British Colombia

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(>Pictures at the bottom!)

Our way back through Yukon was relatively short, but we have already seen a lot in this state. Impressive was the remaining smoke from the forest fire, where recently a large area burned. But during the last night a bad weather front caught up with us and gave us plenty of liquid from the sky. Shortly before Watson Lake we turned south, followed the Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37) and reached the “Beautiful British Columbia” within a few kilometers. The sun on the welcome board laughed at us from far away and we were happy to finally drive on new roads again.

The road led us through a forest area burned by the fire, which almost burst our imagination. The thousands and thousands of tree corpses were in our moods, and here once all hell must have broken loose!

However, from below the green of various pioneer plants already pushes towards the sky and leaves the big wound overgrown with lots of green again.

The first stop was at a lake, where – so we thought – we could have a morning bath the next day. But at midnight the lightning struck and the morning refreshment became nothing.

The rain accompanied us through the whole following day and only in the late afternoon the sun pressed through again behind the mountains. Finally there were contours again and we saw what we would have liked to see: snow-covered mountains and untouched landscapes.

In the evening the weather was good for us and we found a wonderful lake where we settled in for the night to come. Also it was a great morning bath in the very fresh lake before some thick clouds came up again and robbed us of the view of the surrounding mountains. As soon as we were on our way, the first big raindrops hit the windshield and the view was again severely restricted.

If you are on the Cassiar-Highway, you should, no, you have to make a detour to Stewart. In a few kilometres this road leads through a narrow mountain valley and past countless glaciers to the Pearce Canal – a fjord that reaches out into the Pacific.

The detour was more than worthwhile. From Stewart we changed again to Alaska. Without passport control on the American side we went to Hyder, a forgotten village in the wide world; probably these few houses don’t even exist in Washington (D.C.).

We followed the Salmon River, reached Canadian territory again after a few kilometers and climbed to over 1000 meters. Thanks to the former gold mining activity in this very mineral-rich area, tourists can now comfortably drive up to dizzying heights and enjoy a magnificent view of the mountains. Despite the onset of rain, it was the dot on the “i”. The absolute crowning glory would have been an overnight stay in this mountain world, but the weather forecast reported an extensive low and who knows – in such remote areas one is suddenly completely cut off from the only access possibility. On the same day we returned to a safe altitude and settled in for the night to come.

After a last night in Alaska ( ) we drove again, of course with the whole Canadian entry procedure at the border post of Stewart, through the mountain world past all its glaciers and torrents, back to the Cassiar-Highway. Hardly again on the Highway in the direction of the south, already again heavy raindrops clapped on the windshield and again no view of the mountain world.

In Cranberry Junction we left the well-developed highway, because a 4WD-road gave us more than the fast traffic on the Cassiar-Highway. In a few kilometers we reached the tribal area of the Nisga’a Nation and the Lava-Bed-Memorial-Privincial-Park of the same name. More than 250 years ago a lava eruption destroyed large areas along the Nass River and buried about 2000 people of the Nisga’a tribe. Even today, the immense lava field testifies to this event and the then deadly and liquid mass. For the First Nation this area is like a cemetery where their ancestors are buried and should not be entered.

After a bath in one of the many spiritual hot water springs, we left the Nisga’a area in a southerly direction. Despite the spiritual bath there was little to see on our way from the apparently wonderful landscape; the rain was omnipresent and the windshield wiper churned all day long. From Terrace we followed the Yellowhead Highway via Kitwanga to Houston.  And again the rain accompanied us through the wide valleys, where our road meandered along the mountain flanks. Everything above us was covered in thick clouds and fog.

Again and again we tried to leave the highway and follow some side roads along the main axis. Unfortunately this did not always work out; partly our electronic map was too inaccurate, the way was closed due to the rain or there was no connecting bridge (…more!).

But we found side roads again and again; through almost endless forests we drove along our backroad. Around the wood, which is harvested here like fields, there are mostly well-developed forest roads, where some heavy trucks and few tourists move. And, to our surprise, we found again and again wonderful overnight accomodation possibilities, which were furnished by the forestry at completely special places and are maintained likewise.

A few years ago we were thrown off the train for a night during a train trip in Prince George and had to spend a night in a motel. We remembered the place very well from the train trip, but behind the windshield we didn’t like Prince George at all. We quickly left this place in a southwesterly direction; the Blackwater Road was more appealing to us than the place that had outgrown the surface.

As soon as we turned off the main road, we were almost alone again. From time to time some pick-up crossed us and the forest workers usually looked out of their cars at our vehicle and the unknown license plates. Also southwest of Prince George we found wonderful places to stay overnight, which are available to any passing tourists. Between the wood industry and the province British Columbia must be some special agreement in this way the tourists quite great places.

In Quesnel we stocked up with food that is especially easy to prepare and drove the same day over the Goldrushtrail towards Barkerville. At a cozy place, a few kilometres before Wells, we prepared ourselves for the coming night, before we were asked by the local police to leave the place. Too bad, we would have liked it better at this place than at the assigned and official campground.

We left Barkerville on the left and drove directly to the Bowron Lake Provincial Park. There we actually wanted to start for a two or three day canoe tour. Unfortunately, the weather prospects were very bad and our equipment for so little sun rather insufficient. The western part of Lake Bowron and Lake Swan could have been reached immediately despite the high season, but for the time being we let it go – due to the weather -, returned to Barkerville and followed the tourist hype through the historic village, where there is still a lot to do today, like in the gold digging period.

As the weather was still miserable (although everyone was talking about a weather improvement soon), we left the canoe adventure out for the time being and headed south on a backroad, which is marketed by the tourism office as “the ultimate adventure”, through endless forests and various tourist highlights. Although this forest road is open to everyone, we saw a handful of people on the 100 kilometres from Barkerville to the Cariboo Lake, who enjoyed themselves with their ATV’s in the woods or fished in the Ghost Lake.

The night at Cariboo Lake was more than just a wet affair and I can’t remember if we ever had as much rainfall during our trip as we did that night. The next day everything was completely soaked, the rain even washed away the coal from our fireplace and completely flooded the fireplace. The rain accompanied us on our way on the back road past the Cariboo Falls and to Williams-Lake. At the tourist information, surrounded by other travellers, we searched all weather reports, hoping to catch some positive news for the coming weather. The prospects promised an improvement and warmer temperatures. Nevertheless we left Williams-Lake with rain in southwest direction. Weather-wise we could not agree on a model of the weather forecast and set up our camp at Chimney Lake for more rain showers.

Through wide forest districts we reached 100-Mile-House, and finally the sun laughed out behind the thick clouds. Finally!
Full of joy and new zest for action we soon went on to the Sheridan-Lake, respectively to Interlakes, where a regional rodeo took place. As soon as we had paid for the tickets, we were surrounded by cowgirls and cowboys who gave their best on horseback and bulls. For us greenhorns this was more than just a show and we immediately had a lot of respect for these wild riders. Whether it is breakneck or not, we let the insurances decide, but with the ratio 75 kg (rider) versus 1000 kg (bull) it can sometimes get very dangerous; the heavy bulls are sometimes incredibly fast and the thrown off rider had to run to a safe place often after the drop.

The last raindrops fell during the rodeo – they were really the last ones! By the time we reached the bottom of the Thompson River it was already very warm in the morning and a hot day announced itself. While the farmers were mowing their hay grass, many free hungry Canadians moved with all kinds of vehicles on the road and in the field. The long weekend and beautiful weather lured everyone out into the sun. Even the boat traffic on the many lakes was impressive and from everywhere the boat engines roared.

Once again we did not choose the direct route to Revelstoke, but bumped over a forest road north around the Shuswap Lake towards Seymour Arm. We hoped that we would find a place for an overnight stay at this remote place. But far from it; even in this secluded world everything was overcrowded and we didn’t want to squeeze in somewhere.

So we followed, it was already later in the afternoon, the forest road through narrow valley incisions, crossed again and again elevations and crossings, which led us into the next valley. We didn’t know for a long time whether the road would be continuous at all; our map was too inaccurate in the GPS device as well as in the paper version.

Where a road leads in, the forest is used accordingly and partly large areas are harvested. The “forest wounds” are heartbreaking for the eye, but after a few years the young forest overgrows the whole wound again and can be used again by the next generation as a valuable raw material. Along this forest road we found a quiet place for our overnight stay and no overcrowded place – neither noise nor anything else disturbed us through the coming night.

The few kilometres out of the forest and up to Revelstoke were still a short drive. We went to Revelstoke for two reasons: we visited a family (sister-in-law of Alfons Kühne, mountain guide in Switzerland), which I met three years ago during my first trip to Canada with Alfons (organizer of an outdoor trip) and, thanks to this family, also had a postal address for a necessary order, which was only delivered that way. Although we knew each other only very briefly, the new reunion was very cordial, as if we were close friends for years and there was neither a lack of support nor help. Whether it is the big wide world here in Canada that makes people so open – I don’t know, but we Swiss can learn a lot here and take it with us.

Unfortunately, the ordered goods had not yet arrived completely. But also this was no problem for our hosts and we were referred to an additional round around Revelstoke: “Have a look at the area and come back later, we will be happy to receive the further broadcasts for you”.
Canada live!

So we left Revelstoke in southern direction and followed the Columbia River under best weather conditions. After the ferry at Arrow Lake we left the highway and followed the banks of the Trout Lake through wide forests and valleys.

Afterwards we noticed the holiday season and the summer weather on the shore of the Kootenay Lake, where people everywhere cooled down in the fresh water. So we couldn’t find a suitable place to stay in this area before Nelson; everything was overcrowded and for spontaneous guests there was no free place anywhere.

Nelson, which lies in the flanks of the mountains, did not attract us very much. The warmth in the city was great and we longed for some refreshing lake or stream.

The next day we had more luck and found a free place at Halfway Creek and the Hotsprings of the same name where we could relax in the warm as well as in the cold water. The mountain stream was more than refreshing and we had to be careful for a too big cooling down!

On the way back to Revelstoke there was again a problem with our engine, which did not want any more, as we wished. From some revs on there was no more power available and on some gradients we almost had to get out and push the jeep up. It was frustrating and presented us with a new riddle. Many problems we were able to solve ourselves or knew some advice. This time everything was different! Was it the loose air hose after the air filter?

In Revelstoke no workshop had time for our problem, everything was too busy. The holiday season is also noticeable here. We tried to solve our technical problem on our own, but the current success was rather modest. Although we had an appointment for the following day in a brand-independent garage, this morning the breakdown lamp was dark and therefore no diagnosis was possible on the part of the workshop.

So we left Revelstoke in western direction, full of zest for action, so that we could go on again.
The joy was only short: After about 50 kilometres we had the same problem again and our engine hardly brought the heavy load up the gradients on the transcanadian highway.

In Salmon Arm came the temporary stop of our journey. The engine should have a larger damage with the fuel supply, so the diagnosis. Since our engine (diesel) is not available in North America, you won’t find any spare parts! We were also told that everything is very old and that a successful repair cannot be guaranteed. The workshop found possible spare parts for an identical engine. Since the transmission is rattling more and more and the front axle sometimes makes unusual noise, we didn’t know what to do for the time being: Replace the basic vehicle or stop our world trip???

Now we sit in Sicamous and weigh up the various options; calculate and discard certain ideas, surf the Internet and write e-mails. Although only our car is damaged, it is still very gruelling and the frustration is deep.
But we stay tuned; an abort would be the last thing.

Our way around the world is still long; now good ideas are needed so that we can finish our journey.
We want it to do!

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