Friday, May 25, 2012

May 24 2012 Douglas Trail Hikers, Gig At Stl'atl'imx.

I have some high level guests passing through right now enjoying the legendary Lodge hospitality.
I can't tell you who they are, I'm bound by a confidentiality clause.
....This is their helicopter arriving...
....from Whistler.
...they got the famous Hotspring Lodge blueberry pancakes for breakfast...
.....and dinner cooked over the fire.
I can't tell you any more. I've said too much already.

The kids hiking the old Douglas gold rush trail finally came through this week. It is an annual deal that started in the 1970's that has brought school kids out for a week to follow the gold rush trail.

I had raked up and seeded where the bear had been digging and mowed it to get my section of heritage trail in good order. Word from down the valley was there were 6 groups of students from lower mainland high schools following the footsteps of the 1859 gold miners.
The trail passes by close to the Lodge and over the years I've put out a sprinkler for the hikers to run under on a hot day, or a water hose there to refill containers. This year I took advantage of the free advertising.

Unlike those before them, this group made the mistake of stopping when I came roaring out to make sure they all took note of the blog address.
"Group up!", the leader said when I demanded  a picture, and they all fell into position.
So there you are guys, I told you I was going to make you semi famous!
I also told them I would meet them at the "Lookout", the 'lookout' being, 'Col. Moody's Lookout'.
After the initial pack trail was hacked through the valley by miners the previous year, the Royal Engineers were sent out in 1859 to improve and widen the trail, the first highway project in British Columbia.
The specifications called for it to be, "...wide enough for two loaded mules to pass".

 Beyond the hot spring a few 'miles' on the old trail it deviated from the road's current location next to the river and followed a draw up and over into Rogers Creek. (Sachteen) There was a spot that it was possible to climb up and get a good view both up, and down valley.
                                                      Lt. Palmer R.E.
Lt. H. Spencer Palmer wrote in his July 1859 report to Col. Moody, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, and Governor Douglas after a traverse of the route, "...the trail branches to the right and ascends a gorge between the mountain on the right and a high rocky bluff (named in my plan "Moody's Look-Out") on the left."
Locals referred to the site as (S)CWI'TEN.
( * 'Sweeteen', also known locally as Whispering, or Singing Rock)

In the mid 1970's, a teacher began to bring groups of students out to the head of Harrison Lake to follow remnants of the original gold rush trail up valley as far as the old 29 Mile House location, where the miners loaded their belongings on a paddle wheeler that travelled the length of Lillooett Lake.
I've never figured out if a student's inclusion in the Douglas Portage hike was considered a reward, or a punishment of some sort.
At some point years ago, someone decided when the students reached Moody's Lookout they should hike up the adjacent steep rocky pinnacle as a challenge, each carrying a rock to deposit on a growing pile at the top. Each rock has a personal message and a name or whatever in felt tip pen. It is a challenging ascent for the students out of the city, whom have just hiked for 3-4 days from the site of the old Port Douglas townsite. It is a rewarding view and a badge of honour to leave behind a written on rock up there, and I'm not so sure they have a choice. Several times over the years I have hooked up with a group and climbed the steep route, often challenging the youngsters to a race. A long time ago, I decided I was not as young as I once was, and discovered that if I followed a near by unused logging road I could park and traverse overland, intersecting the students well beaten trail near the top and arriving there long enough to have a sandwich before the 'kids' started to arrive, breathing hard and surprised to see a composed Mr. Trethewey sitting there. 

"I'll give you buggers a head start", I told this years victims, setting them up, then waited until I figured they were far enough down the road to forget about that crazy old guy back at the hot spring property. 
I hopped on my summer horse of choice, and raced off in pursuit of the teenage hikers.
By chance they happened to be 'grouping up' again a ways down the road at the base of logging road T200, which is not far from where they begin the 'torture trek' up the lookout trail, and instrumental in my scheme to get even anywhere near the lookout before any of these youngsters. I raised my hand in a theatrical right turn signal and pulled in front of the group as I pointed my steed up T200 logging spur.
"See you at the summit kids!", I believe were my words as I passed by.
 Moody's Lookout, center.

Up at about the third switchback, at my secret shortcut. I parked my steed and contemplated the approximate direction to the Moody Lookout trail.
                               Horsey, sit... stay!

 I have to admit, it has been a number of years since I last challenged someone less than a third of my age to a race up a mountainside. The exact route of my deception had become rather vague. I clambered across the rugged side hill in the afternoon heat, hearing the odd shout from below, and giggling to myself at what a sly old fox was I. Not too far into my escapade I realise nothing looks familiar, but I expect to intersect the 'Lookout trail' at any time, and not wanting to leave tracks I decided to cut uphill, climbing a steep, mossy hillside and hand to handing it up narrow rocky ledges seeking a spot to get a bearing on things. I soon realised that this had turned into more of an adventure than I had originally figured on, and I better keep my wits about me and avoid anything so simple as a twisted ankle. I didn't think much about that when I was younger, but now a days, getting back in one piece from my little sorties into the hills is my prime concern, the first thing I did was reach around and turn my radio off, conserving the batteries for any possible emergency, and if needed to try and get word out to my celebrity guests expecting dinner back at the Lodge.
I finally got up onto a knob of rock that I could see from.
Neat shot down valley showing Icecap Mtn., and you can see the airstrip down there back at home, but I could tell I was way too high and the Lookout area was much lower down to the right. I gave up any notions of catching up to those young buggers and began to carefully pick my way down the steep drops and mossy boulder fields, just concentrating on getting out safely.
New, unexplored country, and a few times I heard Sasquatch drumming, which is very similar to the sound grouse make.
Soon I hear voices and discover young people gathered around a heap of rocks.
Well damned if I hadn't dropped down off the mountain and landed right on top of a fresh party of hiker kids just landed at the Lookout, I wish I could attribute it more to good management, and not good luck.
Unexpected, I was able to walk up quite close, deciding to test the 'bear readiness' of an unsuspecting city girl, absorbed with writing on her rock. I parted the pines, and said, "Woof!".
By the response, her bear readiness skills where in good working order, but she may be needing some therapy next week.

 The rock pile is bigger now than I recall last time I was up, each one with a message

"Group up!" the team leader called and they all fell into position, even the dog.

So I departed the summit before I had to answer too many questions about how I got there. The trail was quite steep, but well worn in from 30 years of occasional use and preferable to the boulder fields I had been playing in all afternoon. All the way down I'm looking for the 'familiar' looking area where I cut off back to my patiently waiting motorbike. All of a sudden I come to level ground, this can't be right.
Then I hear kids voices as I break out of the brush and onto the power line.

Oh for crying out loud, I've come the whole way down the mountain by accident. Here are several groups 'grouping' before, or after their assault on the summit. I snapped a picture, then disappeared into the bush before anyone saw me, I think.

I bushwhacked my way over to T200 logging road, getting sticks in my hair, burrs in my shorts and scratched all to hell.  Some bloody smart idea I had to take a short cut to the Lookout. I hike way above it out of my way, damn near to the snowline, then follow the trail back down to the bottom, leaving me to hike way the hell up the logging road for my bike, leaving a trail of sweat the entire way.
Looks like today the joke was on me.
Shoot that's a steep road......
...and after approximately 3 switchbacks, and the excruciatingly long steep sections between I see my trusty mount waiting for me.  
I suppose if it were a real horse it would have come when I whistled.

By the time I got back on my bike my knees felt like they were bending in both directions, and I was ready for an impromptu nap right there on the rocks.
I arrived back at the lodge in time to entertain my celebrity guests over happy hour, and got the fire going in time for a fashionably late dinner.

*A funny thing I forgot to mention, after all that work I put into 'my' section of heritage trail, no one walked on it. For some reason in recent years the hike route out of the hot spring campsite has been onto and down the airstrip, totally missing a nice section of original trail. I know because there is only deer and bear tracks in the areas I raked. I suppose thats alright too, it is a spectacular walk down the 'strip towards the Lodge.

Douglas Portage Heritage Trail, lot 1747. 2012

Rockin' the Statlmx

On the 12th Archie Peters, Ross Edwards and myself were on the bill to play at the Statlmx nation gathering held up at D'Arcy. It is a pretty big deal with hundreds of people and includes 11 of the areas bands, as in Indian bands, who's traditional lands encompass a vast mountainous region.
Stop along Lillooett Lake on the drive out.
 At Mount Currie you turn north, D'Arcy is about or 35 scenic minutes up the road.

Downtown D'arcy
I took this from the stage as we were setting up, a bow and arrow target shooting competition, and if I'm not mistaken, the bow and arrows were made up right on the spot.

We had the prime 1 hour slot after dinner, with a set that ran from Santana, renditions of Louie Louie, Just My Imagination, a Chuck Berry tune, some gritty blues and winding up with Baby Don't Go, which morphed into a spectacular train wreck of a drum solo, culminating in Ross dodging a flying broken drumstick!
Ross Edwards, Robin T, Archie Peters.
It was another late night by the time the Safari tour bus pulled back into the Lodge.

PS. There is a better link for some tunes Josh and I (Blackwater MC) did at a studio back awhile.

PS also, if anyone associated with organising the Douglas Portage hike reads this, please contact me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hummingbirds El Loco

    I have pretty much always put a feeder out for the hummingbirds, and  look forward to the end of April when the first one comes and looks frantically in the window to let me know they have arrived. The numbers vary year to year but seem to run between 20 and 30 of the buggers at the height of their season, although they are most difficult to count. I'm careful to leave the Lodge doors closed, they sometimes hover in to look, then head for one of the skylights and proceed to buzz themselves out up there against the glass. I forget how many I've had to rescue from up there over the years.
I use a fishing net with an extra long handle taped to it.

The proper name for a group of them is 'charm', not buggers.
You could watch them for hours from the deck hot tub.
They know who is charge of the sugar, and know how to get my attention through the window if the feeder should run dry.
It is not at all unusual for them to go through 3 feeder fulls a day.
Like little flying piranhas, they meet you at the door and start in before you even get a chance to put it back on the peg.

When SkoOk and ChUk were young they were fascinated of course, but soon learned there were easier and more worthwhile meals to be had.

Having a cloud of them around is just normal to me, and I always get a kick out of visitor's reactions, there has been a thousand pictures taken and hours of movie of my 'charming little buggers'.
Usually towards the end of July, or beginning of August one day the numbers suddenly dwindle off.
So far as I know they head back to their Winter home in Mexico.
By then I'm tired of buying sugar and mixing it up and keeping the feeder filled and as good a company as they are, like freeloading relatives, I'm always glad to see them move on.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6 2012

    Over the past few weeks I've been working a little bit on the section of the "Old Douglas Trail" that passes through the property, bucking up some overgrowth and running it into the wood chipper.

Lt. Palmer of the Royal Engineers wrote in 1859, of this very section, "....Upon leaving the 'Hot Spring House', the trail runs for one mile along a broad flat about 10' above the level of the Lillooett River, ...this flat is rather rocky and the soil light and sandy..".
The old Douglas Portage was the first route to the goldfields in 1858 and a Heritage Trail. There are sections of it left in the valley which I would like to hike this year and write a post about.
Every year since the mid 1970's groups of high school students from the lower mainland have hiked the route every May. This years batch are due in a week or so and I've always felt responsible for keeping up the section of old trail that enters the property line at the south, and comes up past the hot spring and continues past the Lodge to the north.

Last Fall there was some mining exploration going on way up one of the local watersheds, the helicopter crew was boarding here and you may recall mention of them on my very first post. They got snowed out at the end of the season in November up at the camp location. They had to abandon two trailers that were part of the camp complex due to deep snow and worsening conditions. It is located 14 km up a near by valley at about 670m (2200') elevation, and subject to heavy coastal snow pack conditions. I was eager to get up there to look when the snow receded enough and before they resumed operations.
The trusty Honda quad never missed a beat and the air conditioning worked just fine, looking down valley.
A week from now a comfortable tent camp will be set up here for the 2012 season.

Hard to believe the entire area was under snow weeks ago, enough snow to completely bury an RV trailer.
Both trailers got crinkled by the snow load. Ouch

Its that time of year again when my bear friends come to hang around and indulge on my grass.
It will be a pretty common occurrence to look out any time for the next month or so and see a bear grazing.

They paw around uprooting vast areas of sod digging up bugs. I wish they would go do it someplace else.

They supplement the grass with what ever lives in these little burrows. A wasp or something, note at the top of the frame how they deftly rake it out with their claws..

 ChUk and ChYk enjoy a walk down by the water.

New cat ChYk, trying out her camouflage.

Looks like the lawn is going to grow again this year, and dug out the push mower today. I had rather hoped it wouldn't, every year I try to ignore it, but it grows anyways. Once you start its a never ending cycle until the end of October. I'll get the ride 'em mower out of mothballs this week to do the airstrip.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday May 01/2012

Ok I have have not posted anything for a stretch. I have had a lot on my mind, and I have been waiting for a nice sunny day to run out and take some pictures to post but Spring has been a spotty proposition so far.

You know when its Tuesday, just like clockwork, I hear a helicopter coming down the valley from the north at 9am. The doctor from Pemberton comes down once a week to make his calls at the tiny remote native villages of Samaquam, Skatin' and Douglas. I usually hear the machine coming when it clears the mouth of Rogers Creek, and when it is over head the doctor always gets on the radio and announces his arrival for the  residents of Skatin', which is only a few minutes flying time from here. For some reason, the helicopter was extra high today. Right when I wanted a good low helicopter shot to post.

If that wasn't a lame enough picture of a helicopter going over, here is another one. 
Its that little speck you see, or not. That's the doctor.

 Bad bear. I thought I heard something last night, figuring the cats had knocked something over, then look out this am and see the BBQ on the front deck in a wreck. In the nearly 20 years I've been out here no bear has ever molested my BBQ. I initially thought it may have been a wandering band of dogs from Skatin', but there were big sooty bear prints up on top of the hot tub cover, he had got up there and walked around and I'm surprised he didn't fall through.

There have been several mysteries solved around here recently.
First is the case of the missing cat food. I keep dry food for my guard cats out in the shop. I had noticed it had kind of been disappearing over the winter. I had checked some of the likely hiding spots but found no trace. Turns out one or more mice had packed the cat food one piece at a time from the dish across the floor and then scrambled up into the innards of a Honda ATV that was parked in shop. Said ATV developed strange tendencies when taken out for a run in the Spring. The highly trained Hotspring Lodge technicians dug into the problem and found the plenium air-box chock full of about 4 bucks worth of assorted brands of dry cat food.
Little buggers.

 Official taste tester ChUk, no problem we can just recycle it back to the guard cat dish.

 Another perplexing mystery was the case of the missing gas can.
Last Summer I had reached for my can of mixed fuel I keep around for my saws and gas brush saw, and there it was, gone.  I had to think, "who the hell would walk in here and pack off a one gallon can of mixed gas?, esp. when there was a fiver right next to it! I did a search of the immediate area but can be gone.
8 months later, back in March of this year, some young folks were taking a hike up the dry channel out front here and came across a chewed up one gallon gas can, which they brought back to show me. I guess some bear, maybe the same knot head that dumped over my BBQ last night, came upon my fuel can stored behind the shop last summer and was attracted by the bean oil based two-cycle oil. Packing his prize off to the cover by the riverbank then proceeded to bite it full of holes and lap up the contents. He must have been a very volatile bruin after his gas and mix-oil soup.
It is no easy feat to bite into a fuel container, and takes hundreds of pounds per square inch pressure. 

These days the 'green', or environmentally friendly two-cycle and bar-oils sold, are generally based on a bean oil, which most bears find irresistible. I've heard of loggers having their chainsaws packed away, and after searching find them off in the bushes licked absolutely spotless. Pretty funny.

KC's chair.
A fella has been coming out to the hot spring for years, always camping out with his younger brother in law for a week at a stretch. Turns out KC does wood work at home and filled his workshop with projects. He is an avid Hotspring Lodge blog reader and noticed some of the funky works I keep around. He was out in March for his Spring camp and brought me a chair he thought I should have. I think its pretty neat.

It looks to be a great year for playing music. There are numerous projects on the go with different musicians, and gigs lined up through the year. A few years back I met a young feller by the name of Josh Fairbrother. He had organised some jam nights at the hotel in Pemberton while he was slinging beer there to liven up the slow Sunday night shift. A talented songwriter and acoustic guitar player, he came out once or so a year to the hot spring to kayak and play music out in my garage/studio. He had the misfortune of spending last Winter in Saskatchewan, although it did move him to buy an electric guitar and write some rockin' new songs which he couldn't wait to get back to BC to run past his favorite drummer.
He moved into the motor home for a few weeks while he waited for his regular gig in Whistler to start. We went over his songs and played a few impromptu live sets for people whom happened to be around.
This past weekend 'Blackwater MC' got invited to an outdoor jam/birthday party held on the back forty of a riding stable in Pemberton.
First obstacle is I have to cram all my drums and sound gear in to my poor Safari tour bus.

Pit stop by Lillooett Lake, with all the gear on I take it pretty easy, taking an hour and a half to reach pavement.
Mount Currie for a backdrop, would be quite a spot to play on a nice day.
I expected it to be a little cool after dark but I always bring a heat-lamp for out door gigs, I clip it to a tall mic stand and it keeps my heads warm. Mine too.
I'm afraid this is the only picture I got, before I set up. Melanie's birthday was a great success, and in true Pemberton redneck style a car trailer was used as a stage, and a truck load of pallets fed a huge 3 metre high fire all night. Many of Pemberton's most talented musicians got up. I got to play drums the entire night, getting back to the Lodge after four in the morning, way past my bedtime. I had to get up early to get the motor home ready for some fellas and prepare for a chat with the head treaty negotiator on some unrelated business.
My eyes felt like a couple of little a-holes all day after being up all night.

There was days worth of studio time reserved for Monday back in town, I unloaded  the cumbersome sound equipment from the van. All the big stuff, the two large speakers and the amp and sub-woofer and the rat's nest of cables and my van rides about 4 inches higher. Monday I got out of here early to move into the studio in town at 9am. It didn't take me too long to discover I had forgotten my drumsticks. Luckily, Jason, the sound guy, is a drummer and had a pair of the 7A stick size I'm used to.

It was a little intimidating having mics all over me, knowing every little nuance or slight bobble is going straight on to multi-track recording equipment. 
 Josh Fairbrother, song writer and driving force behind Blackwater MC project.

Once Jason had it all dialed in he turned on our headphones and it was a great mix, I could play naturally and Josh and I could interact between the sound deadening mats between him and the 'drum room'. We went straight through 7 songs in the order we always rehearsed them out here at least twice, including a couple of bum starts. The set consists of an even split of electric, and acoustic guitar, Josh's originals, with a cover thrown in.
Command central.  Josh and I took lunch and refreshments at the Pemberton Hotel and Jason spent the afternoon mixing and burnt demo cds, one of which has been playing almost continuously around the Lodge since. The professional sound mixing spoils you, you want to sound that good all the time.
Always nice to be heading home with groceries down the lake road.

There a gig at D'arcy BC coming up on the 12th with Archie Peters for the natives Statl'mx Nation gathering, a one hour performance on the Saturday night, looking forward to that, although we need to get together right quick and brush up on some new material. On the long weekend there are some top notch musicians coming up from Vancouver to jam at the Lodge, and I'm counting the sleeps left.  A few days before the long weekend Blackwater MC is playing at the Pemberton Hotel. Looks to be some gigs and birthday parties through out the summer and not to mention the world famous Skookumstock out here and who knows what else may come up. Going to be a fun summer musically.