Sunday, August 27, 2017

From Crossing the Canadian-US Border to BC's Lake District: August 22-26, 2017


On the first and second days of our vacation, the air and sky were filled with smoke. On the third day of our trek north, the smoke disappeared and we were happy. On our fourth day on the road, the  daylight sky went totally dark when the moon stole the sun. We were not afraid. On the fifth day we took up to our “Bible of the North” (the Milepost) and crossed (at Alderwood) into the land of friendly people who don’t carry guns, do wear red and white hats appliqu├ęd with maple leaves, and have national health care.

After the border crossing, we stopped near Chilliwack for a hike to Bridal Veil Falls. The falls and surrounding forest, both beautiful and large, were the perfect place to begin our unscripted, open-ended vacation.


We stayed in the town of Hope, British Columbia. Hope is the site of a World Chainsaw Festival and Competition every August. The sidewalks and street corners are littered with chainsaw art.



After admiring the chainsaw sculptures, we continued the drive north. We hoped to stay at 100-Mile House, but although Highway 97 is now open, most hotel rooms are occupied by firefighters, support personnel, and evacuees. Fires have been burning for several weeks in this part of BC. It is hot and windy and we're still wearing shorts.

The day before we left California (August 17), Highway 97 from Cache Creek to Williams Lake opened; however, the fires continue. In fact, four wildfires have joined into what is now called the Plateau fire. At the Cache Creek Visitor’s Center, we were told that the fire began in mid-July in nearby Ashcroft and traveled 12 kilometers in 12 minutes. 

The town of Clinton just north of Cache Creek, was under evacuation order from July 29 until yesterday (August 22) when the order was downgraded to an evacuation alert. We did find a room in Clinton, BC. The hotel manager told us that until today, the rooms were completely booked by firefighting staff and police. This is the first day that he has been able to rent any rooms to tourists. 

There is a certain symmetry to staying in Clinton the night after staying in Hope. 

Between the Hope and Clinton nights, we followed a diversion to Hell's Gate in Fraser Gorge. At only 110 feet wide, Hell's Gate is the narrowest and most turbulent section of the Fraser River. A sign outside the museum says that the gorge has always been an obstacle to transportation. Indians used ladders and road builders hung shelves to skirt its cliffs. The Fraser's water level fluctuates significantly, so fishways or fish ladders were built at several levels along the submerged canyon walls. The scenery was stunning.




So far it has been very hot and windy all along our way in British Columbia. Tomorrow we will continue north on 97 through the burned areas. We were told to expect smoke and slow areas due to fire fighting traffic. Rain is forecast tomorrow morning in Clinton. 

As forecast, we woke to drizzle in Clinton. Rain is badly needed in this area but we were told that it would take a week of rain to help with the fire suppression. The landscape is dry due to drought and a pine beetle infestation that hit the lodgepole pines. In places the burn was on both sides of 97 and despite the drizzle, a burnt smell stayed in the air. 

We continued north on Highway 97 in and out of rain and then east to Barkerville a reconstructed and restored Cariboo Canadian Gold Rush town. In the evening we strolled back through time to the 19th century. Actors/volunteers dressed in period costumes re-enact life in a gold rush town. Barkerville was named for miner Billy Barker who struck gold in 1862. At its peak, Barkerville was the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Definitely worth the stop. 



The school house and St. Saviour's Anglican Church


Since we stayed at nearby Wells, BC, the next morning (August 25) we went back to Barkerville before our return drive to 97 to resume our trip north and west. The weather was changing and it was colder and grayer. One of the highlights was watching the Magistrate’s presentation called Simple Justice. He was a convincing magistrate, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Barkerville Magistrate with framed portrait of Queen Victoria above
St. Saviour's Anglican Church was completed in 1870. Most of the interior, the stove, pews, plain glass windows are original. Services are held here throughout the summer months.


Returning to Highway 97 and Prince George, we continued west on Highway 16 to Burns Lake. We stayed two nights in Burns Lake; it was time to remind ourselves that we were on vacation and explore the area. Because we hoped to do some hiking, we bought bear spray to go with our bear bells.

Burns Lake is in the Lake District of British Columbia. The weather here is cooler and wetter. We did a little hiking and exploring of beautiful Francois Lake. Bears are supposed to be everywhere here, and all the hiking info says to use bear bells and carry bear spray. We did. Although we were the only people on the waterfall trail, there was so much jingling that it sounded like we were riding in Santa's sleigh. We didn't see any bears so either the bells worked or the bears weren't paying attention to the advertising. Despite the gray skies, we had just a little drizzle. 






Tomorrow we plan to get on the road early for two nights in Stewart. 


Memorable restaurant:
293 Wallace Street Restaurant, Hope, British Columbia - excellent

No comments:

Post a Comment