Saturday is Pastor Jim’s day off, and I took the chance to push farther north. When I was younger I had a well-studied map on my bedroom wall of the northern half of British Columbia. This gave the north a somewhat fabled tinge to my mind, what with its charming place names like Prophet River, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, and Tumbler Ridge. So being this far north, I had to see a little bit more.
I drove out of town on the John Hart highway, my goal being Azouzetta Lake out near the Pine Pass. There was no particular reason for that goal, only that Google Earth told me there were some mountains in the area. The lake was still an hour shy of Chetwynd and the distant Peace River country, which I’d really love to see someday, but I had neither the time nor the money to go that far.
The first two thirds of the trip, from Prince George to the turnoff to Mackenzie, is only slightly hilly without a lot to see. There are some lakes, and they do look fetching in the evening light, but unless you’ve got a strong affinity for pine trees you’ll be tuning out quickly.
A lot of this:
But once the John Hart turns east at the Highway 39 turnoff, the song gets a little more feeling. You’ve seen the southern part of the Misinchinka range a long way off already, from just outside Prince George, actually, and now you’re finally being eased in:
You don’t need to be told that that’s nothing spectacular, and although I was happy to be back among the mountains I was hoping for something a little more. It wasn’t long, though, before I could see fulfillment on the horizon. But first, a stop at the ebullient Bijou Falls:
You can see the peaks of the distant Murray Range from between the peaks of the closer Misinchinkas, and you can tell immediately that there is a qualitative difference between the two. The Murrays come closer, and, of course, every time the view opens up from the highway there’s no shoulder to pull onto. But around a corner you come and suddenly there they are in front of you, sweeping upward with style, right in front of a well-placed viewing area. And below you is the lake you had come to see, with the ice melting in picturesque pockets.
From south to north, from the viewing area: