The Cariboo Highway
The Cariboo Highway runs from Cache Creek to Prince George and is named after the region through which it runs. A lot of the highway follows the route of the Cariboo Wagon Road, which was the main trade route up until the construction of the railways to northern B.C. With a total length of 441km and much of it using sections of the old Wagon Road, at times it really feels as though travelling back in time. It’s important to take the time to stop and read the historical information along the way to really gain a full appreciation for the area.
Part way through Day 3 of my Bikepacking Canada Adventure I left Forrest and starting cycling north on the Cariboo Highway. With hours left of daylight I decided to head north towards 70 Mile House where I would camp for the night. Along the way I went through the town of Clinton, which had an amazing mural painted along a stone wall on the way out of town. Not too far after Clinton was The Chasm, a land feature lying at the edge of the Fraser Plateau which shows the impact and environmental affects of the end of the last Ice Age. After leaving the plateau I was able to make it to 70 Mile House, where I was lucky enough to see a bald eagle fly up from the side of the road as I approached and settle onto a telephone pole.
Day 4 of biking started with me waking up in a tent that was completely soaked, as it was pouring quite heavily. After climbing out of the tent and releasing the 1000 mosquitos trapped under my vestibule. After packing up I went back a couple hundred meters to a big log restaurant that was owned by a Quebecois guy and had an amazing breakfast, coffee with maple syrup and even got a farewell gift of maple syrup in my water bottle. Awesome energy.
Making my way to Williams lake was a relatively easy day. Not too much climbing, except for the big climb up to the Begbie Pass, and another 5km climb at roughly 10% up Fox Mountain to the home of my hosts. It’s good to have friends that know people all over the country.. All in all, a great day on the bike. I didn’t even stop much to take pictures, it all just kind of went by. It was also a bit messed up weather wise, with rain coming and going, causing me to have to stop each time to put on or take off my rain gear. At only 138km and 1145m of elevation, this was a perfect day to take it easy and let the body recover.
Day 5 started with a real late depart from William’s Lake, because my gracious hosts asked me if I would like to stay for breakfast. How could I say no. Once again, I got into such a routine of pedalling that before I knew it, I had gone 115km and arrived in Quesnel, where I went and refueled with some amazing chicken masala and naan bread at a local Indian restaurant. After a quick stop at the grocery store to buy a few more days worth of food, I got back on my bike to continue my way north. On the way out if town I stopped to check out the wood truss bridge which connects the two districts of Quesnel. 10km later it started raining: harder and harder and harder. I found a camp spot 43km north of Quesnel, which brought me up to a 176km day with about 1500m of elevation. And of course since I fount the campsite on iOverlander, it was down some pretty terrible roads and took me nearly an hour to go the 7km to the lake. Luckily it stopped raining just before arriving and I was able to set up camp and eat while keeping dry. I have now got the hang of hanging my food and am able to quickly identify a good location and pop it up there without any difficulty.
Day 6 turned out to be a bit of a rest day, in the most unexpected of ways. Waking up to a pretty heavy rainfall, I decided to wait it out and just stay in my tent. Having met a couple of Quebecois the night before I decided to go ask them if I could re-fill my water bottles. While talking they invited me in for coffee and as we got to talking, they offered to take me to Prince George if I wanted. Seeing as it was raining, and having no internet connection to check the weather report, I decided to take them up on their offer. While driving in to Prince George, I figured I may as well try to find a Warmshowers host for the night. Without much success Matt and Oceania invited me to stay in their camper truck for a night as a break from the tent. Seeing as they were also heading west, we found a good camping spot on iOverlander and drove about 30km west of Prince George before calling it a day. One of the main advantages of this was that I didn’t have to cycle through the “big” city and had a safe place to stow my bike while we went into the grocery store to do some shopping.