Moto Camping in the British Columbia Backcountry
Ripping deep Canadian backroads with famed bike builder James Crowe of West America
A highly anticipated return to the north during a pivotal shift in the seasons, we headed up to B.C. to visit our good pal and renowned metal fabricator/motorcycle builder James Crowe of West America. Saddling up two trail-ready motorcycles for a weekend of camping in the high country, we fled the "Crowe's Nest."
With the compass pointing northward we began on the sweeping and crisp-winded Highway 99. The roads quickly turned to quieter and drier logging roads with views that could kill—literally, if you weren't paying attention to the road it would have been a solid shot over the edge.
For the first night, we camped amongst the trees nestled alongside a beautiful lake hiding from the winds. Retreating to the tent and jumping into our sleeping bags we laid out a map and planned the route for the second day. The following morning we fueled our camp stove with gas from the motorcycle, made some coffee and oatmeal, and hit the trail once more. Minutes into the ride we were halted on the trail by a black bear and her cub seemingly there to collect our toll. After a brief stare-down, the duo receded into the woods and we peeled off down the trail happy to have avoided any further interaction.
Passing glacial lakes with clouds whipping across the mountain tops, we stopped on occasion simply to marvel in its display. We eventually made our way into a small mountain town to re-up on supplies, but didn't make it through without first taking in the locals' warnings of the rough access road that was our path to that evening's campsite. Needless to say, they didn't persuade us. The old mining road (one of the highest passes in B.C.) led us up a steep and bouldered mountain pathway that crossed streams and landed us at the saddle of the mountain's peak at around 8,000 feet.
With a warm fire and a much-deserved meal as our company, we set up camp on a grassy knoll looking out on the snow-capped mountains. The defining quiet that surrounded us was like nowhere I had been before. Only the distant crash of rocks on surrounding mountains or a light breeze through the trees would break its silence. Telling stories till the sun set over the ridge while occasionally staring into nature's television, we finally retreated to our tent.
The next morning we fueled up on caffeine and fired up the cold engines. As we started our descent we were feeling much more confident at the road ahead. Winding back on the crisp but sun-scattered roads I tried to take in the intense palette of changing leaves and teal blue lakes. With clenched white-knuckled hands we finally made it back to the Crowes' Nest and put up a well-deserved high five, cracking a dusty smile knowing where we had been.
Mike Armenta is a San Francsico-based photographer, follow him on IG here