Thursday, December 5, 2013

Road Work 2013 InShuckch Road.

 Our bumpy old forest service road out here has been getting plenty of attention the last year or two.
A contract was awarded recently to improve a section a few km down the road from here, and a small crew will be working there until the new year.
More often than not the roughest part of the journey, this narrow 1 km section along the river was always a challenge and prone to flooding. Locals call the area Singing Rock, the wind funnels through the notch and according to local legend, sings.
They had been making noises about doing this section of road for some time now.
A week ago a reflective vest showed up to pound grade stakes in.
I started hearing banging and clanging going on down the road a few days ago, and of course was listening to the chatter on the local radio channel.
So today I had to go down for a look, and make sure they were doing it right.

It was hovering at the freezing point which wasn't so bad, but Singing Rock concentrated the wind and it felt damn chilly out there on foot overlooking the job site.
They are lowering the road under the hydro line and packing off the material to bring the lower area up to grade.

Dumping it and spreading the material with the cat, taking the bend clear out of the road and lessening the grade. Work along the river can only be performed during low water so next year another job phase will take the work beyond along the base of Singing Rock.
The original gold rush trail of 1858 included a steep climb up and over the backside of Singing Rock. The Royal Engineers came along a year later to improve the important road to the upper Fraser River goldfields, blasting in a rough lower trail alongside the river.
In the early 1950's BC Hydro built a power line through the valley, and my uncle whom had been logging at the head of Harrison Lake received the contract at that time to upgrade the original wagon road between the two lakes.

A short section was completed not long ago along the slide just this side of the village of Skatin', above the Skookumchuck rapids, a long retaining wall holds back the unstable material from above.
A stretch at this end of Lillooett Lake was finished in September or so, and another long section of road further up the lake at the 18km mark was raised considerably and we hope has flooded for the last time.
 You get accustomed to the regular road closures at one point or other along the road, you know what time they going to let you through, usually every few hours so its not so bad.
It can be a bit of a social thing too, as people often get out and chat it up before being let through.

The waits along the lake could be quite pleasant too. Those that work or live out here often don't take the time to stop and enjoy what the lake has to offer.

For a period in July you could be entertained while parked waiting for the openings by the helicopters fighting the lightening caused fire up the mountain, coming down to the lake to fill their monsoon buckets and climbing overhead.

There was a steep hill down around the 40 km marker with a turn at the top that used to snag up 2 wheel drive vehicles in the winter pretty regular.
The loggers had at it and completely cut out the hill and turn and lessened the grade.
Its like a freeway along there now.

The past 20 years I've seen plenty of improvements done to the road, big and small, and I've welcomed every one. Wear and tear on vehicles out here is a major deal, and those with a vehicle are usually handy at keeping them together.
People have often asked me over the years what I thought the best kind of vehicle to drive out here was. I always answered, "Someone else's!".
The entire road will be improved on a regular basis until eventually it will be paved I imagine and only the old timers and native elders will recall what a rough, car eating, tire flattening experience it was to travel in the valley in the olden days.
Improved access to the remote valley will certainly be of great benefit to the local Inshuckch first nation as they complete negotiations and move towards improved services, self government, and future economic opportunities.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm, could also mean a lot more traffic. You may not be so isolated for much longer.