Slim-Nichols divide 02/08/09

Chris on the Slim-Nichols Divide:
“Well, that was an adventure! The usual route to the Chilcoten is over the Hurley but it was closed due to the Coppertop and Camel’s Back fires 2 days before we were to leave. The obvious alternate route is through Lillooet but the McLean fire was within 1km of town limits with evacuation imminent. So Cara, Lucy and I chose to drive over the Highline from D’arcy to Seton Portage and then over Mission Mountain to Highway 40 (this was just before the Seton, Spider Creek and Hell Creek fires were started / discovered). The Highline was not bad. The hill out of D’arcy might be too steep for some 2wd but there was a Ford Focus parked halfway along. The crux is a steepish hill with some loose rock about halfway along – timid drivers need not apply. Mission Mountain is even better – 2wd friendly but you have to like switchbacks (a lot). From Pemberton to Highway 40 was 2 h 10 min for us. Then it was on to Slim Creek road – probably in better shape than last year (2wd with some rough / rutted spots). The long drive and high water levels on Slim Creek changed our plans for day 1 and we decided to camp just before the meadows and cross over early on day 2. We managed to find the trail up the southern branch of Slim but lost it again. We camped in the high alpine near Slim Lakes and could see a couple of smoke plumes in the far east. The wind changed direction during the next night and the whole of day 3 – crossing over Sorcerer ridge and into the Nichols drainage – was smoky. Rain moved in that evening and was on and off until late morning of the next day when we climbed Glacierview Peak. Day 5 was mostly clear as we climbed into the top of the Nichols drainage, touched the edge of Griswold, dropped into Gun Valley and climbed back out over Wolverine Pass to Leckie Lake. Day 6 was very hazy with smoke as we returned to the car. In general, the area was very dry with most non-glacier-fed creeks having dried up and ponds at low levels. Despite some signs of large mammals, we saw only marmots and smaller animals. The real adventure started when we drove back to Gold Bridge to find all access out of the community closed. We ate supper at the hotel and found a campground that wasn’t closed for the night. The next day we hit up the gas station, library, store and hotel looking for information on whether there would be a scheduled convoy leaving for Lillooet (there had been one on the previous day). While we waited, we ran into a couple members of a Land Cruiser club returning from a 2-week expedition into the Chilcotin (we had seen them on our previous trip from a distant vantage point on Battlement Ridge as they climbed the old mining roads on Pallisade Bluff). These guys are serious offroaders with stories of crossing 1 metre deep creeks and carrying spare axles! While we were at the hotel, word came that the Hurley was reopening and there was a mad dash for vehicles and we were off up the Hurley before conditions changed again. We finally arrived in Vancouver 20 hours later than planned.”

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