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glasseye
11-08-2011, 12:42 AM
The Chilcotin Plateau (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilcotin_Plateau) nestles in the rainshadow of the Coast Range in south central British Columbia. Bounded on the west by some of the highest, emptiest mountain wilderness in BC and on the east by the Fraser River, it's a vast grasssland populated mainly by cattle and cowboys.

Frito and I took a one-day diversion from a trip to Vancouver to explore the extreme southeast corner of this beautiful area.


http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6060/6323734543_f73a11ef68_b.jpg

Our timing was both perfect and poor. Most of the trees had lost their leaves by the time we arrived in late October, but a rapid change in the weather made for some interesting photography later in the day.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6112/6324488358_21957756de_b.jpg

It was darn cold, even for this time of the year. The dashboard thermometer read minus 7C on this sunny morning. Luckily, I'd prepared my accommodations with two, nested sleeping bags. While out shooting, I kept Frito idling with the heater on full blast. My numb fingers welcomed the stream of hot air from the dashboard when I returned.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6104/6324487736_f7142f3c35_b.jpg

I approached the Chilcotin from Clinton, BC across a broad, forested plain. Here, several transmission lines deliver power from the Peace River to Vancouver and points south. It was good to see this vast cleared right of way, for one of my very first jobs was as a surveyor's assistant on this very line over forty years ago.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6059/6324488436_f6ff11db7a_b.jpg

Eventually, the forest gives way to grasslands as the road winds down off the plateau towards the Fraser River. The rough road played havoc with Frito's dashboard rattle situation. This winter, I'll have to do a little exploring behind the radio to discover what's come loose.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6116/6324488052_679043e583_b.jpg

Here running at its lowest levels of the season, the Fraser River is one of North America's last untamed large rivers. It's entire 1,375 kilometer length is devoid of dams. This one-lane bridge is one of the few bridge crossings outside of Vancouver. It provides access to the Gang Ranch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gang_Ranch), long the world's largest cattle ranch, now taking second place to another BC ranch, the Douglas Lake Ranch (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Lake_Cattle_Company). Eat it, Texas! :tongue:

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6038/6323734325_4e2920ab4c_b.jpg

"Bad weather makes good pictures" is an old landscape photographer's aphorism. This approaching storm, while photogenic, had Frito and I scurrying for the relative safety of pavement in Williams Lake, 100 km of rough gravel to the north. Considering that I'd seen but two other vehicles the whole day, I decided that however good the conditions, I didn't want to be stranded by weather this late in the season.

windsprinter
12-07-2011, 12:38 AM
Thanks for the Chilcotin shots Glasseye! The Gang Ranch was where I did one of my first professional projects myself in 1975 - and learned to drive 4x4 in challenging conditions. I came back from working up north a couple of years ago with my son and took a detour via the single track with washed out bridges route down the west side of the Fraser from Chilcotin River to the bridge in your pic at Gang Ranch - 2 glorious days with a cowboy camp in the middle, till we hit the main road in your pics. Not with the Sprinter, though I think it would have done all of it with some chains and traction mats!

The Chilcotin is my favourite part of BC - and if you keep going west it just gets better and better, because the snowy mountains in the south get closer to the grasslands, and it feels like you are travelling back in time as well!