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17 December 2009

Carving The Mountain at Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peak Resort - North of Kamloops, BC. Canada

In October of this year when were out camping in the Chilcotin and in the Cariboo, we drove up to the Sun Peaks Village. It is a wonderful spot. We decided then we should come back for a few days when we could check out the winter conditions.


We just came back from three days on the mountain and it was wonderful. We stayed at the Delta Sun Peaks Resort and it was first class. From day one when we emailed the hotel to the day we left, the staff was super friendly. The room was very nice and clean with a great view of the mountains.



One night we went for dinner in the hotel. The restaurant is called Mantel, and this was the first evening with a new menu. Absolutely superb meal was presented. For a starter, Liz had a salad with organic greens and an outstanding vinaigrette. I had a crab cake, and it was a really good size, with real dungeness crab. No filler what so ever, just pure crab.



For the main Course I had roasted duck with scallops from Qualicum Beach on a bed of polenta; the best I ever had. Liz had an equally as good main course. Grilled buffalo sirloin and it was cooked to perfection. Since we had a variety of food, we paired it with a bottle of Merlot from Sandhill Estates Winery in the Okanagan Valley, BC.


The mountain Sun Peaks Resort is great with 3,678 acres of terrain, the second largest ski area in British Columbia, and the third largest in Canada. The summit elevation is 2,152m (7,060'), with the longest run being around 8km (5 miles) long. There are a total of 11 lifts, including 3 high speed quad chairlifts, 2 quad chairlifts, 1 triple chairlift, and 5 surface lifts. All these lifts can move 12,000 people per hour.



Sun Peaks boosts 559cm (220") of  wonderful powder per year and over 2,000 sunshine hours per year. Just a great place to hang out. Let's have a look at the average winter temperatures:

  • December  -9.5ºC / 15ºF
  • January  -6.7ºC / 20ºF
  • February  -6.1ºC / 21ºF
  • March  -3.9ºC / 25ºF
  • April -1.1ºC / 30ºF
If down hill is not your kind of thing then there is 28km of groomed cross country trails, plus 12km of back-country trails and dedicated snowshoe trails



Sun Peaks is not just for winter sports, the summer is also a great time to be up here. Up here you can enjoy 18 hole golf, bike park, trail rides, tennis, outdoor pool, canoe rentals, voyageur canoe tours, kayak rentals, hiking tours, bike clinics and tours, photo shoots and clinics, guided fly fishing, mountain adventure camps, and bungee trampoline. Further there is 15 hiking trails and 39 Bike Park Trails, totaling 70km, with 255 features.

There are lots of accommodation on the mountain and you can get some really good deals The Delta Sun Peaks is only one of them. We will go back to Sun Peaks. For more pictures of our trip to Sun Peaks and back check out our Picasa Album.

Cheers, Liz and Anders

09 December 2009

Kokanee On The BBQ

Fresh BBQ’d seafood is one of my favourites. In September of this year we were camping in Chilcotin and in the Cariboo, in our beautiful province of BC.

One of the places we stayed at is the Cariboo Bonanza Resort. The owners Bruno and Dora Sprecher are from Switzerland and are the perfect hosts. The Resort is very nice, clean and tidy, one of the nicest we have come across.



Bruno gave me a crash course on...... Since I posted this blog on our other site www.KookingWithKarl.com you can read more about it there. Kokanee On The BBQ.

Cheers, Anders & Liz

06 December 2009

Horse Lake and Cariboo Bonanza Resort

We arrived at Cariboo Bonanza Resort late afternoon on the 24th of September 2009. We were greeted by Bruno and Dora Sprecher the owners of Cariboo Bonanza Resort (from Switzerland so everything is perfect).  We got a great site #45


right on the lake next to one of the docks. We had supper (Swiss Fondue)



and made it an early night catching up on some blogs, pictures etc. Bunch of pictures at our Picasa Album

25th of September 2009
It is a beautiful morning, the ducks are busy on the shoreline sticking their tails in the air looking for food as the morning fog lifts over Horse Lake. 


Liz starts out with a few loads of laundry in the spot-less facilities. I have some computer download problems, windows movie maker again :( . Life is too short, I decide to rent a boat and go fishing :)  Life is good. 



This lake is full of Kokanee. Kokanee is a land locked Sockeye Salmon. The Kokanee is very similar to the Sockeye except for size and weight. The Kokanee is usually 8-20 inches long, most are in the 9-14 inch range compared to 24-33 inches for a mature Sockeye. They both turn bright red when spawning and have an approximate 4 year life cycle.



I got lots of fishing advice from Bruno who even lent me his rod and reel, Thanks Bruno! He has to be the most knowledgeable person regarding fishing in the Cariboo.

Liz's notes:
Anders rented a boat. I went along in the morning for a tour of the lake and an hour of trolling. Well Anders caught a fish, but I took the camera instead of the net and the critter got away.


I was not popular at that time!



We went in for lunch, and I was not invited back out for afternoon fishing. The weather was absolutely beautiful and warm, t-shirt weather.  I stayed in contact with Anders with our two-way radios, they come in so handy. He caught two Kokanee, around 2 lbs each, give or take. We cooked them for supper the next day.


We enjoyed another beautiful sunset. The ducks visited again, but turned around in disgust, when we did not feed them.

26th of September 2009
Another beautiful morning, however the forecast is for a change in weather. 


We talked to the owners of the resort, Bruno and Dora and they suggested we go and hike to Mahood and Canim Falls. We packed some sandwiches and coffee and we were off.

We drive along Horse Lake to the East on Horse Lake Road, then Mahood Lake Road. We pass Deka, Sulphurous Lake, and Hathaway Lake and continue on gravel roads for about an hour. 


As usual, the locals underestimate the time it takes, or we drive way slower than they do.

We almost miss the sign for Mahood and Canim Falls. It is just before Wells Gray Provincial Park.

We shoulder our back packs, knives, bear bells, and pepper spray. 




After an easy walk of 500-750 meters the Mahood Falls thunder into a deep crevice. 


After about one km the Canim Falls are even more spectacular.


Back at the truck we continue to Mahood Lake campground


Only two parties are camped here. We walk down to the beach and lake and take some pictures.


Anders is in the process of shooting a movie when he gets excited; there is a mother black bear and two cubs on the other side of the beach. 


They take one look at us and run into the forest.

We decide to enjoy the incredible beauty this area has to offer, 


with high hills all around the lake. It looks a bit like a large "Lake Cowichan" on Vancouver Island. 


There are a few cottages, on the south side of the lake. Wells Gray Park comes down on the north side and encompasses the eastern part of Mahood Lake and the western part of Canim Lake. Wells Gray Park and surrounding area was, for some 10,000 years, home primarily to the Simpcw First Nations of the Secwepemc (or Shuswap) Nation. Their semi-nomadic ways of hunting, fishing and gathering had evolved to match the annual rhythms of nature by moving with the seasons and the timing of caribou and salmon migration. 


There are over 50 archaeological sites that have been found in the area, including pictographs on the shores of Mahood Lake, we did not see any of them, but it calls for another trip there. If you have never been to Wells Gray Provincial Park, it is a must. I'm sure you could spend a whole year there and still not see everything. Don't believe me....the park is 540,000 hectares, that's 1,334,369 acres. There are several volcanoes, waterfalls, mineral springs and glaciers within the park boundary. For ease of locating things in the park, it has been divided up into eight areas. Check out Wells Gray Park Info 

We are heading back again and Liz writes: We drive back looking for the turn off for the Canim South Road (one has to understand that road or directional signs are almost non existent in all of the Chilcotin or the Cariboo) The gravel road along Canim lake is very wash-board like, and I have to drive carefully because it is also very curvy. Anders is complaining that he is getting sick!

About half way along Canim Lake we hit pavement :) and the driving improves. Canim Lake is large and very populated. At the east end, close to Wells Gray Park are some very nice farms and farm land. The Canim-Hendrix Road is great, and in no time we reach Hwy 97.  After a quick trip into Williams Lake to exchange an electric heater that did not perform. I drive up and Anders drives back.

Back at the Cariboo Bonanza Resort, Anders start BBQing the Kokanee, and I prepare fresh beans and baked potatoes. Another wonderful day. Check out the video of Anders preparing the Kokanee and yours truly as the camera woman.

Next blog - Kokanee on the BBQ.

04 October 2009

Bull Canyon Caves, BC. Canada

Early morning on the 24th of September 2009 we decided we wanted to back track and go back and climb up to the caves at Bull Canyon Provincial Park (123 ha). The park is 9km west of Alexis Creek.





We left the Chilcotin Lodge and drove for about an hour west on high way 20. The park itself was closed, otherwise we would have stayed there the night before. The caves are high up above the park and highway in what is called the Bull Canyon Mountain. It is a steep hike to get up there. A lot of loose rocks, gravel etc. make it pretty though in places. Caution must be taken.





Bull Canyon Mountain is part of a Volcanic Plateau called the Chilcotin Group. More on the Chilcotin Group at Wikipedia.



Climbing down from the caves is at times not that easy, but it makes for a challenging and fun hike.



These caves are considered sacred by the local First Nations People. This should be respected when visiting. Archaeological sites exist throughout the park and are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. Please do not disturb these sites.







Bull Canyon is also the site of an historic battle between the Tsilhoqot'in and Secwepemc First Nations people.





If you are enjoying the countryside around Bull Canyon Provincial Park, please remember this is Bear Country. Try to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times (probably why the park is closed from the 15th of September till spring) unless you feel comfortable with bears around, and please take the usual precautions.... that means pepper spray on your hips and the bear bells ringing, and hoping that the bears are friendly that day. There are also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars so please play it safe.  Here is a video of the caves.



After the hike we headed back to the Chilcotin Lodge and hooked the trailer up, and then we drove east to Williams Lake. There we stocked up on some supplies, food, fuel and a part for the 5th wheel trailer. After that, we headed south on Highway 97 then east on Highway 24 to Cariboo Bonanza Resort on Horse Lake


View Larger Map

More on Horse Lake and Cariboo Bonanza Resort in our next blog.

Cheers,

Liz and Anders



01 October 2009

Junction Sheep Range in Chilcotin, BC. Canada

1st October 2009

23rd September 2009. We left Nimpo Lake and Vagabond RV Park. We stopped at the office and said by to Cora and Sid and picked up a latte. We headed east and pulled in to Puntzie Lake and stopped at Howdy's Resort and RV Park.


View Larger Map




It is on the south side of the lake and it is very pretty. When we were there it was very dry and windy. Hardly any rain all summer.



Next day the 24th of September, we started off east again and stopped and had lunch at Easter Restaurant in Alexis Creek, 


 

 



View Larger Map


great food and the desert was fantastic. Liz had buffalo burger with home made fries and I had also a buffalo burger and soup. The soup was enough for a whole meal. But since I pig out, I ate it all and had the lemon cake for desert. The owner is German, rest assured the food is wonderful and the dessert is to die for.

We had planned to stop in Bull Canyon Provincial park, but it was closed :(   It looked wonderful right on the Chilcotin River. Just above the park is some caves that the natives use to live in and we wanted to climb them, but it will have to wait till next time.

We ended up stopping for two nights at Chilcotin Lodge that is run by a Dutch lady and the lodge looks really nice but rustic. 


View Larger Map


The RV park is OK but you can only dump your gray water. The view is fantastic over the hills that Cilcotin is know for. We drove around the country a bit before "Happy Hour" and then BBQ some sausages with a bottle of 2007 Malbec from Casa La Joya in Chile. Great wine.

On the morning of the 25th we headed down south from Hwy 20 on Farwell Canyon Road to the Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park, 14-15 km drive. Here is some history about the Junction Sheep Range from the Chilcotin Coast Tourism:



"The Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park (JSRP) was originally designated as a Wildlife Management Area in 1975 to protect critical California Bighorn Sheep habitat. In 1995 the Junction Sheep Range was legislated as a Class A Provincial Park. This park is representative of a nationally significant grassland ecosystem. The grasslands of BC cover less then 2% of landmass, yet hold nearly 40% of BC's species at risk!



The "Junction" referred to in the Parks name is the joining of the Chilcotin and Fraser Rivers. In late Pliocene time (around 2 million years ago), an uplift of the erosion surface caused increased energy within the streams and rivers. The result of this was the plateau on which the JSRP now sits was formed as the Fraser River on the east and Chilcotin River on the west cut  down into the layers of hard lava, forming the steep-sided valleys they no flow through. Below these grasslands topsoil lies 90 metres of volcanic rock. These layers are visible where exposed in the ravines that cut across the plains. These same ravines provide travel corridors for the historic resident California bighorn sheep.



The Junction's California bighorn sheep make up the areas most significant wildlife species, and have probably inhabited the area after migrating north along the North American west cost as the ice of the glaciers melted, some 10,000 or more years ago!



This herd that roams the terraces and ravines of the JSRP were instrumental in replenishing all the other herds in North America. IN spring the bighorn ewes (females) travel in groups together, separate from the rams, and give birth to their lambs on the flats near the steep slopes of the rivers banks. Here the can escape from predators less sure footed. 

 

Fall is a time when the rams and ewes come together for breeding. The 'rut' is characterized by the bighorn sheep ram's fight fro dominance of the herd. These rams often bang heads up to 40 times a day at combined speeds of up to 80km per hour. Now listed on BC's Blue List (a species of concern due to sensitivities to human activities and /or natural events), the herd's survival depends on our success at preserving the grasses that sustain them.



Other species residing within the JSRP grasslands on BC's 'at risk' list are the: Sharp-tailed Grouse, Long-billed Curlew, Western Small-footed Myotis, Spotted bat, Townsend big-eared and Fringed Myotis bats, Flammulated owl, White throated Swift, and Rubber Boa (all blue listed) The Park is working to enhance and restore these grasslands as conservation of this area is a prime concern for the preservation of all these species.



Grasslands are very fragile and lasting damage occurs when they are driven on. If planning to visit the Park JSRP, realize the road in to the Park runs through privately owned ranch land. Drive only on designated land. Drive only on the designated roads, and realize this is a very rough, road suited to 4 wheel drives or hikers! There are many steep hills that become impassable in the rain. Check your vehicle's tires for possible weeds picked up from other areas. Noxious weeds are often spread this way and destroy grasslands! Respect the wildlife and cattle, view from a distance, as many are sensitive to loud noises and intrusion.



BC Parks on the the Internet: http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/bcparks

For a map and travel details on the JSRP, visit the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society's website at www.ccconserv.org, under Projects, JSRP click on 'Brochure'."

Now our opinion of this wonderful park. It is the most wonderful park we have ever visited. It is a rough ride in and you need a 4 wheel drive with lots of clearance. Do not go if it is wet, you will be stuck in the mud for a while.



The 10 km (give or take) drive in takes a good hour and the same out, but it is worth it.  Next time we do this trip (and we will) we will try to start the drive in around 8am, drive as far in as you can (just keep right all the way in) to the monument then put on the hiking boots and hike down to the bottom of the park where the Fraser and Chilcotin meets. I think that hike would take about 1-1.5 hrs down and 2-3 hours back up. Pack a lunch and lots of water. This will be one of the best hikes you have ever done, guaranteed. (Judy and Charlie, this will give Cliff Peak a run for the money. Inside joke)



We walked down for about 20 minutes or so and then back up.... once on top, sweating buckets, we had lunch, the most wonderful lunch, all we could hear was the sound of the wind. After lunch we shot another 100 pictures and then headed back. No signs of any sheep yet but as we came over a meadow and down in a bit of marsh Liz's spotted a small heard of about 8 sheep. It was fantastic to see them roaming. After another 100 pictures and several movie clips we started back again. Liz got her first training in 4x4 driving in the bush. She did fantastic, she is such a good driver.


 


We got back out on Farwell Canyon Road and continued south towards the Chilcotin River. The road make several switch backs but is well maintained and the river has carved out hoodoos over the past several 1000's of years, it is so beautiful. I you have seen the badlands in Alberta this has similarities but twice or three times as big and with rolling hills. The river is turquoise blue and full of Salmon this time of year. We watched the Natives scooping the salmon up out of the fast flowing river with a net..... incredible. We have it on video.




We crossed the river and drove for about a half hour and decided to turn around and go back. Coming back a large black bear crossed the road, but to fast for our cameras. We got back to the Chilcotin Lodge and RV Park at about 5 pm. The shower sure felt good, I think I had half a kg of sand in my hair. Liz cooked up a wonderful stir fry and we cracked a bottle of 2006 Chateau de Montfancon from Rodolph de Pins in Cotes du Rhone, France (Thanks Bill and Sarah). What a way to end the day :)

23 September 2009

1949 Beaver - Hunlen Falls

Nimpo Lake, 22nd September 2009

1949 Beaver

Another beautiful day in paradise and not a cloud in the sky greeted us this morning and we decide to go flying. We go up to the office and order a latte and a one hour flight of Hunlen Falls and the Monarch Ice field.

We meet the pilot "Sid" at the dock 20 minutes later, a nice young man.




The plane we board was a 1949 Beaver, made in England. The motor is Canadian made 450 hp, 9 cylinder Pratt & Whitney and it is pretty loud as it takes of. Actually you have to have ear plugs on the whole time.


 


This old plane just fly like a dream, with just Liz, me and the pilot, only 70% throttle is needed to takes off the lake. The production of Beavers ceased in 1967. A total of 1,657 DHC-2 Beavers had been built at that time. The Beaver was designed for flight in rugged and remote areas of the world. Its short takeoff and landing capability made it ideal for areas normally only accessible by canoe or foot.

Take off is as smooth as can be and we are headed for Hunlen Fall located in the southern part of Tweedsmuir Park.



Hunlen Fall is the 3rd highest water fall in Canada, dropping more then 1000 feet from Turner Lake in to Lonesome Lake. The fall is only accessible by foot, 6.5 hr hike in Grizzly Country or by float plane, we thought float plane would be a good idea after seeing the Grizzly bear move yesterday.






Turner lake is also know from the "Turner Lake Paddling Rout" a canoe route encompassing Turner Lake, Cutthroat Lake, Vista Lake, Junker Lake and Wildgeon Lake. The view is just spectacular. See our video below







After circling the Hunlen fall a few times shooting 257 pictures :)



we check in with Liz, she gives us the thumbs up and we are flying to the Monarch Ice fields and Monarch Mountain at 3533 m or 11,000 feet give or take.

The Monarch Ice fields are outside Tweedsmuir park to the south west. I'm not sure how many thousands of hectares the ice fields cover but it totally blew us away, it is massive.



 


From there we can see further to the south east, another even larger Glacier, the Kunaklini Glacier that is about twice as large as the Monarch Ice fields. Further to the south east is the Franklin Glacier and to the south east of it is the Homatbko Ice fields.



In the Franklin Glacier is the highest mountain in BC (where the whole mountain is in BC) Mt. Waddington at 4016 meters or around 13,000 feet. As we turn back toward Nimpo Lake the wind comes up a bit and we get bounced around pretty good. Once we are out of the high mountains and back over the plateau it smooths out, we fly over Charlotte lake, a very large lake and then in for a smooth landing at Nimpo Lake. What a fantastic flight. Don't miss it if you are out this way or anyway close.

The rest of the day we hanged around the camp ground, cooked up the rainbow trout for lunch, poached in tinfoil on the BBQ, stuffed with onions, lemon, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Added some water and white wine for poaching. It was fantastic. We later hanged around and talked to all the other campers, had an ice cream, and watched the sunset.

Tomorrow, depending weather we might stay another day or head to ????? Have to check the weather and we'll let you know.

Hugs and Love,

Anders and Liz