“There´s gold in them there hills!”

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June 15th 2019
Published: June 16th 2019
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Saturday 15th June 2019

Yesterday we left Kamloops and headed for the hills once more: actually, they are of course mountains! From Kamloops to Vancouver, the fastest and most direct route is on either the Trans-Canadian Highway, or Highway 5. We actually haven’t been on the Trans-Canadian for quite a while, not since we left Lake Louise and ventured forth up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. The most scenic route however, is Highway 97 to Cache Creek and then Highway 99 to Lillooet, then over the mountain passes to Pemberton, Whistler and on to Squamish (where we are now) and finally following the coast down to Vancouver. What a drive! Fabulous!

Yesterday’s drive took us to Turikwa Lake, following the Thompson River valley to Duffy Lake then down to the confluence of the Thompson and the Fraser River. Duff and Fraser! Those Scottish pioneers got around quite a bit! “What did they come here for?” “GOLD!”

The Fraser River was the prospector’s dream river, where they mined and panned for tons of the stuff and at the very centre of this boom was the town of Lillooet. It was the largest town north of Chicago and west of Winnipeg in the Gold Rush days in the 1860s. Now it is a sleepy little town with just a few hotels and shops, two restaurants and an RV site. It is so hard to imagine what it was like in its heyday. It is approached through deep gorges and surrounded by mountain peaks and forests. Very beautiful, pretty remote and well off the main beaten track. The hotel we stayed in for the night was called the Hotel De Oro and it stands on the very spot where the gold was weighed and fought over. Fascinating.

This morning we left Lillooet to drive Highway 99 to Squamish. It was my turn to drive first. As soon as we left the town and climbed out of the deep gorge that it occupies, we realised that Highway 99, or the Duffy Road as it is locally called, was much narrower and winding, around steep drop offs and going up and down steep inclines and declines, than previous routes we have taken. Challenging driving! For some of the hairpin bends the speed limit dropped to 20 kph. I found some of the high bends a bit nerve-racking so John said that he would drive if I wanted him to. Well I did, but he couldn’t! There was nowhere to pull over to stop and even if there was, several signs reminded us that this was Grizzly Bear Country. On the news last week, a female cyclist was chased by a Grizzly! Despite all of these inconveniences, one has to say that it was one of the most spectacular drives and we really did love it (most of the time)! One highlight was seeing three bald eagles, one of which was low enough to see the golden tips one his huge wings.

Once we got closer to Whistler, near a town called Pemberton, we were in the Joffre Provincial Park and the Duffey Lakes region (Duffey spelt with an ey ending rather than just a y like the Duffy lake near Lillooet). Here we were able to stop and change drivers but unfortunately, we were unable to park. It seems that Saturday is a popular day for people coming up from Vancouver to visit the lakes, especially since it was such a hot day. Likewise, when we got to Whistler, after John had driven more winding mountain roads (one bend actually had a 10kph speed limit) we found parking difficult. Whistler is a winter ski resort of course but it is also popular in summer months for its mountain hikes, lakes and the spectacular scenery.

Before reaching Squamish there is a viewpoint looking over the Fraser River and the coastal mountains beyond, affording awe-inspiring views down the Fraser Valley. Information boards there explain that all of the land one can see is territory of the Squamish Nation people:

Skwxwu7mesh Uxwumixw

The Squamish Nation

We are now in Squamish for the night, just off Highway 99 on the Howe Sound, an inlet from the ocean, so “Yes!” We have reached the west Pacific Coast! Tomorrow we shall enjoy driving down to West Vancouver (still in Grizzly country). The drive is called the Sea to Sky Highway and we shall enjoy the coastal mountains all of the way. We are heading for Horseshoe Bay, the ferry terminal for ferries to Vancouver Island. We haven’t booked so we are just hoping to get on one. We think it should be possible (hope so)! The ferry will transport us across the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo. Fair weather is forecast so it should be a wonderfully scenic crossing.

The incredible thing about Canada is that it is all so wonderfully scenic. There are no ugly bits! It just continues, it goes on and on being beautiful; it is both exhilarating and mentally exhausting!

Wa chayap yuu stenamut

We wish you well on your journey

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16th June 2019

16th June 2019

Amazing scenery
Hi Viv and John You have us on the edge of our seats going up those narrow mountain roads. No room for error there. Canada really does keep giving and giving. I don’t think we had any idea of the scale of it. Looking forward to the last leg love Barb and Dave xx

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