Our Travels: Naturally Beautiful
Spending an amazing month on the road in scenic British Columbia
One intrepid young man spent a month on the road exploring the spectacular peaks and valleys of beautiful British Columbia.
In the summer of 2015, I spent a month exploring British Columbia. I’ve lived in Nelson, a small town in southeastern B.C., for about 20 years and most of my exploration has been in the lower part of the province. I know it’s big, but when you drive for two or three days, you realize just how big!
I met up with a friend in Kamloops and we set off to explore and visit both little-known and spectacular locations in the province.
Our first stop was Painted Bluffs Provincial Park, a beautiful yet seldom visited park (it’s not easy to access) just west of Kamloops with spectacularly colourful bluffs. We then took the back roads to Williams Lake and Bella Coola. On our way, we discovered that we have pelicans in B.C.! They come to nest on Stum Lake in the Chilcotin Plateau every year. We also have wild horses, approximately 1,000 in the province, with up to 250 of them in the remote Brittany Triangle.
Next, we spent a few days in Bella Coola. The grizzlies were plentiful along the Atnarko River, feeding on the spawning salmon. We
ing salmon. We also paddled for four days in the South Bentink Arm, visiting Talheo Hot Springs, one of the nicest in the area. It rained every day, so we pretty quickly headed back inland.
Our next destination was the Chilko Lake area, bordering the coastal range—spectacular views, to say the least. The highlight was Cardiff Mountain Ecological Reserve, with the intriguing basalt columns. Although they look as though someone constructed them, they are completely natural. Just fascinating!
Two weeks into the trip, we decided to head over to the Canadian Rockies. Driving south of Williams Lake just after sunset but before full darkness, we noticed something that looked like the moon, yet couldn’t be, as it was too dim. Yet it couldn’t be anything else. As we’d been disconnected from the outside world for two weeks, it took a moment for us to realize that a supermoon eclipse was happening right in front of us. We pulled over and enjoyed the show.
Our next destination was Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. After signing in at the checkin desk, we set off for four days of backcountry camping. It was a 21-kilometre trek to the Berg Lake campsite. We spent two days exploring the area, including the spectacular Starbird Pass on the continental divide. The sunrises,
sunsets and northern lights where spectacular. With a glacier flowing into Berg Lake, the area is very photogenic.
We spent a couple of days resting and catching up with the rest of the world in Jasper, Alta., then headed south along the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. We only spent one night there, however, as we had one final destination in mind—mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.
After restocking with food and fuel, we drove off into Kananaskis Country to the trailhead for Mount Assiniboine. We hiked 28 kilometres through Banff National Park before going over Assinboine Pass, then down to our campsite. Mount Assiniboine has been nicknamed the Matterhorn of the Rockies, and a visit to the park explains why. The strangest moment of the trip happened here as well. As I was walking back from the outhouse, I noticed a large black circle on the mountainside above the cabin. I’d heard noises just moments earlier, but didn’t think much of it. As I stood trying to wrap my head around what I was looking at, I was willing to consider it might be a meteorite— or something extraterrestrial? This “thing” was still smoking and with the clouds and light I had no depth perception. I spent about a minute thinking I might have to run away before realizing it was “just” a landslide and everything was okay!
After a month on the road, we finally made it back home to Nelson. Overall, it was an awesome trip. As I said at the outset, British Columbia is larger than you think and I will be back to visit many of these locations.
My advice? Get out there and explore! n
Top left: The Chilcotin River runs through Farwell Canyon. Top right: the basalt columns in Cardiff Mountain Ecological Reserve.