First, backing up to Fort St. James. New Caledonia for the Hudson Bay Co. was BC, Washington, and Oregon.
Tuesday, July 25
Provisioned at Costco, Walmart, and Save-on. Overnighted at Mama Yeh’s RV park. The name alone made it imperative. Great for one-night. Full hookups for $15. Lowest cost our whole time in BC.
Wednesday, July 26
South 3 hours on 16 to Valemount. Saw jagged mountains through the smoke. The Cariboo’s on our right and the Rockies on our left. A little too much smoke and no blue sky to make them look interesting. Parked at Tête Jaune RV Park. A really nice facility on the Frazer River.
Tête Jaune Cache was named after a Métis fur trader and trapper named Pierre Bostonais who guided for the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1800s. Bostonais was nicknamed Tête Jaune by the French voyageurs because of his blonde hair. (Tête Jaune is French for yellow head.)
I wonder if this way 16 is called the Yellowhead Highway?
Thursday, July 27
Yesterday, the forecast for today and the rest of the week was Sunny or Partly Sunny. Guess what? It was near full overcast today. And now rain is forecast for Friday.
Under heavy overcast, we viewed Rearguard Falls. We liked the way the viewpoint was built within feet of the falls. Up close. We met two young women returning from the falls in hot pink bikinis and flip-flops. I asked if they went swimming, they said it was too cold, but hustled on up the trail, so I did not find out why they were on display. I should have asked for a picture.
Here is how Mt Robson appeared to us.
Here is how it looked to others.
We are in tourist land. A big shock to us. Asians, Indians, Europeans are everywhere. We had thought about returning through Jasper, but learned due to it being the 150th Canadian anniversary plus the exodus from the fires everything is full.
Last week, a woman spent over 30 minutes trying to back a Casita into her site. Yesterday was the first Chinese family we have seen in a camper. He spent a half hour getting his short trailer between the pine trees. It was a hoot. The wife was most helpful, she just stood there. Looking up she caressed the hitch with both hands.
This morning we have a European man in petal pushers with black socks and sandals.
Friday, July 28
We continued south through the smoke from not so distant fires. It would have been quite a scenic drive without the smoke. Jagged topped mountains on both sides of the road. Most of the fires in BC were/are just east of us.
Wells Gray Park is north of Clearwater. It’s a huge park. If there were a road through it, it would take about five hours to drive it from north to south. The majority of the park can only be accessed by boat or trail. There are several tent camping places on the lake to boat-in.
Clearwater is a mecca for golfers judging by the number of campgrounds offering golf. It’s not far from Kamloops, so this is short get away location for locals, not to mention Europeans. We are back in tourist land for sure. Half of the sites are filled with rentals tonight. Half of them have Alberta plates.
Gone are the welcomes we were getting from BC folks in the northern lands. Here that just ignore us. We remembered that when we were in Alberta some years ago, they were not that friendly, but we got chatted up by BC folks. The same impression this trip. Albertans are sour, BC folks are cheerful.
Our purpose in Wells Gary is to look at some waterfalls and paddle the yaks. We looked at what is described as BC’s best waterfall this afternoon - Helmcken Falls.
Saturday, July 29
The smoke is little denser today. We visited Bailey’s Chute, a fine set of rapids. A sign advised us that these rapids stopped the migration of weary salmon. They spawned and died here. I am sure the bears appreciated their dying in shallow water. Signs are everywhere proclaiming proper bear viewing etiquette. We have not had occasion to adhere to proper etiquette as the only bears we have seen were scampering across the road. For that, we are grateful.
Mr. Bailey died trying to build a bridge here
Onward to Clearwater Lake, which proved quite disappointing. We are picky about our lakes and this one just did not have it. Of course, the smoke obstructed our view. We put the boats in for a quick paddle, just because we were there. The wind piped up and we terminated our voyage.
Tomorrow, we hope to make good progress in escaping the land of rental RV’s.
Sunday, July 30
We woke up to see ash on the vehicles. The camp host said more fires had started. They must be set by men as there have been no storms.
We went south to Kamloops which is in the arid lands, where most of the fires are. Just south of there the landscape rapidly changes to look like Oregon, green fields with pines and blue sky all around. The first time we have seen blue in some time. We stopped at a roadside dinner, towing service and hot rod shop for lunch. The owner's son gave us a tour of the cars they were working on. He said most of their work winds up costing around $300,000. He explained that a trunk lid they were working on already had 70 hours in it since it came to them folded in three places. At their hourly rate that’s over $7000 for a trunk lid.
We stopped in Vernon for the night at the same place we stayed our first night in BC. And it’s the most costly - US $52. Everything from here to the border is pricey. We could be in Washington tomorrow, but definitely by Tuesday.
Monday, July 31
We started south thinking we might be in BC one more day and take the road through the Okanagan Valley all the way to the border. The bumper-to-bumper traffic convinced us to take the road less seldom traveled, 33 and 3, and get to Washington. We stopped and got peaches, cherries, plums, and corn. We ate most of it. Taking the back road meant we did not pass one bank that was open, so we are left with about $150. I am sure some US bank will convert for us after tacking on a fee.
We stopped at an NP campground on the Kettle River. It was warm here but as scenic, as one could hope for.
Tuesday, August 1
We woke up to smoke. The Canadian fires have invaded the states. Time to move on, no paddling the boats here.
In this tiny berg, there is a jazz radio station. I enjoyed Gene Krupa for breakfast.
Stocked up at Walmart in Colville and then east to Priest Lake. I had found a note on my map that yakking on Upper Priest Lake was superb. I figured that parking at a lake 60 miles up a snakey road would be no problem, especially on a Tuesday. Wrong. The place is mecca. The state park is booked nine months in advance. We found the last place at a forest service campground.
We also learn that there are no roads to Upper Priest Lake. You put in on the lower lake and paddle through a narrow channel. We will see if we can go that distance.
Wednesday, August 2
We only managed to get about half-way up what they call The Thoroughfare. It would be called a channel elsewhere. We were into the the wind most of the way, but it was a good paddle. Through the smoke we could see the outline of the 7,000 footers in the Selkirk Range. I am sure it is quite a bit more scenic when it’s clear.
A tad crowded at the state park
We are going to head south in the morning to see if we can get beyond the fires. This is getting really old.