2009-06-19 50 -121

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Fri 19 Jun 2009 in 50,-121:
50.8978579, -121.4387649

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At the junction of Highways 99 and 97, 1km from a logging road near Hat Creek Ranch.



I was going from Vancouver to Timothy Lake (in the 100 Mile House graticule) for Father's Day weekend, via highways 99 and 97. How could I not try for this one?

The Veasy Lake Forest Service Road met highway 99 right about where I would have wanted to park, and gave me an opportunity to get the car off the highway while I was hiking, so I decided to go as close to the point as I could along that road. The terrain in that area is fairly open rangeland; treed but not dense, and the underbrush is similarly not dense. I didn't anticipate any major problems.



The Sea to Sky highway is beautiful, but the Duffey Lake Road (keep following highway 99 past Whistler and Pemberton into the mountains) is simply gorgeous... if you can find a way to safely take your eyes off the road for a half second.

The road has seen many improvements over the years. Some 30 years or so ago, it was paved all the way through. Some 15 years or so ago, it had road lines painted all the way through. Right now, some of the 1-lane bridges are being expanded to 2 lanes, so cars going in both directions will soon be able to use them at the same time. Amazing!

There are some pretty intense grades and tight switchbacks going up and then down again. Logging trucks and tourists in campervans take the road anyway, although I'm not sure how prepared the tourists were for the 17% grade with 20km/hr hairpins...

The drive was uneventful, consisting of a lot of speed changes and gear shifting, including 2nd gear at 70km/hr to get up some of the hills - and also to get down them without constantly riding the brakes.


Veasy Lake FSR was exactly where google maps said it was, and I crossed the cattle guard and headed up. It was in excellent condition, being among other things the powerline access road. I watched my GPS count down to below 900m while identifying multiple spots to pull off the road and park as I went, then it started to climb again, so I found a spot to turn around and went back to the point of lowest distance from hash.

This happened to be not only near one of the parking spots I had identified, but also home to a track leading up the hill much more directly toward the hash point. There was a ditch between the FSR and the track, but it was only about 30cm deep and I figured if I could drop one wheel in it at a time I should be able to get through and up the hill.

Driver side front wheel through no problem. Passenger side front wheel through no problem.

2009-06-19 50 -121 stuck.jpg

Driver side rear wheel went in... and then the passenger side rear wheel went in and there was a loud and horrid scraping noise and the car abruptly stopped moving. A few attempts at adding power resulted in only the sound of spinning tires, so I shut it off and went to investigate.

The exhaust pipe (drivers side) was touching the ground. The trailer hitch receiver was touching the ground. The cargo compartment behind the passenger rear wheel was touching the ground. Fortunately, the latter two appeared to be taking the weight, and not the muffler and exhaust system. Also, there was cel service here. (If you're not from BC, you may not realize how incredible that is.) Unfortunately, the exhaust pipe was touching the ground, so getting dragged backwards was very likely to damage that system. I phoned my parents anyway; I knew they were travelling with their jeep, which has a winch and could drag my car out of just about anything, even if it did rip off the exhaust pipe. They also, amazingly, had cel service, and told me they were an hour away and turned around to come rescue me.

I paced a bit. I took pictures of the car, which looked very sad at being stuck in such a small ditch. I felt foolish for getting stuck in such a small ditch.

And then I wondered if I might be able to get myself out.

The problem was that the car's weight was not on the wheels. If I could fix that, the car could move again. And, I had appropriate tools for lifting the car one tire at a time. I checked both sides to make sure the attachment points for the jack were clear, which they were, then chocked the front tires with rocks and started lifting the drivers side rear tire as high as the jack would possibly go. The tire started lifting immediately, which clarified why it was spinning so easily when I tried to power through: there was almost zero weight on it. And my car being not a 4x4, if one wheel started spinning the other one stopped moving. There was no way to lock it so both turned at the same rate regardless of traction. I collected rocks and packed them as tightly as I could underneath the tire, building a small rock bridge back to the road, then let the car back down, watching the exhaust pipe as I lowered it. Success on this side! the exhaust pipe was no longer touching the ground. I found a stick and scraped as much of the gravel and dirt out of the exhaust pipe as I could, then moved on to the other side.

It started to rain. I ignored it, except to laugh about maybe getting the drowned rat achievement. I was going to get this hash point. Giving up was not an option.

This side was harder. I put a rock under the jack to provide a flatter lifting surface, lifted as far as possible, and stuffed rocks. The back end was still on the ground when I put it down. So I got a bigger rock under the jack, and started lifting the car again. About 3/4 of the way up, I noticed the jack was leaning and the tire was no longer centred over the rock bridge I had started building. Then I heard a soft cracking sound. I let the car down as quickly as I could, and pulled the rock out from under the jack. A piece of the rock came off. So I started looking for a rock that was both bigger and didn't have the parallel stripes that the other rock had cracked along. I ended up with three rocks; a big one for the jack and two smaller ones to stabilize it. I lifted the car slowly, checking frequently to make sure it wasn't moving any way it shouldn't. The front passenger tire also lifted off the ground a little ways, but it seemed stable, so I started stuffing rocks under the rear tire.

This time I had success; the entire back end of the car was now clear of the road, if only by a few centimetres. But that was all I needed.

I crossed my fingers and got back in the car.

It climbed both back tires out of the ditch and onto the road. Before pulling the front tires back through, I made sure none of the rocks were badly placed, then got them through one at a time, and parked in the spot I had originally identified as being a good parking spot, mere steps away from where I had been stuck.

And then, safely out of the ditch and no longer needing rescue, I tried to phone my parents to let them know they didn't have to come rescue me anymore.

No answer. On either of their phones.

I tried a couple of times each, then left a message, figuring they were in one of the many, many gaps in service in BC. And then, I left a note on the dash of the car and started hiking.


The rain had been light and had stopped some time while I was rescuing my car, and the ground was barely damp. I set off in my bare feet, carrying food and ring suitable for the hobbit achievement, and enjoyed the BC scrubland terrain under my soles. Yes, I drove here and scrounged for rocks and rescued my car barefooted as well.

That my car hadn't made it up the track turned out to be irrelevant; some 50m farther, just out of sight of the road, a tree had fallen across the only thing that looked driveable. My parents would have taken their Jeep over it easily, but their Jeep can climb all kinds of things, and has armour plating on its belly. There's no way my Volvo would have done anything but run its front grille into the tree. That reminded me to call my parents again to see if they had come back into a service area. No luck.

Too many dead

I climbed over the tree and skirted the edge of a small hill that seemed to be between me and the hash point, taking the chance that it would go down again on the other side. The hash point got closer, but always seemed to be just a little bit to my right. I climbed over several more fallen trees, circled a few stands that in Vancouver would have been the easy route for bushwhacking but here were comparatively dense, passed a deer's leg with a little bit of fur still attached near the hoof, and wondered if any cougars had been spotted in the area recently.

I stopped to look around and listen, but the only mobile life other than me was the bugs. Of immobile life, a lot was sadly dead or dying; the pine trees all over BC are being destroyed by the pine beetle infestation. I also tried to call my parents again. Still no luck.

When I had a bit over 300m to go to the hash point, my phone rang. It was my parents, asking me which of the logging roads I was on - they were at Hat Creek Ranch. I asked if they hadn't got my message, and I had rescued myself. I invited them to join me, but they grumbled a bit and turned around again, heading back toward our family camping weekend which I had just made them two hours later for.

2009-06-19 50 -121 meal1.jpg

I stopped for a hobbit meal, sitting down on a comfortable patch of grass to get into my sandwich.

The land became mostly flat, and I went in a line that wasn't at all straight due to the fallen trees with branches reaching out to tangle me up.

The hash point was a totally unremarkable spot with bunch grass underfoot and beetle-killed trees around. There were some flowers with thorns. There were some thorns with flowers. There was lots and lots of grass for whatever animal was kept in by the fence and cattleguard alongside the road - most likely cows, although I didn't see a single cow the whole trip.

On the way back, I decided to take a more direct route, since the area around the hash point was fairly flat. I ended up swinging a bit to the left again; apparently when I have to go around an obstruction and either side is equally good, I go left more often than not. Good to know for non-GPS bushwhacking. I stopped at a fallen tree for my second hobbit meal.

The hill I had skirted around on my way in appeared - below me. I had a steep descent ahead, one which I had to do partly by sidestepping down a loose gravelly dirt slope. I think the way back was shorter, but not easier. The straight line distance from car to hash point was a bit over 800m each way, and with the detours I'm sure I went about 2km or so on foot. (Tracklog will come later. Maybe.)

The GPS led me right to the car, and I put my stuff inside and checked underneath for any drips (none).

I didn't notice until I started the car and was about to move that there were three horses hanging out on the logging road watching me.


Back in the car, I continued northwards, hoping but not expecting to get a multihash, since the 100 Mile House point was near a logging road off Timothy Lake Road, and I was going to Timothy Lake. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the turnoff where I had to choose geohashing or Timothy Lake, it was past 8:30PM and only a couple of hours of daylight remained. Since it's possible to get lost on logging roads in broad daylight, I decided to choose Timothy Lake, and showed up at the family gathering last, after dinner, and with everybody wondering what kind of trouble I had got myself into. Of course my parents told them all that I'd got myself stuck in a ditch while geohashing. And then explained geohashing.


Rhonda earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement
by being the first to reach any hashpoint in the (50, -121) graticule, here, on 2009-06-19.
2009-06-19 50 -121 Rhonda.jpg
Rhonda earned the Hobbit Achievement
by bearing a ring and baring her feet to and from the (50, -121) geohash on 2009-06-19.
2009-06-19 50 -121 meal1.jpg