Viper Nation

Supercar Dodge Viper site with pictures, technical info, experiential stories with a few other winter action extreme stories posted.

RTTTTed On November - 25 - 2010

Hell’s Gate and Back, in BC

by Ted Hlokoff



Although it was a hot summer and many of BC’s forests were burning, Deana and I decided that it was time for a holiday … to Hell’s Gate.  With a Forest Fire burning only 29 miles from our business, Anahim Lake Trading, and a road block at the beginning of Highway 20 telling Tourists not to drive west meant that business was slow. 

With red sunsets every night and a sky often filled with smoke clouds the idea of breathing clean air was appealing.  I bought storage insurance on a couple of my collector cars, we gassed up my 2001 Roe supercharged Viper GTS and  we were ready for the 500 mile journey to Harisson Lake Resort.  Harisson Lake is situated just north of Vancouver’s Fraser Valley in the Southern Coastal Mountain Range.  With our suitcases in the back of the GTS we headed east on Highway 20 to Williams Lake where we turned south and drove Highways  97 and  1 through some of the best scenery in the world. 

Like many “Vipermaniacs” I feel more alive when seated behind the wheel of my 900bhp, 129 decibel Supercar.  One look at this Silver striped Sapphire GTS can cause lesser men to collapse in Cardiac Arrest.  Without a “Leather covered dash – $10,000” option, this ain’t no Ferrari!  Stand too close when this 8 liter V10 is at full throttle and your ears may not recover.   Caution must be used while driving this car as it is extremely dangerous.  Shifting too hard into second or third gears can cause sideways drifting and fishtailing, so gentle handling of controls is necessary.  Adrenaline ‘rushes’ are a side effect of driving this car.  I suspect that my wife is a ‘closet’ adrenaline junky because of the wear marks in the passenger carpet where a brake pedal would be – if there was one.

No traffic along Hwy 20 and only slight traffic on Hwy 97 made this a good trip.  I’d installed an Escort SRX radar detector with Laser scramblers in an attempt to save some money.  I figured that the thousand dollars I spent on the detector would pay for itself in three years.  This theory must be working as the Viper is the only car I own that has never gotten me a ticket!  This radar detector also receives 63 safety messages such as; Fire Truck or Ambulance approaching, Road closed, dangerous road conditions, road construction, etc.

We arrived at Harisson Lake Spa Resort, on the beach, about dinner time.  We pulled into the last available Viper parking spot directly across from the Lobby doors.  We “checked-in” and installed our luggage into our room.  Hungry after the 8 hours driving we headed to the Hotel’s restaurant/lounge for meet, greet and dinner with other members of the Western Canada Viper club.  We met new friends, re-acquainted ourselves with old friends and internet buddies like Trevor, Fred and Finn, then our hosts Greg and Lisa Weflen.  We enjoyed each other’s company until closing about 11pm.  Facing an early morning we all adjourned to our rooms.  Walking through the Lobby we spotted the 8 ft. Sgt. ‘Bear’ and I used my new camera to take a picture of Deana posing with the monster stuffed Bear.


We were to meet in the parking lot at 8am and several locals would be driving from their homes to meet us in the parking lot.  When I wandered down to the front parking lot the sun was up and the smoke in the air made an interesting view down the lake.  The mountains seemed to be layered and more fantasy-like the farther away they were. 

Ralph Willcot was cleaning his 2005 Copperhead SRT10 with microfiber cloths.  Finn Jorgenson looked to have his new SRT10 clean and sparkling while Trevor Cameron was hobbling around wiping his ’05 SRT10 down.  Trevor recently had surgery to rebuild his ankle, but told me that although he wasn’t allowed to stand or apply weight to his foot, “It works great for the clutch pedal!”  I had purchased my morning coffee coming through the lobby and Ralph donated a microfiber cloth, so I joined the Quorum of Gear-heads cleaning Vipers.  The dew came off the cars easily and gently removed any chance of dust or water spots.  All our cars were soon sparkling in the early morning sunshine.  Fred Kappler showed up in his Black striped ‘09 Graphite coupe already polished.  Dillion Armitage and Brad King showed up so we inspected all the new Vipers and lined up for a picture before parading down the main road out of Harisson. 

Our first stop was the Esso station just outside city limits where we gassed up and met with four otherlocal Vipers.  Our numbers were now at 13.  Only 1 first Generation roadster and 4 Gen 2 Vipers.  There was 4 Gen 4 Vipers and 4 third Generation Vipers in attendance bringing our total to 13.  Although Snake Skin Green (SSG) is a rare color, we had 3 SSGs in our line-up when we exited the Esso.   After fueling and the local RCMP checking us out, we headed down the back road to highway 1 and stopped at the rest area in Yale.  Once everyone showed up, we took a couple more photos and hit the road again.


 Although it was Saturday, the highways were clear and driving through shade and sun in the Mountains along the Fraser River Canyon … the scenery was breathtaking.  The curved asphalt ribbon bends into and through the living rock of the Mountains.  Mostly two lane primary highway, there are passing lanes for most of the steep grades.  Our 13 Viper parade shook those mountains that we passed and dust dropped from the ceilings of various tunnels we rumbled through.

Only an hour and a half later we arrived at Hell’s Gate.  Our Vipers filled one side of the upper parking lot.  A few Viper owners stayed behind with the cars and the rest of us took the Tram/gondola down across the river to the historic Hell’s Gate of the mighty Fraser River.  Billed as the only Tram in the world that goes down to it’s destination.  It was a long way down and the Tram did some wiggling and banging as we filled it.  From behind I could see Deana’s nervousness by the tension in her cheeks. 


This was the steepest, deepest and narrowest part of the Fraser River and hundreds had died to blast the road and two Railroads though this section of river canyon.   In 1946 joint Canadian/American fish runs were carved deep into the mountains and some cement ‘rest-rooms’ were built so that the Sockeye Salmon could rest on their way through this most treacherous portion of their Fraser River journey.  This is what saved the Sockeye Salmon from annihilation and the reason the west coast of the United States still has Sockeye Salmon today.  At this point of the River the river is only 141’ wide and the water here was 142’ deep.  The volume of water through this tiny area is more than double the water going over Niagara Falls.  The east side of Hell’s Gate is where the Chinese workers carved a tunnel deep into the mountain for the CN Rail tracks.  Highway 1 is also on the east side of the river, although hundreds of feet up the mountain.  Where we were standing, on the west side of the river was a small plateau where the workers lived for many years while building these monuments.  Now it has become a Tourist attraction and most of our group were walking around enjoying ice cream cones, pop and coffees.  The CP Railway was behind the ancient village. 

We took the Tram back up to the top of Hell’s Gate returning to our cars in the parking lot.  We drove a couple miles back southwards to the ‘Elvis Rocks the Canyon Restaurant” just south of twin tunnels.  

The owner was alone and ill equipped to handle 26 hungry Viper owners so we had iced tea and browsed his Elvis Museum.  We decided to eat at the Log Neighborhood Pub back at Harisson Lake. 


Upon arrival we filled every open spot in the parking lot, then all the chairs and tables inside.  Excellent service and great food allowed everyone to eat their fill.  My cheeseburger was a work of art.  In the parking lot I opened my hood, showed Trevor my Roe Racing supercharger kit and how easy it was to tune on my laptop.

We had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy ourselves, some people napped, we went beachcombing before the dinner reservations at Raven’s Club Restaurant.  We parked back at the Hotel and went for a walk down the beach.  Deana had to shop all the stores along the beachfront road on our return trip.  We watched some of the Dragon-boat heats since ‘our’ weekend was during the Dragon-boat race weekend.  Later, the rain started falling pretty hard so we watched the Dragon-boat races from the balcony of our Hotel room. 

 At 7pm we started to gather at Raven’s VIP banquet room.  I took out my laptop and loaded it with the CD that Greg Phillips sent and set up the file folders on my computer.  One of Greg’s friends was a professional photographer and had taken pictures during his hosting of a Race city/Calgary Badlands Viper weekend.  I set that to slideshow and added a few other photo files so that everyone could enjoy the pics from Greg and the Father’s Day Car Show photos I’d taken of the 11 Vipers – 7 from our club earlier that spring.  This was an excellent distraction while we waited for dinner to be served. 

 Dinner was excellent and a few of us asked to speak with the chef.  When she appeared everyone complimented her on the meals with a few stating that was the best they’d ever eaten.  It was late when we finally filed out of the VIP room and headed back to our rooms. 

Sunday morning again found a half dozen Viper owners outside polishing their rides, getting ready for the day.   I joined them with the microfiber cloths I’d been given the morning before.  While wiping down my GTS I was approached by 3 men, a Grandfather, Father and 12 year old son.  I wasn’t sure which was more impressed with my car, the Grandfather or Grandson?  I started my Viper so that they could hear the mighty V10 barely muffled by the Corsa exhaust.  When they left I suspect that they were discussing buying a Sapphire Viper to keep through the various generations as a Family heirloom?

Again we met up with a few ‘extra’ Viper owners at the Esso station.  This morning we headed west and drove through Mission, home of the famous Mission Raceway, on our way to the de-commissioned Stave Lake Power Generation Station and Museum.  Our drive was along two lane highway through the foothills of the mountains.  Lush rain forests made our drive seem to be through long tunnels of green trees and foliage.  Spectacular views as the secondary highway followed a large irrigation canal through many farm fields and then back into the rain forest.  Although only 30 miles of travelling it did take over an hour at the slow speeds we were travelling.  We turned off the highway and drove up a narrower road into the Mountains.  Once we arrived at the dam we gathered in the parking lot, then walked into the dam we’d just driven over and took the tour.  We watched a movie on building the power station and our Tour guide explained the history of the Power Station’s opening back in 1912.  The power is now generated by a higher efficiency power station next door.  It was an interesting tour.

You may recognize this scene as it has been featured in a few movies (1 sci-fi that I watched).

At the Tubine’s water output was a pond that had a ‘Boom Boat’ and it was full of fish.

Leaving Stave Lake behind, we again headed back to Mission.  Travelling near the back of the pack to take pictures the only car behind us was Dillon Armitage in his 06 Blue with Silver SRT coupe.  Suddenly my engine quit and I coasted to the side of the road, he stopped to offer assistance.  It only took a couple minutes to find that my fuel pump was non-operational and I quickly noticed that my MSD Boost A Pump module’s fuse holder was melted – the fuse was ‘toast’.  Dillon had a Leatherman which cleaned the burnt rubber fuse holder away from the connectors and the horn 15 amp fuse became the new BAP fuse.  Problem solved.  Dillon and I quickly caught up to the other Vipers before Mission so that when they turned onto the Mission bridge, we were there.  We crossed the bridge into Abbotsford and turned onto the Freeway (hwy 1) to Chilliwack.  We followed Dillon through Chilliwack, his hometown, to Dakota’s Restaurant .  Again, excellent food was enjoyed by all. 

Darryl Miller, his Father-in-law and Dad had arranged the Stave Lake Tour and the Sunday Tour was mostly their efforts.  Getting later in the day and Sunday most people decided to head home and we missed out on a Tour of Darryl’s garage.

Afterwards we all met in the parking lot, said our “Goodbyes” and went our separate ways.  My son Travis and Lindsey, his beloved, showed up just before we ‘hit the highway’.   Then we started our 9 hour drive back through the World’s most awesome scenery.  Trevor and Terri Cameron headed down the highway as they had made Harisson Lake the center of their Holiday plans.  They had ‘places to go’ and ‘people to see’ before returning home to Edmonton.  Their drive would be good for 12 hours seat time spread out over several days.

Driving home through the sunshine was relaxing and my Viper, again managed 25mpg.  Previous experience had shown that the gas mileage remained unchanged at speeds up to 100mph.  Testing was not attempted at higher speeds.  Again, no tickets this trip.  We drove through the smoke of two massive Forest Fires, neither close enough to the highway for us to see more than smoke, which is how we like it.  Arriving home it was great to notice only a whiff of smoke from the Forest Fires in our area. 


         The end –


Categories: Dodge Viper Stories

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