This weekend took us on a long overdue road trip in our own back yard, after a few weeks hiatus the latest words that were tripping off of Jordy’s tongue were “Treasure Mountain”. It seemed to follow him in the forums, in his dreams and he knew the trek was necessary soon before the snows of winter snuck in.
We headed off Saturday Morning with the 4 of us tucked away in the Jeep, now keep in mind that the Jeep is still stock with tires that love to slash their own sidewalls on the slightest of rocks. We knew that we have a few limitations and with 2 more than normal in the Jeep we would be carrying a little extra weight so the back end would hang a little lower.
We headed out from the cabin and headed down River Road. The River Road follows along the beautiful Tulameen River, many remnants of the mining days of the past and present can be found along the river. These include cabins, miner’s shacks & the occasional aerial tramway. Most of the tramways have now long since vanished, if you look hard you might find a cable or part of the platform – but luckily at least one full one still stands today. If you look carefully as you travel up, between the two bridges closest to Tulameen(about 6 km), one is still standing. Drive along slowly and you’ll see it on the river side, both platforms still in place – the Cable still intact and a cable car part way between the two.
We’ve not quite brave enough to try to bring it over to our side and take a ride, never know what to expect in these parts, so we continued on up the road continuing on the Tulameen River FSR. Where logically you would be able to go straight at the cross roads, a washout has changed the route a bit, you have to head up the Tulameen-Olivine FSR for a short ways and then ventures west.
Continuing to head West you’ll eventually pass the Champion Creek FSR, and then past the Tulameen Falls Sign at about the 31 km marker. Up to your right you’ll see a few trailers, these belong to our good friend Will, and then you will pass Vuich Falls, the Vuich Falls Rec Sight & Sutter Mountain Rec Sight. To this point a Honda Civic will traverse it with no challenges.
Shortly after that the road you’re looking for will be on the left hand side – the long awaited Treasure Mountain, it rose majestically above us. We headed up the main road, by passing a variety of off shoots that went left and right – not exactly sure of where they all headed, we stuck to the main road to start with. According to the back roads map book, one of these leads to Tulameen Mountain. As you start to peak the first crest, if you look below you will see the Yurt’s. The Yurts that are there, are part of a private resort and it appears to be a fairly large complex. The higher we went the more we could see.
We continued on after taking a look at the Yurts, past a “Danger – Keep Out” sign, we thought that the road to the high point might be a little further along. The road at first was fine for the Jeep, but we slowly starting loosing clearance a little bit at a time and after about 20 minutes it started turning into a Mini-Whipsaw run which was a bit much for the Jeep on tires with bad habits – so we turned back and opted for trying another way. – the “Danger – Keep Out”. There exists no gates, nor private property signs here – so we opted to try it and see at what point we would need to turn back.
The road continued on up and up, with our elevation ever increasing along with the nervousness of the condition of the road for one of the backseat occupants. In general the road is still in excellent shape, however I wouldn’t recommend bringing a tank on it at this point as some of the side edges are showing a bit of wear. The jeep was the perfect size and we finally crested the top of the mountain and arrived at the plateau. At the plateau to your right you’ll see an empty flat service, then to your left a trench remains, you can then either opt to go through the trench to the other side, or you can opt to drive up and around.
The views and experience are quite unique and interesting, as you can see the winding twisty road up – reminded us a bit of the Road leaving the Hedley area and passing Frenchies Mine. On the East site of the Trench you can park and walk up to the “lookout” (there is a geocache there if you’d like to look up the coordinates). The view there is impressive; there is even a benchmark up there. During the right season you can snack on a handful of huckleberries, but make sure to take your bear spray to be on the safe side. I wouldn’t drive a vehicle up to the lookout, but would recommend parking near the trench as there were several sink holes sighted along the quick walk up, and at several places the ground sounded pretty hollow.
A few trays of Core Samples remain as the only structure still present in a mining area that has been virtually untouched since left by those that mined there. We explored a bit and then headed back down the road to see what else awaited us for the day. Down below we decided to take the next spur to see what it beheld and it resulted in the base of a Yurt, along with being on the high side of some of the remnants of the old structure called Dornberg Gravity MIll that existed in 1930. We hopped back in the Jeep to go in on a lower road which would provide us better access to explore the skeleton of the building that was left. When you are in these areas it always feels like you’re intruding on the ghost of the pasts and interrupting their quite time.
Gareth has seen one other road that he wanted to explore so we headed down it, it added a bit of fun to the day – we wondered if it would lead to the main road? To a mine? To our surprise it leads down to a couple of old structures, along with an abandoned old motor home. It belongs to a family named McIvor’s who welcomes all visitors to use their cabin as long as you respect it, was very neat to see all the signatures on the door, along with the note about the Rat Poison inside. A quaint little creak runs behind it, we finished exploring the structures & the motor home. Thinking how did they get the motor home down there along the road, but time changes everything – and in the days the bus was brought in the road was likely in a bit different shape.
It was time to say our good byes to the McIvors and head on up the Tulameen River Road a bit more as we had one more goal to try to achieve. Jordy has had a theory about the Wells Lake and Tulameen FSR Road for a while, and recently had confirmation that someone had made the run between the two. We wanted to see how close we could get. We continued on up to the end of the Tulameen FSR past the Grizzly signs (remember bear spray please) to the “end of the road”.
The end of the road brings you to a clear cut with a treed area - unfortunately we didn’t have the exact coordinates of where we got to the other side, however the worst case scenario was 1.2 km as the crow flies from the lake. The area where we had tried to access this from the Wells lake area was about 400 meters from the lake & we were about 200 meters from trees when we did the reading – so we figure the treed area is between 400-600 meters wide. The Suburban is a bit too long to make it & the Jeep a bit to stock – so the cross over would have to wait another day – but it make Jordy happy to know that it was there and one day he will make it there. For most of this trip to this point a Civic could likely make it, and for those that geocache if you have bear spray and willing to walk a bit through the trees – perhaps next year you might find an easier way to a new cache in there!
Evening was starting to set and we had steak & prawns waiting at the cabin so we started the 50 km trek back to the cabin. We hadn’t stopped at Jacobsen lake on the way in so a few moments were spent reading up on the history and the interpretive board that was placed recently by Kelly Cook & then again when we passed by the recreation sights we stopped momentarily to take a few photos and then home again.
It was a great day of exploring, Treasure Mountain beat our expectations with the views, although we didn’t find as many abandoned structures as we had hoped – but we got to find a great view see some sights in our own backyard that had been on or to do list.