Our Trav­els: Nat­u­rally Beau­ti­ful

Spend­ing an amaz­ing month on the road in scenic Bri­tish Columbia

Our Canada - - Features - By Dou­glas Noblet, Nel­son, B. C.

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.

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