Route 2 Geocache
The Spirit Trail
For millennia, the First Nations knew this rugged route from the top of Lake Harrison to the Pemberton Valley and beyond was a special place, inhabited by powerful and playful spirits.
Gold seekers used it to carve out the Douglas Trail through its mountains and valleys. The southern portion of this route remains as tough to travel today as it was in 1858. Visitors must call the IN-SHUCK-ch First Nation office in Deroche (604-820-6873) to register in order to travel the section from Port Douglas to Port Pemberton.
The section from Pemberton to Hat Creek is accessible by automobile. Not for the faint of heart, the route is as rewarding as it is challenging. You can get your passport stamped at participating businesses, Visitor Centres and partner organizations near
June 1, 1863: Have agreed to pack for Doctor Rowbottom, from London. Like everyone else, he’s in a hurry to reach Barkerville. I should make it there and back before winter, all going well.
For thousands of years, the In-SHUCK-ch people thrived in the village of Xàxta7. In 1858, the boomtown of Port Douglas sprang up here at the start of the Douglas Trail route to the goldfields. The rowdy settlement was gradually abandoned following the completion of the Cariboo Wagon Road in 1864. Today, the only sign of Port Douglas is a commemorative cairn erected in 1958. But Xáxtsa7 remains.
For more information on Port Douglas, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about Port Douglas (X’axtsa7)
- George Hills, first Anglican Bishop of British Columbia, preached to the In-SHUCK-ch people at Douglas in 1861. He described the central structure in the village as “a large house, capable of holding 800 people.”
- The town was surveyed at three different times but the last one, completed in July of 1859 by the Royal Engineers (led by Captain John Grant) was considered official survey.
- Port Douglas was used as a logging camp from the 1930s to 1970s and Edgar Trethewey employed many men from In- SHUCK-ch communities.
June 2, 1863: Took all day to reach Four Mile. Dr. Rowbottom not used to such steep hills. Had to carry his share of the goods up Gibraltar Hill. At least I did not have to carry him too.
Four Mile House was the first stopover on the Douglas Trail after leaving Port Douglas. The polite, aging John Hancock ran the roadhouse (commonly known as Sunnydale House) during its lifetime. Hancock married Helen Wade and Whiskey Lake was initially known as Lake Helen in her honour. Helen Wade Hancock, according to her letters, was the first non-Native in Douglas. The site has an archaeological designation and a careful eye can make out the signs of its gold rush past and the Hancock’s habitation.
For more information on Four Mile House, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
June 6, 1863: Finally at Cúmlvqs. Dr. R. nursing his head. He stood up too soon on landing and was thrown out of the canoe onto the shore. Bad cut on his forehead.
Cúmlvqs (HOOM-look-sh) was one of the In-SHUCK-ch people’s major villages when the Douglas trail came through in 1858 and established 10 Mile House as an important rest stop. Many newcomers abandoned prospecting for gardening and orcharding and Gov. James Douglas reported in 1859 that “small but productive garden melons, beets, turnips, tomatoes, the latter with ripe fruit, all growing thriftily and of large size.” Gradually abandoned by Europeans in the mid-1860s, this spot is still an In-SHUCK-ch garden.
For more information on 10 Mile House, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about 10 Mile House/Cúmlvqs
- Cúmlvqs literally translates as “fall on one’s face.” Another meaning is “running aground.” The landing is steep and abrupt and people could be thrown into the water if they weren’t careful.
- Jules Perret, originally from Neuchâtel, Switzerland, was the proprietor of 10 Mile House. He lived with Polly, In-SHUCK-ch woman, and stayed until his death in 1881. You can still see the remains of his orchard.
- Cúmlvqs’ gardens are still tended by the Frank family, Polly’s descendants.
June 16, 1863: We are stuck at 14 Mile roadhouse. Dr. R. very sick. He says it is food poisoning. I hope he gets well soon. It’s a slow trip.
The In-SHUCK-ch people of K’ácsten (translated as “dry place”) witnessed the construction of one of the first privately-built road sections on the B.C. Mainland in the fall of 1858. This section, expanding the original trail built by Douglas’ administration, was built by Joseph Trutch, later Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works and first Lieutenant Governor of B.C. The 14 Mile House stop over was run by two French proprietors.
For more information about 14 Mile House-K’ácsten, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about 14 Mile House-K’ácsten
- K’ácsten (pronounced “k-HACK-sh-tin”) was on the “dry place,” a high spot on an old river terrace, and in 1858, was a major In-SHUCK-ch village.
- As with the rest of the Douglas Trail, 14 Mile House has a distinctly French feel about it. A small community of French miners lived here.
- The In-SHUCK-ch people used K’ácsten for farming and haying, and families from neighboring Skatin journeyed here each spring to plant their gardens.
June 18, 1863: Sixteen days to reach 16 Mile House! Now Dr. R. has become great friends with the roadhouse keeper, Gowan. He shows no sing of leaving in the morning…
Built near the mouth of Gowan Creek, this gold rush stop was commonly known as 16-Mile House, but early maps also identified it as “Halfway House” – possibly because it was the halfway point on the first stretch of the trail. John Gowan initially ran the roadhouse, praised by Gov. Douglas during his 1860 visit as being “clean and of a prosperous appearance.” In 1862, Gowan left for the Cariboo and a few months later, a Mr. Waite, “an old Scotch ship’s-carpenter,” took over. 16-Mile House has archaeological site designation.
For more information about 16 Mile House, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
June 23, 1863: After a week at 16 Mile, Skatin at last! The people are fishing in the falls. I wish I could join them, but Dr. R. is again in haste.
The falls at Skookumchuck (Chinook for “powerful water”) are the most important fishing site in the Lillooet River valley. During the gold rush, the settlement was moved a short distance and is the site of a B.C. heritage treasure: Holy Cross Catholic Church. With Gothic spires soaring skyward, this stunning example of native craftsmanship was built between 1895 and 1906.
For more information about Skatin, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about Skookumchuck/Skatin
- The windows of Holy Cross Church are adorned by panes of stained glass imported from Italy. Efforts to restore the church are on-going, but hampered by a lack of funding.
- Today, Skatin also supports an elementary and junior high school (grades K-9), Head of the Lake School.
- Once the In-SHUCK-ch settlement straddled either side of Skookumchuck’s narrow gorge. Skatin, is thought to be named for a sqtin’, or “fishing net.”
July 1, 1863: Tsek at last! I urged Dr. R. to bathe in the cold spring to cleanse his spirit, but he chose the hot, to “soothe his aching muscles.” I hope the spirits can cure his slow feet.
Tsek (pronounced “chick”) is one of the In-SHUCK-ch people’s most important spiritual sites. Its hot and cold springs have healing properties and are used in traditional ceremonies. The 20 Mile roadhouse was built here during the gold rush. Judge Matthew Begbie passed through in 1859 and named the springs St. Agnes’ Well in honor of one of Governor Douglas’ daughters. Today, the hot springs are a popular camping spot for tourists.
For more information about St. Agnes’ Well/Tsek, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about St. Agnes’ Well/Tsek
- According to legend, the springs were created by the transformer utszím’alh (an immortal creature composed of four brothers, a sister, and mink). Rheumatism and other ills could be cured by a dip in these pools. The cold spring was used by to train chiefs and cleanse spirits.
- Guests of William Stein, proprietor of 20 Mile House, used the spring for free. Others had to pay one shilling—soap and towels included.
- Arthur Bushby accompanied Begbie in 1859. He wrote: “We bathed of course, the first time I have really been clean since I left S. Francisco.”
July 4, 1863: Dr. R twisted his ankle at the foot of the hill, so I had to carry all the goods to the top. He stayed long at (S)cwiten and, in his eagerness to see everything, nearly fell off.
This rock bluff about a kilometer south of the bridge crossing at Rogers Creek was known during the colonial period as Moody’s Lookout. Named after Colonel Richard Clement Moody, commander of the Columbia Detachment of the Royal Engineers and Lt.-Governor of British Columbia, it commands a sweeping view of the valley. To the First Nations, it’s known as (s)cwíten (Sh-WEE-tin), or “Whistling Rock.”
For more information, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
July 6, 1863: All our goods have been stolen. Dr. R. says they must be found, even if the hi7took them. I told him they would not do that, but he is too angry to listen.
This sacred transformer site was also the scene of dastardly deeds during the gold rush. In 1862, the unnamed managers were accused of robbing the wagons of freight carriers stopping there for the night and arrested. By 1863, under the management of William E. Stein the new Stanislaus House was known for comforts like the best wines, liquors and cigars, with beds costing 50 cents a night.
For more information about 24 Mile House (Stanislaus House)/Ncát’us, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about 24 Mile House (Stanislaus House)/Ncát’us
- Ncát’us (n-HAT-loosh) means “lift one’s head” and refers to two giant boulders thought to be the handiwork of utszím’alh, a supernatural transformer.
- It’s also a hi7úlm’ecw, a place inhabited by hi7, supernatural beings. The hi7 here appear as cheerful dwarves who make child-like noises. The hi7 in other places can take the form of large serpents, birds, or dogs.
- Unlike many of the trail’s roadhouses, no trace of Stanislaus House remains.
July 29, 1863: Three weeks to find our goods and reach (s )máqwam. We will never get to Barkerville! I promised my family I would be home before winter. How much ill fortune can Dr. R. meet?
An important fishing site, the village of Samahquam has been on the east side of the Lillooet River since ancient times. A busy community during the short-lived Douglas Trail boom, the village burned down in 1885. Undaunted, the people rebuilt and today, Samahquam is still an important In-SHUCK-ch community.
For more information about Samahquam, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about Samahquam
- The village’s actual name was (s)máqwam, meaning “swampy area” and referring to the poorly drained field just north of the village along the Lillooet River.
- Samahquam has an archaeological site designation and pithouses and historic cabins can be found here.
- The majority of Samahquam’s schoolchildren attend the Xit’olacw community school in Mount Currie and Pemberton Elementary. Most high school students attend the Mount Currie School, Pemberton Secondary, or Mission Secondary.
August 2, 1863: Dr. R. fell into the lake while boarding the steamer at the fence. He would have drowned had I not dived in after him. Now he complains he has a chill…
In 1862, 29 Mile House was a launching point for steamers along Tenas and Lillooet Lakes. But Tenas was 15 feet lower than Lillooet, making it impossible for steamers to make an uninterrupted journey. So a dam was built to raise the lake level. The spring freshet washed it away that same year. The dam was repeatedly repaired over the years, but with the same result. In 1949 the narrows between the two lakes were lowered.
For more information about 29 Mile House/Q’vl’tkú7m, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
Three Fun Facts about 29 Mile House/Q’vl’tkú7m
- At its peak, 29 Mile House was second only to Port Douglas in size along the Douglas Trail.
- Q’vl’tkú7m (cult-KOO-um) may mean “fence” or “stockade.” It was a major In-SHUCK-ch village with many houses, food storage structures and burial shrines.
- A clearing, along with foundation depressions and darkened patches of earth, are all that remains of 29 Mile House today. However, Q’vl’tkú7m remains an important place for all of the In-SHUCK-ch people.
August 9, 1863: Dr. Rowbottom is very ill with a cold on his lungs and fever. The doctor here says it may take weeks for him to recover! I say prayers for him every day…
Located at the head of Lillooet Lake, Port Pemberton was named for Joseph Despard Pemberton, Surveyor General for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1850’s. First appearing on a map in 1859, it was an important supply stop on the Douglas Trail. Situated at the north end of Lillooet Lake, it was a jumping-off point where travelers would dock to continue their journey overland to Lillooet. As the Cariboo Wagon Road became the route of choice, traffic to the port dwindled. By the early 1880’s, most newcomers chose to settle away from the original site of Port Pemberton and on the rich farm lands of the Pemberton Valley and the village site soon followed them and shifted to the present day site. This is the traditional territory of the Lil’wat First Nation, who today are headquartered in Mount Currie and D’Arcy.
August 19, 1863:Visited my cousins. I have done a cleansing ritual and said more prayers for Dr. R. I do not know what to do…
Mount Currie is the heart of the Mount Currie Reserve of the Lil’wat group of the Stl’atl’lmx Nation and has been home to the Lil’wat for thousands of years. Mount Currie was named after Scottish settler John Currie. Failing to make his fortune as a gold seeker in California and the Cariboo, he turned to ranching and finally settled near Pemberton with his First Nations Lillooet wife in 1885.
For more information about Mount Currie, please visit www.lilwat.ca.
Three Fun Facts about Mount Currie
- The area abounds with rock petroglyphs dating back 2,500 years ago. During a road construction project in 2001, a 7,400-year-old tool was discovered.
- Some of the community’s houses were built around 1817 of dovetailed logs with the cracks between sealed with wattle—a construction so solid they’ve outlasted many of the modern homes.
- Mount Currie is located on Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, 40 minutes north of Whistler and 5 minutes east of Pemberton village.
September 1, 1863: Dr. R. still ill. I stay by his bedside. Many travellers say I should leave him, but I cannot. I know what I promised my family, but I can’t abandon him. He is alone.
As the economics of the B.C. Mainland shifted from gold to agriculture, “Port Pemberton” moved up the fertile green valley that has been home to the the Lil’wat First Nation for thousands of years. The rugged peak of Mount Currie soars 8,000 feet above the valley floor. Know for its seed potatoes, the area is affectionately referred to as “Spud Valley” by locals.
For more information about Pemberton, please visit www.pembertonchamber.com.
Three Fun Facts about Pemberton
- Pemberton was isolated until the first passenger train rolled through in 1914. Rail ruled until 1975 when the highway to Whistler was completed. The Duffey Lake road (paved in the late 1980s) completes the last section of the scenic Coast Mountain Circle Tour.
- The Pemberton Heritage Museum showcases a collection that includes gold rush exhibits, settlers homes and a genuine dugout canoe from Lillooet Lake.
- Neighbouring Mount Currie is the administrative seat of the Lil’wat First Nation.
September 15, 1863: Dr. R. well enough to travel. I carry all the goods. I have to half-carry Dr. too. Still not at trail’s end.
For the short heyday of the Douglas Trail, Port Anderson was a busy spot for steamers and other vessels crossing Anderson Lake to Seton Portage. For thousands of years before that, it was home to the N’quatqua First Nation. The name was soon changed to D’Arcy, but the settlement (like most on the trail) was almost abandoned by non-Natives until the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the early 20th Century.
For more information, please visit www.inshuckch.com.
September 20, 1863: Nearly there! But even if we reach Cayoosh Flats, it is still a long way to Barkerville. But I must get Dr. R. there somehow.
Weary travellers trekking up the Douglas Trail knew they were on the home stretch once they reached this beautiful spot in the Cayoosh Range. Once here, it was just a short five kilometers to Cayoosh Flats (Lillooet), the trail’s end. Surveyor Alexander Caulfield Anderson named the lake after his cousin and boyhood friend, Lt. Col. Alexander Seton, who drowned when the troopship HMS Birkenhead sank off the South African coast in 1852.
September 28, 1863: Finally, the end of the Douglas Trail. Dr. R. is getting stronger and worries about the winter closing in. We will never make it to Barkerville before the snow flies.
It’s hard to find a community with a more colourful past than Lillooet. The First Nations prospered on this lavender and green mountainside for ten millennia before the gold rush of 1858 transformed things. The end of the tortuous Douglas Trail, it was originally known as Cayoosh Falts. The town has preserved much of its unique heritage and the Lillooet Museum and Visitor Centre (situated in Lillooet’s first church, St. Mary the Virgin) is a must-see.
For more information about Lillooet, check out www.exploregoldcountry.com.
Three Fun Facts about Lillooet
- Located at Mile 0 of the Cariboo Wagon Road, Lillooet was once the second largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.
- During the gold rush, an enterprising packer imported 23 camels to act as beasts of burden–a great idea that went badly wrong.
- One of many colourful characters, the irrepressible “Ma” Murray was the local newspaper publisher and editor for over 30 years. A fearless writer, she became a community icon.
November 3, 1863: A miracle! Met Nam Sing at the roadhouse. He is leading an express pack train to Barkerville and offered to take Dr. R. along. I will make it home before winter after all. Said good-bye. Dr. R. very grateful. So am I…
Known formerly as Carquile, this area has a rich First Nations and ranching history. You can experience that history at Hat Creek House. Some 11 km north of Cache Creek, the ranch was built in 1861 as a roadhouse on the Cariboo Road, today, visitors can enjoy the artifacts on display, take a stagecoach ride, or visit the Native Shuswap village and experience stories of mystery, love, murder, success and failure.
For more information on Hat Creek, check out www.exploregoldcountry.com.
Three Fun Facts about Hat Creek
- Upper Hat Creek features many signs of historic First Nations communities and is rich in lore with tales of healing plants and miracle waters.
- Coal was discovered on Hat Creek in 1877. First worked in 1893 by rancher George Finney, the deposit has been worked repeatedly over the years.
- Harry Lake Aspen Provincial Park provides a true wilderness experience in a raw, natural region. So natural, the park offers no services.