Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, international travel has ground to a halt and our international travel plans have been cancelled. Because of this, many of us have been on some adventures closer to home that we might never have experienced otherwise. It was a real silver lining, in the midst of the pandemic, for our Wells Gray Tours team to spend more time exploring our province over the past few months. I’m guessing it was the same for many of you. We also collectively spent a lot more time gardening, hiking, biking, visiting places in our own towns, and having outdoor socially-distanced visits with family and friends.
Here are some of the adventures our staff embarked on this summer:
“By the time September rolled around this year, I still had a week’s worth of holidays to take. My boyfriend and I had been intending to do a camping and hiking trip to Cathedral Provincial Park the past few years but timelines and holiday schedules just never lined up. Enter the Pandemic. It seems this year was very easy to find the time to book holidays that lined up not only with each other but with several of his family members. The best part about this trip, it would all be outdoors and all socially distanced. Cathedral Provincial Park is in Southern BC and the access road is private so you just pack up your gear, book a time for the old jeep to pick you up, throw on your mask for the ride, and off you go. There is a lodge at the top and plenty of campsites to choose from along various lakes. We set up basecamp at Lake of the Woods and spent the next four days hiking. Views were breathtaking and all other stresses of the world just melted away.”
“I accidentally became a mountain biking addict this past spring. A couple of my good friends lent me a bike and took me on a short ride at Kenna Cartwright Park in Kamloops at the end of March. They had always been trying to get me to come out, but I never really had the time due to our busy spring and fall weekends with the Air Cadet Gliding Program, and summer travel of course. A few weeks after that first ride, one of my friends ended up buying a new bike and sold me their old one. Since then I’ve put 700 km on the bike, riding the amazing trail networks around Kamloops. One highlight was biking at the Candle Creek network in Clearwater, where I have cross-country skied many times but had never explored on two wheels! We had so much fun hooting and hollering our way down the trails. Another highlight was completing a silly challenge to ride all the trails at the Pineview network in Kamloops. Fourteen hours later, after 72km travelled and 2500m elevation gained, we were the first to ever complete the challenge (apparently)! If it wasn’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, I never would have had the time to take up mountain biking and add this new chapter to my life. This is the fittest I’ve been since I was a teenager!”
“Working in the travel industry definitely means you have the travel bug! You know the one I mean! The one that makes you constantly dream of new destinations and makes your heart ache for the next trip. I almost always have at least one or two trips in the works, so needless to say, it was difficult when travel everywhere came to a halt. But as the saying goes “with challenge comes opportunity”. Being on lock down of course had its challenges but it also presented new opportunities. I finally found the time to relax, reflect and prioritize. I was able to spend more time doing many of the things I love, including yoga which kept me grounded and grateful. By the time summer rolled around I felt truly renewed and more excited than ever to explore! As British Columbia started to open up again, I started planning. Lucky for all of us living in BC, we were able to travel close to home and we have endless places to explore. My husband and I spent five days on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast eating delicious seafood, mushroom foraging, and beach-combing. I also spent an amazing three-day weekend hiking in Wells Gray Park with three of my best friends. Normally, it would almost be impossible for all of us to find a weekend that we are all available, but since no one has too many plans these days it was very easy to plan this year! We had such an amazing time that it is now going to be an annual tradition. We have already booked our weekend for next year and have already started the planning! I also enjoyed another ladies weekend in Whistler. We did some amazing hiking and we treated ourselves to the Scandinave Spa! This might be my new favourite spot. If you are in Whistler this is an absolute must. You can spend up to three hours enjoying all the hot and cold plunge pools and saunas. Wine is also one of my favourite things and I was able to spend two weekends wine tasting on the Naramata Bench this summer. With over 40 wineries to explore in Naramata, I was not able visit them all in two weekends, so I look forward to spending more time there again soon. Travelling may look and feel slightly different but staying close to home has never felt so good, it was a summer to remember!”
“We explored a new part of BC this year, heading north to Green Lake for some camping. Green Lake is near 70 Mile House, a town we had previously only passed through. Our new experiences included visiting the local ‘Sugar Shack’, a French-Canadian eatery known for its poutine and maple products. My family got the chance to use our French too! My husband and I explored the local bike trails near 100 Mile House. Biking is a new sport for me this year, one that I have fallen in love with! We also adopted our Golden Retriever ‘Cho’ this year. I think she enjoyed camping the most as she loves swimming, biking, and hiking.”
– Pam S.
“My husband and I were always curious about Bamfield but had never taken the time to go. Since California wasn’t something we could do, this was the year to do it. We spent the night on an old mine sweeper in the Alberni inlet which served a fabulous Moroccan dinner. We took the Francis Barkley through the beautiful Alberni inlet to Bamfield. We enjoyed this quiet, remote, and very friendly community. Bamfield is unique that the community is divided by the inlet and served by water taxi.”
“I am an avid mountain biker and love to combine a holiday with mountain biking trails. Because of Covid-19 I had no tours this summer, so I was able to go on not one but two longer mountain bike holidays, as well as a few shorter ones. How fortunate are we that we live in such a beautiful part of the world and have all of British Columbia ‘in our back yard’! I loved the trip I took with a friend along Highway 16. After a short stay in Prince Rupert (no mountain biking trails, but a beautiful city to visit), we found gorgeous trails in places like Terrace, Smithers, Hazelton, Burns Lake, Prince George, and Valemount. Burns Lake was one of my favourite networks. It was so gratifying to reach the top of a trail and have such a beautiful view as my reward! Of course, the reward was also the fun ride down!”
“My husband, daughter, and I moved to Toronto in the fall of 2019, right before the pandemic began. We hadn’t spent much time in Ontario before our move and we knew very little about what was nearby. With our summer plans to visit family and friends in BC shelved because of Covid-19, we set out to explore our new province. In just a few short months we visited Prince Edward County, Parry Sound, Muskoka, the Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin Island, and the Kawartha Lakes. Needless to say, we are now a LOT more knowledgeable about Ontario than we ever would have been without the restrictions Covid-19 provided. We fell in love with some of small towns and quiet lakes and are planning many more trips. One of my favourite moments this summer was an early morning visit to Bridal Veil Falls near the town of Kagawong on Manitoulin Island. After a short walk through the forest, we arrived to find we were the only ones there and enjoyed a private swim in the river under the spectacular falls.”
– Pam J
What about you? Did you discover anything new or visit any favourite destinations you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!