Canada - British Columbia

25th July - 2nd August 2011

Our on again, off again, plan to visit BC was now definitely back on. Rumours of great fly fishing in the province possibly had something to do with another review of our plans. All we'd needed to make the trip was a letter from the RV insurance company, showing that we were covered in Canada, sounded easy. However the little green gecko fellow with the London accent (many will know of the company of which we speak) would only send this letter by mail and only to our registered address, in Florida. This was pretty unhelpful as we were in Washington state! In the end we decided to push on to Canada and hope nobody would ever ask to see the damn thing.

So at midday on 25th July we found ourselves crossing the border into Canada.

We headed north and on local advice, headed to Kentucky-Alleyne lakes to set up camp. Kentucky lake seemed a promising canoeing lake and we inflated our canoe in anticipation of a fishing excursion next morning.

The next day dawned gusty, so we decided to take the beautiful walk around the lake first. By the time we got back to our campsite, the weather was windier. More locals recommended other lakes in the area which should be more sheltered, so the canoe was semi-deflated and shoved inelegantly into the back of Harvey-the-RV and we hit the road, or at least it started off as a road!

Kentucky Lake

Bluey lake was alleged to be about 3 km down a gravel road. We thought we'd found the right gravel road, which wound left and right, up and down for what felt considerably more than 3 km. We approached a steep and slippery looking hill and Christine volunteered to go ahead on foot to see if there was any sign of water. Another half mile further, after wandering through the wilderness, not a soul in sight and still no sign of a lake, she decided that maybe Phil would worry that she'd been eaten by a bear! That thought made the return trip to the RV much quicker, at a jog! We decided that, as we weren't even sure we were on the right road, in fact we weren't even sure we were on a road at all, we'd give up on Bluey Lake and try option 2.

Harmon Lake we were sure we couldn't fail to find, we'd been assured it was signed from the main road. Of course there was a sign off the main road, we made our turn and then immediately hit a crossroads with no signs at all. Hmm. As luck would have it a Mounty (minus horse and red coat) happened to be at the junction and pointed us in the right direction, 10 miles down yet another gravel road. Harvey was not really fond of gravel. Somehow gravel roads always seemed to end up with a washboard effect, which would just about shake your filings out, plus empty the contents of the kitchen cupboards all over the floor. However, the promise of a better fishing spot pushed us onwards, if perhaps at a slower speed.

Finally, after passing several lakes and wondering, we finally tracked down Harmon Lake, by which time we'd decided we needed to invest in a better map! Harmon Lake would have been a lovely spot if the wind hadn't been howling. We chatted to another camper, who informed us that the whole valley was prone to being like a permanent wind tunnel. The wind often wreaked havoc through the campsites, demolishing tents, ripping awnings and leading to sleepless nights. After taking a lunch break in the campground, listening to the wind roaring, rocking Harvey side to side in its wake, we decided that maybe this was not the spot for us to try a bit of canoeing after all. Ten miles back along the gravel road, we hit the highway again. By now morale was not good. An active fishing licence had been burning a hole in the fisherman's pocket for half a day already and he hadn't had the chance to search for the alleged trophy fish.

We pushed on further north into British Columbia finally stumbling on the small town of Logan Lake. By now we were tired and frustrated. The town boasted a municipal campground on the lake, we decided it was time to stop for the night and rethink where we were headed. We stopped for information at the town's remarkable visitor information bureau. The bureau was actually a massive mining machine and to get your information you had to climb aboard!

The lady assured us that there were fish in the lake to catch, it had been restocked with "small trout" following a weather caused winter kill of the lake's previous large fish population.

If you want information, you've got to work for it!

Wonder how far a large trout would have towed us?

We planned to spend one night in Logan Lake but several factors led to us staying almost a week! We found a good spot close to the water, convenient for launching the canoe. We had fishing success on our first outing in the canoe and this "small trout" towed us and the canoe half way across the lake before we landed it! The next morning we caught five "small ones", and on keeping one for dinner, discovered that it was delicious.

The campsite fees were reasonable and included hot showers and internet. To top it all, we'd parked in the midst of a large family gathering and were adopted by our friendly neighbours Maria (from Madeira) and David (from the UK), who invited us to join in the fun, share their family dinners and enjoy their campfire, their port and brandy, even to use their aluminium fishing boat with an electric motor.

Our extended stay gave us the chance to take advantage of a free tour of the nearby Highland Valley Copper and molybdenum mine. The town of Logan Lake had actually been created as a base for employees of the massive mine and was celebrating its 40th anniversary the weekend we were there.

The scale of the mining operations was just staggering. We were driven to several different mining areas in a minibus. In each location a massive crater had been created by the removal of the valuable ores. We learned that only 4% of the material removed is actually used, the rest returning to massive waste dumps. The size of the machinery was mind-boggling. The raw mined materials took a 7 km conveyor belt journey to the processing locating, where they were basically pounded and shaken, dissolved and dried, until all the valuable ore had been extracted. The area looked like something from a science fiction movie and the environmental impact was worrying. However we were taken to an area which had been reclaimed after mining had finished, creating a large area of popular wildlife habitat.

A fleet of massive trucks transport material out of the mine

Reclaimed disused mine.

Minor Miner!

Our adoptive party family!

The mine was the area's largest employer and safety was taken very seriously. We were equipped with hard hats and safety glasses. Those of us with apparently freakishly small heads, at least by BC standards (well we had to bear in mind the size of the small fish!) were kitted out with very fetching children's safety helmets, fetchingly labelled as "Minor Miners"!

Back at the lake for a few relaxing days, Phil got to try out his new one-man fishing float tube. Fishing proved good by this method too. This time, without his usual paddler, he got to propel himself up the lake with swim fins, fishing all the way. On the second outing he even remembered to take a rope, so he could tie up when the wind began to blow, and his legs got tired!

Off to try the new float tube

It works - landing another small fish!


Being freed up from the rigours of paddling duty, gave Christine the chance to enjoy the Logan Lake 40th Birthday celebrations. However, she got to help carry the float boat down the lake first, so the fisherman wouldn't have to use all his energy kicking against the wind.

The return trip was via the nature trail around the lake, where she was able to get a close up view of the lake's resident pair of bald eagles. These predators had been seen swooping down to pluck ducklings from the lake for their dinner.

Finally we dragged ourselves away from our temporary home at Logan Lake and headed north towards the national parks of Alberta. On the way north, we stopped by an impressive fly shop called "The Angler", in a town north of Kamloops. Here we were pointed in the direction of a place called Deer Lake, just a couple kilometres off route 24 up, yes, another gravel road. About five miles up the bumpy gravel we came upon the bumpy campground. Only five sites lined the edge of the lake and apart from the odd passing ATV user, we felt like we were really in the wilds. Somehow we managed to fit Harvey in the rough campsite and even get him level. After a few moments of panic, we did finally track down a vault toilet, hidden away in the woods, so we knew this was really a campsite, even if there was no fee to pay!

After an unsuccessful canoe fishing outing, we decided to explore our neighbourhood. We'd spotted a sign indicating that "Eagle's Nest" resort was just down the road and a couple of vehicles had passed by earlier. We set off in search, perhaps, of happy hour. The forest road was beautiful and peaceful apart from the constant roar of attacking mosquitoes! On our walk, we quickly devised the Mosquito Dance, a means of walking whilst swatting wildly at the little monsters with our swinging arms. The resort proved to be well worth the trip, it consisted of a tired looking caravan, parked by the side of the road, inhabited by Mr Bill, if name on the director's chair outside was anything to go by! It was proudly labelled as the Eagle's Nest Resort, complete with mail and newspaper boxes! A sign claimed that our hosts welcomed us! Mr Bill was quite a character and pointed us in the direction of another lake we could try fishing in. We decided to stroll down that evening, just to check it out before heading down there with the intrepid Harvey, canoe, et al.

Eagle's Nest Resort

Phil perfects the Mosquito Dance

Finally we tracked down the lake and hesitantly waded through deep mud, chased by hungry mosquitoes, to reach the water. At this point we decided against repeating the whole exercise the following day carrying a canoe. We'd been bitten enough already! The wildflowers lining the route were pretty though!

We made one last attempt at fishing in BC just before crossing the border into Alberta. We stopped at Mount Robson Provincial Park. Here we fruitlessly paddled the lake, against yet more gusty wind. The scenery was stunning and we got to enjoy the panorama trains and several mile long freight trains passing through.

British Columbia left us with an impression of vast, empty, scenic beauty, although somehow we'd mostly failed to find the fishing bliss we'd been promised!

Mount Robson

BC Wildflowers

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