I can't tell you who they are, I'm bound by a confidentiality clause.
....This is their helicopter arriving...
.....and dinner cooked over the fire.
I can't tell you any more. I've said too much already.
The kids hiking the old Douglas gold rush trail finally came through this week. It is an annual deal that started in the 1970's that has brought school kids out for a week to follow the gold rush trail.
The trail passes by close to the Lodge and over the years I've put out a sprinkler for the hikers to run under on a hot day, or a water hose there to refill containers. This year I took advantage of the free advertising.
"Group up!", the leader said when I demanded a picture, and they all fell into position.
So there you are guys, I told you I was going to make you semi famous!
I also told them I would meet them at the "Lookout", the 'lookout' being, 'Col. Moody's Lookout'.
After the initial pack trail was hacked through the valley by miners the previous year, the Royal Engineers were sent out in 1859 to improve and widen the trail, the first highway project in British Columbia.
The specifications called for it to be, "...wide enough for two loaded mules to pass".
Beyond the hot spring a few 'miles' on the old trail it deviated from the road's current location next to the river and followed a draw up and over into Rogers Creek. (Sachteen) There was a spot that it was possible to climb up and get a good view both up, and down valley.
Lt. H. Spencer Palmer wrote in his July 1859 report to Col. Moody, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, and Governor Douglas after a traverse of the route, "...the trail branches to the right and ascends a gorge between the mountain on the right and a high rocky bluff (named in my plan "Moody's Look-Out") on the left."
Locals referred to the site as (S)CWI'TEN.
( * 'Sweeteen', also known locally as Whispering, or Singing Rock)
In the mid 1970's, a teacher began to bring groups of students out to the head of Harrison Lake to follow remnants of the original gold rush trail up valley as far as the old 29 Mile House location, where the miners loaded their belongings on a paddle wheeler that travelled the length of Lillooett Lake.
I've never figured out if a student's inclusion in the Douglas Portage hike was considered a reward, or a punishment of some sort.
At some point years ago, someone decided when the students reached Moody's Lookout they should hike up the adjacent steep rocky pinnacle as a challenge, each carrying a rock to deposit on a growing pile at the top. Each rock has a personal message and a name or whatever in felt tip pen. It is a challenging ascent for the students out of the city, whom have just hiked for 3-4 days from the site of the old Port Douglas townsite. It is a rewarding view and a badge of honour to leave behind a written on rock up there, and I'm not so sure they have a choice. Several times over the years I have hooked up with a group and climbed the steep route, often challenging the youngsters to a race. A long time ago, I decided I was not as young as I once was, and discovered that if I followed a near by unused logging road I could park and traverse overland, intersecting the students well beaten trail near the top and arriving there long enough to have a sandwich before the 'kids' started to arrive, breathing hard and surprised to see a composed Mr. Trethewey sitting there.
"I'll give you buggers a head start", I told this years victims, setting them up, then waited until I figured they were far enough down the road to forget about that crazy old guy back at the hot spring property.
I hopped on my summer horse of choice, and raced off in pursuit of the teenage hikers.
By chance they happened to be 'grouping up' again a ways down the road at the base of logging road T200, which is not far from where they begin the 'torture trek' up the lookout trail, and instrumental in my scheme to get even anywhere near the lookout before any of these youngsters. I raised my hand in a theatrical right turn signal and pulled in front of the group as I pointed my steed up T200 logging spur.
"See you at the summit kids!", I believe were my words as I passed by.
Up at about the third switchback, at my secret shortcut. I parked my steed and contemplated the approximate direction to the Moody Lookout trail.
I have to admit, it has been a number of years since I last challenged someone less than a third of my age to a race up a mountainside. The exact route of my deception had become rather vague. I clambered across the rugged side hill in the afternoon heat, hearing the odd shout from below, and giggling to myself at what a sly old fox was I. Not too far into my escapade I realise nothing looks familiar, but I expect to intersect the 'Lookout trail' at any time, and not wanting to leave tracks I decided to cut uphill, climbing a steep, mossy hillside and hand to handing it up narrow rocky ledges seeking a spot to get a bearing on things. I soon realised that this had turned into more of an adventure than I had originally figured on, and I better keep my wits about me and avoid anything so simple as a twisted ankle. I didn't think much about that when I was younger, but now a days, getting back in one piece from my little sorties into the hills is my prime concern, the first thing I did was reach around and turn my radio off, conserving the batteries for any possible emergency, and if needed to try and get word out to my celebrity guests expecting dinner back at the Lodge.
I finally got up onto a knob of rock that I could see from.
New, unexplored country, and a few times I heard Sasquatch drumming, which is very similar to the sound grouse make.
Soon I hear voices and discover young people gathered around a heap of rocks.
Well damned if I hadn't dropped down off the mountain and landed right on top of a fresh party of hiker kids just landed at the Lookout, I wish I could attribute it more to good management, and not good luck.
Unexpected, I was able to walk up quite close, deciding to test the 'bear readiness' of an unsuspecting city girl, absorbed with writing on her rock. I parted the pines, and said, "Woof!".
By the response, her bear readiness skills where in good working order, but she may be needing some therapy next week.
The rock pile is bigger now than I recall last time I was up, each one with a message
So I departed the summit before I had to answer too many questions about how I got there. The trail was quite steep, but well worn in from 30 years of occasional use and preferable to the boulder fields I had been playing in all afternoon. All the way down I'm looking for the 'familiar' looking area where I cut off back to my patiently waiting motorbike. All of a sudden I come to level ground, this can't be right.
Then I hear kids voices as I break out of the brush and onto the power line.
Oh for crying out loud, I've come the whole way down the mountain by accident. Here are several groups 'grouping' before, or after their assault on the summit. I snapped a picture, then disappeared into the bush before anyone saw me, I think.
I bushwhacked my way over to T200 logging road, getting sticks in my hair, burrs in my shorts and scratched all to hell. Some bloody smart idea I had to take a short cut to the Lookout. I hike way above it out of my way, damn near to the snowline, then follow the trail back down to the bottom, leaving me to hike way the hell up the logging road for my bike, leaving a trail of sweat the entire way.
Looks like today the joke was on me.
Shoot that's a steep road......
By the time I got back on my bike my knees felt like they were bending in both directions, and I was ready for an impromptu nap right there on the rocks.
I arrived back at the lodge in time to entertain my celebrity guests over happy hour, and got the fire going in time for a fashionably late dinner.
*A funny thing I forgot to mention, after all that work I put into 'my' section of heritage trail, no one walked on it. For some reason in recent years the hike route out of the hot spring campsite has been onto and down the airstrip, totally missing a nice section of original trail. I know because there is only deer and bear tracks in the areas I raked. I suppose thats alright too, it is a spectacular walk down the 'strip towards the Lodge.
Rockin' the Statlmx
On the 12th Archie Peters, Ross Edwards and myself were on the bill to play at the Statlmx nation gathering held up at D'Arcy. It is a pretty big deal with hundreds of people and includes 11 of the areas bands, as in Indian bands, who's traditional lands encompass a vast mountainous region.
It was another late night by the time the Safari tour bus pulled back into the Lodge.
PS. There is a better link for some tunes Josh and I (Blackwater MC) did at a studio back awhile.
PS also, if anyone associated with organising the Douglas Portage hike reads this, please contact me.