First two weeks back!

17 Jul

Today being the 16th July, it is about time I got my writing fingers on, we probably won’t have internet access for a few days at least to enable an upload of this but we have already done so much you have missed!

Our stay in Vancouver was prolonged by our good friends in Traveland attempting to complete warranty work for us, we were having a good time at first catching up with Sue and Alan and revisiting favourite places like Granville Market, then the lovely weather took a turn for the worst and all of a sudden we thought we were back in Winter, we certainly needed woollies as the temperature plunged from 26 degrees to 15 degrees over night. We were glad to be finally away on Wednesday afternoon and raced out of the City of Vancouver and headed for Porteau Cove. We enjoyed another overnight stay at this lovely campground by the water which we had fallen in love with the first time we had taken haRVey on the road, it was far busier of course as we are now in main holiday season and we have to learn to share our solitude.

Day two was a short hop to Alice Lake Provincial Park, again full of families camping, but as the sites are well spaced you still have privacy. We enjoyed a walk through the woodland, part of the trail we had walked in the Autumn and it was nice to see it at a different time of the year, in fact it has been quite interesting to see the change that took place over the few weeks we were away, Spring had just arrived when we left mid May and by our return on the 30th June, full Summer was upon us.

We followed the Highway to Whistler and on through Pemberton to Nairn Falls Provincial Park, by this time the weather was showing distinct signs of returning to the summer heat we had on our arrival and our walk to the falls was pleasantly shaded by the trees along the side of the (?) river. As we arrived at the falls themselves the path opened out on to a sloping rock face and the heat glared back at us. The water fell several feet then disappeared under rock emerging from underground to fall once more to the river below, an interesting feature and quite different from the usual tumbles of water.

Next morning we moved on fairly early to get ahead of the heat but enroute stopped off for a short walk to Jofre Lake and a view point of the glacier high above us, we later stopped for lunch beside another beautiful lake before heading towards Cache Creek and its desert like surroundings, our external temperature registered 37 degrees before we stopped for the night at Marble Canyon, we were glad to be able to cool off sitting outside in the shade of a tree overlooking the lake.

Again the prospect of another hot day ahead had us on the road before 9am, we intended to take Highway 24 just north of 70 Mile House and travel into the interlakes area, but before that we needed to visit 100 Mile House to top up fuel and food as we knew shops would be sparse where we were heading. Whilst in Vancouver we had loaded up with the staples so all we really needed to keep on top of was fresh fruit and veg. It is a great time for fruit, the Okanagan is a large fruit growing area and we have been enjoying cherries particularly, eating them like cold sweeties straight from the fridge, yum!

Our first stop in the lakes was Horse Lake, and the Caribou Bonanza Resort, a great campground for families with an adventure playground and sandpit, boats on the water and an area safe enough for the older ones to swim, there were also more mature visitors too, so we did not feel out of place, it was nice to see extended families enjoying their holidays together making the most of the lovely weather. We decided however we would be happier somewhere a little more peaceful and with a place to walk beside the water. Just twenty miles down the road we happened upon (we find all our best spots this way it seems) a lovely quiet spot on Hathaway Lake called Moose Haven, just eleven sites plus some cabins, again occupied by extended families on holiday together, but, much greater space between us all, we had a beautiful view down the lake from our slightly elevated spot, the sun still shining but a strong wind blowing down the lake was not so friendly. Robert pottered off for a walk in the afternoon, I was hiding from the midges which had become a pain, literally as I had been bitten on my ankle which had swollen quite a lot and I was trying to keep it cool. He came back reporting that the flies and midges had been quite bad so was a good job I didn’t go, the evidence was clear next day, his neck and shoulders were covered in bites, difference being his did not itch like mine….

We had found Moose Haven Campground as a result of an aborted attempt to visit Mahood Lake in Wells Gray Park, the access road was very rutted and after about a quarter of a mile we turned back, Robert still fancied visiting the area though. A little known outside of Canada, I think, the Provincial Park, almost as large as the Banff National Park. It is a wilderness area, so after a night spent at the North Thompson River Provincial Park we turned off Highway 5 in Clearwater on to the Corridor route into the park. We had been told it was a decent road and the first section was paved and good, later it turned into a rutted gravel road which we bumped our way along to the Clearwater Lake campground. On the way we stopped off to view the Spahats Falls, in comparison to others in the park quite a small fall but non the less spectacular in the volume of water rushing through it. The North Thompson and Clearwater rivers flow very fast with visible whirling currents, at the North Thompson Provincial Park the two rivers join, the difference between the two being so obvious, the Thompson is light, opaque and muddy, the Clearwater is, sparkling, clear and dark green, as its name suggests.

Only 39 sites at the Clearwater Lake campground and many campers meant that there were not too many spots to choose from, we were exceptionally lucky that a spot by the river was available and we backed in, only later realising we had the Osprey waterfall in our back garden, the viewing area immediately beside us led to the waters edge and a great view of the wide curve of the fall. We set off for a short walk (we thought) along the lakeside, I had been to the pharmacy in Clearwater and bought anti bug spray and anti itch spray, so covered myself in repellent and crossed my fingers. The trail was narrow and uneven but walking through the trees we were not too pestered and the glimpses of the lake/river were lovely, upstream from the falls the water was still flowing fast but much calmer. Eventually we arrived at the boat launch where canoes can be rented to paddle off further into the Park (the proper road ends around the campground) and hardy souls can camp out in the wilderness, I am sure it would be a great experience but I am happy to leave them to the bugs and keep safe in haRVey, my bug free haven!

We thought we would walk back along the road, mistake, not sure how it could be so uphill almost all the way back when we seemed to have walked on the flat most of the way there, we now had little shade from the heat of the sun and the flies and midges were an absolute menace, a pleasant walk turned into an unpleasant experience and I was so glad to get into haRVey and jump in the shower.

Because of the number of sites versus the number of visitors issue we had decided to get to the campground, then, on the return journey stop off to see the ‘sights’ maybe taking in a walk. The walk was not top of my list of pleasures, overnight the enemy had infiltrated my safe haven and I awoke with more lumps and itchy bumps. Covered again, even under clothing with anti bug and topped off with a tee shirt and long sleeved shirt and a hat (I must have looked a sight) I was able to venture out so that we could visit the other falls along the road. Baileys Chute, an eight meter drop whooshed past us as we stood on the viewing platform, the whirling waters trap pebbles which drill holes in the lava rock forming interesting shapes where the water puddles, we passed by Redspring Lake where we had lunched the day before and stopped at the car Park for Helmcken Falls, the most famous within the park, possibly because of the easy access, the paved road ends at the access road to the falls, a large carpark has been provided with a shaded picnic area too.

The falls themselves are spectacular cascading over 400ft the Canadians like to refer to them a there very own Niagara. The force of the water sent up clouds of fine smoke like mist many feet into the air, the water finally settling into the deep gorge cut by the river and racing away to the next rapids downstream. The visitors around were a very cosmopolitan group, the voices of German, Dutch, French and Japanese all being apparent along with Canadian and of course English.

Our walk would have been to Dawson Falls, we wanted to visit just for Pete and Anne (our Shotley neighbours whose name is Dawson) we would have like to take photos of another Dawson Creek! (Hope yours is mended now.) but, thanks to the midges this was off the list. A further twenty miles or so took us to the Mushbowl, where a narrow wooden plank bridge crosses the raging waters, I would love to see these and the other falls with their capacity of water, spectacular now it would be even more so then. haRVey crossed with ease at the hands of his now expert driver but looked huge on the bridge.

We decided to get some miles under our wheels and headed back to Clearwater, topped up with fuel, and fruit then headed off on the highway 5, known as the Yellowhead Highway, it became very warm (around 34 degrees C) and with no campground until Blue River all we could do was press on. Stopping briefly beside the North Thompson River at a pull off to cool down for ten minutes we put out our awning to give us a little shade, drank some water and concluded driving in the afternoon sun was not a good idea!

Blue River Campground stands in the shadow of the beautiful snow capped Columbia Mountains (possibly Halam Peak), thankfully very few midges allowed us to sit outside when it cooled off and enjoy the evening, it did not cool much overnight however and at 12.30 am it was still 17 degrees outside, who says it’s cold in the mountains?? OK I will probably live to regret that statement!

So with our thoughts of another hot day we got on the road early-ish, for Valemount. The landscape was now far more mountainous and the valley broader as we travelled further north and east, the mountains are also more rugged and rocky giving a glimpse perhaps of what is to come when we reach the Rockies themselves. We visited the Information Office in Valemount and after a conversation with the young lady there Robert suggested we take lunch at the nearby lake and check out the forest campgrounds she had indicated were alongside. We had been assured they were big enough with no problem on height restrictions, what she did omit was that the access was along (?) miles of rough gravel forest road! After 6miles which took around half an hour to complete we gave up and turned around before we shook ourselves to pieces and broke all the crockery!

Around 1pm we arrived back in Valemount and Irvine Campground where we were greeted by a very nice host who accommodated us in a great spot with a choice of mountain view whichever way we look. The bonus of internet access means I can now upload this so you can all catch up with us. We are looking to turn onto Highway 16 and wander up towards McBride before we go over to Jasper, some of the tallest mountains are this side of the Rockies but not so visited as the more southern part of the route, wildlife is supposed to be more abundant along this route and as long as they are not of the biting insect variety I will be happy to see them.

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