Why go camping along a highway?
It's understandable if you're travelling by car but camping while walking is usually associated with backpacking which takes a person as far away from roads as possible. So why go on a camping trip next to a highway?
Quite simply, highway 20 is lovely and quite peaceful for a road. It might not be as spectacular as a road through the Rockies but there's a lot less traffic.
There are also practical advantages.
- Walking along a road makes it possible to carry gear on a trailer which is a much easier than carrying it on your back.
- Travelling solo along a highway (at least highway 20) is safer than a solo wilderness trip.
- It's easy to get re-supplied, dropped off, and picked up along a road.
Why not bicycle instead of walk?
A bicycle is undoubtedly the most efficient human-powered way to travel a road. West of Tatla Lake, I met a cyclist who was on a solo tour through Pemberton, Lillooet, on his way to Bella Coola then Vancouver Island. He was covering more than three times as much distance per day as me but I was happy travelling slowly. I wanted to savor my time in this interesting landscape. The faster you move, the less you see and a bicycle trip along highway 20 would be over in a few days. I also think walking is safer than cycling.
The ideal tent campsite has soft and flat ground, some large trees but not too much brush and is hidden from the road. With some planning, it was usually easy to find sites with most of those qualities. However, an issue that you don't have on a wilderness walk is getting around fences. Barbed wire fences run along both sides of highway 20 for most of its length and there are many stretches where I could walk for an hour or more without seeing a gate or cattle guard. I planned for this before my trip by looking for intersections with forest and range roads because they would have a gate or cattle guard. These were pretty easy to find in Google Earth.
I did have to cross a barbed wire fence to get to one campsite. Once I accepted the fact that I wasn't going to find a gate or cattle guard late one afternoon, it wasn't that hard. I unloaded it, took the wheels off, wiggled it under the bottom fence wire, put the wheels back on, and reloaded it.
When the weather's bad, there is no such thing as the perfect campsite. Luckily, I arrived at the Chilcotin Hotel late on a rainy afternoon in 2019. That was only my second night on the road but the shower and hot meals were greatly appreciated. Even when the weather was fine, I didn't pass up opportunities to use roadside accommodation, including Kinikinik in Redstone, Tatla Manor in Tatla Lake and Stewart's Lodge in Nimpo Lake. So, another reason for going camping along a highway is the ability to take breaks from tenting.
Eating is just as important as sleeping while on a long walk and restaurants provided a welcome break from dehydrated meals. I'll talk about food in another blog.