A group of us, nine humans and nine llamas, took a trip into the Potato Range in the Chilcotin area of British Columbia in July of 2001. After weeks of hot, dry weather, it started to pour rain the day we left and we had periods of showers, sunshine and heavy rain on the trip up from the coast. It is about a four-hour drive west of Williams Lake to Tatlayoko Lake. We drove down to the south end of Tatlayoko and then up to the Bracewell’s Lodge where we camped for the first night. They were very gracious and we had arranged to leave our vehicles there while we were hiking.
It was not a very pleasant day when we started out, it rained all morning and it was one o'clock when we finally headed up the mountain.
Because the weather was so miserable, we had a conference and decided to rent a cabin that the Bracewell’s own at Echo Lake. This meant that we could leave our tents and camp stoves and pots which considerably eased the loads that the llamas had to carry.
After getting out of the thick forest we passed through some steep meadows which were covered with flowers. The route up was quite steep but the easier route had been used by some herds of cows a couple of days earlier and we had heard that it was so muddy that the horses were not happy going through some areas.
This route was not muddy but the vegetation was pretty wet and it wasn’t long before everyone’s boots were soaked.
After an eight-hour hike we arrived at Echo Lake and the weather had been cold, windy, and rainy, all day and the cabin was a welcome sight hidden in the trees. We were certainly glad that we had rented the cabin as it would have been pretty miserable trying to get our clothes and boots dried out in tents.
The wood stove warmed the cabin quickly and after getting the llamas fed and lined out, everyone felt much better with dry clothes and a hot meal cooked on the propane stove.
That evening the weather eased a bit and the view of the lake back towards the Coast Mountains was wonderful.
The next day three of us went fishing at Lingfield Lake which was a short distance north while the rest of the group hiked up a ridge to get a view of Chilco Lake. At one point they had to make a detour around a grizzly bear with a couple of cubs which made things exciting.
We hiked up to Gillian Lake on the third day and while we were having lunch we discovered that some of the rocks nearby had fossils in them. A little exploration of the area turned up a cliff that had tons of fossils as well as some bedrock with layers of shell fossils. These seemed to be clam fossils and as the area was about six thousand feet above sea level, there must have been some tremendous upheavals in the earth in this area in the past few million years.
Janet is busy in this photo trying to break some fossils out of a piece of rock. Even though we had the llamas to carry the fossils back for us, we tried to get make the pieces as small as possible.
While hiking up through the meadows we had to pass through the herds of cows who were up on the alpine meadows for the summer. The cows were quite curious and at one time there were a few following along behind the line of llamas. The ridge that we climbed is on the left.
On the last day, the sun finally came out for most of the day and we climbed up out of the valley, past Dunlap Lake, up onto a high ridge overlooking Tatlayoko Lake
It seemed like a long way up to about the 6,900 foot mark, but the flowers were beautiful in the meadows and the scenery was spectacular with sun in some areas and a storm down in the valley.
This photo shows a beautiful small, crystal clear pond near the top of the ridge where the llamas could get a drink. The Niut Mountains can be seen just over the ridge, which dropped very steeply down to Tatlayoko Lake.
We beat an approaching storm to the ridge where we stopped for lunch and the views of Tatlayoko Lake and the Niut Range made us forget all about the wet boots and clothes of the past few days.
Brian and Jane Pinkerton
29343 Galahad Crescent
Canada V4X 2E4
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