We left Whitecourt and had one of our longest drives so far right to Dawson Creek, B.C., Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway. This is our second visit as we were here last year on our way to Dawson City in the Yukon. Many campers were at the Walmart resort we asked if it was OK to stay and they said yes, however our experience from last year told us it was a very noisy night with traffic. We opted instead for the rodeo/fairgrounds and being all alone had a very quiet night.
This morning another slow start we went by the fairgrounds office to pay for our stay and were told no charge…bonus! We then toured the sites Dawson Creek had to offer and started our trek to Prince George down Highway 97. A great drive but very busy with trucks, we nearly collected a moose as I had to hit the brakes hard to avoid collision, had one of those big rigs been on my tail as they usually are….well who knows. Stopped in Chetwynd for lunch, a very interesting B.C. community. I will detail in another post. We are for sure now in the Rockies and by chance we stopped to check out a BC Provincial Park.
We discovered a beautiful quiet campsite overlooking the lake and the best part it is a free campsite for 14 day limit. There are 14 campsites here with no services other than pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. This year the fire ban has been on since May in all BC parks in this area. As we found out BC has many free camping areas most along forest service roads this however was one of the few free provincial campgrounds.
Just a note on finding those off road forest service campsites one has to be careful if they are being actively logged or connected to mine sites. The roads are usually partially maintained and can be anywhere from good to bad and could become quite tricky in a rain storm. Before leaving I purchased a Boefang FM radio for the truck as we intended on checking out these sites off road. The radio provides a great deal of safety for not only us but big rig truckers on the road as well. I programed a lot of the BC service road channels into the radio before leaving home. These roads usually have signage with the radio frequency posted. As you drive up these roads you will notice a road name and kilometer marker approximately every two kms and you call out that saying the name km and up meaning you are on your way in. Other logging trucks and those equipped with radio have the right away on the way out as they are usually loaded. They will also call out road name km and down, this gives you notice you do not have the road to yourself and you must get over to let them pass safely. We also tuned in road repair crews on one trip in so were expecting a slowdown. I personally would not travel these service roads without the radio for my safety and for those making their living travelling these roads that are sometimes very narrow on the side of a mountain.
Back to our campground experience, we really enjoyed the beauty of this little lake and the quietness so decided to stay another day instead of an overnighter. I had noticed one of my stable blocks that contact the overload spring was worn on the campers’ passenger side, the heavy side more than the driver’s side. My 12.5 ton jack I purchased at a garage sale came in handy to lift the blocks off the springs and to switch them side to side. The camper had also shifted to the passenger side so I once again installed the two front camper jacks and lifted the camper shifting it closer to the driver’s side and more centered on the truck. So far the KO2 tires are working out great.
We spent time just sitting and enjoying the quiet and beauty of this spot. Tonight the Park Ranger and his crew of 4 student rangers tented in the tent area next to our campsite and had a chance to chat with them about the area and the parks down the road. Reportedly there is a water fall approximately 3/4 hour hike from the campsite, Scott our neighbor in the campsite next to us informed the ranger who was not aware of it so they decided to try and find it. They left and approximately 10 minutes later I decided to catch up to them and see this for myself, grabbed my camera and stared to follow hoping to catch up which I never did. Luckily the thick overgrown trail with lots of deadfall across it had been marked by red markers and I managed to follow. Not overly prepared for a hike of this nature wearing tennis shoes with only my camera and bear spray I found it tough going and probably exerted myself extra trying to catch up. About two kms in I was told later, I came to a huge steep mountain ridge, I made it almost to the top but the daylight was running out and there was no sign of the other three hikers at this point, not even their footprints. Finally 73 years of common sense kicked in and I decided to turn back. Very tired by this point and found the way back very long and more deadfall to climb over than I had remembered going up. I felt bad by not seeing the falls or knowing how close I was, but as it turns out Scott, the Ranger and his student never saw the falls either. Where I had climbed the ridge was probably the right trail they had left and followed a lower trail running into a stone wall. Night was approaching and they returned not being able to relate if the falls were worth the hike. Should all sleep well tonight.
The next day as we were in love with this site we decided to stay and after the hike made it a camp day. I organized the rear travel box and truck trying to make things we were using more accessible. We met Nick and Mellany from Fort St. John, a couple travelling in a small Hummingbird overland camper with rear kitchen pulled by a 4×4 Ford Ranger, a neat set up. We hit it off instantly as they also like to camp off grid and away from the pack. Now Scott our neighbour met them as well and we all passed the day getting to know more about each other, the area and camping ideas for off grid. Scott still wanting to find the falls informed us if we wanted to come on the hike tomorrow we were welcome. Being as I felt I was close to them the last trip I was first in line to volunteer to accompany him the next morning. We enjoyed a quiet evening in this beautiful little park. The Ranger and his students were actually fairly well behaved. They were leaving the next morning, they had their hands full with bear problems and fires in their area. Scott kept chasing a bear from the campsites during our stay which kept getting extended.
Do we find the falls? Where is this gem of a campground? Well it’s like a good fishing hole as soon as you tell one person it’s crowded and fished out. Besides the people we met that go there a lot know where we live and I have a travel blog so I had to promise the secret would remain as to avoid bodily harm to myself.
The beauty of travelling is to discover gems like this, we were not even looking for it and as it turned out was one of the nicest campsites of the whole trip and free, gotta love BC. Another reason we love BC north is that not all sites in the parks can be reserved and for travellers like ourselves can find a first come site and stay, unlike some provinces that are booked every weekend so travellers are out of luck. I could never figure out why people would head right straight across Saskatchewan with its beautiful northern forest and the grasslands to the south. But if you want a campground on the weekend during the summer … forget it they are booked as we found out many times.
That’s it the quest for the falls and more of northern BC’s beauty as well as Tumbler Ridge in the next posts as to keep these ramblings manageable. Thanks to all those interested and your comments are always appreciated I enjoy reliving our travels and being able to share my images with those interested. We love our truck camper it has allowed us to roam places of beauty off the beaten trails and views of our natural environment few get to see let alone camp in. Watch for our Northern Lite studiowest.ca condo and say hi, as we hope to meet you along the road….
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