimes feels like you are doing 16 point turns, I can’t imagine attempting some of the turn arounds in a larger vehicle.

Back in the sun and on the hwy heading to Port Renfrew. New road work is finished, eliminating a nasty single lane and corkscrew climb section. A view point was put in. Looking south to the USA.


Then on into and through Port Renfrew.

I decided to go up to the Gordon River watershed and make my way to Cowichan Lake that way. I drove past the turn off to Grierson main, then thought why not have a look. Back and up the Grierson, the way we went during the summer trips to Camper Creek etc. One thing, tracked machinery have left hard grooves in the frozen ground, much like rumble strips. You might notice the vibrations in the video.


Gordon river down there, I think that’s Edinburgh mt. with the snow.


Combo grapple and highline.


Pulley on the excavator must have something to do with a choker/highline arrangement.


Teeny tiny Vanagon.


I drove around them.

And about a kilometer or so further on, end of the ploughed road. Actually, ended at a “Y”, the van is facing the road that goes on to Camper and Sandstone creeks, picture taken from road that goes north and access to this area we visited in May. The unploughed snow was only about 1.5 ft deep, but it had a heavy crust and soft under – very hard to drive through.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the GoPro cam battery had run down and that I forgot a spare or even a charging system. No more tedious videos!


So back on down the road. I stopped to look at the grader and the truck.


Is this a Pacific P500 series truck?


V-12 diesel?


Really tough trucks. Has a lowboy attached for the machinery.


Back onto Gordon M/L and heading east. Took a couple of side roads, some with bridges.




Smooth section of the M/L.


Turned north at the old Gordon Camp site and parked for lunch.


Then on to Cowichan Lake. Took a little diversion to find this on an un-marked spur.


Plaque is out of shot to the right, this is on the south side of Cowichan Lake.


Then it was east to Duncan and back south on Island Hwy to Victoria. Despite not finding any fun snow it was a fun trip, and after all, that is why I have this van.


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 🙂

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 🙂

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?