Howard Lake, BC (Jun 21/22) – After a couple of exciting fishing days spent at Dugan Lake the travelling Westfalia’s & their entourage headed north on Hwy 97 towards Quesnel. Initially a stop in Williams Lake at Surplus Herby’s to purchase some more fishing supplies (a bigger net for sure)… always a ‘must stop’ when travelling through this town.
Traffic being reasonably light it was a nice day for a drive with warm & dry conditions. Upon reaching Quesnel, stopped for a refueling (yikes!!! …oh the gas prices) & headed east towards Barkerville (site of the world famous gold mining town of the 1850’s). Passing through the historic site of Cottonwood, they travelled a quiet stretch of highway loaded with lots of wildlife (bears, deer & moose) dotting the landscape; then onto Wells a small, colourful village of a couple hundred residents where B&B’s & restaurants are frequented by tourist who come to see Barkerville & the Bowron Lakes.
click on pic to enlarge – right/left arrow to scroll thru the gallery
Staying at Forest Rose campground just outside of Barkerville, it was here that hot showers were available (YES!!!), a great BBQ dinner & a campfire. Next day it was decided to forego a visit to Barkerville Gold Town Park (last visited 2 years ago), but the info desk was helpful in determining road conditions for the next route…
That route would be the ‘Barkerville to Likely‘ road that traverses 140kms over the mountains on a sometimes ‘rough’ gravel road through the wilderness. Accessible via the Bowron Lake turnoff, the condition of the ‘dirt’ road is very well maintained, some potholes but for the most part an easy drive.
Came upon an old resort known as the Comet Creek Lodge (beside the river & waterfall of the same name). The unique set of buildings mainly constructed of local rock & timbers was probably quite a draw in its time… now sadly neglected & over-run with vermin.
There are various Forest Rec Sites along the route offering free camping & distinctive experiences, but the group decided upon a stay at the Ghost Lake camp located in the Cariboo Mountain Provincial Park. This was located off the main ‘dirt’ road by 8kms, nearby a most amazing waterfall that truly is one of the hidden treasures for those who travel this road. Situated in a grizzly bear habitat location, high in elevation, the campers had to be careful with camp security (especially ensuring any food related waste was stored safely) to avoid any conflict. Walked a km down the road and secured a bag (filled with the camp’s left-over-food & trash) high up into a tree provided some security that they wouldn’t be raided at midnight by a hungry grizzly.
The high elevation (1250 metres) meant for cooler temperatures thus less bugs & a comfortable night around the campfire. The soothing sound of the waterfall in the distance made for a blissful nights sleep.
The next day they set-off to further explore the surrounding area, driving further up into the alpine areas to possibly see the grizzly bears that inhabit the mountains. The road became more like a trail with creek crossings, dead-fall & encroaching bush. After stopping to clear debris a few times they finally met their match… a large tree had blocked passage, unable to clear, the Westfalias were turned around & returned to the main road (note for next time: bring larger saws to cut & rope to drag away).
The weather soon turned for the worst, heavy rain & very muddy conditions as the travellers entered an active logging area. Lots of heavy equipment chewing up the wet muck & fully laden logging trucks heading south towards the sawmills.
Passing numerous lakes & streams with crude entrances to ‘camp sites’, unable to reach further as the very wet conditions made for treacherous conditions leaving the main road. Water levels all around were at ‘spring run-off’ status, some rec sites were underwater for now and probably better left for fall camping.
At the end of the ‘dirt road’ they came upon the Village of Likely. Assuming there would be something substantial to see, nothing was further from the truth. In the gloom of the constant rain, and riverbanks overflowing, it was hoped for a bakery to entice the group out of the vehicles for some warm goodness… nope. Seemed the town was pack up from last winter & they forgot to bring it back out!!!
From Likely to 150 Mile House was dotted with massive farms along a smooth roadway (of course after 140kms of backroad, just about anything feels smooth :)). After stopping for fuel & then a ‘steeped tea’ at Tim’s, they ended the day’s journey at Howard Lake Rec Site (high in the mountains near Canim Lake)…