By K.A. Pendergast
Hi all, this is your Valley Tourist coming to you from beautiful Wells Gray Park this week in the amazing North Thompson Valley. My mission is to see anything and everything that brings fun, enjoyment and adventure in this spectacular valley. You may ask what attractions there are, or possibly what there is to do, see, eat and drink? Each week you can join me on my journey of discovery and be a ‘Valley Tourist’ right alongside me. If you feel like following in my footsteps that is okay too! C’mon and let’s go!
The roundabout in Clearwater can begin the mission today and head us up the Wells Gray Park road. Black stars mark the spots on the map, not too far apart from each other and traveling 23 kilometers exactly takes you to the fun first stop. The Grouse Creek General Store. If you haven’t heard of it yet that would be because it is too new to be on the maps! I had recently heard about it on Facebook and wondered just where and what it was all about, as some of you may have also. Naturally, I had to check it out and see, since that is the object of my mission.
I had gone by a few days before and not caught it open, so, after some digging, I out found it is open from 11-5 Thursday-Sunday. Always wise to check operating hours. We had to slow down extra so we didn’t drive right by, but luckily that didn’t happen since we were on the lookout. When pulling in to the small parking area we caught Susan Ward unloading some still warm baking. Yay! I had to try a sample of course! Yummm! The cupcake was amazing! I decided that I just had to get a couple of cheesy bagels and some fresh butter and fruit tarts to go along with it. She never has the same stuff from day to day, but there are always many delicious options. Besides the fresh baking, and eggs and frozen farm-raised chickens there were homemade award-winning preserves, hand-made sweaters, pillows, slippers and essentials like bug-spray, and shampoo. A tourist attraction in itself! She mentioned she may soon have some different locally made crafts available as well. Not a large shop, but packed with goodness. Awesome!
Continuing on the journey took us all the way to Pyramid Campground just before Helmcken Falls. There are some new sites open this year that we had heard about, so we decided to check it out. A provincial park with clean and level spots is always a good place to know about don’t you agree? There were new extra outhouses and the peace and quiet of the area is always a big draw. Having no cell service is just fine with me for a weekend getaway. I realize the area is known for having quite a few mosquitoes. That did not deter me from my goal. I just had to prepare a bit more than usual. I made sure to pack a nice white shirt with long sleeves to lessen the attraction for those blood thirsty critters. I also took my trusty new off lamp and mosquito tent to cover the picnic table. I had plenty of bug-spray as well as apple cider vinegar vitamins. It sounds weird but they help.
The campground itself was our spot for the stay, however, there is more to see in the immediate area. Have you ever heard of Dawson Falls? It is at kilometer 40.9 along the Wells Gray Park road, from the roundabout. That is of course those main conventional viewpoints. There are two near each other along that portion of the road. This Mini-Niagra, as some of the locals like to call it, is nothing less than spectacular!
However, the site we wanted to drink in was a different but more exciting view of this same amazing attraction. The North Side of Dawson Falls. Yep that’s right! It is not talked about nearly enough. There are a few other ways to view this sight.
The first one we had in mind is the trail beginning from just before the Pyramid Campground entrance which is found around the 42 km mark. Approximately 200m back down the road you just drove in on to the campground parking lot you will find the trail marker. It is a mere 600m more of moderate walking, which is a good distance for a person like me, who has a bit of a tender knee. With my trusty walking sticks we set out after setting up our camp, it was absolutely spellbinding. It only took about 10 minutes, wow! I think that one of the most fun parts was the people on the other side of the falls looking at us and pointing, and, wondering how we got way over to this side. Haha! We enjoyed the roar and stunning view right at the top ledge of the falls, we were only a couple of meters from the edge. We felt the spray and strength of the power in that incredible volume of water for a bit, then headed back to our campground site for a quiet nature-filled break from our everyday lives.
The morning sent us down to the far end of the campground in the newer section, to the other trail marker that will lead you back to the falls by walking along the river in the trees. Again, my walking sticks came in handy for the adventure. How perfect that the viewpoint can be accessed in a loop right around to the beginning of the first trail.
I never get tired of hearing the rush of the water! We really didn’t find the mosquitoes all that terrible during our stay in the area. Maybe it was the preparation, or perhaps maybe they were not as bad as in previous years.
This little known route to see the beautiful Mini-Niagra (North view Dawson Falls) is a definite must see on my list of amazing sights and sounds in our beautiful North Thompson Valley.
I hope you will continue along with me, the Valley Tourist, on my mission to check out as many as possible, some on the maps and some not, of the numerous experiences available in our magnificent valley. I look forward to our next adventure!