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Smithers Interior News - 3/17/2023
I love winter, you have to if you want to be happy and live in the Bulkley Valley. I will say I am fortunate to also love skiing and that gives me a reason to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of our locale. Winter is also a good time to cozy up to the fire and plan for your next summer vacay.
We set off a few years ago for Ft. McMurray, Alberta to visit some friends with no real plan or any clear understanding of where we were going or what we would see. We actually surprised ourselves as to what we did see and what a beautiful trip it turned out to be.
My wife's father flew out to Edmonton and we picked him up and headed due north for Fort McMurray. Driving through one of the longest sunsets I had ever seen we arrived just after 1 a.m. It was dusky in the land of the midnight sun and our motel was full, like jammed.
People were parked and sleeping in their cars everywhere. Fortunately, we had the camper and could use the washrooms in the motel. Our first introduction to a gold rush town, busy 24/7.
Next day, we squeezed in a tour at Suncor, visited our friends and hit the road north for Yellowknife. Well, actually no, the road north was a winter road and we had to return south and pick up Highway 35 heading northwest passing through the towns of Athabasca, Slave Lake, Peace River, and High Level before crossing the 60th parallel and into N.W.T. The road turned into the Mackenzie Highway 1, alias the Waterfall Highway.
This is the road to see the buffalo and we were straining to view these creatures. Finally we saw an old bull on the side of the highway and, all excited, we jumped out for pics.
Back to the trail and by the end of the afternoon we had seen over a hundred and it was 'ho hum, another buffalo.'
The waterfalls, though, just kept on coming. Alexandra, Louise, and Lady Evelyn greet travellers with some very sweet views. Finally, we arrived at Hay River and Great Slave lake. The 10th largest lake in the world and one of the deepest.
Sara's Dad Jack, was quite the avid golfer and was ready for a game. Hay River had a beautiful course backdropped on Great Slave but early summer seemed to produce an abundance of sand flies and we were driven off the course before the back 9.
Oh well, on to Yellowknife crossing Deh Cho, the Big River. There is no shortage of water in this country and the Mackenzie proves that, it's huge.
Yellowknife is situated across the lake up the north arm. We went straight to the Wildcat Cafe for a northern feed and a view of the houseboats. Did not take long to find a guide and next day we were on the lake fishing for pike. Another of Jack's passions and he got lucky landing a 7-pounder that the guide conveniently turned into lunch as we moored up an island cove.
Next day was June 21 and we signed up for the all-night golf game on the longest day of the year. What a surprise as we found out the course was completely sand and you had to tee off a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet and pack the carpet for each shot. That was a fun night as golfers were playing on to midnight and beyond.
It was time to get Jack home and soon he was flying out of Yellowknife International. What a great trip, but Sara and I still had to drive south with a bit of adventure left to be had.
Our next stop was Fort Simpson at the confluence of the Mackenzie and the Liard. This was also the Muster village for those going into the Nahanni and Virginia Falls. Could we pull it off? We inquired about a flight in.
No, nothing available for a couple of days.
'We only have today so could you call if something comes up," I asked. "Ok," said the pilot.
Would you believe late in the afternoon he called. Someone on a raft trip had broken their leg and would we like to go into the Falls for a rescue mission?
That was a stroke of good luck as we got to fly the valley, circle the falls, and land for the pickup. Definitely one of the more beautiful places in the world. Twice the height of Niagara, mesmerizing.
This was about as much adventure for one trip as we could handle. The drive down the Liard highway to Fort Nelson was quite beautiful but we were still overwhelmed with the Nahanni.
Hope this tale gets your travelling juices flowing and you can add it to your bucket list.
Thanks for reading.