There are misfortunes that can afflict a traveler, through no fault of his own. There are outright mistakes a traveler can make, such as brushing his or her teeth with Benadryl anti-itch cream instead of toothpaste… which regrettably happened to me this week. Unfortunately, most of my summer experiences seem to lie at the confluence of these two negative factors, so it came as no great surprise that after driving all the way out to Pemberton, British Columbia, Starling and I learned that the Forest Service had closed Meager Creek Hot Springs just one day earlier. It would seem that my most common misfortune is bad timing, coupled in this case with the mistake of inadequate verification.
The closure felt rather personal because this was our third weekend attempt at reaching the springs. The first time, 40,000 music festival attendees clogged the highway and blocked traffic for hours. The second time, a rockslide buried the highway under thirty feet of rubble. And now, unstable slopes above the road near the hot springs had prompted the authorities to seal the gate to the bridge over the Lillooet River. My chances of being able to soak my sore knees in the warm, therapeutic waters of Meager Creek Hot Springs were looking rather meager indeed.
Starling and I were stubborn souls, however, and we chose to head north regardless to see if there was any way to breach the gate. Our journey took us through a wide glacial valley filled with farms and ranches, above which perched unseen, massive icecaps that melted in the summer sun and fed the furious, silt-laden Lillooet River. Alas, at the end of a dirt road we found the bridge barred, chained and padlocked. Short of walking seven kilometers to the hot springs or paddling upriver through the rapids of Meager Creek, we were not going to be able to reach our goal. Again.