We start our journey early on Saturday morning of July 25, 2009. We head up to the Sea to Sky Corridor along Highway 99. We go on the newly constructed highway, with some minor delays along the way. There were the odd 50 Km per hour signs that we come across on the highway.
We then get up to the area around Whistler and Squamish, and there is beautiful scenery around the lakes and also the mountain landscape was also very appealing. We were actually able to see the trailhead for the Brandywine Falls instead of a fully covered with snow landscape. We continue our way through Whistler, and past Green Lake, and then we head onto the Duffey Lake connector.
We head up from Lillooet to go to the Pavillion Mountain road. It was HOT to say it In a nice word. We were literally baking while we were on our way up there. When we were heading up the Pavillion mountain road, I am noticing that there are a lot of very ominous clouds. Apparently Vancouver and the Fraser Valley area go some heavy torrential rains, and also some heavy thunderstorms.
We then get to Kelly Lake that is within Downing Provincial Park. It still remains very warm, and all the while we are using the air conditioning in the car. We go through yet again several of kilometers of construction up Highway 97. While we are going up Highway 97, we also notice several of different Alkali Lakes and then we also notice quite a few cattle and horses along the way too.
We finally get to Quesnel which is the first leg of our trip. We stay in the Travelodge which is located right across from the hospital. This is a very clean, and a great place to have a continental breakfast before you have to go on the run again. As soon as we checked in here, we decided that we were going to go to the Mr. Mikes restaurant in Quesnel. The restaurant is very clean, and very inviting to the people who visit there.
We then were on the lookout for any animals. We first went up to the Race Track to see where it was, and we came across this dog, which we think was a coyote, but it could have been a wolf too. We then decide to go to Highway 26, to see if we were able to see any moose, and we were not able to se e anything, but we did go along a few of the forest service roads that they have in the area. We decided however to turn around at one with the fact that it was too steep and getting too rough and we were unsure about the status of our car if we continued.
We woke up the next morning, and our second leg of the journey commenced from Quesnel to Telkwa BC.
The next morning, we awake up in Quesnel, and have their continental breakfast, and then we continue on our second leg of the trip. This leg takes us from Quesnel to Telkwa BC.
We go from Downtown Quesnel up towards the upper part of Quesnel, towards the Cariboo Highway, and we look for the Quesnel- Hixon Road. This is a very pretty ride through the backcountry. It goes through stretches of farm land, forest, and then we cross the Cottonwood River, and get to the other side. The first part of this road starts as a paved road, and then will go to an all season weather gravel logging road.
We arrive in Prince George to fuel up, and then we go west along Highway 16, the Yellowhead Highway, towards Burns Lake. We go through the “Lakes” district which is known for all of the plentiful lakes in the area such as Finger Lake, Tatuk Lake, Burns Lake and so on. We go through Vanderhoof which is the hub area of some popular resorts such as Finger Lake Resort, Tatuk Lake Resort etc. It is also the entrance way to the well known Kenney Dam.
In addition, we continue our journey to Burns Lake. We stop briefly at the tourism center that is located in Burns Lake for some information about the ever popular Ootsa Lake Trip. We start on this circle tour which leads you down Highway 35, to the Francois Lake Ferry. This is a free ferry, and will take you across to Southbank, which is approximately a 10-20 minute crossing. When you get to this side, you pass through several of small towns such as Tayskie Lake, Grassy Plains etc. Be sure that you fuel up before you go on this route, as there are few fuel stations.
There are several points of interest on this interesting circle tour. They include the Chesalata Falls and River, North Tweedsmuir Park, Skins Spillway, Nadina Mountain Recreation, Francois Lake Recreation site, Little Andrews Provincial Park, Morice and Owen Lakes, and there is a patch where you can also see some devastation from a Swiss Fire Episode back in 1983, as well as a couple of saw/log sites at the end of the route. There is a good chance to see animals on this trip, although because of the heat, we didn’t see any.
At the end of this circle tour, we go past the saw mills, and then it leads us to a sign that says Telkwa and Smithers one direction, and then the Houston and Prince George in the other way. We go to the direction of Telkwa and Smithers. We finally arrive in Telkwa. This is a very picturesque historic town. The place that we are staying, is known as Two Rivers Lodge.
We arrive at Two Rivers Lodge, and one of the hospitable owners, Jane Matthews greets us, and then signs us into the lodge. She then takes us down to where we would be staying, and makes us feel very welcome. The place we’re staying is right along the ever flowing of the Bulkley River. The Bulkley River was really gorgeous. There is a sand/gravel bar right across from where we were staying. It would be an excellent opportunity to see wildlife such as bears and other animals feeding for salmon during the run in late August and the early fall part.
We were asking the owner which restaurant would be good. We decide upon the Steakhouse on Main. Apparently there was a Mr. Mikes that was in at that location earlier, as it looks a lot like that type of restaurant. There was a salad bar, or you could get other things that were on the menu as well.
Very early the next morning, we are on the search for animals. We decide that we are going to try the provincial park at Tyhee Lake. We saw a few loons, but that was about it. The lake however, was so pristine and serene during the earlier hours of the morning.
We then go back to the lodge to get a few more hours of sleep, and then we decide to go to the Babine Lake/ Granisle Loop. The roads are VERY good until we get to the Granisle Connector. Some points of interest along the route are Driftwood Canyon, Little Joe Trail Babine Mountain Park, Chapman Lake, Smithers Landing, Pendleton Bay at Smithers Landing, Babine River Corridor Park (need to go along native land, so ask for permission if necessary).
The Granisle Connector, is one of those roads that are quite a bit more rough, and require some extra time to navigate. This road is also quite narrow, and takes a long time. You need to go approximately 2 miles an hour over all of these potholes that riddle the road. You should have a fair bit of experience navigating the road, and if you’re not experienced, please do not attempt this road. It is approximately 24 km of a rough narrow road.
We get to Granisle, and we notice the marina, and it looks really nice. We then stop by the tourism center, and we meet with the lady, Paula for a while. We then ask where there is to eat around there. There are only 2 places around there to eat. One was under renovation, and then the other one as Babine Lodge. This was about 35 km outside of Granisle. It is a very pretty area. The Red Bluff provincial park is along the Granisle/Topley Highway, and it was pretty. Although we didn’t do the walk to see the red bluffs, I hear that it is well worth the walk!
The service was slow, but the lunch was delicious so it was well worth the wait. They also had a couple of resident cats, and they were really friendly except they wanted a lot of attention, but what is new with cats. We then finish our lunch, and then we head back out to the Granisle/Topley Highway, and continue our way down Hwy 118. We then look for places around Houston to go fishing. We finish and go back to Telkwa looking for somewhere to eat for dinner.
We then wake up early the next morning, and we have breakfast, and then we head towards Williams Lake. We travel down Highway 16 again, and we notice like before that there were a lot of hay bales. One of the things that are up there are agriculture, farming, logging etc. Right before we get to Prince George, we go on a forest service road known as the Blackwater River Road.
Some points of interest down this road includes West Lake Provincial Park, Kluskois Park, and a few other lakes in the area. The major area of interest is the Alexander Mackenzie Trail. This is right around the mid area before the Blackwater River. It is a very famous path that leads from Bella Coola over to the Northwest BC area across to the territories. We then get to the Quesnel area, which also houses Bouchie Lake Provincial Park. We get to Quesnel. We went to the Dennys restaurant for some food before continuing the rest of the way to the Williams Lake area.
We decided to stay at the Coast Fraser Inn, which is located just off of the Hwy 20 connector. We are staying here before we do our next leg the next day. We go to Chinese food that night for dinner, and it was one of the best Chinese food restaurants in that area. If you’re not a major fan of curry, please ask about the rice and the noodles if you do the smorgasboard.
The next day, we go Hwy 20, and head towards Stewarts Lodge and Camps. We are not needed there until near dinner, so we go to the Tweedsmuir Park area, and we try and get some photos of the Bella Coola Valley and the rainbow range, but we weren’t really able to do either on this day. When we were down near the Heckman’s pass, I mentioned to Jim that I smelled smoke, but wasn’t sure where it was, so was unable to report it to the Ministry. That is probably why there were no animals around that we were able to see.
I wrote a review last year of this stay at Stewart's Lodge, and just wanted to continue on with this review, saying that we had a second year in which it was an excellent stay with both customer service,and with being a very clean and comfortable cabin.
The staff are superb, and pride themselves in the best possible customer service, and they like to associate with the clients, with sharing different stories, ideas and theories. They are very knowledgeable with what they do.
When we arrived at the Lodge on Wednesday July 29, we were greeted by Kevin Mayer, who cheerfully remembered us from the year before, and was very polite, and told us where the place would be that we were staying.
This year was the warmest that Nimpo Lake has seen for a while, and it is very comfortable. We were able to go without having to wear cold weather clothing such as winter jackets. We were greeted to a warm and sunny sky for the most part, until the last couple of days when we got thunderstorms, but we still had a very good time.
The cook, Allan, this year has made wonderful food, and his prized possession of making food was with the deserts. They were very delicious, and they consisted of peach and blueberry cobbler, lemon meringue, chocolate cake. They were all very delicious and he did a good job, and I hope that he is able to come back again next year for the food, as this was divine.
When we went for dinner that night, we were asked whether we would want to go on one of the fly outs, and were we ever glad that we did. We went to Moose Lake, and the views that we saw from the plane were just superb. Our pilot was Ian, and he was not only very knowledgable, but he flew the plane very professionally, and described to us what we were seeing, and what we were to expect.
We were told that we would be picked up about 5:30, and to be ready at the dock so that they wouldn't have to wait for us to get ready. The moose lake cabin that we were allowed to rest in was very nice. Just for those who plan on wanting to go to the washroom, you need to go to the outhouse near the back of the cabin. As well make sure that you have adequate water, or that you're willing to boil some water as there is NO water in the cabin. The fireweed bushes are very high, so make sure that you either talk loud, whistle, or clap your hands etc., to avoid surprising wildlife if they are around.
As for the fishing and the lake up at Moose Lake, it is a very large lake, and we only go to about 1/3 of the lake, but mind you we were only able to do one half the time with the fact that it was so hot that day, and we didn't have enough water, so we weren't able to find anymore fish, but we were able to get about 3 fish within about 30 minutes. We were able to find a 11 inch trout, a 14 inch trout, and a 6 inch fish. The six inch one we had no choice with, with the fact that it was too injured to put back into the water. This lake is also the home to the ever popular Moosehead Lodge.
Duncan yet again, was very pleased to share his stories, and to hear how our experiences were with our stay, as well as the daily functions of the resort, as well as the safety and well being of the visitors. I also praise the staff for their quick actions with the various tasks that they have had to do with the flights on our last day with the fact that this year was bad with forest fires on Highway 20. Duncan and staff kept up to date with the fires, and with the other sort of events that took place.
We had a very good second experience here at Stewarts Lodge and Camps, and we want to express to those who may have doubts after this year of forest fires in the area, please do not. This is a wonderful place, and takes you away from society, and allows you to enjoy nature. I hope that all of the people out there will enjoy this place as much as we do.
We hope to be able to go back to this lodge, and we hope that we will have the same experience again next year! Good work on a second stay Duncan, and crew, and we hope to be able to have the same next year and for following years to come!
After this, we then head back to town. Luckily we left when we did because the very next day, there were 2 fires in Alexi s Creek area, and one in the Hanceville area and it would have made it difficult to get out, so we were thankful that we were able to get out when we did. We saw several of different animals. One was on a side road around the hill and was sitting like a dog, and it was a black bear. Then a little ways more along, we saw another black bear that was sitting along Highway 20. Then it sauntered into the bush, and then did the stance of standing on its hind legs. And near the end of the Highway 20, we saw a deer and her fawn in the ditch area. Very strange behavior of these animals, but I believe it was from the fires and the scare of fires.
We went back down highway 97, only to find that there was a major detour in place due to a serious fatal accident. So we ended up having to turn around back to Dog Creek Road. This is the road that you would take in order to go towards Churn Creek Provincial Park, and also to Alkali Lake etc. Well you would have to turn off on another route. We went down the Chimney Lake route until we go to Enterprise and then we continued down to Highway 97, and we arrived to Clinton.
We had lunch at the Cariboo Lodge, and it was the same type of lunch that we had approximately a couple of years ago. It was very good. We then fueled up, and headed towards Kelly Lake, and then up the Pavillion Mountain Road. We go along some of the Pavillion Mountain road, and come across a marmot and another deer. It was very weird as we normally do not see animals along this stretch.
We then go by the Mount McLean fire in Lillooet and it is still very out of control. We notice the smoke as soon as we get closer. We however, don’t go over to the other side of the road. We stay on this side of the Fraser River. We decide to go down Highway 12, which is on the other side and goes down to Lytton. We also see the two or three other fires that are between Lillooet and Lytton. One of the big noted ones are the Stein Valley Fire known as Intapalam.
We get to Lytton, and it is a very sleepy town with the fact that it was Saturday, and I guess with all of the Forest Fire activity in this area that it has been very quiet as many people do not want to be out in this area. We then go by Hope, and that ends this trip.
Keep posted for further news on other trips that we take!!!