(Giant gnats, grumpy grouse and gravel)
The two days on the ferry from Skagway to Prince Rupert allowed us to see some absolutely stunning scenery of the Alaskan islands and fjords.
It has given us some ideas for future holidays that will involve paddles rather than two wheels.
British Columbia greeted us with darkness (we had become used to the 24 hour daylight) and rain. It was, however, warmer and we could console ourselves with Dairy Milk, choccie digestives and liquorice all sorts (all available in Canada). The road from Prince Rupert promised some superb scenery, had the mist lifted….
Every so often I would disturb a grouse that was close by the roadside. The first one I encountered gave me quite a fright when it puffed out it’s feathers, hissed and came chasing after me. They certainly are angry birds. The further eastwards and towards the interior we went, the drier it became and eventually the sun came out. It was needed to dry the three days of solid rain from us. At last we could see the tops.
We stumbled across the most idyllic campground near Burns Lake. The area had received some grants for a project to create some mountain biking trails and had also made camping spots around the lake in the middle of the biking park. We chose a spot at the far side of the lake that could only be reached by riding 2k of trail to get to it. It was private, quiet and had it’s own jetty into the lake. It would have been rude not to have had a swim.
As we were steadily trending eastwards along Highway 16, the traffic was increasing and the hard shoulder was decreasing in quality. We had been spoilt on the roads up north. We reached Vanderhoof and spotted on a map that there were some back roads between there and Quesnel. We asked in the Tourist Information about the roads and were told that they did not recommend them as they were very difficult to navigate and we could get lost in the wilderness. Challenge accepted! We bought the appropriate maps and headed off gleefully into the unknown…… and what a good decision that was. Quiet roads (one day we saw one vehicle in six hours and the total for that day was 4), stunning scenery (forests and lakes, what’s not to like?) and basic but tranquil campsites that were free (the Forestry Service provides a tree free camping area with an outhouse and somewhere to hang your food from for no charge).
Oh, and plenty of free firewood. Turns out I have some pyromaniac tendencies.
And basic facilities meant we were back to washing/swimming in lakes. No ice to break through here though.
The gravel quality was variable which made for interesting riding. The crunching of our tyres helped to alert the bears that we were around. We did see a black bear. Unfortunately there is no photo of it as it was the closest we had been to one and I was too scared to get the camera out. We saw moose, osprey, chipmunks, deer, eagles and, surprisingly, cows.
Being in the forest meant that the mosquitoes were fierce and did cause a bit of discomfort. The gravel roads have been tough on the tyres.
It’s been a superb four days of back roads and we are eagerly planning a back road trip from Quesnel to Williams Lake for our next stretch. Nothing like a road less travelled.