December 8, 2015

More Treasure Hunting in the Bush

Quads near Olsen's Landing on Powell Lake.
We love riding quads to explore Powell River's backcountry. Forest service and logging roads are open to the public after 6:00 pm on weekdays, and on weekends or holidays unless otherwise posted.

Theodosia and Olsen Valley are connecting watersheds that run from the ocean at Theodosia Inlet to Powell Lake. Over the last century, logging activities have left mains, spurs, and trails that give access to points of interest and historical treasures

You reach Theodosia Main via Highway 101, Southview Road, Theodosia Forest Service Road, a logging spur, and a connecting trail.  Beyond the head of the inlet, a turnoff to the left leads to an old homestead quad riders call Rupert's Farm. A few old buildings, a barn, pastures, and rusting vehicles remain to explore.

An old barn at Rupert's Farm near Theodosia Inlet.

Near Olsen Lake, Theodosia Main heads up into the hills. There we found an abandoned logging truck.

Abandoned logging truck on upper Theodosia Main.

Olsen Lake makes a good lunch stop with spectacular views.

Olsen Lake.

From here, Olsen Main takes over heading down the valley towards Powell Lake. Past Olsen Lake, a spur to the right heads to a cabin used by one of the settlers who homesteaded in the Olsen Valley.

Remains of a settler's cabin in the Olsen Valley.

Continuing on Olsen Main, another logging spur to the right takes you to the foundation of an elaborate homestead along the Olsen River.

Foundation of another homestead in Olsen Valley.

The next treasure is on a deactivated logging road between Theodosia and the Powell Lake logging dock called Chippewa North. Just beyond a slash at the Theodosia end there's a collection of old vehicles.

Old vehicles on deactivated logging road near Theodosia Main.

The last stop is Olsen's Landing on Powell Lake. The logging dock is still in use, but you can see from all the growth on it's massive cedar logs that it's a part of history too.

Logging dock at Olsen's Landing

Thanks for coming along on this Powell River backcountry treasure hunt. Want to know more about the region? Here are a few books to check out:

Desolation Sound: A History by Heather Harbord
Powell River's Railway Era by Ken Bradley and Karen Southern
Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence
Up the Main, Farther Up the Main, and Beyond the Main by Wayne J. Lutz

If you want to know more about exploring the Powell River backcountry, contact the Powell River ATV Club on Facebook, or by phone or email. Help from locals may be needed for you to find some of these off-road treasures.

Click the image to the right to enlarge for contact information. -- Margy

December 3, 2015

The Snows of Mount Mahony

"When the sky clears in Powell River, you can see the snowpack all around, but you can't get to it. Mount Mahony is the exception. The dirt road, only a few miles outside town, climbs steeply..." Wayne featured "Mount Mahony" in the first chapter of Up the Lake.

Since then, we've been on quad rides to this easily accessible area in all seasons. But in winter, it's especially enjoyable after a light snow. On one trip, our friend John and his dog Bro took the lead. We are always more confident that way.

It was overcast in Powell River. As we climbed higher and higher, we finally broke through the freezing mist to the sunshine that the weatherman promised.

The snow on the trail got deeper, and the overarching alders did their best to dump their loads on our heads as we passed underneath. John takes the worst of it in the lead, but Bro in his aft quad box gets quite a heavy dose.

Each time we thought we could go no further, John pushed through and made a trail for us to follow. We made it all the way to the bluffs and their panoramic lookout, but low lying clouds hid Inland and Powell Lakes from view. Texada and Vancouver Islands poked their heads through, but the rest of the coast remained shrouded in gloom. Sandwiches and pop taste as good as lobster and champagne when you're in such a beautiful place.

On the way down we hiked a few hundred metres up a side trail to a tranquil lake in the process of freezing. Sometimes it is hard to believe that Powell River has such wonderful places to explore so close to town.

Even though we saw several cars and trucks down below, we had the trails and snows of Mount Mahony all to ourselves.
Want to read more about Powell River winter adventures? Try Up the Winter Trail. It's available in print and Kindle formats at Amazon, and other online vendors such as Kobo and Smashwords.

The stories will take you hiking, snowshoeing, and quad riding along the roads and trails of our backcountry. -- Margy

November 10, 2015

Treasure Hunting in the Bush

The Powell River backcountry is dotted with treasures from times gone by. Go hiking, biking, or quadding and you'll discover old logging equipment, homesteads, plank roads, train trestles, cabins, and much more. Over the years, our friend John has led us to some exciting places where history lives on, like a natural museum.

Powell Lake's slopes have been logged since the late 1800s. The first stop on this tour is Chippewa Bay in the northwest corner of the lower lake. Here there's a logging dock and barge ramp. Nearby, Museum Main heads uphill to two abandoned Steam Donkeys.

Steam Donkey #1 is close to the main. It may be rusted, but it's still standing and surrounded by bits and pieces of logging history.

Steam Donkey #1 along Museum Main.

Steam Donkey #2 is farther up the main and reached by a trail through a logging slash and second growth trees. Steam donkeys were used in early days to pull trees out of the forest and down to the lake for transport. You can still see wood stacked by Donkey #2 ready to stoke the fire to produce steam power.

Steam Donkey #2 is reached by a trail. Photo credit to John.

East of the Chippewa dock is a place we call The Point. Before the dam there was a logging camp here along the shore. When the lake level is low, you can see bits of pottery and parts of an old woodstove wedged against a stump.

Oriental crockery at The Point in Chippewa Bay at low water.

While it's possible to get to the steam donkeys by boat and a long steep climb, to reach the old shovels on Heather Main an offroad motorcycle or quad is best. Heather Main links Theodosia Inlet and Chippewa Bay so you can reach the shovels from either side. I guess the cost of removal must have outweighed their value.

Bucyrus Erie shovel on Heather Main.

Water from Powell Lake is important for power generation at the paper mill. Monitoring the snow pack in the early days helped determine if there would be enough water to get through summer. The first snow cabin is along the east shore at the Head. The second is in the high country reached by logging road and trail.

Snow cabin along the shore at the head of Powell Lake.

At the Head there's an old shake block cutter's camp from the 40s or 50s. The cabin has fallen, but the outhouse made of cedar slabs still stands. The area is reached from the lakeside at low water or cross country through undergrowth from the main.

Outhouse from cedar slabs.

Probably a root cellar at the shake block cutter's camp at the Head.

Around Powell Lake there are logging docks and barge ramps that give access to the backcountry. On the west side of the lake between First Narrows and Olsen's Landing is a fairly new dock called Chip (Chippewa) North. The lower section was logged not long ago, but the upper part of the main connects to an old logging road that heads to Theodosia Inlet. Nearing Theo, old trucks have been left abandoned.

Old trucks on abandoned logging road between Powell Lake and Theodosia.

Another relic is on the south side of Goat Island near the Dunn Dock. We landed our boat on the sandy shore and walked up an old logging road a short distance. There we found this old winch from early logging days.

Winch on south side of Powell Lake.

There are lots of historic places to discover around Powell River. Each has a story to tell, and it's wonderful that people have left the artifacts in place for others to enjoy. If you want to learn more about the history of Powell River here are a few links.

Powell River Historical Museum
Powell River Forestry Museum
Willingdon Beach Trail

If you want to know more about exploring the Powell River backcountry by quad, contact the Powell River ATV Club.

Click the image to the right to enlarge for contact information. -- Margy

October 27, 2015

Maintaining Powell River Quad Trails

We have lots of logging roads in the Powell River backcountry to ride. But when they are deactivated and age, recreational users refurbish them to become quad or hiking trails. Here are a few from rides we've taken over the years.

Culvert on a spur leading to a Olsen Valley homestead foundation.

Corduroy road section on upper Powell Daniels Main.

End of the easily passable section of upper Beartooth Main.

Bridge protecting a fish bearing stream on Fred's Trail to West (Hammil) Lake.

Crossing a section of regrowth along the Lois River north of Khartoum Lake.

Log jumble on a road in an old slash above Chippewa Bay.

Washout on Jim Brown Main at the Head of Powell Lake.

If you try to find these quad trails don't be surprised if they've washed out or grown over. Mother Nature reclaims her territory at a very rapid rate. Trails like these stay open only witth ongoing trail maintenance by groups such as the Wednesday Crew of quad riders and the BOMB (Bloody Old Men's Brigade) Squad group of hikers and ATV owners. Thank you to all of the individuals and groups who maintain our backcountry trails. Through your efforts we all can explore the best that Powell River has to offer.

Want to know more about quad riding in the Powell River Region? Check out these resources.
ATV Category on this Blog
Powell River Quad Rides Blog
Powell River ATV Club Contacts
Powell River ATV Club Video
Every Trail online 
Up the Main in print or e-book
Farther Up the Main in print or e-book
Beyond the Main in print or e-book
Do you have any trails to share? Let us know. -- Margy

October 17, 2015

Ride to the Olsen Valley Homestead

Four klicks up Olsen Main from Powell Lake
There's history all over the Powell River backcountry. Sliammon First Nation people have lived here for millennia. Intrepid explorers such as Vancouver and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra followed in the late 1700s.

Then came the traders and colonizers. Finally individuals, families and companies who were attracted to our natural resources including timber, fish, and water.

Take a left spur through a deep culvert.
The Powell River Paper Company built a pulp and paper mill at the mouth of the Powell River in the early 1900s. A town was created for mill workers, and loggers branched out into the surrounding area to supply wood for the enterprise and to sell in Vancouver to support the burgeoning building industry.

Entrepreneurial people followed forest workers into new areas to create farms to grow food for the new industries.

Olsen River 1/10th of a klick from homestead.
On a recent quad ride, Wayne and I went to the site of an elaborate homestead in Olsen Valley. This fertile area was once home to a cluster of families with elaborate houses and farms. The crops they produced were taken down to Olsen's Landing (the same spot where we offloaded our quads from the barge) and from there by boat to Powell River. The Olsen Valley community grew large enough to build their own school. Everyone thrived until 1955 when the mill diverted water from the Theodosia River into Olsen Lake to increase the flow into Powell Lake for power generation at the Powell River dam. The settlers left, and their abandoned homes were destroyed in 1972 to discourage hippies from moving back to the land.

One of many rock retaining walls.
Wayne stumbled onto the foundation of an elaborate homestead only four kilometres up from Olsen's Landing on a logging spur. It was evident he wasn't the first because the area had been cleared and arranged to make the historical site more visible. With my love of "treasures" he knew he had to take me there.

For more information about Olsen Valley, here are a few online resources you can check out.

Olsen Valley - Powell River Historical Museum
Olsen Valley Homestead -
Olsen Valley Homestead Layout Picture -
Olsen Valley by Dave Hurrie -
Olsen Valley Additional Pics of 1970s -
Olsen Valley by John -
Olsen's Landing -

It's wonderful that people have left the artifacts in place so those of use who follow can imagine what life was like in this beautiful place. Here are a few of the highlights.

Items displayed on cement and rock foundation.

Piping inside of foundation.

Stairs leading down into the cellar area.

Household items on display.

Cement sidewalks around the home site.

Cement stairs leading down to a level area.

Old saw and equipment on display.

Lots of old vehicle and equipment parts.

There were so many things to see we will need to return.

You can also reach Olsen Valley via Southview Road north of Powell River. Junction onto the Theodosia Forest Service Road Branch 2, then take a quad trail that leads over to Theodosia Inlet. This last section can be challenging for the novice rider. Once you reach the inlet, take Theodosia Main to Olsen Main and continue towards Powell Lake. You will find the turn off to the Olsen Valley homestead on the right just before you reach the 4 kilometre marker from Powell Lake. -- Margy

October 1, 2015

Available Online: "Beyond the Main"

Beyond the Main
12th Book in Regional Series
by Wayne J. Lutz 

A new book in the series Coastal British Columbia Stories has been released by Powell River Books.

Wayne introduced this series with Up the Lake (free for ebooks) in 2005, followed annually by additional titles that feature the Powell River region.

All of the books in the series focus on the people and places along the Sunshine Coast.

The latest book in this series, Beyond the Main, uses a travel memoir format as the author explores the Powell River  backcountry by ATV.

Author Wayne Lutz at Olsen Lake.

I’ve concentrated on capturing the lifestyles of our region, where people are extremely self-reliant. When you travel the streets of Powell River, it’s a common sight to see quads in pickup trucks or loaded on a trailer, headed out of town. Where are all of these all-terrain vehicles going? And what is the attraction of this intense recreational sport? Heading off the beaten track, locals return again and again to the natural beauty of places where the mountains drop into the sea. -- Wayne Lutz

Beyond the Main is available at local Powell River bookstores and online through Amazon, Kobo, and other online booksellers. -- Margy

September 14, 2015

Chip North to Theodosia Inlet

Chip North Logging Roads
Logging roads around Powell Lake offer lots of quad riding options. Thanks to Western Forest Products, many barge ramps and docks remain, and logging roads are still accessible after harvesting has been completed.

This trip was taken using our barge as transportation to get to the at Chip (Chippewa) North barge ramp as the starting point for a ride using new then old logging roads to get to the Theodosia Inlet area on the west side of the ridge.

Wayne and I usually go quad riding together, but this time I opted to stay with the barge to hike the lower roads, read, and work on my suntan.

The reason, Wayne and our good friend John were going to ride in steep locations and fresh cut areas with steep slopes make me uncomfortable.

We put our two Yamaha 450s sideways on the barge to make room for John's big Suzuki KingQuad 750. Configured that way, we had room to spare.

The easiest place on Powell Lake to load quads is at Kinsman Beach next to the Shinglemill Marina. We land or barge on the sloping shore and lower the ramps for on and off loads. Except on holidays or hot summer afternoons, it isn't busy.

John rides with his big Lab Bro. They are well known in Powell River and have been featured in almost all of Wayne's Coastal BC Stories books.. In fact, John has been just about everywhere there is to go, and then some. It's so great when he can be our guide.

John built Bro a cushioned aft box where he can sit or lie down to enjoy the ride, but if there's a bear in the vicinity, he's up and howling like an emergency vehicle siren.

Chip North is a fairly new logging area with main roads wide enough for the big off-highway logging trucks called Fat Trucks.

The barge ramp is in excellent condition.

At the time of this post, the dock is usable for a boat, but it has a sunken spot in the middle. It's safe to tie up, but you may get your feet wet on the way to shore.

One advantage of new logging roads is the sides are open, affording great views.

Here's Powell Lake from the main road that switchbacks and climbs up the steep slope towards to the distant ridge.

When the roads get older, trees and vines will grow, obscuring the views. But that makes steep roads more comfortable for me to ride.

On the upper road near a stream, Wayne and John had to clear a blowdown.

At that same stream, John knew about a connection to an older logging road that continues west towards Theodosia Inlet.

The old road follows the stream through a valley to Theodosia. With John as the guide, they were able to find the old road and continue.

Just before a slash in the Theodosia area, they came upon old logging trucks abandoned in the bush. Such finds are always exciting.

John loves to check out old equipment. He's a wealth of knowledge about what's where.

Rather than continue all the way to the inlet, they reversed course. While they rode, I relaxed and read. My only regret was not seeing the old equipment. After the slopes regrow, it'll be my turn.

At this time, Chip North is inactive. If you need information about active logging in the Powell Lake area, contact the Western Forest Products office at (604) 485-3100 or the hotline at (604) 485-3132. - Margy