The fires in central British Columbia meant we needed to take a different route up North then intended. We opted to head for the western Stewart-Cassiar Highway, hoping to make a small detour to Fort St. James on our way.
We made our way first almost to the Alberta border where we hiked a short trail in Mt Robson provincial park. The trail can be taken all the way up to Berg Lake but with just 2 hours we opted to head up to the spectacular Kinney Lake. Along the way we inspected a mountain river which looked like we could kayak… at around 2 points anyway!
As well as being able to see the eponymous Mt Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, heading to the park offers the road tripper a great lunch spot with views of Mt Terry Fox, named for Canada’s most inspiring sportsman.
Leaving the park we swang round on the highway headed all the way West across the province so we could resume our northward journey. We ended up driving late into the night and had a fascinating encounter with the subsection of residents of Prince George who go to the gas station at 1am. They mostly pay in quarters one at a time and show up wearing pretty much anything from leather jackets with chains to bunny onesies.
We stopped at Vanderhoof information centre the next morning to pick up some leaflets about places to see on our way and to ask about road conditions. The information centre was in the middle of a very interesting little open-air museum. Old, historic houses from the surrounding area where restored and brought together to form a kind of exemplary pioneer town. We walked through the buildings learning the histories of the local people. It was very interesting to see an old bank, a police house with a jail, a Mennonite house (which was so drafty the people who built it sold it off after their first harsh Canadian winter) and a house all wired for electricity, even though the town didn’t have a supply when it was built.
The museum also has a small café serving delicious fruit pies and locally roasted coffee. We spent a good couple of hours at the café planning our route ahead. It turned out going to Fort St. James was not advisable due to the forest fires, so we headed onwards to Hazleton where we read had a lovely campsite.
At the Ksan Campground we were able to recharge our batteries and take care of such important business as laundry, showers and doing things on the WiFi. All of this takes place next to the phenomenal Skeena river with views out to the seven sisters mountains. A short drive takes you to an absurdly high single lane suspension bridge over the gorge which must be crossed to reach the campsite. The best thing about camping here however is the Ksan cultural centre next door. On our last morning in Hazelton we took a guided tour with a member of the community who patiently explained all the exhibitions in the large log houses which form the museum. Our guide, a member of the frog clan from the Gitxsan community also gave us a fascinating insight into how a First Nation still manages to function and continue its traditions today. After a brief walk through the pioneer town of Hazelton we left the cozy campsite behind and turned onto Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar which would take us all the way through the rest of BC and into Yukon.