What I Did On My Summer Holidays

I wonder how many essays have been written under this heading in elementary schools through the ages.  Anyway, here goes my first effort in many a decade.

Panoramic shot with my phone of the Fraser River winding through the unique Lillooet area landscape

Panoramic view of the Fraser River winding through the unique Lillooet area landscape

Our holidays were short – only a week – but sweet, with all the vital ingredients — fun times with old friends, trips down memory lane, reasonably good weather, and breath-taking scenery.

We headed out of Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway, spending our first night with old friends at their gorgeous place on glacial green Lillooet Lake. A dive in determined that the top couple of inches were deceptively warm and welcoming. Beyond that, fathoms of icy cold.  We found that floating on the lake in inflatable chairs, drinking in a beer, along with the spectacular view, was a far more relaxing way to enjoy the lake.

The view of Lillooet Lake from our friends' deck

The view of Lillooet Lake from our friends’ deck

Next day we continued our trip on the wonderful Duffey Lake Road. We hadn’t taken that route since camping there on our honeymoon in 1986. The scenery is as great as ever, and the road is now paved – luxury! The really wonderful thing about this route is the dramatic change in scenery along the way. Closer to Pemberton there are forests, lakes and  snow-capped mountains changing to a desert-like landscape around Lillooet, and then the “painted” rock landscape nearer the Clinton end of the road around Pavilion. I highly recommend this drive.

Post card worthy Duffey Lake

Post card worthy Duffey Lake

Marking the 30km mark on the Duffey Lake road.

Marking the 30km point on the Duffey Lake road.

Indian paintbrush on the Duffey Lake road

Indian paintbrush

The Fraser River winds its way through the dry country just outside of Lillooet

The Fraser River winds its way through the dry country just outside of Lillooet

I love the abstract look of the dry hills around Lillooet. One stalwart tree had managed to find purchase, top right

I love the abstract look of the dry hills. One stalwart tree had managed to find a foothold, top right

“Painted” rock formations near Pavilion at the Clinton end of the road

We were headed for Likely. I lived up there, and built a cabin in the prehistoric 1970’s. It was quite the adventure for a young Englishwoman with zero wilderness experience. We still have a lot of good friends living up there — many of whom were responsible for my survival during my first winter living in the bush!

Once, hardly anyone knew where Likely was. Unfortunately, it’s now rather famous — for all the wrong reasons. The Mount Polley tailings pond spill of 2014 was a terrible blow to the environment in general, and the Likely community in particular. There’s a whole other blog post in that subject. Anyway, if you don’t know where Likely is, it’s in the Cariboo region of BC, about 50 miles north east of William’s Lake. William’s Lake is about 340 miles north of Vancouver.

In short, Likely is near Horsefly, still gorgeous, and a fabulous area to explore.

Likely Map

Downtown Likely on Quesnel Lake

Downtown Likely on Quesnel Lake

The Likely Hotel was undergoing a facelift

The Likely Hotel was undergoing a facelift

The Likely Hotel sign ready to be reinstalled

The Likely Hotel sign ready to be reinstalled

While we were there, we did a little bushwhacking, looking for the site of the cabin I built around 1978 on a mining claim. The cabin itself burned down circa 1990, but we hoped to at least find the spot where it stood. This proved to be surprisingly difficult, given how much everything had grown up. Trees can get quite big in 25 years, it seems. I’m pretty sure this little clearing is where it was.

As far as I could tell, this is about where my cabin used to stand.

As far as I could tell, this is about where my cabin used to stand.

How my cabin used to look in winter

We found this pot near the site of my old cabin, so I guess it was probably mine!

We found this pot near the site of my old cabin, so I guess it was probably mine!

An immature bald eagle flies along the Quesnel river

An immature bald eagle flies along the Quesnel river

Fall colour was arriving fast in the Cariboo

Fall colour was arriving fast in the Cariboo

Land of the silver birch, etc

Land of the silver birch, etc

Our Likely friends look us on a back road trip from Likely to Barkerville – the famous gold rush town. The road is gravel, but in excellent shape.

A black bear sighting on the gravel back road from Likely to Barkerville

A black bear sighting on the gravel back road from Likely to Barkerville

We took a short detour to see the falls at the Matthew River. Many a tree was planted by us, and by our friends, in that area. It’s also where my husband and I fell in love. We have a picture of us by those falls in about 1980, so we did a 2015 recreation. More wrinkles, pounds and glasses — but still in love!

Oh, so long ago …

The codgers at the Matthew Falls

The codgers at the Matthew Falls

Matthew River country, between Likely and Barkeville

Matthew River country, between Likely and Barkeville

Barkerville was a lot of fun. You can shop in the stores, take a horse and wagon ride, watch a show in the theatre, eat delicious Chinese food, buy candy, see a reconstruction from a trial from the Gold Rush era (with audience participation), or (my favourite) just browse all of the weathered surfaces — wood, metal, gravestones.

One of the churches in Barkerville

One of the churches in Barkerville

Lichen covered rust wheel at Barkerville

Lichen covered rusty wheel at Barkerville

One of my favourite spots was the old cemetery. I have “thing” for graveyards, having played in one a lot as a kid. This one is brimming with history and half-told stories of unique and adventurous lives — many of them cut short in the harsh frontier world of the late 1800’s.

John McLaren, died in 1869, aged 31.

John McLaren, died in 1869, aged 31.

We spent the night at the Wells Hotel. The last time I was in Wells was as a participant in the Snowball Tournament in 1978. Baseball was played in several feet of snow. I had a couple of severe handicaps. First — no snowshoes. Second — no idea how to play baseball. As I recall, rather a lot of drinking was involved, which leveled the playing field a bit. Our Likely team came home with the “Most Sporting” award that year, which I believe is a nice way of saying “Worst”.

Downtown Wells

Downtown Wells

The bottles in this lovely display were found by the home owner in the Wells/Barkerville area. The glass was blown and the bottles made locally during the Gold Rush years. You can see the vintage of the bottles from the amazing swirls in the glass.

The bottles in this lovely display were found by the home owner in the Wells/Barkerville area. The glass was blown and the bottles made locally during the Gold Rush years. You can see the vintage of the bottles from the amazing swirls in the glass.

Wells is a great little town. A LOT of snow in winter (it makes Likely look positively tropical) but full of fabulous artists’ studios and little houses painted in wonderful Newfoundland-style colours. Also, very important, the town has a vociferous crow and raven population.

The Wells crow committee holding its nightly meeting.

The Wells crow committee holding its nightly meeting.

We spent some time in the lovely Amazing Space Gallery talking to artists Claire Kujundzic and Bill Horne. I bought this lovely print of Wells by Claire. They also make an excellent cappuccino!

The print I bough from Claire Kujundzic of the Good Eats Cafe and the Wells theatre.

The print I bough from Claire Kujundzic of the Good Eats Cafe and the Wells theatre.

I could have stayed a lot longer. I’d love to get up there next year for the  ArtsWells festival.

After another night back in Likely it was, sadly, time to say goodbye and head home. We drove back once again along the Duffey Lake road, arriving back on the Sea to Sky Highway just in time for dusk and a series of watercolour skies along the way.

Porteau Cove at twilight, with heron

Porteau Cove at twilight, with heron

And then we were home in East Vancouver, with the local crows there to greet us first thing next morning.

And that’s what I did on my summer holidays. I hope you had a wonderful one too!

6 thoughts on “What I Did On My Summer Holidays

  1. Thank you for sharing. Got excited when I saw the map at the beginning of your adventure. My husband (now deceased) and I spent our summer vacations from the 1970’s through the 1990’s trout fishing in Canada. Our favorite lakes were in the vicinity (a little south) of the 100 mile house, our favorites being Sheridan and Horse Lakes. We also loved Lake Pavilion in another area. Our first trip each year would be at the end of May, with the ice barely off the lake. Our final visit each year would be in Sept. Your story brought back a lot of wonderful memories – and tears! Best tasting water in the world, freshest air, brightest fish, lots of time for exploring, too (and relaxed intimacies!!) Was introduced to loons and fell in love! Best time of our lives! My hubby said he’d rather fish with me than anyone else in the world. So glad I passed the test that first trip, as I’d never held a fishing pole before. Sometimes we’d take our dog, the first being a black lab. He’d sit in the front of the boat like a captain, never proclaiming boredom or dismay! Bet you’re getting a “boatload” of responses, so won’t keep you any longer. Thank you for sharing and for bringing back so many happy remembrances. I’m going to get out my albums and review our old photos.
    Diane Spellman

    • Diane – I just love your memories of that part of the world, and I’m so glad they were such a treasure for you and your husband. The fish up there are “bright”. I remember catching my first rainbow trout ice fishing. It seemed such an improbable thing to do – to cut a hole in the ice and even light a fire on it. But such a delicious lunch was cooked on that fire. You should come up again. It’s especially gorgeous in September when all the birch and cottonwood trees are covered in shimmering gold leaves.

  2. Love your work Ms. Hunter and follow your blog with real interest. I’m a VERY amateur naturalist with little skill with a camera but you do inspire me to make the effort. Cheers, V

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey…excellent photos and I love the nostalgic ones. Aaahhhh, long ago youth! Don’t worry, your attitude, mind & outlook are eternal & springs eternal, June! Keep cruising…you wear it well! Launie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s