BLISS AT BIG STICK
A morning mist permeates the evergreen shoreline and cloaks the lake with a mystical veil. A boater slices through it silently. His reel is set, line is cast and he sits, waiting with patience. Shards of sunlight pierce the vapor and reflect off a nearby kayaker as she languidly paddles by. And at the adjacent river mouth a doe takes time to graze.
Big Stick Lake is just one of the shimmering jewels where we chill out during our seven day case of Chilcotin fever. It's a heat of passion that strikes the majority of travelers who pass over this enchanting terrain, sandwiched between Williams Lake and Bella Coola. It’s fuelled by impressive expanses of undulating plateau, the backdrop of snow capped peaks, and the bountiful lakes that lure anglers from afar. When it breaks, it produces a sense of awe, a feeling of humility and the realization that we are all just a small part of the universal picture.
This day is similar to others that we’ve enjoyed along the way. We bask on our private sandy beach until the heat is so unbearable that we’re forced to make a beeline for a refreshing dip. Tiny minnows swarm the shoreline and dart away the moment we invade their space, and a little further afield, the fish leap to the surface like clusters of overactive jumping beans.
“We caught five this morning,” Hank, a neighboring camper reports, “but only kept a couple. After all, how many can we eat?” Snagging these suckers doesn’t seem to be up to the luck of the rod. The lake is literally teeming with the Rainbow swimmers and everyone who has come to fish will definitely leave as happy campers.
Although we don’t have the same keenness towards angling that our Big Stick Lake neighbors do, we take part in sharing information on our favourite Chilcotin lakes. Jeff from Williams Lake recommends the remote oasis of Charlotte while Hank and Betty rave about Kappan, just south of Anahim, where there are scads more Rainbow to reel in.
Lakeside forestry campgrounds are plentiful in the Chilcotin and, although they don’t have the same bells and whistles provincial campgrounds do, they also don’t have any fee. Many are separated from Highway Twenty by gravel roads but the bumpy treks are well worth the solace and seclusion. Each one has lured us with its awesome unique qualities, and although it’s hard to narrow down the best, we recommend Tatlayoko Lake to our camping compadres.
“After heading south from the Tatlayoko Junction you’ll find yourselves cocooned in one of the prettiest darn valleys you’ll ever find,” Brent fondly recalls. “It’s truly one of a kind.”
The Homathco River scores the valley as it weaves in and out of the lush farmlands that scatter over the rolling hills. Along the way, timbered structures share their legacy of pioneer days while melding with modern day venues that offer adventure and accommodation. And hemming in the dusty ribbon of road are the towering granite-faced Niuts, boasting heaven bound spires and pockets filled with glacial remains.
Half a dozen campsites, shaded by mature Douglas firs, are perched on an elevated bluff and are well-spaced for privacy. Each one overlooks the crystal clear Tatlayoko Lake that attracts not only swimmers and fishermen, but also windsurfers when the afternoon breezes blow.
From these picture perfect settings, recreation and soft adventure go hand in hand with life in the Chilcotins. As well as attracting anglers, hikers and horse lovers, both the Chilcotin and the Fraser River boast some of the best whitewater rafting in the province. While bisecting this land, known as BC’s last frontier, these two main arteries boil and froth to the delight of thrill seekers. Along with rapid rides that raise heart rates, there are jetboat excursions for those who feel less hardy. Whether enmeshed in tumultuous wave action, or gliding over their crests, the sightings of California bighorn sheep, eagles, black bear, mule deer and ancient hoodoo formations are all regular occurrences.
As dusk falls, beams from the setting sun ricochet off distant ice fields to display their brilliance. The foreground evergreens transform into jade-toned silhouettes. Loons glide gracefully by, occasionally taking time to dip, dive or call out to their mate. From the same beachside perch we watch it all and feel just as mesmerized as we had earlier in the day. Idyllic, undisturbed, untarnished, just as it’s always been. Big Stick Lake, another Chilcotin treasure.
IF YOU GO:
Photos compliments Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association
#1-Fisherman-are-lured-to-The-Chilcotin - photo by Geoff Moore
#2-Campsite with a private-beach
#3-an-eagle-is-right-at-home - photo by Richard Wright
#4-wildlife-abounds - photo by Geoff Moore
#5-Idyllic-undisturbed-untarnished - Chris Harris
#6-picture-perfect-setting sun- photo by Caterina WoodTravel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.TravelWritersTales.com
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