Lord River, SW BC

I recently completed an August 22-25 trip that involved roughly a 20 km cross-country hike from the end of the logging/mineral exploration road in the upper Bridge River drainage over into the Lord River drainage and roughly 20 km down the Lord River to the south end of Taseko Lakes. It was a great trip (my first with packraft) into a valley (the Lord) that I have been curious about for a long time. Highly recommended through fabulous country!

The logistics were a bit complicated for such a short trip. I arranged a 55km or so vehicle shuttle up from the Gold Bridge/Tyaughton Lake area to the upper Bridge. Tyax Air/Adventures has a Beaver on floats and I arranged a pick up at Taseko Lakes when they had a trip into a nearby lake dropping off mtn bikers which brought me back to Tyaugton Lake where my truck was parked. First night was spent maybe 2 hours past the end of the road (which worked out well as crossing that creek after a hot day was way easier first thing in the morning). Second night was on the edge of the open alpine 4-5 km before the Lord River. 3rd night was at the south end of Taskeo Lakes.

The road in the upper Bridge currently ends roughly 10 km as the crow flies upstream (west) of Nichols Creek. The walking was a bit slow/brushy at the start getting up into the alpine and again at the end descending down to the Lord River. The rest, the middle part, was generally great open travelling but timing the crossings of the bigger glacial creeks for the morning (and looking for braided areas and/or above forks) helped in at least one spot.

The side creek my dog and I followed down to the Lord was picked as it hits the river below the steeper gradient section farther upstream. From my put in point to the beach at the south end of Taseko Lakes was 18.9 km as the crow flies including roughly 5 km or flat water on the Lord Lakes - I didn’t have a watch with me but I did the whole distance in one long afternoon into the evening. At the water level I encountered, the section of the Lord River I ran is pretty much Class I and II with maybe a couple of II+ more turbulent corners (III- at most) but there are a LOT of wood hazards including some tight spots to thread so, conservatively, I’m thinking it probably would not be a good river for a novice river boater given the potential downside of learning river dynamics around all that wood - especially if the water was higher. It might not be imprudent to err on the safe side think of it as a trip when solid Class III/III+ skills would help with navigating the wood hazards. I don’t know how the river Classifications I mention translate in to packraft (PR) grades.

I was able to read-and-run (not scout) the whole way including a few tight, pretty much blind corners but the fact that it was very likely lower late August water made for a safer and more relaxed trip - in other words at higher water I think some of the blinder corners (given the thick alders on either side) would have had fewer or no eddies to bail out at or boat scout from. I am sure that in this day and age someone had done the river before (who knows… maybe even up and down by jet boat?) but I didn’t have any beta on the river so I appreciated the lower water level. Similarly, had there been log jams all the way across the river, the lower water I encountered made for more eddies to catch and bars to beach on in a pinch. Note that the river braids through mostly alder-covered islands at first and is forming/cutting new channels, combine that with shifting wood hazards the whole way down and so a subsequent trip could easily be a different, more hazardous experience than I had.

Options to extend the trip include starting up Salal Creek in the upper Lillooet drainage (or loop around from McParlon Creek in the Bridge) and use your packraft to cross the lake at the receding toe of Bridge Glacier before heading into the Lord drainage. One could also paddle flatwater down to the north end of the Taseko Lakes and end at the road there. (The south end of Taseko Lakes is still ATV accessible on old mining roads but probably doesn’t see much traffic - at least outside of hunting season.) The further north you go up the Taseko Lakes the more the mountains diminish as you enter the Chilcotin Plateau. In theory you could continue north down the Taseko and then Chilko and Chilcotin Rivers but, even on the Taseko, there’s some what many would call Class IV on increasing volume to contend with.

Saw your trip just today, quite interesting. I hiked up to Warner lake last year when I was in BC for a month. Took a picture of the glacier so I could compare it to the one I took forty years ago when I worked up in the Bralorne gold mine. Definitely smaller. Anyway, many years ago I made the trip from Jewel trailhead past Spruce lake, Humming bird, Trigger , and Warner Lake. The trail to Warner pass is quite good, and even the trail down until you hit the old road was quite good. Awesome trip. Saw a huge grizzly on the way down. Stayed at Taseko Lake one night, and went back. Thought of taking a bike next year, but donèt know if it is worth it, might be a bit rough. While I was in Goldbridge this summer, I was told by Pioneer Paul that he picked up a guy way up Downton Lake who had hike in over the Bridge Glacier, but that could not have been you,. because you did the route in reverse. Anyway, great stuff.

I’ve biked up from Jewel past Warner Lake and then (hike-a-bike) over Warner Pass and down to Taseko Lakes -it’s a great ride. A nice return to mix it up would be to come back via Powell Pass or Iron Pass and Lorna Lake and then Elbow or Lorna Pass and back out via Spruce Lake.
Pioneer Paul was the guy who dropped me off at the start of my walk.