Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I went out to the shop loft and brought down a old box marked "Journals", blowing the dust off it I opened it up and searched for the one with 1994 on the spine...
I had made two trips just prior to arriving here for good. A month back I had been in from the Pemberton end and parked an 18 foot travel trailer at the hot spring, then a few weeks later drove up the West Harrison goat trail from the south to see if I could get through that route with a large Hayes 6x6 crane truck for log building. I found out soon enough it was not going to be possible but I spent an interesting weekend at the hot springs. The trailer was there and had already been broken into, it was messed up inside and a few little things missing. There was mostly shovels and rakes and things for working around the hot spring and some camping gear stored in there. I got it cleaned up and organised and the gear set up for cooking over the fire. The weather was sunny and almost hot.
Meeting that first weekend crowd of campers was an education, I thought to myself, "Well, this is going to an interesting deal..."
A week or two later I loaded up and headed back to the springs. I started off from the lower mainland earlier in the day and had my poor short wheelbase pickup grossly overloaded with second hand lumber I had spent the previous day pulling bent nails out of, and most anything I figured I might need for the first week or two. I have such a load on the vehicle is weaving on the road and I'm slowing way down on the corners. Anyone who has driven on the old Sea To Sky highway in those days can imagine the line of nasty traffic I had built up on my tail. The box was piled high with lumber and adorned with camping gear, fuel cans and a kitchen sink. To the line of traffic behind I must have looked like some hillbilly swerving down the road. I stopped in the village of Pemberton for groceries, fuel, and ice, and was in for an introductory case of sticker shock.
It was a slow drive once I hit the gravel road at the head of Lillooett Lake. The day had been rather dark and dreary with scattered showers. I started down the lake road about dinner time, and pulled into the T'sek campsite at 8 that evening. Under the power line before the entrance road sat a Caterpillar D7 bulldozer. The low bed from Boston Bar had unloaded it there mid afternoon. There had been some root rotted big firs and wind blow down on the property, a section had been logged a year or so previous, the cat was rented to remove stumps and move them to a pile for burning and smooth things out.
I drove slowly into hot spring campsite, it was just getting dusk, and there was no one else there. I pulled up to the little travel trailer parked front and center. Of course it had been broken into again, but one thing I've learned out here is no one steals garden tools. I got a fire going and set up my adjustable over the fire cooking grate. I sat around the fire after dinner and laughed and joked for awhile with myself before going down and climbing into a tub of the most wonderful, soothing, thermal water.
In the morning I would unload the lumber and plywood and begin the first job of building a tent frame and cover it with tarps stapled on. It would be used for storage and a couple cots in there for guests. At the time I had zero carpentry skills, and day two into my tent frame fiasco some locals arrived in a converted school bus. They were curious about this character setting up camp at the hot spring and had to come over and have a chat. They had a good laugh over my haywire efforts at putting up a simple tent frame. The driver, Larry Cosluich, was a carpenter up in Pemberton, "Your going about it all wrong" he said, trying to hold a straight face, then went and got his tools that happened to be in the bus, including some strange thing called a 'square'.. The tent frame served several months duty before I chained it to the back of my pickup and skidded it down the road and set up camp at the cleared other end of the property that August, almost on the spot I sit at now.
Funny, when I sat in the hot tubs that 'first' night, I really didn't look ahead as far a 20 years, thinking I would still be here. There was so much to do I didn't think much further than that. There was some plans for a small scale hydro electric system, some fruit trees, and a small 'fishing' cabin built from some cedar poles that were around, but not too much beyond that.
Who would have figured 20 years later, I'd still be sitting around, comfortable in my shop, the laptop connected to my satellite by wireless, and writing on a .com site sent out worldwide and read by upwards of 100 people a day. And my carpentry skills have improved plenty!
Over the years I've seen thousands of people come out and enjoy the area, but they always had to go home again. I was the lucky guy that always got to stay. Me and my first nation neighbors out here, I've always said we must be the luckiest people on earth to live in such a wonderful territory.