Hiking the Kettle – Off the Beaten Track.

Hiking the Kettle

The Kettle Rapids, on the Clearwater River, in Wells Gray Park (Clearwater, BC), are off the beaten path and missed by many of the tourists who visit the area. A series of surging, boiling rapids, they are unsafe even for whitewater enthusiasts to run until late in the summer when the waters have subsided, but they make for beautiful sightseeing all summer long. The Kettle is accessible by a short well marked walking trail through old growth cedars. There are several steep stairs so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues but otherwise is an easy trip.

Old Growth Cedar

 

Getting to the Kettle

Travel west off of the Old North Thompson Highway onto Camp Road 2 (adjacent to the Clearwater River, right in Clearwater). Travel .8km until you see the sign for Wells Gray Air on the right. Turn right and travel 7.2 Km where you will see a sign advising travellers with RV’s to turn back. Park at this pullout area. The road in is gravelled but up to this point generally well maintained.

Narrow Road Ahead – Go no further

When the road says “Narrow Road Ahead” … heed the sign travelling past that point is not recommended. The washout just past the sign (where the road narrows to a single lane) is just beginning. At times in places the road can be completely washed out, or strewn with boulders from rock slides, travel past here at your own risk. Travel without a 4 wheel drive vehicle from this point on is not recommended. Up to this point the road is fine.

Continue to walk down the road 100 meters or so from the parking area and you will see the trail head sign. Follow it down to the river and prepare to be awed.

Kettle Rapids Trailhead sign. Turn left here and follow to the river.

 

The Rapids …

My pictures do not do the rapids justice. The Kettle Rapids are a simply stunning must see.

Kettle Rapids on the Clearwater River

Kettle Rapids, Clearwater BC

Book with us

 

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs

Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall .. it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

 

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No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

 

 

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies

It’s June and one of the most spectacular sub alpine flower meadows in the world, the Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies are in full bloom. There is still some snow on the hiking trail (to the knees by latest report, but the view makes it worthwhile. It’s a hike you will remember.

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies June 2019 – Photo courtesy of Marco Bokor. Used by permission

The Trophy Mountain meadows are one of the most easily accessible sub-alpine meadows in British Columbia. The meadows bloom twice each year, in early June it is the brilliant yellow of the glacier Lillies. The same meadows are transformed into a rainbow of colour when mountain daisy, Indian paintbrush, arctic lupine and a myriad of other flowers bloom in late July to early August. Both blooms are breathtakingly beautiful.

The Trophy Mountains

“The Trophy Mountains rise 2,575 metres into the sky, with nine peaks towering over the Shuswap Highlands of southern Wells Gray Provincial Park. Their northern slopes are steep and cloaked in glaciers, while their southern slopes are gentle and dotted with alpine lakes and flower meadows.” BC Parks.

Getting There

From the junction at Highway #5 and the Information Centre, drive north along the Clearwater Valley Road (Wells Gray park Road) for 11.8 km and then turn right onto the gravel road. Travel along this road for 1.7 km and then turn left onto Road 10 (Road 80 on the right leads to an alternate route; for experienced persons only). Continue on Road 10 for 3.1 km before turning right onto Road 201. This road soon enters and skirts up and around a large logging clear cut area. Ignore small branch roads as you travel 4.4 km along Road 201 to where it dead-ends in a parking lot. The trail to the meadows begins to the left of the parking area.

Hiking

From the parking lot a gently ascending trail takes you on a relaxed 45 minute, 1 km., hike to the sub-alpine meadows of the Trophy Mountains. The elevation gain is 200 metres.

The trail winds its way through an old-growth forest of fragrant Engelmann spruce and sub-alpine fir. The small size of these 250-year-old trees attests to  the harsh living conditions at this altitude.

The trail passes several small streams before breaking out into the open expanses of the sub-alpine meadow. In July and August the endless waves of vibrant coloured wildflowers make this one of the most popular hikes in the area.

From the meadow, the trail continues a further 1.25 hours across lichen encrusted rocks to Sheila Lake. The trail ends at the lake, however, an additional hour of uphill climbing will get you to the panoramic views of Skyline Ridge (12 km round trip from the parking lot). These ridges are over 2,500 metres and weather can change quickly, therefore, you should be sure to carry a topographic map, compass, warm clothing and extra food. Maps can be purchased at the Wells Gray Visitor Centre.

Above the treeline, weather can change without warning. Sun fog, rain and snow are all possible, even in July or August. So dress accordingly, and watch the weather. (All directions courtesy of BC Parks. More information and maps are available here.)

Where to Stay

When travelling the North Thompson, when visiting Wells Gray Park and area or when going to Vancouver to Edmonton (or vice versa) stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House. We are open year round.

Book your stay with us. We are open year round.

 

Cannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest HouseNo Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Valley Hideaway Guest House is non-smoking and cannabis Free

 

Winter Summer, Spring and Fall

It takes all year to do it all

In Clearwater

 

 

 

The hummingbirds are back

HUMMINGBIRDS

The hummingbirds are back. Kathy spotted the first one about a week ago and more are arriving daily. From late April until  early May every year these fascinating little birds return from wintering in California, and Central and South America. That is an incredible journey for a bird that weighs somewhere between the weight of a nickel (5 cent coin) and a penny (one cent coin)

Over the season we typically see three species, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, Caliope Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Black chinned Hummingbird. I have also seen what I believe to be a male Anna’s Hummingbird, and a male Caliope Hummingbird but only once.

 

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

Hummers are fascinating to watch. They hover like bejewelled works of art over the feeder enjoying the (dye free) nectar. They dart in and out chasing each other, often resembling a world war 2 arial dogfight… doing high speed acrobatics, the sound of their beating wings like little jets.

Despite their diminutive size, hummingbirds actually have very loud voices. The first time I heard one I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

At Valley Hideaway Guest House we have several feeders placed at strategic places in the front and back yards so that you will have maximum opportunities to watch these tiny, colourful delights.

Hummingbird Trivia

Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures. They’re the only birds capable of flying backwards, and their wings flap between 15-200 times per second.

Hummers not only lap at nectar, they aisles eat small insects for protein.

Many species of hummingbird raise more than one brood of young per season.

Photographing Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds can be tricky to photograph. The best bet is to sit still in the vicinity of a feeder with camera at the ready. They buzz in quickly, hover and lap up the nectar and are gone again. sometimes they take a seat on the feeder and will rest there between laps.

You will need a high shutter speed (because of the speed of their wings), patience and maybe even a little luck.

Birding

The North Thompson Valley, Clearwater and Wells Gray Park area is a treasure trove for birders. More than 200 species have been recorded in the area.  A checklist for species in the park can be found here.  

 

Book Your Stay

Book your stay with us. We are open year round.

 

 

Cannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest HouseNo Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Valley Hideaway Guest House is non-smoking and cannabis Free

 

Winter Summer, Spring and Fall

It takes all year to do it all

In Clearwater

 

Hiking Wells Gray Park

Hiking Wells Gray Park

Are you looking to explore world class wilderness? Then you should consider hiking Wells Gray Park. With over 1.3 million acres of protected wilderness, there is something for everyone, from a simple self guided half day hike to full scale wilderness excursions and mountains yet unclimbed. Much of the park remains unexplored. A giant cave was discovered this year. The cave is  presently closed to visitors at the moment but who knows what the future holds?

Fire and ice  formed and molded this incredible landscape. There are volcanoes to explore, waterfalls to be awed by, gorgeous lakes, unpolluted rivers and more. See one of the largest alpine meadow blooms in the Trophy Mountains. Check out an incredible variety of wildlife and birdlife.

How to see it

There are a number of liscenced guides in the area who will help you explore. Dr Guy Ovenden, a professional wildlife biologist and his team can guide you. Tourism Wells Gray  also maintains a list of contacts for many of the activities in the area.

For those who prefer self guided tours we highly recommend Roland Neave’s book, Exploring wells Gray Park , now in its sixth edition. If you plan on spending more than a day in Clearwater (and we do recommend you stay several days at least) this guidebook is the one you must have. This is the book that Kathy and I use for our exploring. It is available locally, or can be ordered from a variety of sources.

 

Exploring Wells Gray book by Roland Neave. Your guidebook to Hiking Wells Gray Park

Do you have mobility issues?  If so, two of our two most beautiful waterfalls are easily accessible. Both Spahats Falls and Helmcken falls have good accessible access with parking nearby.

In the winter, you can explore on snowshoe or on nordic skis (we have some of the best nordic ski trails in Canada (they are truly an under utilized gem). If mountain bikes are more your thing we also have many kilometres of groomed mountain bike trails to suit the tastes of any style rider.

Winter, Summer, Spring and Fall .. it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

 

Book your stay with us

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

Yellowhead From Edmonton to Vancouver

Yellowhead From Edmonton to Vancouver

Winter driving the Yellowhead from Edmonton to Vancouver (or Vancouver to Edmonton) is spectacularly beautiful but can be tiring. Winter weather can change quickly especially in  mountainous areas, daylight driving hours are less and driving in the winter can be more tiring. Fatigue is a major cause of accidents when winter driving.

To make your trip more pleasant, and safer, consider a stopover in Clearwater, BC. We are located approximately half way between Vancouver and Edmonton on the Yellowhead Route. At Valley Hideaway Guest House we are open year round to meet your accommodation needs and even offer reduced rates in January and February. A good night’s rest and a great breakfast will make your trip both safer and more enjoyable.

If you can spare the time take an extra day or two to enjoy the natural beauty of our area.

 

Highway 5 - Yellowhead BC signage - Edmonton to Vancouver

Yellowhead Highway - travel Edmonton to Vancouver

What To Do In Clearwater in the Winter

Many of our world famous waterfalls are accessible in the winter. They have a beauty all their own this time of year. Both Spahats Falls and Helmcken Falls can be driven to with a 5 minute walk from the parking area to the viewing platforms. You drive right over the Mushbowl enrolee to Helmcken. Dawson Falls is but a short hike.

Snowshoe into Moul Falls. Or enjoy one of many miles of groomed cross country ski trails. The confluence of the North Thompson and Clearwater Rivers is a short hike from town. When there is sufficient snow, the local downhill ski slope is a lot of fun. Its an inexpensive way to spend the day.

Fish for Kokanee and Rainbow trout through the ice, right in town, at Dutch Lake. appropriate BC angler’s licence is required.

Sit back, relax, enjoy a good book in front of our cozy fireplace.

Winter Driving Tips From BCAA

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

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Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Sarlaac Pit

Sarlaac Pit – Newly Discovered Cave

We are excited to learn of the discovery of a previously unknown cave system, tentatively named the Sarlaac Pit (a formal name will be given after consultation with appropriate stakeholders including local first Nations people). This deep cave is located in a very remote part of Wells Gray Park.

The exact location of the newly discovered cave/cavern is being kept under close wraps until such time as it can be explored properly. It is protected by its location (in Wells Gray Provincial Park) and the remoteness of the terrain.

It is believed to be one of the largest caves in Canada and may have never been seem by human eyes before. Informal surveys of long time residents reveal no knowledge of the cave, nor is their any mention in the journals of explorers in the area.`Geoscientist Catherine Hickson, part of the initial exploration team said the team believes no one has explored it previously, and that it may also be unknown to local First Nations due to the fact that it was likely covered by snow year-round until some point in the last 20-50 years.

 

 

Sarlaac Pit – newly discovered cave in Wells Gray Park

 

How Big is It?

It’s humungous … the cave is 100 metres by 60 metres — virtually the same dimensions of a Canadian football field. It’s also extremely deep, extending more than 100 metres underground, with the first 80 metres of that being a straight vertical drop.

Geologist Catherine Hickson said it was luck that the aerial crew happened to fly over the cave when it wasn’t covered in snow. Hickson and a team that included cave experts John Pollack and Lee Hollis spent months studying satellite imagery and preparing to visit the site, before flying into the rugged alpine on Sept. 9 to confirm the cave’s significance.

A huge volume of water flows into the cave from area snow melt, making the lower water flow of  September the prime time for exploration. A more in depth exploration trip is likely in September 2020.

“My immediate reaction was that there can’t be a cave there, it’s impossible,” geoscientist Catherine Hickson, who conducted an expedition to the site in September, told Global News. “It is huge. It is enormous. When you first see it, you just gasp because it’s just this huge hole in the ground.”

Can we Visit it?

The cave is not likely to be readily accessible for tourists because of it remoteness and difficulty of access. The remoteness means that even helicopter flights into the area require special permits. A hike would be a massive undertaking to be done only by people with advanced technical mountain climbing skills.

It does serve as a wonderful reminder though that we are located in one of the few areas of the world that still contains unexplored wilderness. Even some of our world famous waterfalls are relatively recent discoveries. Helmcken Falls was only seen the first time just over 100 years ago. Canim Falls and Mahood Falls were not known until into the 20th century, except for a few First Nations People.

 

Other Things to See and Do

This is the Canada you come hoping to see. Wild, untamed and unspoiled. We are surrounded by pristine and near pristine wilderness. Experience our clear rivers, our many fishable lakes. Stand under waterfalls. Be awed by the height and width of the falls (more than 40 named falls in Wells Gray Park). See the remnants of more forms of volcanic activity than anywhere else in the world.

Raft raging white waters. Ride horseback in the forest. Canoe. Kayak. Ride miles of mountain bike trails. Snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter. Paraglide. Fly over Wells Gray Park. Take in the Farmers Market and local arts and craft vendors.

Soak up the sun and swim at spring fed Dutch Lake beach. It’s conveniently located right in Clearwater. Or try Dunn Lake for a more rugged swim. It’s just a 20 minute drive.

In season see one of the largest subalpine wildflower meadows in the world when you hike the Trophy Mountain Trail.

Fish … more than 50 lakes within an hours drive (appropriate licences required).

Be amazed by the depth of  our local history when you visit the Aboriginal Centre.

 

Are extreme sports your thing?   There are mountains still to be climbed.  In winter there are waterfalls to climb (not to be undertaken by the novice)

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

Book your stay with us.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

 

 

Bedroom Renovations Completed

BEDROOM RENOVATIONS COMPLETED

We have completed the second bedroom renovations.  The room now features two comfortable single beds which are convertible to a large queen size on request. These beds are in addition to the queen in the master guest suite and the double hideabed in the master suite sitting room.

This new configuration gives us far more flexibility when meeting your accommodation needs. The renovations give a room that is spacious with plenty of closet space. It is ideal for two singles or a couple.

 

Bedroom renovations completed.

Newly renovated second bedroom in suite – Now 2 twin beds convertible to large queen on request. Valley Hideaway Guest House, Interior Photos – Clearwater BC

 

The room is presently decorated in our winter decor. The decor is changed seasonally.

Valley Hideaway Guest house is conveniently located just off of highway 5, between Edmonton and Vancouver, (Vancouver to Edmonton) making it the ideal stopover point for those travelling the Yellowhead corridor. Unlike most B&B’s in the area, we are open year round, which is really handy for the winter trek.

Our bed and breakfast is a great spot to stay for a few days and explore the natural beauty of Wells Gray Park and the North Thompson Valley. Our breakfast is second to none, and has received great reviews from guests around the world.

Whether for one night or an extended stay, we look forward to hosting your Clearwater stay.

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

Book your stay with us.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

Perfect Rest Stop

Perfect Rest Stop on Busy Holiday

There is an old joke that says “If it’s Tuesday it must be (fill in the city)” We have all had the holidays where we want to see and do as much as we can in a very limited time. It can be tricky to choose the perfect rest stop on a busy holiday of two, three or even four weeks.

Many of the guests at Valley Hideaway have experienced that very dilemma. They have been hitting the well known high points, Jasper, Banff, Whistler, Squamish and Vancouver Island. At some point in that route they come through Clearwater and book a night with us. The majority of our guests tell us that if they had known how beautiful and peaceful it is here in Clearwater they would have planned for a longer stay.

When travelling your circuit we recommend that you spend at least two nights in Clearwater. There is plenty to see and do and it is also a wonderful place to rest and just digest all that you have already seen.

At Valley Hideaway Guest House we take only one party at a time. That gives you exclusive use of our two story guest area and a full acre of land to wander in. Sit a spell on the rustic backyard swing. Grab a seat under the front yard crabapple tree.

 

Valley Hideaway Guesthouse - crabapple tree front view

Valley Hideaway – crabapple tree front view

Enjoy a fire in our outdoor fire pit (weather permitting) or inside by the woodburning fireplace on a rainy day.

Living room with wood burning fireplace - Valley Hideaway Guest House ( B&B )

Living room with wood burning fireplace – Valley Hideaway Guest House

Stop and smell the flowers (both literally and figuratively). Breathe the fresh air. Enjoy seeing a large variety of birdlife. Watch the squirrels chase each other through the stately Douglas firs.

Get Away

Retreat from the world for a couple of days. Rest up and soak in what you have seen so far. Restore your mind and spirit. Explore the beauty of Wells Grey Park and the North Thompson area.

Some Reviews

What do our guests say? Here is a sample from actual guest reviews…

“Kevin and Kathy are the most warmth and friendly host we ever met, they seemed to leave most of their house to the guest, not only just one room, and those rooms are impeccable clean …” J. Taiwan

“Everything was perfect. There’s no word to describe this amazing stay! We were very sad to leave after only one night!” L. France

“This was not B&B per se, basically we had free use of a whole house. Kevin and Kathy so welcoming and helpful. We felt guilty only staying for one night. It would suit someone wanting a longer stay…. the Wells Grey NP is close by and very pretty.” R. U.K.

“Brilliant breakfast. Best I have ever had in a B&B. Great owners. We could have stayed there for more time, if looking to stay in the area.” A. U.K.

“The hosts were wonderful and made us feel like we were right at home after many weeks of travelling”. E. Netherlands

“Like home …. only better”. S. Israel

Book your multi day stay in Clearwater today, it is the perfect rest stop on a busy holiday. You’ll be glad you did.

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

Starry Nights – Enjoy the northern night sky

Starry Nights

Who doesn’t love starry nights? I don’t mean Vincent Van Gogh’s classic painting, which I confess doesn’t speak to me personally, although it does speak to millions of other people. I mean staying out after dark and seeing God’s magnificent handiwork in the skies.

Living in in urban areas often causes people to lose out on the beauty of the night sky simply because light pollution causes the view of the heavens to be dimmed. The clear skies of Clearwater provide incredible breath taking views.

 

Starry Night - Constellations - Clearwater BC

Starry Night – Constellations – Clearwater BC

 

STARGAZING NIGHTS

Every summer, we have held an evening with the stars in Wells Grey Park (weather permitting). We are excited by a recent announcement from Tourism Wells Grey that this event will be expanded this year.

“In order to improve the visitor experience during the summer, in partnership with Wells Gray Air, there will be Stargazing Nights every Wednesday night at the Wells Gray Air base in Clearwater during the months of July and August. Every Wednesday night enjoy an outdoor movie as the sun sets, then lay back and count the stars! This free event will be open to any and all visitors and community members. More details to come”

 

Starry Nights - Aurora - Clearwater BC

Starry Nights – Aurora – Clearwater BC

 

What a great way to spend a family evening! A free movie followed by some stargazing. Come out and enjoy an evening under the stars.  It’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the multitude of the stars in the northern hemisphere in a new and fresh way. Allow the incomparable beauty of a starry Clearwater night to take your breath away.

The starry night photos on this page were all taken by Mike Lahaie in the past two years and all copyright belongs to him. Used by permission.Thanks Mike for your starry night images.

 

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Book Your Stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House

 

Valley Hideaway is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

 

Retreat, Rest, Explore, Explore

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall … it takes all year to do it all… in Clearwater

 

Clearwater Spring – in Wells Gray Country

CLEARWATER SPRING

Spring is here … okay Clearwater Spring. That means the calendar shows spring as being here and winter has almost fully retreated. There is still snow in the high country and some down here in the valley but it is rapidly melting. If the weather stays as forecast the valley should be relatively snow free in the next week to ten days.

Our waterfalls are spectacular any time of the year. They have a special beauty in late spring and early summer. Water levels are at their peak in that season increasing stare volumes over all the falls. Clearwater Spring has its own brand of beauty.

Buds are popping out on some of the trees. In areas where the snow has left things are greening up. Tulips and other bulbs are peeking out at the side of Valley Hideaway Guest House. Soon more perennials will show and by the end of May the garden will be in.

BIRDS AND WILDLIFE

The spring birds are returning in droves. Once again the back yard is filled with the songs of robins, nuthatches, chickadees and more. In the evening sky you can often here the honk of the Canada Geese or flights of mallard flying overhead. Some will nest here and other will travel many hundreds of miles further north before settling in. The drumming of woodpeckers can be heard as they begin searching for insects that nestled under the tree bark for the winter.

 

Canada Geese in Flight. Clearwater spring is a birder's paradise

Canada Geese in Flight

Clearwater is a birder’s paradise.

The wildlife is beginning to move around, by next month bears will be visible. You can catch sight of bears any time in the spring, summer and fall, but the prime season is mid Mid through June. In the back country you can see both grizzly bear and black bears. Black bears are black by name but come in a wide range of colour varieties including black, brown, cinnamon, black with white chests and more.

 

Black Bear. Clearwater Spring is an excellent time to see both black and grizzly bear

Black Bear

Remember that bears are wild animals and deceptively fast. Be sure to take any photos from safely inside your vehicles and do not approach bears, particularly cubs or mothers with cubs. While bear attacks are relatively uncommon, they are nasty when they do happen. Stay safe.

In addition to spotting bears keep a sharp lookout for a wide range of game animals both large and small. The North Thompson Valley and Wells Grey Park play host to a large number of animals.  Watch for moose, deer, coyotes, foxes, wolves, cougars and more. Also be on the lookout for squirrels, marmots, weasels, beavers, muskrats, rabbits and more.

 

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore