With the Cariboo snagging my wandering Aussie feet in 1968, BC became my forever home.
A sticker on the rear window of my VW camper proudly announced: “I’m a Caribooster!” When John and I lived there for the first nine years of our married life, we explored back roads and canoed different lakes seeking meals from the deep.
Trips back to the Cariboo to see friends and family have continued over the years. One such visit took me to Williams Lake to spend a few days with my BFF in mid-June.
“Let’s take a break from golfing and drive round by Cariboo Lake,” she suggested; she didn’t have to ask twice.
My SUV laden with smokies, extra food and water in case of emergencies, we were ready to leave.
“Have you seen the fire damage on Mountain House Road?” she asked, referring to one of the many fires that surrounded her city last year (2017).
Amidst the devastation and the logging now taking place, however, we saw several camps where pickers and buyers of morel mushrooms were on the job.
Our initial stops were in Big Lake, Joan’s daughter enthusiastically showing me through their well-equipped two-room school, followed by her grandson adding firewood to our supplies.
“We can eat at Cedar Point in Likely or at the Forestry Recreation Site on Cariboo Lake,” stated my guide.
Fortunately I was hungry enough to suggest the first one. Here, beside Quesnel Lake, we chatted to fisher-folk about to try their luck (skill?) on its reasonably calm water.
Soon after lunch as we left paved roads behind, we talked about my last trip into this sparsely populated area. “Remember taking twenty-four Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers from every part of BC into Keithley Creek?”
Our backpacks were loaded for a five-day trek across Yanks Peak and down into Barkerville.
“And the girls from the Lower Mainland couldn’t believe that there was snow up there in August! They slipped and slid while tossing snow balls at each other.”
We didn’t divert into the ghost town of Keithley Creek this time, so now I was in new territory.
A road sign warned that the loop we were about to drive would be closed a couple of days later as two bridges were being replaced.
“We’re okay,” we assured each other and drove on.
The day was a bit dreary, but wildflowers and wonderfully varied shades of green brightened our views, as did the craggy Cariboo Mountains with the road winding through them.
Our stay at the aforementioned Forestry Recreation Site where Joan, husband and growing family had camped on many happy occasions was short – the mosquitoes chased us out!
We passed machinery in place for the upcoming construction but minimal traffic, although the driving was easy along the smooth gravel road. Oops!
“Road not maintained beyond this point,” we read. “Car has reverse gear,” said I, knowing it also has good clearance and a few more “buttons” if help was needed. And on we went.
Meeting a pickup boosted our confidence. Many kms, bounces, and puddles later, we saw the back of the equivalent sign at last – in the middle of nowhere!
The road gradually improved, especially after the turn into Ghost Lake. Two black bears, a rabbit, grouse, and a moose who wanted to race my car added more great memories.
The day was getting away from us by then, so we skipped Barkerville and detoured only briefly into Wells, both familiar places to us.
Dinner at Quesnel’s Cariboo Hotel seemed appropriate as our final stop before ending our day’s outing back in Williams Lake.
“Golf tomorrow?” grinned my buddy.