The north central part of British Columbia is sparsely populated and full of gigantic thick evergreen forests. It’s also where gold was found during the rushes of the 1800s.
Our first stop along the Cariboo trail was 100 Mile House; a nice town about 100 miles north from Kamloops. It was an old rest stop for people heading north into the Cariboo gold country, and it still a great stopover. We stayed at the municipal campground, played at their wonderful city park, took the trail to the large waterfall, and replaced a few things at the Safeway. The kids were especially excited for the cool merry go round at the playground, and less impressed with the huge skeeters. Everyone is telling us they are a lot worse this year, but isn’t that what we all say.
Our next stop, a few hours up the road, was the historical town of Barkerville. This place is super cool. It’s a mock up of an old 1850s gold rush town made with original and rebuilt buildings from the area. There are re-enactors and shops, horse and buggies, and lots of buildings to explore. Oh, and a chunk of snow!
We were especially fond of a mock trial and attending Chinese school. Both kids quite enjoyed the strict teacher – she smacked my hand with the ruler as an example – and we learned 6 Chinese words and how to write them. Absolutely fun! There was a pleasant balance of gold rush focus and daily life things like the smith and the shops. There was also a nice large area dedicated to the Chinese people who lived in the town and many of the gold rush towns. We learned a lot about how important these citizens were for the services they offered like the stereotypical washing but also the all important gardening, supplying, and menial labor. Many of the Chinese emigrants were sending money back home to help support the overthrow of the Ching dynasty of 1911. It was a fascinating link to the east.
We bought some lemongrass tea to fight the skeeters, and got some treats at the bakery and confectionery. Our ticket was good for two days, and since we arrived quite late on our first evening it was discounted. We camped at the government hill campground for the night, which was bikeably close. It was a pleasant cold night; we unpacked the down duvets.
After a nice morning at Barkerville, we drove 400km – 5 hours – to the free municipal campground at Burns Lake. Why don’t they have these stateside? they are cool. This one, especially, was nice with a lakeside beach, which was freezing so it was only kids with blue lips in there; yes, mine were among them! And there was big playground with exercise equipment ala Korea. Of course I did a circuit while the kids played. Took me back to nights at the park in Songtan. Anyway, pleasant stay!
Our last driving day was another long one: 500km (about 6 hours) with a nice long break in the middle to visit a native Ksan village in the town of Hazelton. This was a highlight!
At the village, we had a nice snack before heading in. I love having a drive camper! We just stand up and go to the back to cook or dig in the frig. Once in the village we decided to get a guided tour since it meant seeing the interior of the buildings. Money well spent! It was excellent. Our guide brought an audio tour with us that creatively explained a part of Ksan culture in reference to each longhouse we were in. The four clans – frog, wolf, fireweed, and eagle – were all represented. We were all impressed with the size and structure of these buildings made with massive cedar logs and intricate carved animals on the poles. There we’re all kinds of interesting artefacts and reproductions of daily life, and we learned that the First Nation peoples of the northwest were not as affected by colonizers until quite later in history than many other native groups; because of this their actual heritage and oral history was not wiped out (though it was discouraged) so they very much know their culture. Many other indigenous peoples have struggled to retain or recall theirs.
Sorry no pictures inside.
Our guide answered all our questions, and the kids asked some good ones. Things like, “what is that?” “It’s a giant carved bowl for feeding people”, and, “where are the escape tunnels in this lodge?” “Under the platform behind you!”, or, “how many people would come for the feasts?” ” maybe 60 or 100, as many as were invited.” Invited to participate in governing and being witnesses to big decisions. Less war, more feast!
We left feeling quite impressed and excited to have learned so much about their culture.
As we neared the coast (we are now on book 3 of the Gods of Olympus series) it finally rained. We have had amazingly sunny weather. About an hour from Prince Rupert, though, I drove into a light drizzle , cool temps, and low cloud cover that hasn’t much let up. The clouds obscured the mountains, but occasional glimpses showed immense white-topped peaks, damp forests, and long stringy waterfalls of snow melt. We parked the camper in the rain at Prince Rupert RV park. It’s our first hookup since we started a week ago, and so nice to dump the sewer tanks and get a water refill…. and long hot showers.
In the morning I woke early and got stuff together for the ferry. We got a little shopping done and then drove out of town for a hike before the ferry. Butze rapids trail was lovely. It’s 5.4km of nice macadam and decking through a huge moss covered forest and over the occasional bog to the edge of the river and a view of Butze rapids – a swirling backflow.
There was a sign advising dog owners to keep pups leashed as wolfs in area have gone for them, so, of course, Zoe pretended Avi was a dog. He played along but in his own runaway dog way which meant we jogged the first kilometer and a half, finding the rapids overlook. After that, the trail went down to the waters edge and Avi found a cool rope swing in addition to some amazing gnarly hollow tree trunks that seemed like art. We returned to the camper just in time for another downpour.