COVID killed off international in the spring. While traveling to Italy was out, traveling around British Columbia was possible. Although were were designated "no multi-regional travel" periods, we were able to schedule a number of trips within the province.
This year we traveled to Oliver and Naramata - two top wine regions in British Columbia. We also spent time in Kelowna in the Okanagan, Nelson and Wells Grey Park in the Kootenays. Comox and Campbell River on Vancouver Island and Powell River on the Syunshine Coast wrapped up our BC travels.
We commenced our summer travels by returning to the town of Oliver located in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. We stayed in Oliver last year, enjoyed our time and planned a return trip. At times, in some of the area of the vast vineyards, if you squint you can almost think you are in Italy!
The history of the area is very interesting. Once basically a desert, the government launched a project to convert the area from arid unuseable land to agriculture with land and make the land available to service men returning from the War. In 1918 the provincial government purchased the aridt land and on each side of the Okanagan River constructed an irrigation canal. The water coverted the area to farmland.
Over years the use of the landed changed, moving from general agriculture, to fruit orchards and now to being one of the top wine areas of British Columbia.
The 100-year-old irrigation canals are scenic and it was a major photograph plan to follow the canals looking for photography opportunities. Not that easy as in some areas the irrigation canals were inaccessible with sections were the system actual goes underground. But the find was a curve of the canal with vineyards on the sides, and road access to see it! Great fun.
View from Waters Edge Bed & Breakfast, overlooking Tuc-el-Nuit Lake
For each of our visits we rented an apartment (Waters Edge Bed & Breakfast) which is on the scenic Tuc-el-nuit Lake in Oliver. Apartment was beautiful and appointments excellent. We returned here again because of the excellent hosting. Not only is the Tuc-el-nuit Lake scenic, but a short drive to the the north is Vaseux Lake which sits in a nature-protected area and is very scenic.
Of course there are plenty of options to visit wineries and driving the area is a very relaxing experience.
This year there was extraordinary weather to cope with. The "Heat Dome" that lasted weeks results in exceptionally high temperatures. British Columbia just does not normally get temperates that reach into the 40s C. Added to the heat were numerous forest fires creating damage to the landscape and filling the valley with smoke. Even with those challenges, we had a good time.
Waters Edge Bed & Breakfast
Old growth forests near Nelson, BC
We next traveled to Nelson, BC. located in the Selkirk Mountain range along the west arm of Kootenay Lake. A historic town that has fortunately retained much of its heritage buildings from the times when this was the centre of a significant silver rush. Following the find of silver at Toad Mountain in 1886 the city exploded with activity. The architect of BC's impressive parliament buildings Victoria also esigned chateau-styled buildings in Nelson, some of which still stand. The city even had an electric street car network.
Baker Street is the main street of downtown Nelson. There are plenty of beautiful historic buildings to see. Many today house restaurants and bars.
We had a beautiful cabin on the route from Nelson to Kaslo. Peaceful and, a saving factor this year, a mountain stream ran literally right by the front door with the cold water acting like a natural air-conditioner. Great stay for sure.
Nelson has a number of major provincial parks in the area. Two that I enjoyed were Kokanee Creek and Kokanee Glacier Provincial Parks. The rapids and water falls of Kokanee Creek were impressive. As one local person told me, the water was 10 feet higher due to the excess melt-down of the mountain snow-packs because of the high temperatures.
On the outskirt of Kokanee Glacier Park was a beautiful walking trail through an old growth forest. The experience of walking through the woods with such towering trees, many more than 800 years old was very moving. I still feel sad over the lack of action by the BC Government to stop logging of old growth forests. After 800 years the trees should have a "don't cut status". Yes forestry is important to the economic of the province, but find other areas to do so.
Quails Gate Winery, Kelowna
We returned to Peachland, just outside of Kelowna, in the Okanagan. We had an apartment in Peachland, but with the extremely high temperatures (42+) we spent a fair amount of time visiting good friends in West Kelowna with a large air-conditioned house!
We did travel to Summerland, just down the along the lake to ride the only operating section of the Kettle Valley Railway - Summerland to Trout Creek. The old steam locomotive travels through a scenic valley and then to the Trout Creek Trestle which stands 250 feet above the creek when it crosses Trout Creek Canyon.
Plenty of vineyards and or course the large Okanagan Lake which is 135 km long and between four to five km wide. We had a good time but by now the extremely high temperates were taking their toll on us.
Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Park, Clearwater, BC
From Kelowna we traveled up to the stunning Wells Grey Park. The park known for numerous waterfalls was a photography goal for Glenn. We stayed at the Wells Grey Guest Ranch in a large log cabin. Despite the high temperatures, the big thick logs kept the cabin relatively cool.
The fourth largest waterfall in Canada, Helmcken Falls, is located in this park and is in fact the reason for the park being created. Between 1872 to 1881 surveyors traveled across British Columbia to find the best route the the Canadian Pacific Railway to travel between Yellow Pass in the Rocky Mountains and the coast. In the end another route was found and the railway did not cut through what is now Wells Grey Park. But, three places in the park were established to recognize the ten years of time spent surveying the area: Murtle River, Manhood Lake and Marcus Falls (surveyor Marcus Smith). They has to be a Marcus connection to this park. Helmcken Falls were discovered in 1913 by survey Robert Lee. He was so impressed with the falls he wrote the Premier of the Province. Soon after the discovery of Helmcken Falls the area was established as a park, as a ways of preserving the falls. Thanks to the BC Auto Club for starting the campaign to create the park around the falls. Thanks to Arthur Wellesley Gray, then Minister of Lands, and Chief Forester Ernest Manning that this as well as other parks in the province were established.
While there are 39 waterfalls in the park, about 8 or so are easily reached from the road that travels through the park. Many involve significant hikes, some with an overnight stays. But I saw many of the noted, accessible waterfalls. I guess this was my "Greenland" photo tour having seen Helmcken Falls (141 m drop), Spahats Falls (60 m drop), Moul Falls (35 m drop), Dawson Falls (20 m drop), Bailey's Chute (5 m drop) and of course Marcus Falls (5 m drop).
Evening scene at Comox, BC
Our next major outing was to travel from New Westminster to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and then drive up to Bowser, just south of Comox/Courtenay. This gave an opportunity to tour this area and also return to Elk Falls Provincial Park. I wanted to return to this part to see the impressive Elk Falls. The park was closed last fall when we were hear because of COVID-19.
Comox and Courtenay are very scenic areas of Vancouver Island. The shot above is of the Comox Harbour formed by the Courtenay River estuary and Goose Spit.
From here we traveled back to the mainland by ferry from Comox Little River to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast.
Sunset, Scotch Fir Point, Powell River
We crossed the Georgia Strait and arrive at Powell River. This is the northern end point of BC's Sunshine Coast. We were here last year, and looked forward to returning. We have friends to visit and we wanted to return to "our" cabin that is located on the shores of the Malsapina Strait. The cabin is beautiful and the views across the Strait are not to be forgotten.
There are numerous parks to explore around Powell River. I enjoyed Inland Lake Provincial Park with its trails and wood walkways around the lake. The trails were built with wooden walkways as a way for individuals with mobility limitations to enjoy the park. Last year, walks with a foot cast were possible because of the trails. This year the walk was even easier.
The Duck Lake Protected Areas follow has what seenmes to be endless trails and numerous streams and some have rapids/waterfalls. But, this fall, the streams were all dry - too much water was lost through the hot summer. It was scenic no less.
MARCUS TRAVEL JOURNAL