January 27, 2015

Museum Main to Steam Donkey No. 1

Museum Main up from Chippewa Bay to Steam Donkey No. 1
Quad riding in the winter can sometimes be problematic. We get snow in the high country that blocks our passage, and we get rain that makes riding not as much fun (at least for me).

There wasn't any logging in the Chippewa Bay, so we could go on a weekday ride. If in doubt, it's best to call Western Forest Products at (604) 485-3100 to make sure there isn't any falling or hauling.

Steam Donkey No.1 on a cedar log sled.
Last week after some trail building to create a spot to offload our quads from the barge and intercept an old logging road, we decided to go up Museum Main in search of the steam donkeys.

There are two old donkeys in the bush above Chippewa Bay on Powell Lake, but with shorter riding days we opted to go to Steam Donkey No. 1 and scout out the way to No. 2 for a future trip.

We left from near our cabin in Hole in the Wall, but you can access Museum Main from several directions. If you can transport your quad or off-road bike on Powell Lake you can use the Chippewa Bay barge ramp and dock. You can also ride through Theodosia and over Heather Main down to Chippewa Bay

Piston to turn the cable drums for extension and retraction.
If you're an expert on rough trails, you can come over the Bunsters on the Last Chance Trail. From there, the new Donkey Trail that drops right down to Steam Donkey No. 1.

Our friend John took me to Steam Donkey No. 1 years ago. Then we had to slog through some pretty bad slash and under growth. John grew up in Powell River and knows a lot about the backcountry and has ridden his quad just about everywhere.

Levers that were once used to operate the drums.
Now Museum Main goes right by Donkey No. 1 and fairly close to Steam Donkey No. 2. But I'll save that part for a future post.

This trip we almost didn't make it because of the snow on the road. But we kept at it and made it.

There's a short trail from the main up into a grove of second growth trees that were preserved around the steam donkey.

Massive steel drums that played heavy steel cables in and out.
This donkey was used to yard logs from high up on the hill down to Powell Lake. From there they would be gathered into large booms and towed down the lake.

Like it's partner a short distance away, it was abandoned in place when the area was logged and it wasn't needed elsewhere.

It seems like such an expensive practice.

Starting a fire in the boiler to warm our hands.
Sadly, it's rusting away and the huge cedar log sled that once carried it up the hill is rotting into the forest floor.

Several companies have logged here since, the most recent is Western Forest Products. I'm so glad they didn't destroy these treasures from the past.

While we were there, we built a fire to warm our hands and think about what it was like to work far from town in all kinds of weather.

Many steam donkeys were abandoned in the bush when logging operations were completed.

A few have been lovingly restored and maintained like this one in a YouTube video by tubesmartine.

For stories about riding in the Powell River backcountry, there's Up the Main and Farther Up the Main. Both are available in Kindle, e-book and print formats. -- Margy

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