After NWT and a regrouping stop at Ft. Nelson, it’s time for another side trip. Pat’s turn to read about a place we must go, and that place is Tumbler Ridge. We’re on the hunt for chainsaw carvings, dinosaur footprints, and waterfalls. This little detour promises all three!
On The Way
You know we can’t jump right to the good stuff since we have travel tales to tell. This detour involves roughly 115 miles on the aptly named Tumbler Ridge Loop, but first we have to get there. Our original part-way stop was Pink Mountain, but the one site available at the one campground was essentially “in the road”. So much so that we were considering leaving our slides in so they wouldn’t get hit by traffic. Then we put the wheels in motion again instead. This driving day was cloudy, so no eclipse action for us. It was also sad with a dead moose on the side of the road. Pat usually calls out “stuffed animal” so I don’t get teary-eyed about a dead critter, but this was just too big for that to work. Aaaand another windshield chip, this time on the driver’s side. Harumph.
We were rewarded by a deer in the campground at Charlie Lake Provincial Park outside of Fort St. John. It was a nice natural setting like we try to find, but sounded like we were at a truck stop most of the time.
This is a very commercial area with lots of oil and gas activity and the trucks to go with it. My least favorite part of the entire drive so far was this stretch and a bit beyond. And here’s why….
We’re following vehicles like this….
And meeting ones like this… Lots of axles and they are in a hurry. Gone are the stretches of road where we hardly meet anyone along the way.
Chetwynd is our next destination on the Tumbler Ridge loop. We pass through the lovely Peace River Valley. It is beautiful, but there are steep grades and lots of big work trucks coming and going. We soldier on, however, because Pat read about the International Chainsaw Carving Competition held in Chetwynd each year and the sculptures they display all over town. Now this we have got to see!
“On the way” views.
This is the one place where we were turned away. The Chetwynd campgrounds were all full of oil and gas workers, so what to do. Well, they don’t camp at the provincial parks since they don’t have full hook-ups. Since we don’t need that, we back track just a bit to Mobley Lake Provincial Park.
Another pretty spot and Jackson approves. Ahhh, more grass for back scratching.
But on to the main event – chainsaw carvings. We were only here overnight, but that gave us time to stroll around town and see the intricate and amazing work done by carvers from all over the world.
The town has truly embraced this competition and touts itself as a “community carved by success”. The competition is held the second weekend in June each year, and the carvers have 3.5 days to create their masterpieces using a variety of tools including, of course, the chainsaw.
We both really liked Tree Beard from Lord of the Rings even though it wasn’t an award winner.
I couldn’t believe some of the detailed work on these carvings. They all had a story to tell and were carved front and back with markers to note the carving name and any awards won.
This one is called “Building Character”.
A few other favorites. The town has over 160 carvings on display, so we ran out of daylight long before we ran out of carvings.
After our chainsaw carving fix, we set out for the final goal on this route – Tumbler Ridge. Of course that comes with the road construction price again. This dandy stretch was over a mile, completely detouring off the main road and at 10mph was still teeth rattling. This stuff will not be missed!
But, it was worth it when we made it to our Tumbler Ridge campsite.
First real sunset action we’ve had in a while.
And looking the other direction? The sunset rainbow.
Tumbler Ridge is home to some pretty significant dinosaur bone and track discoveries and they have a nice little discovery center to showcase the finds. The only two Tyrannosaurus trackways in the world! I originally thought a dinosaur trackway tour would be in order, but we checked out the track replicas first. I think a lot of fossil discovery is like interpreting an imaging report. If you say that’s a bone, organ, baby, etc., I’ll take your word for it, but couldn’t identify it on my own. Dinosaur tracks and even skin impressions (which they do have here, too) are just the same. I can see a leaf or even a whole fish fossil for that matter with my untrained eye, but actual tracks? Not so much. I remembered this from when we took Ethan looking for dinosaur tracks in Texas. You have to have a good imagination or be an avid paleontologist. With that in mind, we enjoyed the museum replicas and focused our time on waterfall hikes.
Flat Rock Falls
An easy and short hike took us to Flat Rock Falls. The rocks are so interesting and the layers are unlike anything else we’ve seen so far. Flatbed Creek is tumbling over a “resistant layer of sandstone”, says the trail brochure.
Not a huge waterfall, but we found a spot just downstream on the driftwood to sit a spell and take it all in. We’re trying to do better with that instead of just the hike to – there it is – and then turn around for the immediate hike back.
This, my friends, is the thing to see if you are ever in this area. I read about people proclaiming this to be the best sight on their Alaskan adventure (yeah, right), but have to agree it is pretty good. It rained all night before the drive and of course this is a “where the pavement ends” adventure. In fact, 48 kilometers of gravel (30ish miles for you non-metric folk) is required to reach Monkman Provincial Park and home of Kinuseo Falls. So I’m once again doing my laser-like focused drive on the pothole parkway.
This is just the warm-up to the main falls.
Here I am with the real thing, sporting my 4 layers yet again.
Kinuseo Falls – upper view point. The falls measure 197 feet tall, which is just a bit taller than Niagara Falls. Having been to both, I’d say the surrounding area and volume of water makes Niagara more impressive overall, but this spot is more picturesque. And the geology is quite unique.
The photo doesn’t do this justice, but get a load of the S-curve in the rock on the cliff above the falls. Imagine the force required to fold the rock together like that.
View at the very top of the falls, looking downstream, leading up to the falls and then there’s Pat. I took one shot and joked that he looked like a Star Wars Sith Lord with his black hood and red light-saber-walking-stick. So he makes it look good for one more photo op.
And Why Baggie Shopping is Hard in Canada
I’ve been promising and now I’ll tell you why. The metric system, that’s why. Shopping in general has been interesting with the wide variety of things we do and don’t find. But who knew baggies would be confounding? We were in need of 1 quart sized baggies. You see the problem right? No quarts or gallons and not even “sandwich” size. I could at least figure that out. Even the manufacturer doesn’t convert to metric volume. Nope, you get 17.7 cm x 18.8 cm or “medium”. Medium does turn out to be quart, by the way. And gallon is large.
We now turn our attention to kitchen trash bags. We have a small space as you know and use a small plastic trash can in the kitchen area. That requires a 3 or 4 gallon bag, depending on what you can find. Don’t even try to convert that. We ended up with “roommate” size. What the heck is roommate size?! About 4 gallons.
I know I’m way behind, but have Jasper and Banff queued up next so don’t go too far away. The Canada lovelies continue. See you on the way!