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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-07-2012, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Searching for the "Big Bend Hwy"...

Back in the '50s (before the Rogers Pass was completed), the ONLY way to go between Golden, BC, and Revelstoke, BC, was via the Big Bend Highway. It followed the Columbia River north, on the west, Revelstoke, side, then over the top and then SE down towards Golden along the Columbia Reach. It was gravel, considered a windshield smasher, and SMART people had at least TWO spare tires. Total distance then, between the two centers, was about 180 miles and took around 14 hours! In 1958 I was lucky enough to go through there via Greyhound while coming home from my Uncle's home in Vancouver. I don't remember too much, except that the drop to the water was a LOT, and I've wanted to re-visit it ever since!

When I moved to Kelowna last year I started to imagine riding up to 'check it out', and this August started planning it. On my maps, Hwy 23 goes north from Revelstoke a little past the Mica Dam, then turns to gravel, then (the map says...) 'rough road'. From the Golden side it's gravel (100 kms?) before 'rough road' for quite a ways. The two 'rough road' sections are a fair distance apart (50 to 100 kms or so?), but I hoped to ride past the Dam to some rough camping area, then to the 'rough road' to check it out for another ride...? 'Rough road' - I'd LOVE to know what BC considers 'rough road'... well, MAYBE not love to know - REALLY LIKE to know BEFORE I ever ride any....

I set to work making an aluminum rack to attach to my "ktmduals" rack to properly support my 'Canoe-bag' that holds my tent, sleeping bag, mat, stove and sundry other things necessary for long trips, supplemented by soft saddle-bags and tank-bag with the remainder, and planned departure for last Wednesday, the 5th.

At 9AM I was headed north after a couple of chores done, enjoying the sunny Okanagan Valley, then transitioning to clouds and the Trans-Canada Hwy headed east to Revelstoke. The clouds began dripping 20 minutes from there, so it was time to add rain-gear to my Kilimanjaro jacket, riding pants and MX boots, which I did. At Revelstoke I gassed the Green Hornet up and transitioned onto BC 23, and 140 kms to Mica Creek. Riding north began to become a less-than-optimistic venture as clouds plummeted into the river valley, squalls becoming evident the closer I got to Mica. The occasional shower had become rain, and I was glad I'd 'suited-up' earlier.

Just past the Dam pavement ends and gravel (in THIS case - WET, muddy gravel!) starts. (Guess I haven't learned the lesson - take pictures on the way IN, in case coming out is crappier... as you'll see, 'cause I didn't take pics of the dam when I could SEE it!) My maps show the dirt continuing a bit NE past several rough-camping areas, then SE to the 'rough-road' section and its END - that I wasn't planning to try on my street-tired Versys! Some kms into the mud, rain unabated, I figured that "discretion was the better part of valor", did a 180 and got the hell-out-of-there riding back to one of the camping areas.

Turning down the entrance hill, gravel with apparently lots of traction just as the sun peeked through the clouds, I right-turned into a likely-looking site and put the Green Hornet onto its stand on a rock. I've done this before, so camp was up in less than half an hour - time to check out the surroundings.
Met a couple from Golden who informed me that, because of the dams, the old 'Big Bend Hwy' was under as much as 80 feet of water which is why the two 'rough-road' sections on my map didn't join.... Guess I would NOT try to join the north and south sections.

Nice area, had some good grub (I LIKE Irish stew...) washed down with some brandy and water (sorry Dave... saving the GOOD STUFF for you... still...!), then chatted a bit, and 'hit-the-rack'.
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 09-08-2012 at 05:01 PM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-07-2012, 09:36 PM
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Cool adventure and story as well ...i did the mica dam trip last year and rain into the same rain clouds as you ....


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-08-2012, 02:27 AM
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Nice pictures and report.

Bill -- 2012 Versys
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-08-2012, 06:56 AM
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Can't seem to stop progress! Great ride adventure and the pics are great. Thanks for posting.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-08-2012, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thursday morning broke SUNNY and CLEAR, at least I wished it had.... Guess what REALLY happened might make it a BETTER story:

I'd "hit the rack" around 8PM then woke up at 6 Thursday morning. My tent showed water drops on the outside, and when I emptied my stew can (from Wednesday's dinner) of its 'overnight load' out the entrance, I saw that it was raining. Ain't the first time I been to this rodeo, () so I began packing up my sleeping bag, mat, pillow - all the in-the-tent stuff you kinda want to stay dry IN CASE there's another night in the tent - then shrugged my way into jeans, riding pants, RAIN-pants, boots, Tilley hat and water-resistant jacket I carry for times like this, then snuck out into the rain with my stove and breakfast fixin's. Soon the water was on the boil, and my steaming cup of coffee was burning my lips as I waited for the 'cup-a-noodles' to steep. Maybe 30 minutes and two MORE cups of joe to wash down the noodles, then time to finish breaking camp, but first I put my Tourmaster heated jacket-liner (don't leave home WITHOUT it!), Kilimanjaro coat and rain-jacket (still dry, in the tent) on, then got to it.

By 8 the Green Hornet was loaded, probably a few pounds heavier from all the water that my tent held from wrapping around the totally drenched fly, and I mounted up, just in time for the fellow from Golden (rides an ST-1100, but not TODAY!) to come by and wish me luck. We shook hands, I put the V into gear and started for home.

The pavement starts right where the Mica Dam is (at least - where I BELIEVE it is - visibility was less than 1/4 mile, but I took some pics anyway) several kms of mud from my camp, then opened the throttle going south on BC 23. Weather was pretty crappy, low clouds obscuring the 'hills', but got some nice reflection shots with the camera. Saw where the 'old' highway went down into the river, then continued, the weather now starting to break - YIPPEE!

Stopped for shots of the Revelstoke Dam, then kept going south on BC 23 for two ferries and some SERIOUSLY twisty pavement. Might add 100 kms to the trip, but WHAT a 100 kms! I made the first ferry, checked that I had 15 minutes till sailing, time to remove all the rain-gear, then ON the ferry and OVER the lake. No idea what time the second ferry operated, but I WAS first off, so scooted up through the gears, through Nakusp and arriving at the ferry 10 minutes before ITS departure.

I noticed a few H-Ds in the line, and once on, saw that I was pretty much fourth in line to three H-Ds... and an Acura NSX!!! Always loved those, and I gave the driver a which he returned.

Once the unloading began I watched the NSX blister away. Me...? I 'gently' rolled through the gears passing all three rollin'-road-blocks by the time I hit 5th, then got the NSX back into my sights. That highway, BC 6 to Vernon, is incredibly nice with MANY 50 or 60 km (recommended speed, NOT speed LIMITED!) turns, closely linked. I was on the tail of the NSX (guess the driver took pity on me, 'cause he kept the speed down to where we stayed in a 'convoy' ) just having a ball, and that's WHY I took no pictures till we were just east of Vernon (you can see the black NSX ahead, behind the logging truck) where I felt safe to take a few pics while we drove. HELLUVA ride on BC 6!

From there it's about 40 minutes to my home where cold beer was waiting, and now I was riding at the speed limit - NOT that I wasn't BEFORE... .
GOOD ride, even IF a trifle damp and 'dirty'.

Arriving home at 10 minutes before 4, this trip put 884 kms on the clock (548 miles), and gas mileage was around 22 kms/L, or just under 50 mpg US. The difference in distance between my GPS and the odometer, are partly because the GPS was ON during the ferry rides.

I hope you all don't think I added TOO many pictures....
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 11:48 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the awesome photos!! That's some nice country up there. I have explored some of the area, but it's obvious that I need to get out and do some more exploring!

I like all the shots, but this one is a favorite. Where is this??


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 09-09-2012, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demenshea View Post
Wow, thanks for all the awesome photos!! That's some nice country up there. I have explored some of the area, but it's obvious that I need to get out and do some more exploring!

I like all the shots, but this one is a favorite. Where is this??
I took it 22 minutes AFTER trying to photograph the dam (br-r-r!) at the start of that day's ride, so probably about 10 or 15 miles south of Mica Dam. Here are a FEW others I took at the same time.... A day like that is very special for capturing reflections.

BTW, filled up the Green Hornet and used 17.6L to go 354 kms. That worked out to just over 45 mpg US. Don't know WHAT could have caused that LAST tank to get such BAD mileage....

Wonder if being FIRST off a ferry might cause it... or, SOMEHOW, sucking up exhaust fumes from that Acura NSX...?

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