Clearwater, BC

Trip Start May 29, 2009
Trip End May 31, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mountain towns are an interesting lot. From the highway it's easy to mistake them as little more than truck stops with homes for the proprietors. But drive into one and you'll find most of them are no different than any other small town.

Such it is with Clearwater. This little village in British Columbia seems to be but a couple motels and a few small eateries if you blow through on the highway, but a quick trip down the first road on the edge of town showed a small computer shop, a strip mall complete with grocery store and movie rental, and a big-name hardware store just before the residential area. Driving into the heart of town revealed a pretty strong residential sector with a few more big-name businesses interspersed with a number of mom-'n'-poperations.

I arrived in town a little after six Friday evening after getting slightly lost in Kamloops due to an ambiguous GPS unit. What sort of malarky is "keep left but stay in the right lane"? I got the impression that much of the town closed around six, so I settled at a little highway-side inn I had heard about online before leaving: the Dutch Lake Motel (and also campground/RV park). At first it seemed like an O.K. deal; seventy bucks for two nights. I found out later the next day that the clerk had mistaken my desire to stay two nights for only one night. Ouch.

Oh well. The extra charge didn't diminish the effect of the relaxing weekend away from work. Though the miserable couple who just now arrived two rooms down is starting to give me flashbacks with their constant bitching about some bad experience at some store or other. Excuse me while I find my iPod.

The room was pretty average for a motel: two simple beds, a chair and table, basic cable, and shower. Though I found it rather curious that the vanity was located outside the bathroom. But there was also a sliding door at the back leading to a shared balcony overlooking the lake and campground area, which is where I now sit to write this.

But let us return to this morning of Saturday. I wandered out of my room to the restaurant on the other side of the parking lot; a simple Chinese/Western establishment. On speaking to the lad working the (empty) tables, I learned of a waterfall in the area which was touted as being pretty impressive. He hadn't seen it himself as he had only arrived in town a month ago to work for the summer, but he handed me a place-map of the area to aide my navigation. After a delicious (and standardly-priced) omelet, coffee, and orange juice, and promising to return for the evening buffet the fellow spoke of, I packed a few things into the ol' Chevy and took off down the highway to find these falls.

As it turns out there're quite a few of them. I'm not sure which my waiter friend was specifically referring to, but the first I came across was Spahat falls a short way along one of the town's main roads. Looking from the observation path it almost seems the falls are coming from a cavern inside the mountain. After a bit of rest and a dozen photos from different angles, I pulled out the place-map from the restaurant and wondered on where to go next. The map revealed there was a lake at the end of the road I was on; about an hour's drive. It was now just after 11:30. Resource check: two cans root beer, one pouch beef jerky, and the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of General Tao Chicken flavoured potato chips. Let's roll.

Before we get to the lake, I'd like to take a moment to discuss common sense on the road. Half-way to the lake I came across a number of RVs parked on the side of the road. The residents of these RVs were all piled on the side of the road with their cameras watching a bear. This in itself is not unusual for the mountains, but in this case the RVs were parked on the inside of a 75 degree corner. Combined with the bushes on the inside, it was impossible to tell if there was any oncoming traffic. This meant there were only two choices: either wait for the gawkers to move on or risk a 60 km/h head-on trying to pass. That'd give them something to gawk at.

The road to the lake was dotted with little lodges and campgrounds, one of which advertised a sauna and jacuzzi. If I'd known I was already expected to be out of the inn I would've pulled in for a visit. But I digress. About 20 km to go and the blacktop ended in an old logging road. Nothing Chevy couldn't handle. A few twists and turns later I found myself at the Clearwater Lake campground; a pleasant little woodland campground which I must make a note of to visit some time in the future. A little further on at the end of the road was the boat launch. I don't own a boat and I forgot my book at the inn, so not wanting to have wasted an eighth of a tank of gas I resolved to take a short nap at the end of the pier.

There was a 22 km hiking trail that went deeper into the woods, but I wasn't properly equipped for a long hike; never mind a solo one. So after my rest Chevy and I headed back to the blacktop, where sign claimed a side road would lead us to Helmcken falls. A short drive up showed a sight even more impressive than the one at Spahat. The crashing water roared as thunder as it flowed endlessly from the top of the mountain, and with no-one else at the observation deck it was easy to clear my mind and just take in nature. A friendly information sign nearby alerted me to the presence of 30 species of mosquito. Most of these I discovered in the lavatories, which seemed to be the only wooden structures in the park not carved all to hell with peoples' names.

By this time I was running dangerously low on root beer. Fortunately one of the nearby lodges had a decently stocked cooler (and a well-stocked bar according to the sign), so after a quick re-supply I headed back up to check out Green Mountain and the tower that supposedly sat atop it.

Yet another logging road. This one rattled Chevy a bit, but the old girl held together. A rusted out muffler in the ditch suggested not everyone shared so smooth a ride. I certainly wouldn't want to pass too many others on the way, but on this excursion I met only one on his way down, and conveniently it was on one of the wider stretches. On reaching the top I did indeed find a tower of sorts. The view from the top revealed about what one would expect: endless trees and many more mountains. A map board suggested there was a hiking trail nearby leading to Foot Lake, though I never found it.

It was almost four o'clock by now, so I decided to head back into town and wander around a bit before returning to the inn. I can't recall when the buffet was to start, but it's only six as I finish writing this, so perhaps I'll take a quick rest now that Mr. and Mrs. Gripes-a-Lot have finally gone off somewhere else.
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travelingtrina on

Those are some beautiful scenery pictures, KJ. You definitely DO have to post more often, I love your writing style, it's hilarious.


starlagurl on

Forgot to sign out as Trina before posting that!



Canada Computer Shop on

Wow....i love that photos you shared, i really love nature..thanks for the post!

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