A GUY AND HIS DOG: THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF FIRE...

"HOT" is the keyword for the first official days of the Alaska/ Yukon trip that I commenced on Monday.  Temperatures have been upwards of 28*C and as high as 34*C, perhaps to some of you reading this that's not considered hot, but to me...I feel like I'm melting.  I've made it as far as Prince George and seeing as this is the last major city before Whitehorse it seems prudent, in hopes of maintaining some kind of posting schedule, to get writing now before wifi connections become scarce.  

On the first leg of the trip along the West Harrison FSR from Weaver Lake to Lilooet, I was joined by my best friend, Matt.  When I realized I'd be going it alone on the trip I asked Matt if he'd be able to join me for a portion of it.  Luckily I happened to catch him at the beginning of his vacation and a short jaunt up to Lilooet Lake from Harrison Lake would fit in just peachy.  We assembled close to noon on Monday and made our way out to the beginning of the West Harrison FSR.  After a short dog walk and a little time to air down our tires it was time to switch from pavement to gravel.  It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a hot and dusty drive.  At many times during our trip to Chehalis lake there was maybe 12ft visibility with approaching vehicles throwing up clouds of dust to join the vehicles cloud in front of yours.  Luckily we only had to make it to Chehalis Lake, about an hour and a half from Weaver Lake.

 Mystery Valley FSR leading down to the North end of Chehalis Lake.

Mystery Valley FSR leading down to the North end of Chehalis Lake.

Chehalis lake has been a favorite of mine and Matt's for quite some time.  If you remember, it was to Chehalis lake that I was going on my Matt's bachelor party last summer when I was hit by a dirt bike.  The North end of the lake provides stellar views, sunshine, free camping and best of all, no mosquito's.  We arrived at the lake around mid afternoon giving ourselves plenty of time to get set up, make a fire, swim and make dinner.  Just before we started dinner prep we were met on the beach by our friends Cass and Brooklyn who had decided to come up for the day and explore the back roads.  Cass had recognized my truck from afar and promptly come over to say hi.  We had a nice visit with Cass and Brooklyn before they left to get back to Abbotsford.  After, we cooked up sirloin steak and baked beans with onions.  If you haven't heard me mention it before, I like to bring Matt along on camping trips because he's a great cook and I'm always spoiled when he comes along.

 My truck is basically a transformer, put it in park out in the woods and out pops a base camp.

My truck is basically a transformer, put it in park out in the woods and out pops a base camp.

 Gracie coming over to investigate what the heck this human is doing...

Gracie coming over to investigate what the heck this human is doing...

 Cass and Brooklyn with their monstrous Ford Super Duty.

Cass and Brooklyn with their monstrous Ford Super Duty.

 Matt the dog tamer...

Matt the dog tamer...

Our evening went by peacefully as we watched the sun go down and the moon come up.  We sipped on beers and tended to the fire while chatting about past and future trips, trucks and the wives in our lives.  

 Base camp on point.

Base camp on point.

 Standing in this water while shooting long exposures it the polar opposite to the heat we experienced during sunlight hours.

Standing in this water while shooting long exposures it the polar opposite to the heat we experienced during sunlight hours.

 Probably one of my favorite long exposures ever.

Probably one of my favorite long exposures ever.

The next day we packed up slowly and around noon left in search of hot springs.  If you're asking yourself why we were going to hot springs after I mentioned how hot it was, it's a simple answer, it's because they're there and I haven't been before.  A few years back when there were big land slides on the Sea to Sky Highway, people were driving the West Harrison FSR to get to Pemberton.  After driving the section between Chehalis Lake and Tipella, I hope those people at least decided to drive the road with a truck and not a car.  I had thought before I drove the road that it was fairly open and reasonably smooth the whole way, but to my dismay at some points the road turned to no more than a rough cut logging spur.  Needless to say, it felt and sounded as though every nut and bolt in my truck had loosened off; thankfully, the only problem that arose from the intense vibration was interrupted power to my canopy lights.  To counter the bumpy roads you're graced with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains the entire way.  Arriving for lunch at a spot near the North end of the lake I looked out towards the mountains and wondered to myself why the heck I hadn't come up there before.  I really am blessed to live in such a beautiful place like Canada.

 On the way out to West Harrison FSR.

On the way out to West Harrison FSR.

 Looking across to the East side of Harrison Lake you can see the forest fire currently moving its way along the shore.

Looking across to the East side of Harrison Lake you can see the forest fire currently moving its way along the shore.

 Matt is either teasing or training...or unable to resist his dogs puppy eyes.

Matt is either teasing or training...or unable to resist his dogs puppy eyes.

 Where would lunch be without the brewski's.

Where would lunch be without the brewski's.

 A dried up river bed we passed.  This place looked so inviting despite the lack of flowing water.

A dried up river bed we passed.  This place looked so inviting despite the lack of flowing water.

 Nearing the North end of Harrison.

Nearing the North end of Harrison.

We reached Sloquet Hotsprings after 3 o'clock, paid our $5 (not cool), and settled in for a short soak.  I'm not sure what I was expecting when we arrived but I was less than impressed by Sloquet Hot Springs.  Maybe I've been spoiled by hot springs in Nevada and California, or maybe it was the fact that I had to pay for them, but I didn't find I could thoroughly enjoy the springs while I was there.  We spent a total of an hour at Sloquet then moved on.  Apparently I didn't take any photos while there, only after while leaving.  Hmm.

 Lilooet River?  Had to stop for some photos, didn't get any of the river I liked though...

Lilooet River?  Had to stop for some photos, didn't get any of the river I liked though...

 Mr. Matt Murgatroyd...or "MMM" for short.

Mr. Matt Murgatroyd...or "MMM" for short.

 Stunning mountain views.

Stunning mountain views.

6:30 pm rolls around and we're sitting at the side of Lilooet Lake being devoured by mosquito's.  Plus side though, talk about a sunset!  After a quick swim in frigid, glacier-fed water to clean off the days sweat we dawn pants and long sleeves and get into making some food.  Tonight, salmon and mac & cheese.  Again, no photos...I think I was just shooting video here.

Later that night we're joined at the fire by Lucinda from Scotland and Sylvia from Vernon, two besties who've met up at Lilooet Lake before one goes to the island and the other back home to Whistler.  

The next morning Matt and I sit by the fire sipping coffee and watch the party people in the next site over throw up into the lake and nurse their hangovers, huzzah for drinking in moderation and not suffering the next morning.  Trucks are packed up, good byes are said to our camp friends and we move out towards Hwy 99.  We stop off at Joffre Lake to weave between tourists and witness the beauty that has attracted them all there, then drive the incredibly scenic Duffey Lake Rd to Lilooet.  Incredible canyon views entertain us as we descend into the furnace that is Lilooet.  Matt and I part ways as I continue on the 99 towards the 97 and he heads South on the 12 towards Lytton.

 Airing up.  We were both glad to hit pavement again, the lack of dust was a nice plus as well.

Airing up.  We were both glad to hit pavement again, the lack of dust was a nice plus as well.

 Joffre Lake, what you don't see is the mass of tourists behind me.  I've been told it gets a lot worse.

Joffre Lake, what you don't see is the mass of tourists behind me.  I've been told it gets a lot worse.

 Duffey Lake, a good place to reflect...

Duffey Lake, a good place to reflect...

I usually try to stop driving around 6 o'clock if possible, so when I had passed Williams Lake and 6:00 pm clicks by on my watch and no easily accessible lakes are showing up near the highway I'm forced to increase my search radius.  This is when I venture off onto Hill Road and pull off into a farm yard to ask permission to follow a pipeline road through some ranch land so I can reach a small lake I've found on the satellite image.  I speak briefly with an old farmer who informs me that the lake has been dried up for years but directs me to Cuisson and Rimrock Lake.  Half an hour later I arrive at the lake and my campsite for the night.  Standing by the lake watching the sunset I firmly cement in my mind the lesson I've just learned, ALWAYS ASK THE LOCALS.

 My campsite on the bank of Cuisson Lake.

My campsite on the bank of Cuisson Lake.