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  1. 7 Spectacular North Okanagan Hikes

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    The North Okanagan boasts some of the most spectacular hikes in British Columbia. Walk through old growth forest over moss-covered floors and follow the trails up to alpine meadows surrounded by jagged mountains and stunning glaciers.

    For every adventure traveller, an all-day backcountry hiking experience during an Okanagan vacation is a must. When venturing into the remote countryside you will find out what Canada is all about; wilderness pure.

    You think you don’t have much time, hiking is not your thing and the wilderness scares you? You’re travelling with kids and they don’t like hiking, or you don’t have a travel partner. Get out there and do it anyway. Choose one of the easy hikes offered at every tourist destination; you will be ever grateful that you did.

    The following trails are my favourites in the North Okanagan. They are all easily accessible from Lumby or Cherryville, British Columbia. Stop at the Visitor Centre in Lumby to get directions and a trail map and inquire about trail conditions.

    Find more information about hiking on Best Day Hikes.

    1. Camels Hump

    Camels Hump, Lumby British Columbia

    Camels Hump is the prominent peak you see when you drive towards Lumby. Unfortunately, it is one of  North Okanagan Hikes with an extremely rough access road. From the top of both humps, you are rewarded with an excellent view over the Okanagan Valley.

    I used to live at the base of Camels Hump with an access trail for hiking, horses, and ATVs leading to the top of the mountain. The official route via Clier Lake road is more difficult.

    Travelling east from Lumby on Highway 6, Creighton Valley is the first road on your right. Follow the road for about 16.5 km where you find Bonneau Forest Service Road to the right. Take Clier Lake Road, the small gravel road to the left. Travel past the lake on your left and continue along the hillside climbing above the lake until you reach the parking lot (or until you can’t drive any further). This road is often in bad condition and a 4 wheel drive vehicle with good clearance is recommended.

    From the parking lot follow the signs to the trailhead. The trail takes you to the first hump, then down to a valley and up the second hump. Spend some time exploring the mountain before heading back the way you came.

    • Hiking Time: Allow 3 to 4 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 5.5 km round trip
    • Altitude: 1325 m
    • Elevation gain: 155 m
    • Level: Moderate
    • Access: Creighton Valley Road, Lumby, turn left to Clier Lake

    2. Denison Lake

    Denison Lake Trail Okanagan BC

    Explore the trail to Denison Lake, a small fishing lake within Denison-Bonneay Provincial Park. This is one of the first hikes I did into the backcountry when I arrived in the Okanagan and it has become repeat at least once a year. The trail takes you through old growth forest on moss covered ground into the Okanagan Highlands with spectacular rock formations along the way.

    From Lumby, travel east to Creighton Valley Road. Turn right onto Creighton Valley Road and drive 16.5 km to the Bonneau Forest Service Road turn off to the right. Turn onto Bonneau Forest Service Road, drive up this gravel road for 7 km and look for a cut lot road on the right. Park your vehicle there. From there a 2 km walk takes you to the trailhead.

    At the lake, there is an old picnic site, a good place for a rest and maybe a dip in the lake to cool off. Following the trail along the lakeshore on the right that takes you to a steep drop-off with a magnificent view over the valley.

    • Hiking Time: Allow 5 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 9 km round trip
    • Altitude: 1580 m
    • Elevation gain: 200 m
    • Level: Easy to Moderate
    • Access:  Via a 2 km walk from Baunneau Lake Forest Road

    3. Spectrum Lake

    Spectrum Lake Monashee

    Spectrum lake in Monashee Provincial Park is a popular destination for the Okanagan locals. Long before the park was established in 1962, the name of this wonderful lake was Rainbow Lake, a most suitable name for this picturesque lake, which is abundant with rainbow trout and is a fisherman’s paradise.

    I find it interesting researching old documents to finding out how geographical name changes took place. Nobody knows for sure, but often it was one the first explorers to the area that named lakes and mountains. According to documents, some names were changed later by Government surveyors that decided to name mountains and lakes after themselves.

    From Lumby, drive 20 km east on Highway 6 to Cherryville. Turn left onto Sugar Lake Road and drive approximately 48 km to the Monashee Provincial Park turn-off. Another 11 km will take you to the parking lot and the trailhead, park information and an outhouse. The dusty gravel road is suitable for ordinary cars.

    Cross the footbridge over Spectrum Creek and follow the well-maintained trail to the lake. There are plenty of mountain streams to fill your water bottle on the way.

    At the lake, you will find a Park Ranger Cabin, tent platforms, several shelters, piped drinking water, food caches, and pit toilets. A paradise in the wild!

    • Hiking Time: Allow 4 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 12 km round trip
    • Altitude: 1055 m
    • Elevation gain: 195 m
    • Level: Beginner to Moderate
    • Access: Via Sugar Lake Road, Cherryville
    • Caution: This is Grizzly country

    4. Twin Lakes

    Twin Lakes Hike - North Okanagan BC

    Twin Lake is an ideal destination for hikers and backpackers who want to get a taste of the alpine wilderness. Part of the trail is steep and rocky; just take it slow and it will be a memorable experience. Don’t forget to stop and take a deep breath, take in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the magnificent mountain peaks and the valleys covered with wildflowers.

    As you approach the jade coloured lakes nestled between mountains you will be glad you came.

    From the lakes, you can scramble up to a couple of summits for endless Monashee Mountain views.

    To get to the Twin Lake Trailhead from Lumby, drive 22 km east on Highway 6 and turn left onto North Fork Road. At the end of North Fork Road turn onto Severide Creek Road. Continue on this road until you come to the parking lot, where you find an outhouse and the Twin Lakes hiking trail sign.
    Note! The last stretch of road can be rough and a 4wd vehicle is recommended but not necessary if you drive with care.

    • Hiking Time: allow 5 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 7.6 km round trip or 9 m with add-on
    • Altitude: 2200 m
    • Elevation gain: 420 m
    • Access: North ForkRoad, Cherryville
    • Caution: This is Grizzly country

    5. Monashee Lake

    Monashee Lake Hike North Okanagan BC

    The trail to Monashee Lake was one of the toughest ones I hiked in the North Okanagan. An elevation gain of 700 m over 4.5 km makes it slow going unless you’re in perfect shape. This beautiful glacier-fed lake is located in the Pinnacles just south of the Monashee Mountains, on the base of a range of jagged peaks. It is possible to continue north on the Mark Berger Traverse.

    Monashee Lake access is from South Fork Road. To get to South Fork Road from Lumby, drive east on Highway 6 to Cherryville. You find South Fork Road after the Goldpanner Cafe on the left. Drive 2.5 km and keep right. After 2.7 km keep left until you reach 6.4 km, then keep to the right. After another 6.6 km, at km 13 keep left and then left again at km 15. After another 1.7 km, at km 16.7 drive straight ahead to reach the Monashee Lake trailhead. Follow the cow trails into the woods and watch for the red diamonds and red ribbons marking the trail.

    Route-finding skills are essential at times when the path seems to disappear. Having a GPS with you on this trail is a good idea. The first time I hiked this trail, I hiked up on the wrong mountain first and it ended up being a long day.

    Once you arrive at the sparkling lake, have a rest and enjoy the alpine surroundings. If you ‘re fit enough, scramble up on the steep hillside, pick a route and off you go.  When climbing a peak at Monashee Lake you will be rewarded with panoramic mountain views.

    • Hiking Time: Allow 5 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 9.5 km round trip
    • Altitude: 2015 m
    • Elevation gain: 700 m
    • Access: South Fork Road, Cherryville
    • Caution: This is Grizzly country

    6. Tsuius Mountain Trails to Mirror Lake

    Mirror Lake Tsuius Mountain

    Tsuius Mountain is part of the Sawtooth mountain range. This sub-alpine hiking area is difficult and is recommended for experienced hikers only. Different trailheads for Tsuius Mountain are accessible, the most popular one is the one at 49 km from Sugar Lake Road.

    Drive Highway 6 from Lumby and take the Sugar Lake Road in Cherryville. Continue for approximately 49 km. Turn left just past the turnoff for Monashee Provincial Park, and follow the signs to the trailhead.

    A rough hiking trail leads to Mirror Lake at about 1950 meters above sea level. From Mirror Lake you can scramble to the 2,460 m summit of Tsuius Mountain.

    Caution: This is Grizzly country!

    For more information on the Tsuius Mountain trail, visit Mirror Lake – Monashee Mountains

    7. Vista Pass

    Wildflowers on Vista Pass Pinnacles Okanagan BC

    The trail to Vista Pass takes you along a creek up to the alpine peaks. The peaks to the north and south are spectacular with excellent views of the Pinnacles.

    Access is via the South Fork Road off Highway 6 in Cherryville. The road is marked with the “Pinnacle Hiking Area” sign to your left. The gravel road is in good condition and a 4WD vehicle is not necessary. Drive with care and watch for cows and wildlife.

    From South Fork Road, it is approximately 21.5 km to the trailhead. Keep right a km 2.5 and left again at km 2.7. Keep right at km 6.4 and keep left at 13. When you reach km 15 keep to the right and cross Monashee Creek. After another km at km 16, keep to the left. Cross the bridge at km 18.5. At km 19 take the right fork to Vista Pass, (left goes to Pinnacle Lake). At 20.4 km keep left. Drive another km and you will reach a logged clear-cut area where you park. The trailhead is across the clearing to the east with a sign nailed to a tree.

    The hiking trail is marked by flags. Once you reach alpine meadowland you will have ridges rising on either side of you. For an extensive view of the Pinnacles to the north climb up to one of the ridges and wander along its summit.

    • Hiking Time: Allow 5 hours
    • Hiking Distance: 9.5 km round trip
    • Altitude: 2170 m
    • Elevation gain: 715 m
    • Access: South Fork Road Cherryville
    • Caution: This is Grizzly country

    Hiking Tips

    • Whenever possible use existing trails
    • In wilderness areas leave no trace of your presence behind
    • All of the trails are located in bear country
    • Respect wildlife, you’re invading their territory
    • Always have a trail map with you and inquire about trail conditions before heading out
    • If you hike alone, let somebody know about your route and what time you are expecting to be back
    • Bring enough food and water, since you’re heading into the wilderness. See Let’s Trek Canada for more information what to bring along
    • I recommend the Hiking Trail Book from the Vernon Outdoor Club for any of the North Okanagan Hikes. The book gives detailed information about the trails as well as GPS coordinates.

    More About Hiking

    Have you been on any of the North Okanagan Hikes mentioned in this blog? What was your experience? Please leave a comment below!

  2. What’s Up With “No Trespassing” Signs When You Travel In Canada? – Why Landowners want to keep you out!

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    When I first moved to Canada I didn’t get it either. Especially out in the country with a meagre population you come across No Trespassing signs frequently.

    Private Property – Keep Out – Trespassers will be prosecuted.

    What are the reasons for all this? What does it mean? Why are Canadians so possessive about their property and worried about trespassers?

    Trespassing is entering someone’s private property without permission or lawful excuse.

    Coming from Europe I’m used to public hiking trails leading through private property, often close to the property owners house, invading their privacy. But, that’s how it always has been there and it is fully accepted.

    In Canada it is different. When living out in the country we value our privacy. Private property is not open to the public and you have no right to trespass.

    With large properties in Canada, you often don’t know whether it’s private or public.  If you see a No Trespassing sign nailed to a tree I suggest to KEEP OUT! Most Canadians respect the signs and don’t trespass unless they have permission to do so.

    The further out we live and the more land we own the bigger is the chance that strangers access our properties. This might be because they don’t realize it is private, or they don’t care at all, or they just want to snoop around.

    Scenarios if you ignore the No Trespassing signs

    • Somebody chases you off.
    • You have to listen to verbal abuse.
    • You find a shotgun being pointed at you and realize that you are in the wild west.
    • Dobermans are running towards you ready to attack.
    • You get stuck with your vehicle while trespassing on private property and you have to leave your car while getting help. The car might be towed away by the time you get back to it.
    • The landowner comes and tells you in a polite way, that you are trespassing on his property.

    Keep Out of private property

    What’s really behind No Trespassing signs on private property?

    • Most Canadians will tell you that it is all about liability; to keep people out so no one can get hurt in a place they don’t belong and the property owner is not at risk of being sued if something happens.
    • It is about responsibility; there are all kinds of risks having strangers on the land. Landowners want to prevent any problems and risks.
    • Ranchers and farmers are worried that gates are left open and animals could escape.
    • Equipment gets vandalized, property gets damaged, and things get stolen. Even an old iron cook stove in a cabin can disappear.
    • Landowners don’t like to clean up garbage left behind by trespassers.
    • In a rare case, there might be a Marijuana grow-op on the land.

    As a property owner, I’ve seen it all

    There was an incident years ago at the Creighton Valley Ranch when young people drove up our forest trails when we weren’t home and their vehicle got stuck. Trying to hike down the mountain at night without a flashlight one of the girls fell and sprained her ankle. We didn’t hear the knock on the door at 3 am and didn’t know search and rescue were on our property until we got up in the morning.

    I always thought that it was a bit extreme how we try to enforce the No Trespassing laws in Canada. All the years as a landowner in the North Okanagan, I tried to keep people off my property in a nice way and didn’t enforce it with signs.

    But, this changed recently.

    I finally took out all the old No Trespassing signs I had stored away for years. I charged the battery for my drill, took a few long screws along, packed it all onto my Quad and drove up the hill. After all those years I screwed the No Trespassing signs along my property line.

    No Trespassing Sign on tree

    Why did I do it – what changed my mind?

    I had some trees felled the year before. Left over from the logging there was at least half a logging truck of birch logs. The wood was laying on my property little ways up the hill but was noticeable from the road. I left the wood there, waiting for the perfect moment to cut it into firewood. Some of it I even planned to sell to help with the finances.

    I was quite shocked when I drove past the wood spot one day and ALL the wood was gone, it had just disappeared. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Somebody stole all the wood from my property and I didn’t even hear them doing it.

    In Conclusion

    There are many reasons why we don’t like Trespassers on our properties.

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – it exists in Canada as well.

    My advice to travellers: Please respect our signs and do not trespass unless you are absolutely sure it’s public land or you have permission from the property owner to do so.

    Resources

    Consult legal documents for details about the No Trespassing laws in Canada.

    Related Article


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  3. READER STORY: How Annina came to Canada to learn English and ended up as a horse guide

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    One of the biggest challenges for a first-time traveller to Canada with limited knowledge of the English language is trip planning.

    Annina’s dream was to learn English on a ranch. Searching the Internet she came across my blog Unique English Language Schools in Canada and knew that this was what she had in mind. A language school in one of the big Canadian cities was not what she wanted.

    The ranch I suggested to Annina gave her the unique learning experience she was looking for. I helped with the booking and planning and made sure she had all the information she needed and knew what to expect. Annina booked an eight week ESL ranch experience and stayed on as a Volunteer after she finished the program.

    Confident with her newly acquired English language skills and lots of knowledge about the Canadian lifestyle, Annina rented a car and went on a road trip with a friend after leaving the ranch. On the way, they dropped in at my ranch for a night.

    Here is what Annina has to say!

    Thanks for doing this Annina! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

    Annina: I’m from Switzerland and I grew up near a small village, close to the Swiss Alps. After high school I did a 3-year apprenticeship as a Florist, following that I worked for 4 1/2 years at a small construction firm. The construction job made it possible for me to finance my Canada trip and the ESL school. I am 24 years old now.

    Why did you choose Canada?

    My main reason to come to Canada was to improve my English. Canada is known for its incredible wilderness and scenery. I love the outdoors, nature and wilderness and I wanted to learn western horse riding. I also have relatives in Canada which might have been a factor.

    What was your perception about Canada before your trip?

    I heard that Canadians were friendly and helpful and I know now that this is true. I was in a few situations when I needed help and people helped me before I even had a chance to ask. I was told that everything in Canada was BIG! Coming from Switzerland this is definitely something I noticed right away. I saw big trucks, enormous machines around Fort St. John, endless forests, large fields and no houses as far as I could see. My picture I had about Canada was actually similar to the reality.

    How would you describe Canada in three words?

    HugeWood (forests, log cabins etc) – helpful (people)

    What makes Canada different from Switzerland?

    The size of the country and the size of lots of things, like parking spaces, fields. House construction is totally different from how we do it in Switzerland. We are more “piano builders” and Canadians are like “wanna get the job done”. Canadians on the streets are more helpful than what I’m used to in my country.

    Problems you faced in Canada as a foreigner?

    I felt welcome from the beginning. People helped me with the language, used word descriptions so I could understand. I had no problems as a foreigner (apart from the car story in Vancouver).

    What will be your answer if someone asks “Why should I visit Canada?

    I saw LOTS of wildlife and amazing nature and wilderness lots of people can’t even imagine. You have to experience it to know what I mean.

    Would you recommend to go to a wilderness ranch to learn English, and why?

    If you are a person who prefers learning by doing and doesn’t like boring classroom lessons, then this is for you. I would do it again! You have to be flexible and adaptable in almost everything. When you decide to learn English on a ranch, animals can become a priority before your lesson starts. Or a planned English lesson can change at the last minute to a carpenter experience because they are replacing a roof on a building and they need more help. If you are flexible and like to learn English in a ranch work environment, you not only will learn English, you also will have an experience of a lifetime.

    What was a typical day like at the ranch?

    Learn English on a ranch and experience ranch life

    Typically, I had three lessons in the morning where I learned English grammar. The lessons were interesting because the themes of the lessons were all related to Canada, Ranch life, and Canadian wildlife. Not only did we practice English grammar during the lessons, we also learned about bear safety and western horse riding. We listened to Cowboy songs and watched the lyrics.  I learned by listening, watching movies and talking. I also took my homework seriously and did some self-studies. The morning lessons were not the only time when I got to practice English conversation; I got to talk all day long.

    From the first day on I was involved in the ranch life. I learned how to drive a tractor and got to teach others how to drive. I learned how to saddle a horse and afterwards gave riding orientations to new guests. To combine classroom learning with practical ranch life made this learning experience so special.

    So, how did you become to be a horse guide?

    I came to the ranch as an ESL student to improve my English for two months. At the end of my study time, I was offered to do a two weeks horse guide school. I learned how to shoe horses, how to pack, different knots and the basics required to be a horse guide. I experienced difficult trails riding through mountain ranges past waterfalls and through meadows covered with wild potatoes and tiger lilies. We jumped creeks, rode over fallen trees and through deep snow to the frozen lakes. I got to experience horse camping and campfire cooking.

    After returning to the ranch I was invited to do a 4-day bushcraft course and learned more about outdoor life and survival skills.

    Two weeks later I was working as a horse guide assistant on a horse pack trip with two guests. It was impressive to see the changes in the landscape, only two weeks later. The wild potatoes had faded and were replaced by balsam root, Indian paintbrush, arnica, Arctic lupine and forget me not. The bear berries had flowers and bright green shoots were showing on the trees. We had a Grizzly visiting our camp and we used bear bangers to chase him off. After the bear visit, the camp atmosphere change and everybody stayed close. To use the outhouse in the dark was becoming a challenge. Later on alone in the tent, I needed a bit longer to fall asleep than normal.

    The next morning we left camp heading back to the ranch. I was riding in front leading a pack horse. That wasn’t easy at all but I tried to keep calm. Back at the ranch I was exhausted but happy about all what I experienced during this trip.

    What was your experience regarding food?

    Lucky me I’m not a vegetarian, although the ranch caters for vegetarian with special menu choices. At the ranch, I ate bear meat, moose, and deer meat; I definitely never had this before. The home cooked ranch food was good and plentiful.

    How many places in Canada have you visited so far?

    During my time at the ranch, I had the opportunity to go to the Williams Lake Stampede and experience a real wild west rodeo. I stayed near 150 Mile House with friends for a night. I also got to visit Kamloops on the way to Vancouver. But even more amazing than the road trips where the horse trips into the South Chilcotin Mountains, Eldorado camp, Lecki camp.

    After leaving the ranch, I travelled with my friend to Jasper, Banff, Fort St. Johns and many places in between. Now we’re in Lumby exploring the Okanagan Valley, but we have a long way to go yet. The last two weeks in Canada we will spend on Vancouver Island before heading home.

    Do you have plans to visit again?

    The Boss of a large Ranch in Fort St. Johns offered me work for next summer. He got to know me a bit and trusts my work ethics and I could stay there between my travels. If I would come back, that would be the place I would go to. To acquire work experience on a farm would be my main reason.

    How did Backcountry Canada Travel influence your trip?

    I found your website while browsing the Internet for English schools and learn English in Canada. The first thing I printed out was Canada Facts You Want To Know. To be able to write to you in German helped a lot. Your valuable information and support guided me in the right direction and I’m so thankful for that. We emailed, we texted and talked on the phone, so I had a good idea what to expect. Because all the ranch documentation and booking information was in English I was happy that you gave me guidance on this. Also knowing to have a contact person in Canada gave me a peace of mind. For everyone who wants to learn English in Canada, your contact services are the best. Thank you for making this all possible for me!

    Learn English and work as a horse guide

    Interested in a similar experience? Check out Unique English Language Schools

    Related Articles: 


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  4. Top 12 Things to do in the Okanagan Valley this Summer

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    Who hasn’t heard about a lush valley in British Columbia, known for its mild climate, its fruit orchards, and vineyards, known for the wine trail with its superb wineries?

    It’s the Okanagan Valley, of course, well featured in Tourist brochures. But guess what? Wine tasting and playing golf are not the only things to do in the Okanagan Valley, there are many places to explore.

    Much has changed in recent years and the Okanagan seems to attract mainly upper-class tourists, the ones with lots of money to spend. Do not despair if you are a Budget Traveller, and you are not interested in expensive wine tasting tours. I have lots of ideas to share with you.

    We used to have barn dances and Sunday jams in the area, but most of the Old West type events have disappeared. If you’re lucky to be in the Okanagan Valley at the right time, you might get to experience some small-town Rodeo fun.

    What we always will have are our beautiful lakes and wild provincial parks to get away from it all.

    1. Visit Historic O’Keefe Ranch

    Historic O'Keefe Ranch Vernon BC

    Step back in time and learn about the old west and the history of this region.  Founded in 1867, Historic O’Keefe Ranch tells the story of ranching in British Columbia. The Ranch is a must see with small and large historic buildings; some of them you are able to explore. Make sure to sign up for the tour of the O’Keefe family home, stop in at the General Store for a cold drink and some old fashion candies and visit St. Ann’s Church, which is a popular wedding location.

    Special events are offed during summer, as well as dinner shows that require prior booking. The Ranch used to be famous for the annual Cowboy Festival with ranch horse competitions between BC working ranches. Whether this amazing event will come back to the Okanagan Valley one day is unknown.

    There is a gift shop on site and roping lessons are offered and a stagecoach ride are offered to visitors. The superb Cattlemen’s Club Restaurant is open daily.

    Location: 9380 Hwy 97N, 12 km north of Vernon, BC in the North Okanagan

    2. Spend a Movie Night at the Starlight Drive-in Theatre

    Starlight Theatre Enderby BC

    Don’t miss the Ultimate Movie-Going Experience and North America’s largest Drive-In Movies under the stars when you come to the North Okanagan.  A movie night at the Starlight will take you down memory lane, that is, if you belong to the older generation of moviegoers.

    The Movie season at the Starlight is from early May to September, depending on attendance and weather. Starting time is when it’s dark enough. Have cash ready for the admission fee to avoid lineups. Make use of the concession (snack bar) to support the theatre. No movies without pop and popcorn!

    Location: 5341 Highway 97A, 20 minutes from Salmon Arm and Vernon, just South of Enderby

    3. Visit Davidson Orchards Country Village

    Davidon Orchard Okanagan Valley

    Davidson Orchards is the place to go for farm food and family fun. Here you can see the crops grow and fruit being picked and made into delicious country food. Take a ride through the farm on “Johnny Popper Train” to see the orchards and get educational information along the way.

    This is a kids heaven with the Crazy Cow Kids Corral and lots of space to play. At the Critter Corral you can check on the chickens, Sheep, Goats and other farm animals, as well as the climbing coats.

    When you walk through the Country Village Store, the smell of freshly baked goods will tempt you to do some shopping. Souvenirs and goodies are of high quality. This is a place I have been going to for years and I enjoy it thoroughly each time.

    Location: 3111 Davison Road, Vernon, BC, above historical Bella Vista Road, just a few minutes from downtown Vernon.

    4. Tube the Shuswap River

    Things to do in the Okanagan Valley - tubing the Shuswap

    What better way to spend a blazing hot day than tubing the Shuswap. Enjoy the cool water, splash around, relax in your raft, or go for a swim. Tubing down the Shuswap is a favourite summer activity in the Okanagan. All you need to have fun is an inflatable raft, a life jacket, lots of sunscreen lotion and an adventurous spirit.

    Check in with the River Ambassadors before launching your raft. They’ll give you information on the conditions and direct you to the safe put-in and pull-out points along the way.

    Educate yourself about safe practices and how to spot potential hazards before heading out. Check for more information about tubing.

    Please Note: Tubing is not recommended when water levels are high and there is a danger of swift currents, cold water and log jams (like at the time of writing).

    The Shuswap River is of ecological and cultural importance to the area; treat the river with respect.

    There is no shuttle or tube rental available.

    Location: Enderby, via BC Highway 97A

    5. Watch an Outdoor Play at the Caravan Farm Theatre

    I have been going to the Caravan Farm Theatre for years, a one of a kind live outdoor theatre experience under the stars.  You definitely want to include this event in your Okanagan visit. There is something magical about the outdoor plays.

    Caravan Farm Theatre is a professional outdoor theatre company. The theatre is based on an 80-acre farm, 11 kilometres northwest of Armstrong, British Columbia and is popular for the performance of various plays during the year. During summer you get to enjoy a full-length action-packed musical, including horses, trucks, dogs, and kids, and whatever else it takes to perform an amazing outdoor play.

    Location: 4886 Salmon River Rd, Armstrong, BC

    6. Casting a line at Mabel Lake

    Fishing at the lake - Okanagan Valley

    Off the beaten track, the lake is easy to get to and is famous for beautiful sandy beaches and excellent fishing. Because of the provincial campground at the southern part of the lake, it gets busy during summer, but there is a good chance to be by yourself during the off-season.

    Spend some time exploring the hidden treasures close by. Mabel Road, a gravel road along the east side of the Lake takes you to Three Valley Gap and Revelstoke but is often closed because of washouts. Check on the conditions before heading out.

    Location: Mabel Lake Vally, access from Lumby BC

    7. Visit Silver Star Mountain Resort

    Silver Star Mountain Resort - summer activities

    Silver Star Mountain Resort is not only a winter playground, it also offers many outdoor opportunities during the summer months. Located high up in British Columbia’s Monashee range, it is only a 20-minute drive from Vernon and easy to get to. Once the snow melts, the picturesque resort changes into a hiking and mountain biking heaven.

    Don’t miss a drive up to Silver Star Mountain Resort. Stroll around the village,  look at the colourful buildings, take pictures and stop in at one of the cozy coffee shops or friendly pubs. You won’t need much effort to experience sweeping views from high above. The scenic lifts take you up to the summit in a matter of minutes, offering spectacular vistas of the Monashee range and Okanagan Valley.

    Are you interested in a Mountain biking experience? Silver Star’s world-class bike park and cross-country network of trails have something for every level of riders. A Rental Shop offers a great selection of demo and rental bikes, as well as protective gear for all ages. Why not have a go at it while you’re up there?

    Location: 20-minute drive from Vernon BC

    8. Paddling Echo Lake

    Paddling on echo Lake North Okanagan

    Surrounded by trees and wilderness, Echo Lake is still one of the hidden secrets, located southeast of Lumby, in the North Okanagan Valley. Listen to the echo while you’re there, it’s what gives the lake its name.

    Echo Lake is known for its clear turquoise coloured water and excellent fishing and is a popular regional recreation destination. Here you find excellent paddling, canoeing and kayaking opportunities. Echo Lake Resort, located inside Echo Lake Provincial Park offers boat and canoe rentals. No license is needed and lifejackets are supplied.

    Location: Drive 1 km east of Lumby, turn right onto Creighton Valley Road, continue for 22 km (dirt road for last half). You will pass Barb Lake and Cozy Cabins Wilderness Retreat before you get to Echo Lake.

    9. Rent a Jetski on a hot day

    Jetski fun Okanagan Lake

    As much as we try to associate Canada with the idyllic pictures of canoes, horses, and nature, the fact is, Canada is a country of powerful engines, big trucks, luxury boats, ATVs and Gators, which most of us love.

    So, why not get a taste of the power of engines while you’re here and try something you won’t do at home?

    Experience the thrill of driving your own Jet Ski from the Kelowna harbour. Jet skis, or Sea Doos, can be rented at the Kelowna waterfront. They are noisy and fast, and lots of fun.

    Location: Kelowna BC

    10. Hike or Cycle Myra Canyon Mountain Park

    Myra Canyon Trestle

    Plan a trip along the scenic Kettle Valley Rail Trail, starting at Myra Canyon. You can hike, bike or take a guided tour of the area.

    Myra Canyon Mountain Park is 40 minutes southeast of Kelowna and definitely worth the trip. There are two public entrances to the Park, Myra Canyon, and Ruth Station. Myra Canyon is the more popular one, especially for hikers.

    Myra FS road is a gravel road that takes you to Myra Parking lot. The 12 km portion of the KVR trail is flat and easy to cycle or walk. You will be rewarded with stunning views from the 18 rebuilt trestles on the way. you will pass through two tunnels to cool off and have fun.

    Bike rental is available at the Myra Canyon Trailhead and in Kelowna.

    Location: Myra FS Road, Kelowna BC

    11. Stop at Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery

    Okanagan Spirits Distillery

    Okanagan Spirits is Western Canada’s oldest craft distillery and is internationally acclaimed as North America’s only designated World Class Distillery (World Spirits Awards).

    They offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the production with an education on the art of craft distilling. After the tour, you are invited to the tasting bar where you get to taste their spirits.

    Two Locations: 267 Bernard Ave, Kelowna, BC, Phone: 1-778-484-5174 and 5204 24th Street, Vernon, BC Phone: 1-250-549-3124

    12. Go on a self-guided Okanagan Valley Wine Tasting Jaunt

    Of course, no trip to the Okanagan Valley is complete without a visit to at least a couple of wineries. If you’re thinking of taking part in a tour, you can choose between many transportation options; helicopter, classic car or luxury SUV, boat, bike and much more.

    As a budget traveller, you probably opt for a self-guided tour. Get a list of the wineries and see which ones you can visit by foot. This is possible if you stay in an urban area like Kelowna, Penticton or Osoyoos.  Wine touring by bicycle is another good option and you get to enjoy the scenery along the way. Bicycle rental is possible in most larger towns. Or of course, you might just drive your own vehicle or a rental car.

    Whatever way you choose, be sure to plan for a safe ride home if you do any wine tasting.

    Location: Okanagan Valley

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  5. Exploring Waterfalls at Wells Gray Provincial Park

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    A lifetime is too short to explore all of Canada’s amazing parks. I will never see them all. Still, I take every opportunity I get to discover a park I haven’t been to before.

    This time I was doing a trip to Clearwater, British Columbia for a Thermomix cooking event at a beautiful home close to the turn-off for Wells Gray Park. This was my chance to get a taste of the area and the waterfalls at Wells Gray. The experience was amazing.

    If you are planning a road trip in Western Canada, I suggest you check out spectacular Wells Gray Provincial Park and work it into your travel route.

    You could easily spend all of your vacation at the Wells Gray, but when travelling on Highway 5 north, you’re probably on the way to somewhere else. If you are heading for Jasper, Alberta and don’t mind a short detour you can turn off Highway 5 at Clearwater to find the entrance to Wells Gray Provincial Park and check it out yourself.

    The road into the park is paved as far as Helmcken Falls and in good condition. Half a day is all you need for a short visit to see three of the most spectacular waterfall of Wells Gray. The park has 39 named waterfalls, and hundreds more are unnamed and hidden in the wilds.

    Take a break from travelling the highway; visit at least a couple of the falls and enjoy beautiful vistas to take your breath away.

    Helmcken Falls

    Helmcken Falls Wells Gray Park Waterfalls

    Helmcken Falls is the best known of the many waterfalls in Wells Gray Park with a dramatic 141 m vertical drop into the canyon below. As the fourth largest waterfall in Canada Helmcken Falls is nearly three times the height of Niagara Falls. The sight is impressive at any time of year. During the off-season, you miss the crowds.

    Access to Helmcken Falls viewing platform is only a few minutes walk from the parking area.

    Dawson Falls

    Dawson Falls Wells Gray Park Waterfalls

    An easy 10-minute hike through an old growth forest lets you watch water thundering over 200,000-year-old lava beds. The parking spot on the other side of the road is reserved for buses only, which means lots of tourists coming through during the summer month.

    Dawson Falls Wells Gray Park

    The first platform gives you an excellent view of the falls. Follow the trails to the second platform to view the falls from the top.

    Spahats Falls

    Spahats Falls Wells Gray Waterfalls

    Spahats is the First Nations term for bear; the stream was long known as Bear Creek. Because of the large numbers of Bear creeks in the province, Bear Creek changed its name to Spahats Creek (like the falls) in the late 1960s.

    Spahats Falls are impressive and truly a natural wonder. Formed from volcanic rock deposits centuries ago, the falls cut through a deep canyon.

    An easy stroll takes you to the viewing point on a cliff overlooking the falls. Walking along the guard fence lets you see different views of the falls as well as the Clearwater River.

    How to get to Wells Gray Provincial Park and the Waterfalls

    Most people enter Wells Gray park via the town of Clearwater on Highway 5, 123 km north of Kamloops. From Clearwater, a 36 km paved road takes you to the park’s south entrance. Another 29 km partly gravel road runs into the centre of the park and ends at Clearwater Lake. From this road, you can access hiking trails and all the waterfalls mentioned in this blog.

    During my visit to the park in April, the road to Clearwater Lake was still closed.

    Wells Gray Park and Clearwater Visitor Centre

    The Visitor Centre is a must stop if you are heading into the park. Get a park map and all the information you need to explore the area. White-water-rafting tours and accommodation can be booked here as well.

    Travel Guide for Exploring Wells Gray Park

    For an extended stay at Wells Gray Park, I suggest investing in Roland Neaves 6th edition travel guide “Exploring Wells Gray Park – The complete roads and travels guide to Canada’s waterfalls park”. The book is available at the Clearwater Visitor Centre.

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  6. Switzerland and Canada – similar and yet so different

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    Majestic mountains, glacier-fed lakes, rushing rivers, and the four seasons we all love; Canada and Switzerland have many similarities, and yet they are so different. Switzerland and Canada are often compared in terms of “quality of living”.

    During my recent trip to Switzerland, I focused on catching some differences between the two countries. Despite my Swiss origin,  I seem to be more Canadian than Swiss, feeling more at home in Canada than I do in Switzerland for most parts. Still, I love them both!

    Whether Canadians visit Switzerland or the Swiss come to Canada, a culture shock must go both ways.

    I love Canada and appreciate what the country has to offer, space, wilderness, opportunities, diversity and its people. On the other hand, I adore the beauty of Switzerland, love Swiss cheeses, enjoy drinking raw milk from the tap, and appreciate delicious tap water without chlorine. I admire the Swiss railway and transportation system which takes you anywhere on time.

    Of course, I’m grateful to be a citizen of two of the best countries in the world, lucky me!

    Update June 2022

    This article was published first in April 2017. Since then, I was back in Switzerland for the second time in spring of 2022. At that time, I experienced another difference between Canada and Switzerland worth mentioning.

    Life in Switzerland is back to normal just as it was in the pre-Covid era. The land border is open with no restrictions for anyone. It is like nothing ever happened. No mask-wearing anywhere, business is back to normal. In Switzerland, no one talks about the Corona virus anymore.

    Not so in Canada, where tough travel restrictions, vaccination mandates and mask-wearing still exist. Unvaccinated people are not allowed to leave the country or board a plane, train or bus. What is happening in ‘The Land of the Free’?

    11 differences you will notice between Canada and Switzerland

    1. Freshwater from the tap

    Drinking Water Canada

    Switzerland probably has one of the best tap waters in the world. There are no extra added drugs or poisons in the Swiss water system. Whenever you turn on a tap it’s sparkling clear and fresh.

    In Switzerland, nearly all restaurants will ask you a certain price for tap water as they have to serve it and wash the glasses, and it’s not because the water is so good.  Most Swiss drink mineral water in restaurants instead which is not cheap.

    The difference in water quality struck me at Toronto airport when I turned on the tap to wash my hands. Wow, did that ever smell of chlorine, a chemical regularly used in the water treatment process; no wonder most Canadians buy their drinking water in five-gallon jugs.

    Still, chances are the water coming out of the tap in Canada is perfectly safe to drink, if you don’t mind the taste. To ask for a jug of water in restaurants is common in Canada and you will never get charged for it.

    2. Swiss dairy cows are out to graze every day

    Dairy Cows grazing in Switzerland

    Grazing dairy cows are a common sight in Switzerland, with cowbells or without; content and happy cows enjoying the green grass.

    Canada’s dairy farms are larger than the Swiss ones and operated factory-like. The dairy cows are kept in barns and don’t get to see sunlight or taste the fresh grass.

    3. Raw milk from the tap

    Raw Milk from the tap on farms in Switzerland

    Switzerland is known for the highest quality milk. That might be the reason that farmers in Switzerland are allowed to sell raw milk directly from the farm.  Across Switzerland, milk vending machines offer farm-fresh milk 24/7.

    In Canada, raw milk cannot legally be sold. Only if you happen to own your own cow can you legally consume raw milk; not to worry, B.C. residents can cross the border to Washington State and buy raw milk legally.

    4. Swiss shopping experience on a Saturday afternoon

    Lucerne Switzerland along the Reuss

    Try not to do that. Don’t go shopping on a Saturday afternoon in a Swiss shopping mall in Canton Lucerne. This will be a shocking experience for Canadians who are used to friendly sales personnel. Coming from Canada, we are a friendly bunch and shopping is not only business, we like to chat along the way. Most of the Swiss sales personnel don’t seem to appreciate this; especially not on a Saturday before starting the weekend.

    All shops close at 4 pm on Saturday and don’t open again till Monday.

    Talking about the unfriendly Swiss, get used to their unsmiling faces and expect rude behaviour, especially if you’re a foreigner. If you stand in line somebody probably jumps the queue, pushing right in front of you. If this happens, just use your elbow and push back in front of them.

    In Canada, sales personnel, as well as servers in restaurants are extremely friendly in serving customers. If they don’t, they lose their job.

    5. Alcoholic beverages and liquor at the Super Market

    Canada vs Switzerland

    Switzerland’s drinking culture is more liberal than the controlled drinking in Canada. This starts with the Swiss grocery stores where alcoholic beverages are sold.  The Swiss don’t need to go to a special store to buy their drinks.

    Buying booze for a night out can be a big chore in some Canadian provinces where beer, wine, and spirits are only sold in provincially-owned and private liquor stores. In some provinces, the law recently changed and beer and local wines are sold at some grocery stores.

    6. No GMO Food in Switzerland

    Heisse Marroni - speciality

    Genetically modified (GMO) crops were banned in Switzerland in 2005 and have never been used in agriculture. In 1995, Switzerland introduced regulations requiring the labelling of food containing GMOs and was one of the first countries to introduce labelling requirements.

    Instead, mandatory labelling of GMO food is not required in Canada. Canadians are often unaware that the foods they eat contain GMO ingredients.

    7. Breastfeeding in public places

    Lucerne on the lake - Switzerland

    In general, the Swiss are very tolerant of public breastfeeding. If you can train yourself to do it in public places, you can just pull a chair at any coffee shop and get down to business. With mamamap you will easily find a place for breastfeeding that is close to you, where ever you are in Switzerland.

    Although breastfeeding in public is a right guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the controversy over whether it is okay is still going on in 2017.

    8. Narrow windy roads

    Switzerland - narrow roads

    Many roads in Switzerland are narrow and steep with hairpins making you concentrate on the driving. Depending on the season, the roads are crowded with cars and buses; you won’t find a Swiss road without traffic.

    Although all the roads you drive are paved, some of them are scary. The incredible views remind you of the deep drop next to you and what could happen if you would swerve off too far to make space for an oncoming vehicle.

    Most Canadian Roads are wide and made for large RVs and trucks, but not all the roads are paved. In northern Canada highways are built on permafrost and you need to be well-prepared for any road trip. And there is our wildlife we have to worry about.

    Check out my related articles about driving in Canada:

    9. Campervans

    Campervan hire Switzerland

    You can rent a motorhome for travelling in Switzerland, similar to what you can rent in Canada. But if you decide to head for the alps I suggest you rent a small camper van, like the one in the picture. Those vans are widely available, offer all the basic comfort and make it easy to get around.

    Small camper vans are not common in Canada. Our wide roads and enormous space call for huge Motorhomes and RVs.

    10. Churches

    Swiss Churches

    Every Swiss town has its own church with a bell tower. Obviously, the bells ring every hour and additionally for any special occasion. To some, church bells ringing are a typical sound of Switzerland. To others, it’s an annoying noise that keeps them awake at night.

    Traditionally, bells of all kinds have been a part of the Swiss culture, from church bells to cowbells.

    Religion can be a sensitive topic in Canada. This is due to the fact that Canada has many different religious faiths and traditions. This results in having a number of different churches in every town and community. Many of the churches are just simple buildings and don’t resemble our image of a church.

    All across Canada, many Christian churches are being abandoned or sold and make way for other uses.

    11. Hiking Trails

    Hiking Trails Switzerland

    Switzerland has 65,000 km of waymarked trails and lets you discover nearly every corner of the country. The trails are well marked and as varied as the scenery. It’s hard to get lost when you hike in Switzerland.

    Signalization of mountain trails is a yellow signpost. Signalization of Alpine routes is a blue signpost. All signposts include information panels at the beginning of Alpine routes indicating special requirements.

    The rugged Canadian landscape provides amazing trails for hiking. Because of Canada’s enormous size, trailheads are often difficult to get to and require good planning and lots of time. Forget about public transportation if you’re out in the backcountry. Canada’s large network of hiking trails offers many multiple day-hikes. Usually, there is no small town nearby and not many people on the trails. You’re pretty much on your own.

    But no matter where you hike in Canada, you can easily encounter wild animals. Learn about the Canadian wilderness dangers and be safe.

    Canada wildflowers

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  7. How To Travel Stress-Free With Air Canada

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    I love to go places but always dread the long flights taking me there. My frequent trips to Europe often take me via London Heathrow or Toronto Pearson International airports, involving stressful transfers.

    Even thinking about it gives me the chills. You can choose other routes and miss out on the two giant airports, but most probably the trip will cost you lots more. Myself I hate to waste extra money on flights and rather put up with the stress

    Comfort in flying is hard to find these days unless you fly business class. If you’re like me and you count economy class as your only option, you will be cramped into a narrow seat with no leg space for seven plus hours across the Atlantic ocean to Toronto, or more than nine hours if you fly to Vancouver.

    Air Canada Plane

    Air Canada or British Airways

    Shopping around for a cheap flight to Canada, you will most probably have to decide between flying with British Airways and Air Canada. Which one should you choose?

    Regarding flying comfort and services there are no big differences between the two airlines. If you arrive in Canada and don’t need a connecting flight, either of the two airlines will be fine. Should you need a connecting flight from Toronto, Vancouver or another big city, the inland flight most probably will be with Air Canada as well. If this is the case, to fly the whole trip with Air Canada makes travelling easier.

    Actually, I only found this out during my recent trip to Switzerland when I flew Air Canada all the way. It was a most relaxing trip without the usual travel stress.

    How do you eliminate travel stress?

    • Book with Air Canada to your final destination in Canada if you need a connecting flight. By using the same airline all the way will make the connections easy, even in large airports like Heathrow or Toronto. Booking with your preferred airline usually costs you extra dollars.
    • Choose smaller airports over big ones if you have a choice.
    • Take a small backpack or soft bag as a carry-on rather than a roller bag, so you can squeeze your luggage into tighter bin spaces.
    • Check-in online within 24 hours of departure with Air Canada is a breeze. Most times when I tried to check-in using different airlines it didn’t work. Online check-in means less stress and less time necessary at the airport.
    • Change your seats during online check-in. I prefer aisle seats for long flights to be able to move around, but choose a window seat across the Rockies when travelling during the day.

    At the airport

    • Arrive early, drop off luggage and have your passport validated.
    • Head through security. Don’t wear boots or a belt. Get rid of your water bottle or at least its content. Separate your belongings into available trays. Jacket, backpack, laptop, tablet, cellphone, creams and liquids, all have to be taken out of your travel bag.
    • Go through passport control
    • Most Customs/Security employees are not friendly and sometimes I even find them rude. Don’t be like me and drop a funny remark, they won’t like it.
    • Find your departure gate and board the plane once your Zone number on your boarding pass is called.
    • Keep your eyes open for an open bin space when you get onboard and make your way to your seat. This way you won’t be stuck with the space near your seat, which might be full already.
    • Airline food is quite awful, don’t expect gourmet food. Most times you can choose between two dishes, chicken or vegetarian pasta.
    • Juices, soft drinks, and water are freely available. Drink lots during the flight.
    • Inland flights in Canada – no free food. Meals available for purchase (credit card payment only). Take along snacks. Juice, soft drinks, and water are served.

    Airport Toronto

    Declaration Card

    You’ll receive a Declaration Card while you’re on board on the way to Canada, and must complete it prior to arrival.

    On the Declaration Card, you fill in your information, your travels and what you bring into the country. Instructions on how to complete the card are attached.

    Once the Declaration Card is filled out, detach and discard the instructions. Do not fold the card, keep the card ready along with your travel documents. You will be asked to show the card several times once you get off the plane.

    Connecting to another flight?

    If you are connecting and travelling on to another destination, follow the signs. Depending on the airport where you arrive,  you may have to have your baggage checked and screened before re-boarding. This used to be a normal procedure at the first airport of arrival in Canada. but wasn’t required during my recent trip. Airport rules change constantly.

    It’s less stressful if you have plenty of time between connecting flights. If your flight is delayed, the connecting flight personnel will be informed and they will try to get you on board before departing.

    Should you miss the connection because of a delayed flight or mechanical problems, the airline will rebook you on the next available flight. If your connecting flight is with the same airline and you get stuck, they may offer you compensation for meals or accommodation. Those arrangements are voluntary with the airline.

    Arrival in Canada

    Upon arrival, follow the signs to the Primary Inspection area. A border services officer will examine your Declaration Card, identification, and other travel documents.

    When you are directed to a booth, you may be asked a series of questions to determine your Immigration status, the nature of any goods you are bringing with you, your duty-free allowance and personal exemption entitlements.

    Also, if you have anything to declare, including purchases and food products of any kind, make sure to inform the officer.

    Goods not properly declared that are restricted or prohibited in Canada can, under the law, be subject to seizure.

    Related Post:


    I’m not in any way associated with Air Canada and don’t get paid for this article.
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  8. Miracle Horses And How They Stole My Heart

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    Who remembers them?

    Whoever has been to Silver Spur Trails the last few years will remember my miracle horses. Maybe you have ridden one of them and have a special memory or a photograph? Please send it to me, and add something to my memory.

    I will never forget them, my miracle horses; they all will be remembered and live on in my heart forever.

    2016 was a rough year, emotionally. I closed Silver Spur Trails Wilderness Ranch for business. The end of an era and less hard work and more freedom, being able to invest more time in myself. Hopefully, this would give me the chance to work on my enormous bucket list and I get to travel again.

    My herd of horses

    But What About My Horses?

    Without the income of the guest ranch, there was no way I could keep my ten horses and feed them through winter, most of them had to go. I cried countless tears and the thought of having to let go of them haunted me every night. It was a stressful time.

    How would I find places for my miracle horses in a country where trail horses have no value, where the lucky ones go for free to a new home and the not lucky ones have to go through the horror being shipped for meat.  In an economy where many people struggle to survive, hay gets expensive and keeping a horse is not affordable for every horse lover. With horses are high costs involved, and more if you want to look after them well.

    I did find new homes for seven of my ten horses. Some I sold, others went for free. Some of the horses have excellent new homes, others, I don’t know. I try not to think about it too much, they are gone and I can’t influence their well being anymore. Still, I shed tears once in a while, thinking of them.

    Today, I have three horses left, Princess, Belle, and Ruby. I wish Dolly would still be here as well, she is one I worry about.

    Vicky

    Majestic Horse Vicky

    Vicky, purebred Morgan Mare, was 28 years old when she went to horse heaven last year. I owned her for 14 years. An excellent lead horse, mostly ridden by me. Rest in peace Vicky, I will love you forever, we were a great team making lots of miles ahead leading the pack.

    Princess

    Miracle Horses - Princess

    Princess is Vickie’s daughter, purebred Morgan mare, I also owned her for 14 years. Like her mother Vicky, she is fast, gentle and many of my guests will remember her. For years she had to carry the heavier riders up the hill. Princess is still at my ranch today, together with Belle and Ruby.

    Update August 2017 – Princess went to a new loving home in Cherryville, BC.

    Miracle Mare Princess

    Belle

    Miracle Horses - Belle

    My Belle, she was six years old when I bought her. A cute Brat, just over 14 hands. Bell is the most expensive horse I ever owned. Included in the price was a free breeding with a beautiful Morgan Stallion, Princess’s sire. Unfortunately, the breeding never happened. Belle had a fight with the Stallion who got injured and I was told to take Belle home.

    Belle, the sweet and the devil, we went through a few challenges together. We took part on one of the last Kamloops Cattle drives, Bell and me, and Princes was there as well. This is a story for another blog.

    Miracle Horses - Belle

    Destiny

    Miracle Horses Destiny

    Destiny is Princess’s halfsister, purebred Morgan. She was 6 months old when I bought her after Belle couldn’t get bred. Destiny found a great new home in Terrace BC. I know a girl in Switzerland who fell in love with the little brat during the two summers she rode her. Destiny will never be forgotten and remembered by many.

    Happy Sleeping Horse

    Dolly

    Dolly My Horse

    My little Dolly, I worry about you. She was another one of my special horses. I had here for 11 year a sweet, polite Morgan-QH mare, always the last one in the pecking order. There was one time on the way to an overnight camp when Dolly had a novice rider on her. After riding the steep hills on the way to Kathy Lake Dolly decided she had enough and turned to go home. Fortunately, Dolly couldn’t resist the high grass reaching up to her chest for very long so the rider had a chance to get off and my riding partner could catch her. An hour later we continued towards the lake again.

    Miracle Horse Dolly

    Ruby

    Miracle horse - Ruby

    My dear old Ruby, purebred Morgan Mare, 28 years old and still with me. I sold her when she was 17 years old, knowing that I had to downsize. Somehow the new owner couldn’t ride her. They bread here, she had a filly, and three months later they sold Ruby to someone else. Another sad story. Then I heard that they wanted to take her to the auction, and I bought her back, which is quite a few years ago. Was she ever happy to be back! Ruby is another one of the amazing Morgan’s and was one of my reliable leading horses for years. I’m not riding her anymore, but she is in good shape and my beautiful lawnmower during summer.

    Update: Ruby slipped on ice and had to be put down on February 24, 2018, at an age of 19 years old. R.I. P. will remember you forever.

    Miracle Horse - Ruby

    Jacky

    Miracle Horse - Miss Jacky

    Registered Quarter horse mare with a little attitude, but knows the Parelli games. Jacky was with me for eight years and most of the experience horse people visiting my ranch loved her. Jacky went to a great new home in Lumby and is with experienced horse people. I’m not worried about her at all, she is a lucky mare.

    Miracle Horse - Jacky

    Diamond

    Horses Winter

    Diamond was the last horse I bought during a horse auction.  She was a strong, good natured mare and Smoky was her best buddy while she was at my ranch.

    Oh yes, once again she had to carry a very heavy person up the mountain when she decided she needed a mouthful of fresh grass and the rider flew over her head to the ground. Fortunately, the rider was okay and his wife riding with us just laughed. Another time, just after leaving the ranch, she took a shortcut through the bush and went home again. Still, Diamond was another one of my miracle horses. I found a place for her and Smoky in a neighboring town, but Diamond was moved from there to a new place. My Farrier still trimmed her feet last year and according to him, she had a good new home.

    Smoky

    Smokey And Diamond Horses

    Smokey, my only gelding I bought together with Starling from a neighbour in the area.  He was a slow walker and had mostly beginner riders on him. That’s probably the reason why he got sour after a while. A farmer down the road offered to take him, and I walked him to his new home. I used to see him on the way into town. Smoky was gone for not quite a year, and one spring morning he was back in my field. Not sure what happened!

    Somehow the vacation was good for Smoky and he continued to take the novice riders safely up the trail. Where he is now… I’m not sure.

    Smoky in front of Tipi

    Starling

    My horse Starling

    Starling, a quarter horse mare anybody can ride, bombproof and worth a pot of gold. Snack shack was here nickname while she was at my ranch. She loved the greenhorns that let her eat all the way up the trail and the once that didn’t have the strength to get her head back up. Whenever I rode her, she didn’t even try to eat on the way. Clever horse, Starling!

    Starling is another lucky horse that went to a great home in Lumby.

    And who remembers Brandy, another miracle horse?

    He’s been in horse heaven for a few years now. He was another miracle horse.

    Miracle Horse Brandy


    Do you remember any of my horses? Have you ridden any of them? Please leave a remark below or get in touch via Contact Form. I love to hear from you.

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  9. Horse Pack Trips into Canada’s Wilderness

    22 Comments

    A Wilderness Adventure and a Horse Lovers Dream

    Come and experience the Canadian wilderness on horseback for an experience you will never forget.

    Ride through the Canadian wilderness like an intrepid explorer with a world of amazement unfolding before you. Climb up mountain trails along deep canyons to beautiful mountain meadows covered with blankets of wildflowers. With your trusty trail horse and experienced guide to show the way, you will ride into the heart of the mountains for a true nature adventure. From Horseback, you can see the wilderness in a way not many people get to experience.

    Imagine sleeping under a blanket of stars after an eventful day in the saddle. Camping in the remote wilderness and trail riding through the mountains is the authentic way to experience the wild west.

    Doesn’t that sound like the most refreshing experience for mind and spirit? It will transform your outlook on life, guaranteed!

    You will remember the horseback adventure as the absolute highlight of your Canada vacation, I can promise you that.

    Horse Pack Trip - grazing horses

    Who are the horse pack trips for?

    The horse pack trips appeal to nature loving individuals appreciating rugged surroundings in the natural environment of the Canadian West.

    The trips are completely outfitted and guided. Beginners and city slickers are welcome.

    You will learn by doing!

    During the whole trip, you travel through rugged terrain and take on new challenges as you go. You will become confident in your horseback riding abilities pretty fast. The Guides are competent horse wranglers and will be happy sharing their experience and knowledge through each stage of your journey. From saddling your horse to learning the famous diamond hitch, you will come back from your trip with new skills and the confidence to use them.

    Pack Trip Canada - rivers

    Trip Highlights

    • Travel through a world of new impressions and unforgettable moments.
    • Take in 360-degree views of awe-inspiring mountains and valleys that expand beyond the horizon.
    • Venture into the mountain habitats of California Bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain goats, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and marmots and learn about the Canadian Wildlife.
    • Partner up with your horse that takes you safely through ancient forests across colourful river valleys.

    Horse Pack Trip - Bears

    Accommodation and Meals

    Depending on the package, the accommodation ranges from basic canvas tents on raised platforms with foam mats to sleep on, to solid mountain cabins. The camps are situated off the beaten track close to a creek with fresh sparkling water.

    There are no showers and flushing toilets at the camps, only outhouses.

    Good hearty camp meals are served and authentic cowboy coffee brewed at the campfire in a perfect wilderness setting. Enjoy storytelling time, if you can keep your eyes open after an eventful day on the trail. Raise your head, look up into the starry sky and you will feel a deep appreciation to be alive.

    Cell phone reception is not available during the trip and at the camps.

    Horse pack trips - view

    4-day  and 7-day Horse Pack Trips

    Choose between a 4-day and a 7-day Trip Package, depending how much time you have available and how much wilderness you want to discover.

    Available Dates

    The horse pack trips are available from Mai 1st to October 1st, 2020

    Why do I promote these trips?

    I  have done it multiple times, riding and camping in those mountains. Once you’re out there, away from modern life and civilization, in the deep wilderness of the land, it somehow feels unreal, like a dream.

    It is an experience like no other.

    Canada is one of the top favourite travel destinations in the world. How do most visitors to Canada spend their vacation? Everybody seems to go for the bucket list trip, rent a camper and drive through the world-famous Rocky Mountains. They all do it, spending most of their time on the road, heading for the next campground. I suggest you do something different and add a unique, out of this world wilderness horse adventure to your Canada trip. You will be thanking me forever!

    If you are getting adventurous for the first time, book the 4-day package, it’s totally worth it and you will be talking about the horse pack trip you did in the Canadian wilderness for years to come. I personally know the terrain you will be riding, the area and the Ranch offering the packages, therefore I can pledge for it.

    Horse Pack Trips Vacations

    How to Book a Horse Pack Trip

    Are you ready for the most amazing horseback adventure? Check out the information and itinerary for the trips at Chilcotin Holidays and fill out the contact form to receive more information.

    Related Information


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  10. How to Find the Perfect Accommodation on Sites Like Airbnb

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    I never used to suggest renting accommodation from websites like Airbnb, Wimdu, Homestay, or Roomorama to people coming to Canada. Travelling with motorhomes and campers is the Canadian way and how tourists like to experience the country.

    It makes sense in a country where distances between places are huge and campgrounds abound. For locals, who own their RVs it is certainly the best way; they don’t have RV rental costs to pay. It is also an ideal way to travel for families with children or couples.

    For solo travellers like myself, renting an RV or camper would be an expensive option and a lonely one. I rather rent a car or buy a cheap car to be independent. This gives me the choice to put up my tent for the night and camp if I feel like it or stay at a hostel for the social atmosphere. Hostels are ideal places to meet people from all over the world.

    But if sleeping in a tent or sharing a bunk in a hostel is not for you, I suggest you try a rental service like Airbnb. You might grow to love that type of accommodation.

    Whether you rent a rustic cabin in the woods, a yurt on a hill, a luxury apartment in the city or a  room in a private home,  the experience will be much superior to staying in a motel or hotel, guaranteed. Those places provide incredible dollar value, privacy, space, and a home-like environment.

    This kind of accommodation rental sites have been around for many years and are getting more popular as time goes on. Still, some people haven’t discovered that kind of accommodation option yet.

    How does renting accommodation work?

    Accommodation rental sites allow people to rent out an individual room, apartment, entire house or cabin. The host lists their place online, posts photos, writes a description, and when the listing gets booked he earns money with the unused space.

    The booking process is like booking any other type of accommodation. You search online for a place you like, create an account and request a booking. When the owner accepts, you will receive a confirmation.

    The best part is, that most accommodation rentals are located away from overpriced tourist areas and allow you to get a feel for the local lifestyle. Depending on your booking, your host might be available to share local information and travel suggestions with you.

    Who is this for?

    Unique accommodation in private home

    In the past, these types of accommodation rental sites have been used mainly by thrifty tourists looking for the cheapest place to stay. Now, more and more travellers are looking to these sites for a unique and memorable experience.

    This type of accommodation rental is something between hostels and hotels. It is also suitable if you are on a business trip and want the comfort of home instead of staying in an expensive hotel. A private rental is a perfect compromise.

    If you want to travel in Canada but you don’t want to rent a camper, you’re not into the hostel scene and can’t afford hotels, this is an excellent option for you. A private rental will be quieter and more relaxing than a hostel. Many places offer cooking facilities, which keeps costs down on your trip.

    Are you travelling with a large group or a family? An apartment or house rental is definitely the cheapest accommodation option for you. Depending how many people you can squeeze in with you, these places will be much cheaper per person than a hostel room or a hotel. Most places offer lots of space to relax. This is so much better than dorm rooms and boring hotels.

    How to pick the right host

    I have been lucky and have only good memories about these sites. Most places offer what they advertise. It is easy to avoid bad hosts if you follow some rules. Here is a list what to keep in mind when looking for a host:

    • Is the calendar up-to-date? – Listings show only up in a search if they are available, but hosts don’t always update their calendar. It’s nothing worth than trying to book a place and they tell you that it is not available.
    • Do they reply to inquiries often? – You want to get your inquiry answered. These sites show the percentage of messages the hosts reply to. Of course the higher the better.
    • What does the host’s profile say? -If you click on a person’s image you will be taken to their profile page. There you can read a personal profile, along with other details.
    • Are they active users? – Active is good! See when they last logged on to the site. If it’s been a while you might not hear back from them.
    • Do they have good photos? – You want listings with plenty of photos to give you a good idea what the place looks like.
    • Are the photographs verified? – Having verified photographs means somebody has been there and seen the place and guarantees that it looks like on the pictures.
    • Do they have reviews good? – Reviews are important. If people liked the place and had a good time, you probably will too.
    • Do they have multiple listings? – Many people use these sites to be property managers. The rent lots of apartments and then re-rent them to Airbnb. Try to avoid these places, because they might not be as nice and lack the personal touch that comes when hosts rent out their own apartments.

    These are helpful guidelines, but at the end of the day, you have to listen to your guts. How serious you want to stick to these guidelines is up to you. It also depends on the area your in. If you are out in the backcountry you might have to be more flexible and open about it.

    Is renting accommodation safe from these sites?

    All these sites run on trust. The companies try to verify both customer and hosts to ensure no one ends up robbing or hurting anyone else. You sometimes hear stories about creepy hosts. Following the guidelines, you will notice if something doesn’t sound right.

    In any case, renting accommodation companies provide a window that allows you to get your money back if you get to a place which is not as advertised. You can call their 24-hour hotline and they will find another place for you.

    Any accommodation can be risky, especially as a solo traveller. You can get robbed in hotel rooms or hostels, or have a creepy host when Couchsurfing, that’s why following the guidelines is important. Private accommodation rentals are as safe as any other accommodation options. In my opinion, the benefits greatly outweigh the apparent danger.

    If I travel by myself during summer, I tend to stay on government campgrounds and pitch my tent. Any other time of the year or when I travel with friends I use Airbnb lots of the time.

    The personal touch makes private accommodation rentals the best budget option for travellers without hotel points or desire to stay in a hostel.

    Try it out at least, it will be a memorable experience.

    Suggested Renting Accommodation Sites:

    • Airbnb
    • Homstay
    • Wimbu

    Do you want to share your experience and advice? Leave a comment below.

  11. Why Moving To Canada Might Be A Bad Idea

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    Canada, the country of your dreams is calling. You’re ready for a move and a new start.

    When you think about moving to Canada you visualize the immense space, endless opportunities, authentic living, nature pure, the friendly Canadians, and wilderness like nowhere else. That all sounds like heaven on earth, and that’s exactly the place you want to be.

    Truth is, depending on what country you come from, moving to Canada can be heaven for sure, or it can be…not heaven.

    Life in Canada has changed a lot in the last few years. Still, a perfect country to explore on vacation, moving here permanently is a totally different story.

    Writing from experience, I’m not just a traveller passing through, or an immigrant who came to this country didn’t like it and left again. I moved here over twenty years ago, I have lived east and west and I know what life in Canada is all about, and yes, I am a Canadian citizen. Of course, everyone’s path is different and in the end, it’s what you make out of your life, no matter where you are. I will tell you about my experience and my views on life in Canada. What you make of it is up to you. If you know all the facts and you still want to move to Canada, you will be more cautious and do further research. And if you do that, my article has accomplished what it was intended to.

    Moving to Canada - icefishing
    The tough life in the Canadian North

    In the end, it’s like anywhere else, it’s all about money. If you have lots of it, life will be easier for you. As a start, with enough money, you may find a loophole to move to our country. For the regular person, immigrating to Canada is a difficult and time-consuming process. Unless you’re a refugee you might never get to move here, no matter what qualifications and money you have to show. Still, persistence usually pays out in the long run.

    Why even bother moving to Canada if you live a fairly good life in the country you are now? Come to Canada for your vacations; buy a piece of land somewhere or a cabin if this makes you happy and feel that you belong. Come back every year and be a little part of us. But moving here permanently, really?

    Why do you want to move to Canada in the first place? Okay I agree, we have the best-looking prime minister. We still have fewer restrictions to start a business than many other countries have. The beauty of the country itself is amazing as well as our wild animals. And we still have lots of space.

    Like with everything else, there are pros and cons to consider when you think about moving to Canada. For me over time, the cons overpower the pros. So why do you live in Canada you may ask me now. Believe me, Canada was different when I first arrived. Lucky me, I got to live my dream. That was long before the cost of living skyrocketed and things got bad.

    At first sight, property prices seem reasonable, in certain parts of Canada at least. Wait! Wait until you pay property tax, house insurance, electricity and the rest of the bills. Do you know that Satellite Internet is your only choice for Internet service when you live outside of town and is very expensive? Do you know that our cell phone bills are some of the highest in the world?

    What about the big cities, like Vancouver? Vancouver house prices are horrendous and only affordable for Chinese immigrants.

    Canada has become a materialistic society and showing off material objects are of big importance for many.  It still might be the land of plenty, but not necessarily the land of happiness. It often seems to me that people are rushing and looking for money, but they are not living. But then again, that’s my own opinion on things.

    Moving To Canada - winter scene
    Idyllic winter scene

    If you decide moving to Canada anyway

    • Make sure you bring lots of money to live your Canadian dream, so you don’t have to depend on Canadian wages.
    • Our job market sucks big time. Expect very low pay. If you need to work when you get here, have a job lined up. Jobs here are not easy to get. Many Canadians work at two to three different jobs to have a large enough income to survive.
    • Do you know about Hunger in Canada? According to Food Banks Canada, thirteen percent of Canadians live in a state of food insecurity, mainly caused by low income, which consistently affects more than four million of us at any given time.
    • We don’t have Free Healthcare like everyone tells you. The Canadian health care system is dysfunctional and sucks. What does Free Health Insurance in Canada mean? In some provinces, you pay Health Insurance premium, unless you’re on a minimum income. The Canada Health Act does not cover prescription drugs, home care or long-term care, prescription glasses or dental care. Costs for prescription drugs come out of your own pocket unless you have extended Health Insurance. Lots of people can only afford extended insurance when it’s paid by their employer. And, learn to be patient; it’s not unusual to be on a two-year waiting list until you get surgery. People who have the money often go to the US to have surgery done. The Canadian health system sucks big time, but that’s material for another blog.
    • Young people have limited opportunities. Going to College or University doesn’t guarantee a job. According to The Globe and Mail dealing with ‘job churn’ is a reality. Some graduates are forced to work for no pay to gain experience. Many end up with low-paid jobs and struggle for years to pay back their student loan. No wonder not many young Canadians are travelling to broaden their horizon, how could they afford it. If you have children, I suggest doing some research on this topic.
    • The Canadian education system has big flaws and needs a major overhaul. Maybe that’s why homeschooling is so popular in Canada, even in large cities. As long as the government saves money to put into the education system, there is not much hope of any improvements.
    • It is no secret that Canada has a drinking problem. Some say it’s caused by boredom and a lack of anything better to do. The strict drinking laws are old-fashioned and cause the opposite of what they’re supposed to do. Many high school kids are already addicted to alcohol. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19, in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec 18. According to a Government website, the average age when teens start to drink in Canada is 13.
    Moving To Canada - North

    Anything else to be concerned about moving to Canada?

    • Are you into healthy living and eating good food? Plan on growing your own food. GMO (genetically modified organism) food sold in Canada is a big concern of mine. Labelling GMO foods is not required in Canada; therefore it is difficult to know if a food product contains GMO ingredients. Buy organic if you can afford it. Gather wild edible plants and learn about foraging. If you are not keen on eating hormone meat from the store, get yourself a hunting licence when you arrive.
    • Canadians are generally friendly people but don’t expect that they will open their house for you quickly. Locals will help you when you desperate but not more than they have to; just like anywhere else. Help your neighbour is slowly disappearing here as well.
    • Are you a beach bunny and don’t like the cold? This is the last place on Earth you want to be. Depending on where in Canada you are moving to, the chance is that summer lasts six weeks with brutal heat, anything longer is a bonus. Canada boasts amazing beaches and a beautiful coastline, but summers are short and the most part of the year lakes and rivers are frozen and the land is buried in snow at subarctic temperatures.

    Never forget the saying “It’s always greener on the other side!”

    Moving to Canada - ice and snow

    The Great Alternative

    Come to Canada for your next big vacation and enjoy the country as a tourist. Once you travel the tourist route through the world-famous Rocky Mountains, consider a road trip to less-known places in the northern parts of Canada. Your destination choices are endless; once you’ve seen part of this huge country you will want to come back for more – I’m quite sure.

    BOOK A TOUR: Check out the best Adventure Tours in Canada


    Was this article useful? Would you like to tell me about your own experience? What do you think about moving to Canada?

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  12. Stuck in Paradise – log home living in the woods

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    I never thought this could happen, me being stuck in paradise, in my log home in the woods.  I never thought of the frustration, not able to pack up and move on, and that my log home living would become a pain.

    The Canadian Dream

    I live at the edge of the wilderness, in an old rustic log home in Southern British Columbia. My log cabin is located in the middle of nature, surrounded by forests and mountains.

    Looking out the window on a December day, I see a few patches of blue clear sky and a few snowflakes are glittering in the sun. The horses are digging through the snow for some green forage. There are no neighbours nearby, a place like heaven should be. This is log home living at its best!

    My log home is the nearly perfect Canadian dream for living on the edge. I have been living the Canadian dream for over 17 years. Sadly, being stuck in this idyllic lifestyle can easily become a pain. You decide to move on and you can’t sell the property.

    I believe in the secret and the law of attraction. What I think and feel and want will become. It has always worked for me, but now I feel trapped.
    Early in the year, I was pretty sure that I would sell my ranch. Now it’s December and I haven’t sold. Another winter here in isolation, that’s NOT what I wanted.

    My backpack is in a corner of my bedroom, ready to be packed up and be used before more dust gets on it. According to the secret: “Believe that you already have, or that something you desperately want has already happened”.

    So I did this. I bought my backpack two years ago, to be ready for the change. Travelling was just around the corner. But my property didn’t sell and I’m still here.

    My guest ranch business is closed down. The herd of horses is reduced down to Ruby, the 28-year-old mare and Belle, the little mare I have had for over 16 years.

    Log home living in despair

    How could I be so positive when my fate depends on the Canadian Real Estate market? The Canadian housing market for rural property is tough. Small places turn over faster, but sadly, for larger, unique properties like mine, it is hard to find a buyer.

    I believe that I live in the most amazing place in Canada. But now it’s time to move on and hit the road, and blog about my new travel adventures.

    Just me and a reliable 4WD vehicle, a laptop and maybe my dog Trooper!

    To be free of clutter and all unnecessary things is my plan; I want to down-size to the minimum. What a great feeling this will be again, no mortgage to pay, no property tax bill, no worries about the upkeep of the ranch.

    This will be Real Freedom!

    Budget Travel - Backpacking

    But then again, who wants to drive the Dempster highway up in the Yukon Territory in winter. I might as well enjoy the coziness of log home living for another winter and explore my odds when the snow melts.

    Have you ever felt being stuck in a place? Please leave a comment!

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  13. Wilderness Road Trip Through The Cariboo Mountains

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    The wilderness road from Wells to Likely, British Columbia, Canada is a back road that doesn’t get travelled a lot.

    Before I dropped in at the cute little Visitor Information Centre in Wells BC on my way to Barkerville, I never heard of the wilderness road that winds through the Cariboo Mountains.

    Wilderness Road Wells

    Taking this scenic road from Wells to Likely saved me from backtracking to Quesnel. That’s where I just came from in the morning. Best of all, I could skip highway driving between Quesnel and Williams Lake.

    Actually, I was on my trip south, back to the Okanagan Valley, when I turned onto Highway 26 to visit Historic Barkerville. However, I didn’t expect to come across a vibrant community like Wells on the way, nor did I plan to drive another wilderness road so shortly after coming down from the Yukon.

    The fact is, I don’t like highway driving. I take every opportunity to go off-road and skip the highways. The wilderness road from Wells to Likely through the Cariboo mountains did just let me do that.

    I inquired about the road condition of the Wells to Likely back road, but nobody could tell me for sure. The brochure I picked up at the Tourist Information Centre was detailing the road trip with a map. I sure was glad to have the brochure with me when I realized the lack of internet and cell phone range in the area.

    Backroad Likely

    I decided to leave for the wilderness drive early the next morning. This gave me enough time to visit Barkerville Historic Town, the largest heritage attraction in Western North America. After a few hours exploring British Columbia’s golden beginnings, I drove back to Wells and booked into Caribou Joy Campground for the night.

    Wilderness Road Wells To Likely

    It’s a hidden secret, the wilderness road trip from Wells to Likely, through the Cariboo Mountains in British Columbia. I wasn’t bored for a minute. It was not only the magnificent mountain scenery, lakes and waterfalls which took my breath away. The road has other surprises like a deserted resort at Cormet Falls and the most amazing coffee shop at Cameron Ridge.

    Start on Highway 26 and look for the turn-off to Bowron Lakes Provincial Park between Wells and Barkerville. Take the right turn a short distance after the bright coloured Wells kiosk. Stay on 3100 Road to Likely, and the adventure begins.

    The drive from Wells to Likely takes at least 3 1/2 hours, depending on road conditions and how often you stop on the way. It took me most of the day! Make sure you have sufficient gasoline in your vehicle, as well as food and water.

    Follow the bright yellow “Site” signs and you will get to your destination. Each sign tells you the distance to the next Site.

    Wilderness Road Sign

    IMPORTANT – You will be driving through a vast wilderness area outside park boundaries. The roads and camping sites are not regularly maintained and can be rough.  Read the brochures which are offered at the tourist information centres. Directions are not always clear. Signs can get damaged or disappear due to harsh winter conditions.

    Commet Creek, A Deserted Resort

    Commet Creek - deserted resort

    I was told that there was a resort along the way and a place to get coffee and desserts. I quickly found out that it was not at Commet Creek Resort where I would get coffee and dessert. This place was deserted. Close by I checked out the Comet Creek Falls. Later I found out, the Comet Creek Resort used to be a hunting camp. It was kind of sad to see this place being abandoned. I wonder whether it will come back to life again, one day!

    Cariboo Mountain Park

    You get to the Cariboo Mountain Park after driving about 70 km of gravel road from Wells or Barkerville. The park is undeveloped and accessed only along active logging roads. Drive with caution and with headlights on at all times.

    Everyone looking for true wilderness, here you have it! The park is currently not used a lot but offers extensive opportunities for real backcountry adventures.

    Cariboo Mountain Park

    Ghost Lake and the Waterfalls

    You have to leave the main road and drive another 4 km, marked by signs, to get to Ghost Lake and the Falls. Expect a rough trek with potholes and rocks all the way to Ghost Lake. Once you arrive you will agree with me, It was definitely worth the drive.

    Vehicle access camping is possible at Ghost Lake, a remote site with lake views and views of the surrounding mountains.

    The small User Maintained Campground has a parking lot, an information kiosk, and pit toilets. There is no water supplied here and make sure to carry out all your garbage if you decide to camp. Ghost Lake offers excellent fishing. Make sure you have the right fishing licence.

    Ghost Lake Waterfalls

    Ghost Lake Falls are a must see. There are two waterfalls at Ghost Lake.  The lower falls are near the entrance to the campground just while you go across a bridge.

    The upper waterfall, Matthew River Falls has access from behind one of the campsites near the parking lot.

    Ghost Lake Sign

    Boat Access

    An unmarked trail from the Ghost Lake campground leads to the lakeshore of Ghost Lake. It’s easy to carry a canoe or kayak down the trail if you like to do some boating on the lake. You will be rewarded with incredible views of the Cariboo Mountains and impressive rock formations. A few spots along the lake are suitable for wilderness camping.

    Ghost Lake Cariboo Mountain

    Caribou Mountains Provincial Park is a true wilderness paradise with high mountain peaks and glaciers, beautiful lakes and lush wetlands.

    Cameron Ridge Bungalows And The Chocolate Moose Cafe

    A luxury highlight of my wilderness road trip awaited me about 1 1/2 hours before I got to Likely. The “Chocolate Moose Cafe” sign couldn’t be missed. I turned towards the paddock and the horses and parked my car. Walking up the hill I arrived at Cameron Ridge Bungalows and the much anticipated “Chocolate Moose Cafe”.  What a view!

    This place was a piece of luxury paradise in the middle of an untamed wilderness. The coffee and cheesecake tasted fantastic. I sat with Chris, the owner for a while taking in the spectacular view of the Cariboo Mountains. We had lots to talk about, Chris and me, realizing that we had lots in common. We exchanged email addresses before I left.

    Chocolate Moose Cafe

    If you ever come this way along the famous Gold Rush Trail make sure to stop in. Spend a couple of days if you can. Cameron Ridge offers trail rides, guided hiking, cabin rental, use of hot-tub with an amazing view, and lots more.

    Backroad Resort - hottub

    Cariboo Lake and On To Likely

    After leaving Cameron ridge Bungalows the road descends into the Cariboo lake Valley. At 8412 marker you are at Ladies Creek Recreation Site on Cariboo Lake. Cariboo Lake, which is a part of the Cariboo River, is located about 24 km before you get to Likely. The lake is known for excellent fishing.

    Cariboo River

    Further down the road, I crossed the Cariboo River on the wide wooden bridge. Cariboo Falls a 2 km side trip at a left-hand turn off besides the 15 km marker.

    I drove a few small hills and passed a couple of old log cabins before I cross the Cariboo River again. After that, the road climbed up to Poquette Pass alongside Poquette Lake.

    When you got to SITE L and saw the Likely kiosk I knew that it wasn’t long before getting to a paved road.

    Recreation Sites and Camping

    FREE Camping! All campsites are user maintained.  This means no one will come and clean after you. Make sure to pack out your garbage and leave the camping areas clean for the next campers.

    Whisky Flat Recreation Site – 14 km from Barkerville,  3 campsites. Perfect base to explore the back roads and Yanks Peak

    Caribou River Provincial Park – Walk-In/Wilderness Camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided.

    Cariboo Mountain Provincial Park – Vehicle accessible campsites, 5 small sites. Additional vehicles can park in the parking lot. Close to Matthew River Falls.

    Ladies Creek Recreation Site – 6 large private campsites and boat launch next to Cariboo Lake. If the campground at Ghost Lake is full or if you would like a more private campsite, try camping at Ladies Creek.

    Geocaching

    The Likely area has many geocaching sites. If you’re planning a treasure hunt visit the official Global GPS Cache hunt website.

    Grouse Backroad Likely

    Practical Tips and Warnings

    • The wilderness road between Wells and Likely is seasonal, usually open from June to October
    • Travel time minimum 3,5 hours, depending on your vehicle and road conditions.
    • The road summit is close to 1,219 m, mountain views are over 2,133 metres
    • Gas stations are in Wells and Likely.
    • A spare tire is a must!
    • Watch out for logging trucks and heavy equipment using the road.
    • Weather can change quickly, especially in the mountains.
    • The road can turn very muddy in wet weather.
    • Leave the area you visit undisturbed and carry out your garbage.
    • Obey signs, keep to designated trails.
    • The area is home to cougars, bears and other wildlife. Do not get too close and don’t feed wild animals.
    Backcroad wide bridge
    Cariboo Mountain Park

    Have you travelled on the Gold Rush Wells/Barkerville to Likely or the other way? Let me know about your experience with a comment below.

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    Other Road Trips in the Cariboo

  14. To-Do List Before Travelling To Canada

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    This used to happen to me too. A few weeks before a big trip you start to wonder whether you’re ready for this, the big adventure, the unknown.

    All these questions are invading your brain. “What if…?” “What when…?” Don’t worry, those feelings are totally normal. To have a to-do list before travelling will keep you focused and make you more relaxed.

    Add to the to-do list before travelling whenever you think of something you should do before leaving home. As you get ready and work off the list, your confidence will improve and so will your excitement for what’s coming.

    Trip planning has to be taken seriously if you want to get the most out of your trip. Even a seasoned traveller is advised to have a to-do list before travelling to eliminate unnecessary travel stress.

    Make Sure Your Passport is in Order

    Of course, you know this already, that without a valid passport you won’t get very far. To avoid any hassles at Canadian customs, make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months before its expiration date. If you come to Canada for longer than 6 months, the passport should be valid at least until the day after you intend to leave Canada. Also, find out what kind of visa you will need to enter Canada, which will depend on your Nationality.

    Make A Copy of  Your Passport, Travel Documents and Credit Cards

    To have digital copies of your passport, travel documents, and credit cards is a good idea.  There is always a chance that something gets stolen or lost when you’re on the road. I always scan my travel documents to have a copy myself and I leave another copy with a family member or a friend.

    Get a Credit Card if you haven’t got one already

    Don’t come to Canada without a credit card. Whether you rent a car or book accommodation you will need a credit card. Credit cards and ATM offer the best exchange rates. Pick a card with low foreign transaction fees. I suggest that you have a credit card, an ATM card and some cash in Canadian dollars when you arrive in Canada.

    Tell Your Financial Institutions about Your Travel Plans

    Let the bank and credit card Companies know that you are travelling to Canada. This ensures that your credit card and ATM card will work when you’re on the road.

    Take Care of Your Household Needs

    Cancel newspapers, hold your mail delivery.

    Automate Your Bills

    Go paperless and set up online bill payments if you go for a longer trip. This ensures that you won’t miss any payments when you’re away from home.

    Get an International Student Identity Card

    Students should get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) for discounts throughout Canada. Backpackers planning to stay in official HI hostels should also get an International hostel Membership card.

    Buy Travel Insurance

    Don’t save on Travel Insurance! Most health plans won’t cover you overseas.  Medical services in Canada can break your bank account if something unexpected happens and you don’t have coverage. Medical treatment for non-Canadians is very expensive. Travel insurance also covers you when your flight is cancelled, a family member dies and you have to come home, or something gets stolen.

    Make a List of Valuables

    Make a list of your valuables that you’re taking on your trip, like electronics. Take photos of your items and write down serial numbers. This will serve as a record for your insurance company and police should anything be stolen.

    Sign up for a Skype Account

    Thinking about communication is important to be on the to-do list before travelling.

    Calling cards used to be the way to save. Now we have Skype to avoid high international roaming charges. Create a Skype account for free. Skype allows you to chat, talk or video chat over the Internet with other Skype users for free.

    Download WhatsApp

    WhatsApp is a widely used app for travellers to keep in touch with family and friends. This messaging app lets you text, chat, share media and includes voice messages and video and is available for Android and other smartphones.

    Check on available Travel Apps For Canada

    Download any apps you might want to use on your trip, such as translators, maps, camping apps.

    Check Your Driver Licence

    Foreign driver licence issued in English or French are accepted to drive in Canada. If your licence is in another language, you will need an International Driving Permit.

    Read about Canada and Invest in a Travel Book

    To have a good guidebook is essential. What kind of book to purchase depends on the provinces you want to visit in Canada. You find some of my favourite travel books on Travel Resources.

    Get a Map of the Area You’re Going To

    I love maps and can study them for hours. Get yourself a map of the area you’re planning to visit in Canada and study it. Get to know the main destinations and try to plan a travel route. It doesn’t mean that you have to stick to it once you arrive, but having a rough idea helps.

    Think about your camera

    Make sure that your memory card is big enough and pack extra batteries. There will be situations when you don’t have access to power. You don’t want to experience want what happened to me in the Canadian Arctic. I was snapping pictures during the short flight from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean. When I left the plane, the battery on my Nikon was dead. Fortunately, I had my cell phone to take some pictures, but the quality of the pictures I took was not the best; it was extremely disappointing. Coming all this way to Tuktoyaktuk, a once in a lifetime destination, and not having my camera working made me sad.

    Once you have crossed off all that’s on your to-do list before travelling to Canada, you’re ready to board the plane!

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  15. Top 5 Epic Gravel Travel Highways In Canada’s North

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    I like off the beaten track places, places where not everybody goes. Since travelling has become available almost to everyone and many awesome travel destinations are packed with tourists, I started to look closer to home.

    With Canada as my home, I don’t have to go halfway around the world to experience wilderness, culture and natural beauty at its best. Yukon and Northwest Territories are a paradise for gravel travel the lonely, northern roads.

    From my 8,500 km northern road trip this summer, I truly enjoyed 2,200 km gravel travel the most.

    The famous Alaska Highway is the main route to the North. It winds through historic communities, Kluane National Park and through Yukon’s capital of Whitehorse. You don’t need a 4WD to travel the Alaska Highway and it’s perfect for road trippers travelling with campers and RVs.

    If you are like me and you want to travel the gravel travel highways, a 4WD is a must. In addition, you should carry two spare tires and extra gasoline. You need to be prepared to drive any of the gravel travel highways I mention in this blog. Check out Wilderness Road Trip Planner for extra tips.

    In Canada, we call them Highways

    First of all, I had to change my perception of the word Highway. All highways in this article are gravel roads. The experience you will have driving any of them depends a lot on the weather. Potholes are normal but much easier to deal with when the road is dry. My main concern was the mud and I had lots of it because of heavy rain.

    If you are adventurous and prepared for gravel travel, don’t miss out on an experience of a lifetime.

    1. Dempster Highway

    Gravel Travel Dempster Highway to the Arctic
    Dempster Highway to the Arctic

    Probably Canada’s most epic road for overland gravel travel is the Dempster Highway. This 736 km thrill ride is one of North America’s great adventure roads, winding through mountains and valleys, across the tundra and boreal forest.

    Entrance to Tombstone Territorial Park
    Entrance to Tombstone Territorial Park

    The Dempster (Highway 5 in the Yukon, Highway 8 in the NWT) starts 40 km south-east of Dawson City off the Klondike Highway. The road leads north over the Ogilvie and Richardson mountains beyond the Arctic Circle and ends in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories near the shores of the Beaufort Sea.

    Gravel Travel Dempster  Highway driving north towards the mountains
    On the Demster Highway driving north

    The Highway is built on a thick base of gravel to insulate the permafrost underneath. This protects the road from melting.

    The Dempster is open most of the year, but the best time to drive it is between June and early September when the ferries over the Peel and Mackenzie Rivers operate.

    According to locals, the highway is smoother and easier to travel in winter. Be prepared for cold weather and check road conditions before proceeding in winter.

    Look out for herds of caribou mid-September to late October and March and April.

    On the way to McPherson on the Dempster Highway, road sign
    On the way to McPherson on the Dempster Highway

    The Dempster Highway is not a road for the faint-hearted! Prepare yourself for the trip. I suggest visiting the Western Arctic Visitor Centre in Dawson City for up-to-date information on the Dempster Highway before heading out.

    Inuvik also has a Tourist Information Centre and the friendly staff can give you information about road conditions, as well as the best way to travel to Tuktoyaktuk or any other Arctic town.

    For more detailed information about travelling on the Dempster Highway head over to Dempster Highway: Roadtrip To The Arctic.

    2. Of The World Highway

    Top Of The World Highway
    Driving the Top of the World Highway

    Top of the World Highway (Yukon Highway 9) connects Dawson City with the Taylor Highway (Alaska Highway 5).

    The adventure starts with crossing the Yukon River on the George Black ferry from Dawson City. The ferry operates from about mid-May to the second or third week in October. Stay at the Yukon Territorial Government Campground on the West side of Dawson across the river to get a head start in the morning.

    Having survived the Dempster Highway a couple of days earlier I wasn’t sure what to expect driving the Top of the World Highway. It was still early morning when I packed up my dripping wet tent at the Yukon River Territorial campground in Dawson City after a night of heavy rain. Still, I could see a blue streak in the sky and decided to stick to my plan and head for Chicken, Alaska.

    Gravel Travel at its best

    Top of the World Highway lives up to its name. The amazing route climbs quickly from the west bank of the Yukon River. The road winds above timberline for many kilometres and the views are spectacular.

    The road wasn’t in great condition after the heavy rain the night before. Potholes were plentiful, just what I expected. The scenery along the way was spectacular.

    Top of the World Highway - Wildflowers
    Yukon flora

    The Canadian part of Top of the World Highway was seal-coated a few years earlier but most of its surface has reverted to gravel. The going was slow and I made sure to slow down for oncoming traffic. My experience from gravel travel on the Dempster Highway was still fresh.

    The highest point on Top of the World Highway is 1,376 m at the double-ended rest area with an excellent view of the Customs buildings. I didn’t see many cars on the road and was sure glad when I arrived at the border crossing.

    Top of the World Highway Yukon history on a sign
    Top of the World Highway History

    The Little Gold/Poker Creek border crossing from Alaska to the Yukon is the northernmost international border crossing in North America, in the middle of nowhere. The customs official was friendly and interested in my travels and wished me a safe journey… I wondered why. What was there to come?

    Customs is NOT open 24 hours. Make sure you arrive before 8 pm Yukon time.

    Top of The World - Yukon Alaska border
    The Little Gold/Poker Creek border crossing from Alaska to the Yukon

    The Top of the World Highway remains open until the snow falls, but customs closes in the middle of September. The arrival of snow closes the road for winter. After it’s closed you can’t cross the border.

    If you are adventurous you still can drive to Forty Mile and the old town of Clinton Creek.

    Gravel Travel Yukon Alaska border
    Top of The World – Yukon Alaska border

    Additional Notes

    • Time zone change: Alaska time is 1 hour earlier than Pacific time.
    • Gasoline: From Dawson City, the next gas stop westbound is in Chicken, Alaska (174 km) or Tok, Alaska (300 km)
    • Allow plenty of time for this drive. This is a narrow windy gravel road with some steep grades and lots of potholes. Keep your speed down with your headlights on and enjoy the scenery.
    • Driving time Westbound to the border (106 km) is suppose to take around 2 hours, but can be much longer, depending on the weather. It took me nearly double the time.

    3. Taylor Highway

    Taylor Highway - Gravel Travel to Chicken, Alaska
    Along the Taylor Highway towards Chicken, Alaska

    The Taylor Highway is a continuation of the Top Of  The World Highway taking you through gold mining history. Prospectors searched for gold in the Fortymile region well before the famous Klondike stampede of 1897.

    Once you pass through customs into the US you are on the Boundary Spur Road, an excellent paved road. What a pleasant surprise after driving the gravel roads to get here. Unfortunately, the pavement only lasts about 13 miles. After that, the road deteriorates to a narrow, winding gravel road with hairpin curves and with little or no shoulder.

    The condition of the road depends on the weather and maintenance and can range anywhere from good to awful. The Taylor Highway is open seasonally from April to mid-October.

    Wade Junction is the first junction you get to. Keep left for Chicken or right on Taylor Highway for a detour to Eagle.

    The road from Jack Wade Junction to Chicken is gravel and can be a challenge. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

    Side trip North to historic Eagle

    The 65 mile Taylor Highway from Wade Junction to Eagle is similar to the highway between Jack Wade Junction and Chicken: Narrow, winding, gravel and steep drop-offs. This road is not recommended for large RVs and big rigs. Also, keep in mind that there are only limited services and facilities available along the road to Eagle.

    Gravel Travel to Chicken, Alaska

    I didn’t meet any other vehicles on the stretch to Chicken and started to worry whether I was on the right track. Fortunately, a cyclist came along and I waved him down. Dutch Nationality he said, and that it was only another 10 km to Chicken.

    Chicken Alaska services
    Services available in the town of Chicken, Alaska

    Finally, reaching Chicken was such a relief and I was ready for a break. Chicken is a tiny community with a couple of gift shops, a saloon, campground, Coffee Shop and – WiFi!

    Chicken is a good place to stay over as there is a plenty to see and do in this historic community.

    How Chicken Got its Name
    Chicken’s name comes from the early gold miners. As the town grew during the gold rush, the need for a post office meant that residents had to decide on a name for the town. Many wanted to call the town “ptarmigan,” after the large population of this species of bird that lives in the area. But no one could agree on the spelling. So the town of Chicken got its name!
    Welcome to chicken, Alaska
    The Chicken welcome to Chicken, Alaska

    The road is paved/patched from Chicken to Tetlin Junction and was in pretty good condition.

    How you will experience the Taylor Highway depends on your type of vehicle and the weather at the time of your trip. I didn’t have any flat tires or new windshield chips; probably because I’m a cautious gravel travel driver and learned my lesson driving the Dempster Highway.

    The Taylor Highway is often referred to as the stepping stone to the Dempster. I first drove the Dempster, which is another experience altogether.

    Additional Notes

    • Do not trespass on any mining claims.
    • If you do the side trip to Eagle, check your spare tire and make sure you have all the equipment if you get a flat.
    • Go slow when passing oncoming traffic.
    • Camping along the Taylor Highway

    4. The Robert Campbell Highway

    The road is named after Robert Campbell, the first white man to explore the Yukon. Most travellers don’t come this way. Those who do might find the drive as one of the highlights of their trip.

    The Campbell Highway is an all-weather road. The road leads 583 km northwest from Watson Lake to the junction with the Klondike Highway just north of Carmacks. The Campbell Highway is both gravel and pavement with constant road improvements going on. The road can be rough and slippery in winter.

    The distance between Watson Lake and Ross River is 363 km. The Campbell Highway is a narrow winding gravel road with little traffic. There are no services between Watson Lake and Ross River.

    Ross River is home to the Kaska First Nation and a supply centre for the local mining industry. You will find campgrounds and hotels in this town.

    The 220 km stretch of the Campbell between Ross River and the Klondike Highway junction, is mostly paved and in fairly good condition. This part of the highway is more heavily travelled.

    Gas is available in Watson Lake, Ross River, Faro and Carmacks.

    Watch out for black bears on this road and enjoy lake scenery through the trees and bushes lining the road. This is a wilderness drive on a lonely Highway.

    Welcome to Ross River on the Campbell Highway
    Welcome sign at Ross River, Campbell Highway

    Additional Notes

    • Watch your gasoline tank
    • Check the current road conditions in Watson Lake at the visitor centre.
    • Keep to the right on corners and hills.
    • Be prepared for a rough road in construction and watch out for mining areas.
    • Don’t miss a side trip to Faro.

    5. South Canol Road

    The South Canal Road stretches 230 km from Johnson’s Crossing on the Alaska Highway to Ross River on the Campbell Highway with no services along the road.

    Canol is short for Canadian Oil. The road parallels the route of the short-lived oil pipeline from Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Johnson’s Crossing in the Yukon. In 1943 the American army together with contractors built the Canol Road as a supply road.

    The use of the pipeline has long gone but most of the road remains. The old wrecks along the way remind us of times gone by.

    During summer the road gives you access to the wilderness of the south-central Yukon. It follows ridges and often takes you above the tree line providing amazing views. You travel through the Pelly Mountain region through boreal forests and alpine tundra.

    The area is the traditional territory of the Kaska and interior Tlingit First Nations.

    Camping is available at Quiet Lake Campground at 77 km.

    Toss River turnoff

    The South Canol Road is narrow and winding with rough sections. Occasionally, the road closes due to washouts.

    In good weather and perfect conditions, it will take you about 4 hours one way. Inquire about road conditions before heading out.

    Additional Notes

    • The Canol Road is not recommended for large RVs or trailers.
    • The Canol Road is not recommended for any vehicle in wet weather.
    • Drive with headlights on at all times.

    North Canol Road

    The 232 km North Canol Road is also a windy, narrow, rough road with possible washouts and no services. Inquire about the condition of the North Canol Road in Ross River. The North Canol Road ends at the Yukon / Northwest Territory border, where you should turn around.

    The distance from the border to Norman Wells it is 372 km unusable road and not suitable for any vehicle. This part is known as the Canol Heritage Trail which was designated by the Northwest Territories government.

    Related Links


    Have you travelled any of the Gravel Highways? Let us know about your experience with a comment below.

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