Saturday, July 03, 2010

Getting Stuck on Butler Main

Butler Main is a logging road that starts at Young Lake Road in Sooke and goes as far as the Jordan River above the reservoir.   Here is meets up with West Jordan Main coming in from Shawnigan Lake.   The gate at the Sooke end is always locked, I know this because I spend a lot of time in the area at Camp Barnard.    Our car is on the other side of that gate.   This llama is mocking me for being stupid.

This tale started on July 1st when I decided I wanted to go for a drive and see what was up the valley from Shawnigan Lake on the Old Port Renfrew Road.  I had never been past the western side of the lake and I was curious what the Kokisilah valley looked like and where the roads went to.   We were using the Backroad map book for the Island, one of the best off the shelf resources I have come across.   It shows a nice network of roads the west of north of Greater Victoria, though most times these roads are behind locked gates because these are all private timberlands and not Crown Lands.

We drove up the road and encountered some logging trucks, I thought this was odd for a holiday, but did not think much of it at the time.  

We saw some fresh logging as we were past the Kokisilah Provincial Park.   The second growth in the area has reached a large enough size to be ready to be harvested.   The logs are similar to what has been milled in the interior since the start of the forest industry.   It also says to me that there is a long term future for forestry in this area.  

If there is a mean annual increase in timber of 3 cubic metres per hectare, the area south of Lake Cowichan should be providing about 500,000 to 600,000 cubic metres of timber per year long term that is 12,500 to 15,000 logging truck loads a year.   We still have a forest industry in this region that will produce enough work for 1000 or so people - this assumes no jobs in milling the wood, but that is the end of the business where there are fewer and fewer jobs anyway.  Jobs have increased in trucking, harvesting, planning and silviculture.  

We drove till we got to a point where we could take a road to the right and end up over at Lake Cowichan, continue straight towards Port Renfrew, but I knew this road did not go through, or go left and head along the West Jordan Main over the mountains to the Jordan River area.   We decided on this last option.   We were also doing this in our Mazda 5 and not in the truck, but I have always taken regular cars deep into the woods on logging roads and never had a problem because of the road, only because of the quality of the car or some dumbass move I decided to do.

The West Jordan was a decent enough drive, but the road was a bit soupy in spots from the rain the night before, but nothing that was a worry.   The road was not being used by many people and we were beyond some of the gates, but we were not worried because the sign said they worked till 5 pm and we did not think any gates would be close before then.

We looked for the Jordan Meadows as they should have been along the side the road, but we saw little evidence of them.    I would have taken more pictures, but the sky was overcast and the lighting was not very interesting.   The long shots all looked washed out and 2D.

We stopped at a couple of spots on the upper end of the Jordan River.   One spot we liked had some very nice small pools that would be wonderful to enjoy in the summer when there is hot weather, that is if we ever have hot weather around here.

I should add here that the accuracy of the mapbook as clearly not as good as I had hoped.   It was not because they made mistakes in making the mapbook, but it was becuase there had been changes to the roads since the book came out.   What were on was clearly the West Jordan Main and remained so till we reached the bridge taking us over to what is now Butler Main - neither one of these names were the ones in the mapbook for the road at this point.  

The mapbook worked well till the bridge that crossed the river, it was then that we started to run into problems.

Our goal at this point was to drive through to Jordan River and come out there and head back home in time for dinner.   There was a clear indication of a road going from where we were past the reservoir to Jordan River.  

At this point we ran into Dieter and Ashley of the Birds of a Feather B & B on Esquimalt Lagoon.   They were out there in their bright yellow H3 looking for interesting tours for their guests.  We ran into them a few more times.

I should have realized something was significantly different because the name Butler Main was on the road.   I know Butler Main from the Sooke end and knew it did not go all the way up this way in the past.

We did not look too closely for the Jordan River Road because I wanted to first drive over and see the earthen dam for the Bear Creek Reservoir.   We got to the location, but the sight lines sucked and the access from Butler Main to the dam had been removed.

At this point we both sort of began to wonder about the Jordan River road, we thought we should have passed it by now, but put it down to not reading the map correctly.   We passed over the Jordan river bridge again and ended driving along what turns out to be Walker Main and it was no longer going through.   We then doubled back and to Butler Main and searched for the road.   We talked with Dieter and crew at this point and realized that the roads were not longer connecting as they used to.

Since we were on Butler Main and I knew were it ended, I thought we could drive down to the end.   If the gate was locked, there was a moderate change that Willy at Camp Barnard would have a key.   Along they way we were going to try and get over to Anderson Main as Dieter said they have been able to access it from the south side.   We did consider that it might be getting late and we might end up behind the gates on West Jordan.

The first short road that should have connected Butler and Anderson was dug up.   The second one that should have taken us to Tugwell Lake was nowhere to be found at all.  

We reached the end of Butler Main and the gate was locked, our car parked only metres from Young Lake Road and freedom.   We walked into the camp and found out that he did not have a key.  

We got back to our car and found Dieter there.   We all decided that we now had to drive back the way we came.   Dieter was some way ahead of us and not at the gate that was closed 31 km up the road.   We had no idea where they were.   We heard from them later and they told us that they were able to drive around the gate with the H3, something we could not have done in the Mazda.

We now had to drive back to the end of Butler Main and seek help from there.    Our friends Malcolm and Margy were available to come pick us up and we left the car over night.

While we were waiting, we interacted with some llamas.   Max fed them and Louie did not know what to make of them at all.

We were home by about 9 pm, much later than planned and much more tired.   We also knew the next morning we had to go out and see if we could get the car out.   We assumed that someone would be working on the Friday - wrong, they had all worked on the 1st so that they could take the Friday off.  

I was out there and looking for ways out and waiting for people for a very long time.   The car is still out there and we will either be able to get a hold of someone in Sooke with a key to the gate or have to go out on Monday when people are back at work.
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