One of the main reasons to come on this holiday or at least one of the things that got me working out the route we’d take was ‘The Hill’. I’ve mentioned it in previous posts but basically it’s a long stretch of Highway 20 going through the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park that is unpaved (packed gravel) and was the steepest in Canada (not sure what is now because this baby is STEEP) with sections at 18% gradient. You have two choices, go up or come down, depending on whether you’re going to Bella Coola or leaving Bella Coola. When I organised the trip I decided that I’d rather go up than come down, mainly after seeing some videos on YouTube. I’m going to say here and now that it was a good decision because after the amount of rain we’ve been having I really wouldn’t want to come down it.
It starts off quite nicely and then things turn nasty quite quickly. Really sharp hairpin bends with a sheer drop on one side, or narrow sections that seem insanely steep and you hope that you don’t meet an 18 wheeler coming down as you’re going up. And yes, big trucks do go up and down, we met a driver at the lodge yesterday morning. He told us it’s much better now they expanded sections to one and a half lanes wide rather than one lane !!!! At this point I’d normally put some nice photos in to illustrate the road in question but as I was driving and Amanda spent most of the time saying “I can’t look” or “OH MY GOD” or ‘Please move away from the edge”, we don’t seem to have many photos. She did manage to point my iPhone vaguely in the direction of the car window so I’ll check those later and perhaps post a couple. I did stop the car at one point when I felt it was safe and as I turned back to the car to get back in I saw the mess that the road had made of what was a shiny new Jeep Cherokee. Then I noticed that the back of my jeans had the same mud caked to it which I’d gotten as I slid down from my seat. Afterwards I also noticed that the inside of the car was filthy too, my shoes were caked in that same brown stuff. I think I’ll have to get this cleaned when we get to Whistler more to protect our clothes than anything else. We were passed several times by what I can only assume were locals as they were driving at crazy speeds (over 10 mph). I was happy to let them on their way. I’m not sure but a might have been overtaken by a snail at one point.
I just viewed Amanda’s attempts at taking photos on my iPhone while I was driving. She took what we thought was a video clip of us going up a particularly steep hairpin bend. I’ll post the resulting 4 second masterpiece later. It consists of the dashboard and her asking how to turn it off. The photos are almost as bad but I’ll put those up too. I warned her that we’d have to return and do it again so we can get some good photos. She’s still not woken up.
Once over the worst part, we stopped alongside a river where another couple had the same idea. They were German and were going in teh opposite direction ie down the hill. I warned them how steep it was but that Germanic stare soon established that I was merely an inefficient British person and that Teutonic driving skills would prevail. I’m sure they did fine.
After we left the nice German couple we thought we’d done the worst part and it was surely going to be a nice tarmac road from that point on. We were so very wrong. There was still hills, though not so steep, sheer drops and no sight of beautiful flat black tarmac roads for what seemed like a long long time. When we did reach civilised road surfaces it felt like you were driving on cushions, it was lovely. Never say a bad thing about British roads again. We saw a herd of wild(ish) horses on the road and some black tailed deer and some cows and some dogs. These don’t make up for not seeing bears however.
Finally we arrived at Nimpo Lake. The ‘resort’ is really an RV park with six motel rooms and a few cabins. I wish I’d booked a cabin as they look really nice, but the motel room is clean if basic, but it’s real selling point is the location. It sits right on the shore of the lake itself. We’re looking forward to sitting outside later and hopefully seeing a lot of stars as there’s nothing else around us. Of course that means that it’ll be cloudy and we’ll also hear that there was a lot of bears in Bella Coola just after we left.
Tomorrow, we were supposed to drive to Williams Lake and stay overnight. Amanda decided that we would be better off having a marathon driving day and go straight to Whistler and have an extra day there instead. So we made the relevant phonecalls using Skype (no working payphone and no mobile service) and tomorrow we embark on a 10 hour drive to Whistler. On a side note, when Amanda called the Four Seasons in Whistler we were told that the room rate had gone down since we booked and would we like to upgrade and keep the same price or have our room cheaper? As we’re staying an extra night we picked the cheaper option, but it was great to be asked. We’re not convinced that the Celtic Manor (other hotels are available) would even lower their prices let alone let you that they did of you booked in advance.
Right, where are those stars?