I was even gladder when the dirt roads turned to pavement once more and I spied a much needed gas station in the town of Clearwater, B.C.
From there, I would head into the main, popular section of Wells Gray Provincial Park, home to many waterfalls, some of them among Canada's most iconic.
And from that moment onwards, my day became increasingly magical. Increasingly full of peace and solitude, geological marvels and marvelous frogs. I would soak up solitude, and I would love almost every minute of it.
I drove past lake cottages, down narrow, woodsy roads until I found myself in the Mahood Lake section of Wells Gray Provincial Park. This area of the park featured its own campground and some lakes, as well as a few waterfalls that were accessible enough.
It was afternoon on the Saturday of Victoria Day Weekend, which meant that I was unable to make any campground reservations for the night, owing to British Columbia regulations that only permit a reservation for the whole duration of any weekend. I figured it would be a good idea to stop first at the Mahood Lake Campground and set up my tent at a first-come first-serve site if any were still available.
A brief perusal showed that a few of these sites were left, most of them "joint sites." I shied away from those, as I didn't really want to potentially directly abut a stranger. So, I took the final single site, which happened to be near some partiers who were already quite loud and wasted.
I pitched my tent, took a breather, and then left to check out three of Wells Gray Park's more easily accessed, but less commonly visited waterfalls: Canim Falls, Mahood Falls, and Deception Falls.
You're planning a long trip to Canada, opening with some days spent exploring parks and driving, and some days spent working. You're going to traverse a lot of mountain ranges, and there are a number of places for longer, overnight or multi-day hikes.
Your hopes are in vain; your plans, naive. Not long before your travel, every trail report, every scrap of information indicates that you're at least a month too early. Some of the roads to trailheads, even, are snowed in and inaccessible. (This is Canada in May after all.)
You're fine sticking to lowland, non-snowy trails, but you also were originally thinking of trying to do one of the longer hikes between Kamloops and Prince George. You have no set reservations between the two cities, since B.C. Provincial Parks prohibit campsite reservations for individual nights during holiday weekends, and Victoria Day happens to be in the middle.
Searching for longer, backpacking friendly hiking areas mainly leads you to results to the south of Kamloops -- the wrong direction.
Then, somewhere deep in a discussion thread in some untraceable corner of some social media platform or another, someone replies to a request for early season hiking suggestions nearish Prince George with a mention of "Flourmill Volcanoes."
It's in a corner of Wells Gray Provincial Park that is nearly inaccessible, down forest roads whose conditions are rumored to be impassable to most vehicles.
But laying in a course there means stopping by a scenic canyon overlook, visiting a lake with a Turkish-looking name, and maybe having an excuse to visit the Mahood Lake section of Wells Gray Provincial Park with its less-visited Deception, Canim, and Mahood Falls.
Would you try it?
Obviously, I did, or I wouldn't have anything to write about...
My second day in Kamloops was another workday. I stayed in bed for a fair few hours, punching away at my laptop. Then, I emerged to make myself coffee.
I figured I could use the caffeine as I looked forward to the day ahead. I was going to get some good eats, hit up some local sights downtown, visit a nature preserve and do some hiking, make up my mind about my plans for the upcoming weekend and my first few days off, and pick up the supplies I'd need for my next few days camping.
In this post, I start my journey to Haida Gwaii. I travel from Seattle to Kamloops, and find myself not quite feelin' it, until I inevitably do. At which point, I immediately leave. I guess that's my MO.
(Though most of the actual feelin' it is reserved for the next Kamloops post. This is the frustration post.)
It feels like a world, and a pandemic away, but in June of 2019, I had the great pleasure of going on a road trip, camping around the Yukon with two good friends of mine. Together, we had a blast.
To fly from New York to Whitehorse, I had a few layovers. During the final stretch, from Vancouver to Whitehorse, the scenery was the most spectacular: craggly mountains meeting a stunning coastline for miles and miles.
And, though the Yukon was absolutely stunning and beautiful in its own right, when I flew over those mountain ranges for the first time, I couldn't help but feel some niggling doubt in the back of my mind. If British Columbia was so beautiful, why was I bothering going further North?