We woke up in Telkwa and packed up the tent. We weren’t sure where we would end up, but thought we would ask around in Smithers. When we got to Smithers, we were in heaven. It is like a small german town with delicious pastries at the bottom of a ski hill. We got some advice at a fly shop on a great place to catch trout. The only problem is that it was 2 hours back the way we just came from. Still, this trip was an adventure, so we decided to do it. We drove back past Telkwa, past the largest fly rod in the world in Houston, and turned left at Topley. We saw our first bear on the way to Topley Landing. There is an enormous hatchery in Topley Landing and spawning beds that are over 4 kilometers long. The spawning beds are perfectly constructed for salmon. They are the right depth, the right water speed, the right water temperature, and they are enormous. The entire thing is a place for salmon to spawn. The rocks are all the perfect size and the fish lay millions of eggs. Needless to say, the bears also love it there. Unfortunately, we were a couple months too early to see all of it occur.
We found the perfect fishing spot that we were told about in Smithers. It was under construction. There was a big backhoe beside the river. The road was closed to vehicles. We weren’t allowed to be there. In order to get all of the water for the salmon spawning channels, the hatchery does stream maintenance on the creek to ensure that they have water when spawning season begins. The one day we couldn’t fish was the day we were there. Not to be deterred, we headed to the town of Granisle to see what we could see. The short answer, nothing. When asked about hiking, we were met with blank stares. Granisle is a retirement community. It used to be a mining town. When the mines shut down, people stopped working. Most people left, but some stuck around doing whatever odd jobs they could find. Our campsite was near Babine Lake so we took the canoe out and fished for sockeye. Everyone else was using motorboats, down riggers, and giant flashers, we just had a good time.
We are just a few miles out of the town of Quesnel, so we can spoil ourselves with things like dinner from a restaurant. We always order our food to go. Sitting down and being waited on just feels too fancy for our camping road trip. When we are at our campsite, we spend most of our time paddling our canoe at 10 Mile Lake. We moved to the 10 Mile Lake Resort. The resort consists of 4 tent sites right on the edge of the lake. We like to watch the sun set after dinner. That can take a long time this far north. We also do a lot of walks with the dogs. There are lots of bugs around. Mostly, they are the good bugs that trout eat. Most of the time we remember to put their bear bells on, but not always. We drink wine at night and tea in the morning. Even if we only have two sporks, two bowls, and two mugs, life is pretty good.
We are getting good at packing up our camp. From waking up to driving away takes us about 2 hours. We are never in a rush. Breakfast takes a while. Dishes have to be done in some water. We bought Dr. Bronner’s soap for doing dishes, washing clothes, and bathing. We feel that this is the least harmful thing for the environment that we can use. We have to deflate our airbed, pack up the two human and one dog sleeping bag, fold the sheets and blankets, and use Tetris like maneuvers to repack the car. Luckily, there weather has been nice every day.
Here is a short video of what you get when you pay nothing. Fire pit, composting toilet, picnic table, and a spot for a place to sleep.
From our recreation site (Forest Lake Recreation Site) we headed towards Quesnel. Quensnel has a certain smell. With 2 pulp mills, a plywood plant, and 5 sawmills, you could say that timber is important in the region. Quesnel is also home to the longest wood truss walking bridge in the world. Here we are on it.
Longest wood truss walking bridge in the world.
We are staying at the 10 Mile Provincial Park tonight. The provincial parks are really nice. Almost too nice. Hot showers, over 100 sites, firewood for sale, and lots of RVs. It is nice once in awhile, but not really our thing. When we arrived, thunderstorms were in the forecast. We set up the tent just as the rain started. We are able to fit our air bed and a small table inside so we can play cards, eat dinner, and listen to music, all while staying dry. We even brought the dogs beds on this trip so everyone can sleep comfortably.
There are a lot of lakes in this part of the world. It makes for beautiful sunset pictures.
We woke up without an alarm and saw our campsite for the first time since we had arrived at night. Sorry to our neighbors that had to deal with us inflating our air bed as soon as we arrived. The spot was nice enough and we decided to stay for another couple of nights. The person in charge of the campground informed us that every spot was booked for the whole weekend. We decided to head north. I guess we wouldn’t be climbing at the world famous Chief after all. Oh well. This was a fun vacation with only loose plans so we couldn’t be too disappointed when things didn’t work out perfectly.
The town of Squamish was cool and looked like very other town that had a big time outdoor feel. We stopped at a bakery (probably vegan, gluten free, fair trade, overpriced) for lunch and I saw a guy in a Mountain Sun t-shirt. I started to realize that the thing that makes these towns (Boulder, CO) feel so fun/cool/outdoorsy is actually replicated in quite a few places in the world. We stopped at the fly shop in town and it seemed to be geared more towards people taking guided trips than DIYers like us. We picked up some unnecessary flies and headed north.
We stopped at Brandywine Falls because our guide book told us it was beautiful. The Milepost is the bible. (Sorry Kim Davis.) Anyone driving to Alaska will hear this over and over again. It is very useful. Stopping at visitor centers turned out be pretty good as well.
The next stop was the Disney like “town” of Whistler. Giant dirt lots of pay to park areas combined with the fact that I knew everything was over priced and nothing special helped me convince Amanda that we didn’t need to see anything there. It felt like Vail, Aspen, or any other ski town except that Wanderlust was about to happen. I kinda wanted to check out their bike park and see the place, but we left there and moved on.
Don’t stop in Pemberton unless you have to. We stopped for lunch. It was hot and uneventful.
We were getting sick of driving and decided that the next campground is where we would stop for the night. Just off the main road was a campground between two lakes. Now here is where I should mention the weather. It was hot in Seattle. You know like upper 80s. In Seattle, that is hot enough where people start getting whiny. We didn’t think that it would be getting hotter we went north. Turns out, we were headed inland as well. We were close to a small town called Lillooet, in British Columbia. This area has the record for being the hottest place in Canada. We were trudging uphill in our decade old car and the thermometer read 103 degrees. That was about the time the thermostat starting moving up. The one that never moves. The gauge in the car that normally stays as still as the horizon was pointing up higher and higher. This wasn’t good. We pulled over to let the engine cool down. Unfortunately, it was over 100 and wasn’t cooling down. We poured a little water in the engine coolant container, turned on the heat, and proceeded to the campground. The check engine light came on and my patience was gone. I figured that this would be the beginning of the end. But whatever, we found a campsite between two lakes. We limped in, set up our amazing tent, our jumped in the water. The old crusty sweat turned into a slime and slowly came off of us. I tried to forget that the car might be dead and just enjoy the water.