© 2011 jemma

The Victoria Day long weekend

It was the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada last weekend – i.e. the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. We had to plan for this because it is the official opening of all the provincial parks, and a massive camping weekend. So we needed to plan so we would actually have somewhere to sleep.

We set out from Dawson Creek early, as we wanted to check out their farmers markets which started at 8:30am. Now I don’t know if we have been spoiled by the many farmers markets we have visited both here and back home, but this one – a tent, and 3 tables – actually didn’t look like a market. We left as soon as we got there, sorry DC!

We were headed in a kind of loop, as we had seen dinosaurs and waterfalls advertised at a place called Tumbler Ridge and were then going to camp 30min north of Chetwynd. When we got there we visited the Dinosaur Research museum. Apparently many years ago two boys were floating down flatbed creek on tubes, when they reached this spot and found dinosaur footprints. No one believed them until a scientist said it was true. From that point on many different footprints – or track beds – bones and other fossils have been found in and around Tumbler Ridge and the Peace region.

We got to see a few of these bones and tracks in the museum which was cool. Jess was a bit upset because you couldn’t touch them and some of them were casts. He would not make a good archaeologist. The fish fossils were the best. Whole fish frozen in time, scales and all.

After the museum – and Rotary hot dogs – we wanted to go and visit a gigantic waterfall. However along the way we got side tracked by a hike we found that went down to the actual footprints the boys found. We hiked through the forest with some gorgeous views of the valley and me keeping the bears away by clapping and shouting. I should mention that we had seen two on the drive here, so I wasn’t taking any chances.

We eventually made it down to the creek, where you could clearly see two different types of track marks in the rocks. It was so cool. You were able to touch them but not walk on them, which was really hard to do considering it was the only flat ground you could stand on next to a rushing creek. We both agreed that it was good that we had been to the museum first, because it really helped in indentifying the footprints that aren’t that easy to find. Thinking back now, it was so awesome to touch a footprint that was made millions of years ago. Amazing.

As for the waterfall, we never did see the wondrous sight as it was at the end of a 50km dirt road which wasn’t in good shape. We both decided that the poor camper would not have coped and turned around to head onto Chetwynd again – I did say it was a loop – and our loggings for the night, Moberly Lake Provincial Park.

We reached the park and there were two spots left. We got a great spot in the bush and went for a stroll beside the lake. We were warned by a passing boy not swim because it was freezing, so we took his advice and spent the afternoon in the sun relaxing and reading. I am reading (now finished) the last Dirk Gently book, I will miss that series – of two books.

The next day we were off again bright and early for our journey to Sikanni river. We would be passing through many old northern towns built by the Hudson Bay Company – as was most of BC, if not Canada. Basically we were heading up to the middle of nowhere.

The first thing we saw was the massive hydro PowerStation and dam on the Peace River. We went into the “Interpretative Centre” to check it all out. The reason I call it an “Interpretive Centre” is that it really didn’t tell you anything. It showed photos of times gone by and had a model of a turbine, but other than that all I learnt about the place is that they flooded an area full of dino bones – a whole skeleton was found – and it is a miracle that the dam was built because it was so hard before for water craft to move through the canon rapids. Such a shame, lucky it is a dam now! Jess and I redesigned the centre upon leaving; it would be much cooler if we were in charge! Lol.

We then hit the town of Hudson’s Hope, who are protesting another hydro plant and then made it over one of the most beautiful valleys to Fort St John. The Peace Valley is spectacularly gorgeous. It is lush, forested, has bears in it and a beautiful river.

At Fort St John, we finally ate A&W for lunch. Jess had been waiting four months for this moment, this pinnacle of gastro delights – the burger family. They have the whole family from the kiddies all the way through to the Grandma burger. I got the uncle burger – because it had salad on it – and Jess got a Mama and a Grandma burger. Now before you say anything, the burgers are small…ish.

From Fort St John, all we had was a three hour drive to Sikanni river. We were finally on the Alaska Hwy, and to celebrate, it decided to rain. I think confetti will do next time Mother Nature, bit over the rain now!

We reached Sikanni River in the rain and left in the rain. We camped again without water or power so we could park right next to the river. It was flowing really fast and massive logs where going down it. The best thing we saw was a Mother moose with her baby next to the driveway as we drove in. When we went back on foot they ran away. Big speeding trucks don’t scare them, but people walking 100m away do…go figure.

When we left the next day it got foggier and foggier till you could hardly see what was in front of you. Jess was having fun driving and I was having fun being a back seat driver. It was actually a little bit scary. Even though the Alaska hwy is used by cars and trucks daily it is one of the worst roads you could drive on. There are surprise potholes everywhere and surprise dirt patches, as well as surprise road bumps and no road at all. It’s great.

We made our way slowly but surely to Fort Nelson, stocked up on groceries and spoke to the info girls about being ‘bear aware’, what to do in the area and all the bears and caribou we would see.

The only animals we saw were two coyotes – separately – a limping one which ran on the road in front of us on our way to our destination Muncho lake and a non-limping one. Along the way we did see some of the most amazing geography, mountain ranges and canyons I have ever seen. The Northern Rocky Mountains greatly surpass their rival the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Muncho lake is beautiful and is highly praised for its colour – a kind of turquoise. As I said to Jess, it is like we are holidaying in Fiji by the colour of the water but we can’t swim because it is glacier fed. We were going to swim, but then chickened out when the wind came up. Not worth the hypothermia!

We walked along the beaches – rocks – and met some people fishing. Apparently it is good trout and blue fish? fishing there. Then we watched the sun set over the rocky mountains and ate dinner.

Shame the long weekend is over.