Canada 2014 - Week 1 - Going North

Our Canada vacation July 2014 in numbers:

  • 3 weeks
  • ~4200km travelled
  • 10 bear sightings
  • 1 punctured tire
  • 1 wedding
  • 1 broken foot
  • 1 mountain climbed
  • 1 forest fire
  • 1 leaking tent
  • ~$6500 worth of gear drowned
  • 2 hot springs
  • ~1 billion mosquito bites
  • one big family
Art in Vancouver. The artist asked people to stick his head with bubble gum.
Good music.
Harrison lake.
Stopping in the middle of the "road" to pick some berries.

Anita and me flew to Vancouver at the beginning of July. Virgin Atlantic upgraded us so we got Champagne and lots of legroom on the flight, which was nice. London Heathrow decided to lose our luggage, which was not nice. We spent the first two nights sightseeing in the city of Vancouver and waiting for our luggage and my brother and his girlfriend to show up. Sarah would fly in from the US, after visiting with friends in New York and Fond du Lac. Torsten was coming from Germany. Anita and I only had three weeks of vacation and a tight schedule if we wanted to see everyone we had agreed to see and do everything we wanted to do.

Torsten body-floating.
Chillin' in the hot pool. Note the floating tablet - very convenient! ;-)
Romantic atmosphere at Green Lake.

We loaded up our rental Jeep with the four of us and headed straight for Harrison lake on our way North to see mom and my sister. Harrison lake is beautiful. We chose quite an adventure drive following it's western shore. It's a very rough gravel road. We encountered only two other trucks, both of which much more heavy duty and with more clearance than us. We had to use our four wheel drive to full effect and scraped over rocks with our tires buried in deep ruts several times. My aunt Karla once taught me how to drive gravel roads with the words: "Either go slow enough so you don't notice the potholes or go fast enough to fly over them." It's here that we established our motto for the rest of the drive: "Don't be gentle, it's a rental".

A station that only plays Pearl Jam? Sign me up!
Miles at work on mom's land.
Trying to make our way around the property.

We headed into a dead end at the northern end of Harrison lake to visit the Sloquet hot springs. Mostly undeveloped these have been a highlight of previous visits. Steaming hot water streaming down the walls of the Sloquet creek and collecting in a cascade of rocky pools. Although the site has been made much more accessible since I've last been there, with marked campgrounds and a ranger station watching the area, it's still beautiful and we had it mostly to ourselves. Torsten and I have this rule of jumping into any body of turquoise water we pass. BC has a lot of water. The color stems from glacier sediments, which gives you an indicator of the water's temperature... Sloquet creek has a very strong current making body floating so much more fun. Hike a bit upstream, lie flat in the water with your feet downstream and let yourself be carried by the flow. Try not to miss your opportunity to exit and keep your butt away from submerged rocks. We mostly succeeded ;-)

That box must die!
On our way to the Fraser river.
Hummingbird in front of the kitchen window.
The local swimming pond: the Muskeg Hole.

We stopped at Lillooet (Say "Little Lake Lillooet" three times, quick!) for food. Driving off the parking lot the car's electronic system alerted us about an issue with our tires. And indeed we had punctured one with a piece of gravel and it was now running flat. Luckily a helpful mechanic fixed it for us in 15 minutes. One more overnight stop on a beautiful campground in Green Lake provincial park and we were on the final leg up to Longworth. The 15-odd souls village at the Fraser river my mom grew up in and chose to settle again. It's nice, if you like driving 120km of gravel road to get to the closest supermarket (one way!) that is.

Early experiments with smoking...
Richard wins the smiling contest.
Fiona's room.
Mom's collection of buildings.

After some big hello and exploring mom's property, which was presently being logged, we prepared to climb the Longworth Lookout mountain. Climbing this local mountain and staying on top for a night or more has become a tradition. This time around the mosquitoes, which usually gather in the valleys, were terrible on the summit. Luckily we brought our tents to hide in. Despite heavy forest fires all over the province clouding the sky, the views were still beautiful. Especially since we timed it perfectly with the night of the super moon. We made it down the mountain just in time to watch the second half of Germany's world cup winning soccer match live on tv.

A snake hiding under the railroad tracks we used as a foot path.
Heading out for the mountain.
Torsten reaching the summit. Note the cloud of mosquitoes around him.
The Fraser River and Longworth.
Surfing down the mountain.

Next up: near death by drowning and assorted fun.