The morning news said to expect snow, overcast days and cold weather. So I decided I had better take a last visit to Wells Gray Provincial Park without the snow.
I had been lazily putting off spending a day in that scenic park. Gosh, it’s only a two and a half hour drive to get there, and I am not that busy, so I couldn’t come up with an excuse not to throw my camera gear in the car and make the drive.
I first visited Wells Gray back in 1971. A friend and I had driven up the east coast of the US into Canada, traveled around Cape Breton, and then had a leisurely drive across Canada to Kamloops, British Columbia. Someone we met in Kamloops suggested Wells Gray Park.
I remember driving along the rough, rutted dirt road into the park and marvelling at the quiet wilderness encroaching from both sides. Until the road became blocked by many stern looking women carrying placards and standing by a big sign demanding that the road be paved.
When we stopped someone thrust a petition through the window, told us how the school bus had driven off the dangerous road we were on, and required our signatures. I am sure they saw the California plates on the front of our 60s Ford Econoline van, but they didn’t seem to care so we quickly signed their petition and were allowed to carry on.
I smiled remembering that as I drove on the pleasant road that had been freshly paved, yet again, and slowed down to look at the Black Horse Saloon and guest cabins that now sits where those women were. I guess they got their way!
The park was empty. There were no cars or tourist filled buses on the roadside. Gosh, I felt special.
I have my favourite stops when I don’t feel like hiking. There is an old abandoned building on the way into the park that I have been photographing for years. I am always surprised to see it still standing.
My second stop is to climb under the bridge that crosses the Murtle River. Going under the bridge gives a better location to photograph the “Mushbowl” and the large smooth rock surface is filled with big, round, deep holes. It’s a fun place to wander.
Then I made a fast drive to Helmcken Falls. Not so much because I really was in a hurry to get there, but because I had finished three cups of coffee and really needed to get to an outhouse. I got there and rushed to the privy only to find that the door had been unceremoniously pried open and the toilet paper had been shredded off it’s wall hanger.
My friend Jo had mentioned that I should watch for bears, but if she does ask me I’ll just tell her that I am sure a large squirrel ripped up the toilet paper and the door was off its hinges because someone else (with long fingernails) that had also too much coffee must have been in a hurry.
Helmcken Falls was, as usual, in the shadow, but there was a nice fog and the sky had some clouds. Not that bad for photography.
I like to wander away from the viewing platform, down past the end of the security fence, and just past the sign that warns hikers that they can fall over the edge of the canyon. That’s best because there is no fence to block my view.
Then it’s only a short drive to my favourite place, Bailey’s Chute. As with the bridge, I climb down under the viewing platform. My final spot is to park beside Shadow Lake. I like Shadow Lake because sometimes one can see a snow capped mountain to photograph in the distance.
Usually it’s hard to find an empty table at the end of Clearwater Lake to eat lunch at, but the park was empty.
My day couldn’t have been better. Although I have photographed that scenic park many times in the last 40 plus years, I always enjoy the drive and the photography. And I am sure I have a good 10 or maybe more years left in these old bones to be back photographing that park many, many more times.
These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stop by Enman’s Camera at 423 Tranquille Road in Kamloops. I sell an interesting selection of used photographic equipment.
Don’t hesitate to call me at 250-371-3069.