One of our suggested detours included going through the Fraser Canyon which made our journey longer and slower but showed us a completely different landscape, the forests disappeared and stark mountains surrounded us as we followed the Fraser River down to Hope.
The first place we hit was Clinton, an old cowboy town, which felt as if time had somehow passed it by and it’s still stuck in the 1950s (with the odd RV driving through). Clinton sits at the bottom of the Cariboo Plateau and covers 0.5 square mile or 360 acres, if you prefer, and in 2006 had a population of 500. As soon as we entered the town, we noticed how many “For Sale” signs there were up on houses, ranches, shops and plots of land – the level of unemployment must be fairly high as it is the only town for miles around and, whilst attempts at attracting tourists is obvious, there isn’t much going on. All the same, I was in heaven as we drove by ranches, miles of grazing pasture, the rodeo ground and saw signs for the Annual Ball, a rodeo and dance, originally formed in 1867 and stood as the highlight of the BC interior’s social calendar for many years. Inevitably, we had to stop and have a look around…
After a wander about, and more scenic route recommendations from locals, we took off again and made our way into the Fraser Canyon. Clinton had still been grassy but by the time we had got past Cache Creek, the land had changed into mountains of scrubland with the odd house perched on top of a cliff. We were high up above the Fraser River running on the left with a fantastic view of the Canyon. It was magnificent but felt very isolated. Not many vehicles but plenty of tumbleweed flying across the road.
We stopped for lunch and a siesta on a cliff edge with a railway track beneath us and the river whirling past.
Another 100 kilometres of lonely mountains and Bob Dylan, we were pleased to get to Yale where the greenery slowly reappeared and everything felt lush, spring-like and full of hope again. Just in time, in fact, to arrive at Hope by early evening and find a spot to sleep in Manning Park. We slept in our first “recreation site” which is a free campsite off the main Highway 3 but tucked away in the bush. I read an information board about the recovery of grizzly bears but decided not to tell Himself about them…best not to worry him! I was pleased we had made dinner 3 kilometres before though so there was no chance of our dinner attracting any bears. We slept well, except for my dreams which were filled with bears prowling around our minivan!
The next morning, I could hear the sound of running water again and so, whistling and singing to myself to let any nearby bears know I was around, I walked down the hill to discover a beautiful river surrounded in forest…it felt like it was straight out of a Twilight film set (I say this slightly ashamed to admit I’ve seen a Twilight film!). Having slept in a car for two nights, I decided it was time to have a good clean and wash my hair so Himself stood by laughing as I screeched and yelped throwing water over my head to attempt to wash my hair!