Driving Highway 20 from Williams Lake west used to be quite an ordeal. The first section from Williams Lake to the Fraser River was not bad, but then you crossed the bridge (build in 1961) and would then begin the climb up Sheep Creek Hill. At one time when we first began using this road back in the early 1960’s, the road was gravel and dirt. The hill was steep and full of switchbacks and seemed to have a resident Bull on it. This huge animal would appear in the middle of the road as you were climbing the hill and it would not move quickly. One usually had to wait until it made up it’s mind to move on.
Approaching arid country just before the Fraser River Crossing
Bridge over the Fraser River
Just after crossing the bridge is a large flat piece of land to your left. In the late summer it would be a common sight to see Natives tending to their huge racks they had set up to dry their Salmon in the sun. Climbing the hill in more recent times during April we counted over 80 deer in a large field off to your left. This hill climbs and places you on the Chilcotin Plateau, a beautiful area, quite arid and very cold in the winter.
This flat location used to be used by Natives to sun dry their salmon
Creek thawing in April
Many people have worked at eking out a living in this vast country. Some succeeded and many could not fight the hardships.
Old Barn along Hwy 20 on the Chilcotin Plateau
After driving for awhile the landscape begins to change. Ahead you see mountains in the distance and off to your left is a large cut in the land, noticeable prior to descending a long hill.
Large landscape before heading downhill towards Lee’s Corner
At one time before this road was paved, the dust sat (I’m sure it was 4″ thick) on the surface and one would have to stop on the side of the road and wait for an approaching logging truck to pass before you could see enough to move forward. You had better hope your windows were rolled up and that the car was pretty tight otherwise a lot of that dust would infiltrate the vehicle leaving occupants gasping for breathe!
Lees Corner, names after one of the areas first Pioneers and cattle rancher is a welcome stop.
Some of the small communities you will pass on the way from Williams Lake to Puntzi are Riske Creek, Lee’s Corner, Alexis Creek and Redstone. All have their places in history and are inhabited by a hardy lot!
Approaching Alexis Creek
First Aid Post at Alexis Creek
This is a part of the Province with alot of history and many, many stories. All of these are well worth exploring!
Famous Chilcotin Fence
The Chilcotin fence, pictured above was economical to build and you can see it in many areas as you head west.
Just past Redstone you will come to a road heading off to your right. This is identified as the road to Puntzi Lake. Puntzi Lake has been known for excellent fishing for Rainbow Trout and for Kokanee. Not far from that turn off is the road (off to your right) that will lead you to the old residential area at Puntzi Mountain. This used to be an Airforce Base that was part of the Pinetree Line. That was part of the radar detection systems used during the Cold War. It is the southern sister to the DEW line in the far north!
The old Puntzi Airforce base site
Puntzi Mountain at one time had some of the coldest winter weather in the entire Province. I recall living there on winter when the mercury dropped BELOW minus 50 Fahrenheit. At one time the runway located here was the second longest in B.C. The airport is now used by BC Forest Service when dealing with forest fires.