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

Book your stay with us.

 

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

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Mahood Falls Canim Falls

Mahood Falls Canim Falls

Kathy and I went exploring recently to checkout some water features of Wells Gray Park that we had not yet seen, Mahood Lake, Canim Falls and Mahood Falls. We had sometimes seen Mahood Lake in the distance from elsewhere in the forestry management unit but opted to go check it out today.

Mahood Lake

Stretching 21 Km in length, and having a maximum width of 2.2 Km, Mahood Lake is more than 195 metres in depth at its deepest. It is fed by the Canim river which has its source in nearby (to the west) Canim Lake. The Mahood River drains the lake at it’s opposite end and flows into the Clearwater River. We didn’t have time to check it out but the lake is reputed to have excellent fishing.

There is a provincial park at the lake with campsites, a beach, a boat launch and more. It is nice enough but the real gems are to be found on a short waling trail just inside the park boundaries. A 2 km return trail takes your to two beautiful waterfalls, Mahood and Canim. Our destination waterfalls are located on separate arms of the Canim River. Canim is a first nations word meaning a large canoe.

 

Mahood Lake, Wells Grey Provincial Park. Photo public domain from Wikipedia

Mahood Lake

Along the trail you will see some amazing canyon views as well as piles of lava boulders that could easily be imagined as the remains of an ancient mythic fort. I am almost certain that in the noise of the nearby waterfalls there might have been the sounds of an ancient dragon.

This could be the perfect spot for taking some fun outdoor group pictures.

 

A pile of crumbling boulders or the remains of a mythic fortress?

A pile of crumbling boulders or the remains of a mythic fortress?

Mahood Falls

An easy 1/2km walk along a forested trail leads you to the first of this pair of jewels, Mahood Falls. This 20 meter falls is tucked discretely through the forest. Like Canim Falls it has carved its way through layers of volcanic lava from the Clearwater Volcanic Field.

 

Mahood Falls cuts through layers of lava in Wells Grey Provincial Park

Mahood Falls

 

Canim Falls

Another easy 1/2 kn walk brings you to Canim Falls. Slightly taller (25 meters) and far wider than Mahood, they are impressive. The water cascades over a wide span and has carved a deep long canyon through the lava field. The dual cascades give the illusion of there being two falls.

A view of the split Canim Waterfall upstream of Manhood Lake in Wells Grey Provincial Park .

Canim Falls

 

The crumbling lava pile between the two cascades (seen in between them), and the deep caves behind the falls, give evidence to the relentless water power at work here.

Waterfalls downstream from the main falls.

Side falls. Do they come from the river above or are they sourced underground? It was impossible to tell from our vantage point.

As well as the two main cascades there are numerous smaller spouts coming out of the canyon face. Do they flow from cracks in the lava walls where the river comes in or are they from an underground source? Either way they were a pretty bonus on our trek.

Getting There

Mahood Lake Provincial Park is located in the southwest corner of Wells Gray Park. It can be accessed by travelling about 65 km of gravel forestry service and logging roads from Clearwater. It is also accessible from near 100 Mile House via mixed gravel/pavement or from the InterLake Region off of Highway 24.

The falls are located just inside the provincial park boundary, signed on the left hand side of the road with a pullout parking area on the right. Both are located on the same easy hiking trail, with Canim Falls at .5km and Mahood Falls at 1 km.

 

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

WHAT IS THERE TO DO

What is There to do?

What is there to do in Clearwater, B.C.?

What is there to see?

What can we do?

Those questions or some variant of them are often asked by our guests. Stay for days and be kept busy all the time, because there are so many things to see and do. We’ve been visiting Clearwater for 15 years and lived here for 3 and haven’t exhausted the list yet! Explore on your own, as a family, as a group or as part of an organized tour. Clearwater has it all.

Wells Gray Park

We would be remiss if we didn’t start with the pristine wilderness of Wells Grey Park. A big plus over the national parks is that there are no visitor fees.

Wells Gray Park is half a million + hectares of pristine wilderness with waterfalls roaring off of lava cliffs, hiking trails, wildlife, streams, rivers, glaciers, and more. Evidence of more types of volcanic activity are found here than any other place on earth. Volcanologists come from around the world to study here.

 

What id there to do? Check out Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Park, one of Canada's highest waterfalls

Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Park, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. Cuts through hundreds of feet of volcanic lave.

Take a flight over Wells Gray Park and see the area as few people ever have. Scenic flights can be arranged.

While the Park is indeed first class, there is so much more to do in the area.

Other Things to do in the Clearwater Area

What is there to do in Clearwater, B.C.?  Other than enjoying one of the world’s best pristine wilderness parks? Lots!

Ride the wild waters. World class white water rafting and calmer float trips are available on the Clearwater and North Thompson River. We are fortunate enough to have three rafting companies to choose from.

Take a western trail ride. Enjoy the majesty of our wilderness on the back of a horse. From the absolute novice to the experienced trail hand we have somewhere here for you to ride.

What is there to do in Clearwater? Ride a horse. Battle Mountain Equine - Western horseback riding - Find your inner cowboy. Wells Gray Park, Clearwater BC, tourism adventure

Battle Mountain Equine – Western horseback riding – Find your inner cowboy

Test your nerve and go parasailing.

Hike or mountain bike one of the many trails. Country ski or snowshoe those trails if its winter.

Grab your clubs and enjoy a round of golf. No clubs with you? Rent a set.

Fish one of the many rivers and lakes. Be sure to check out the regulations.

Enjoy a relaxing meal at one of our many restaurants or grab a quick bite at one of several fast food places. Try the Belgian Waffles and other treats up at Spahats Falls.

Maybe birding or wildlife viewing is your idea of fun. There are plenty of birds and critters to see.

Join the locals for the Saturday morning Elk’s Club Pancake Breakfast and stroll on over the the Farmer’s Market.

Catch a few rays on the beach at Dutch Lake and enjoy some swimming. There are canoe and Kayaks rentals available.

See the work of local artists and artisans at the Red Umbrella. Perhaps you will find that perfect remembrance of the trip of a lifetime there.

Educational and Cultural Things to do

What is there to do? Get educated. It is always fun to combine a little learning with some fun.

Visit a historic sheep ranch. If you come in the spring there is the bonus of lambing tours.

What is there to do? Check out the sheep

Day old lambs at historic Avenly Ranch. they don’t get any cuter than this.

Tour the fish hatchery.

Visit the Aboriginal Centre and learn about our earliest people. Check out some of the first nations archaeological sites in the area.

On a rainy day pop on in to the local library and enjoy a good book.

Thursday evenings in the summer check out the live music outside at the Dutch Lake Community Center. Be amazed at the local talent.

Check out the stars at one of the stargazing nights. The skies are beautiful.

Check out displays from local artists at Dutch Lake Community Centre.

Special events and festivals happen throughout the summer.

Learn about the geology, geography, flora, fauna and history of the area.

On a Sunday morning there are a number of fine Christian churches to attend.

Check out some of the primitive skills classes that are periodically offered.

 

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.

 

Contact us

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

 

Helmcken Falls – Jewel of Wells Grey Park

Helmcken Falls – The Jewel of Wells Grey

It is no exaggeration to call Helmcken Falls the “Jewel of Wells Grey Park“. Rated by Readers Digest as one of “Canada’s 10 most Beautiful Waterfalls”. Helmcken Falls is the centerpiece to Wells Gray Provincial Park, one of the most powerful waterfalls on earth and one of BC’s prime tourist draws,” says the World’s Waterfall Database. This is truly a must see when you are in the area.

The Murtle River narrows from 300 feet wide just a few kilometres upstream (Dawson Falls) to 75 feet and roars over the lip of the canyon. The water hurtles 462 feet to create a large amphitheatre (one of North America’s largest natural amphitheatre). The bowl is more than 500 feet wide and carves back over 100 feet into the cliff behind the falls.

Further downstream there is a second 50 foot drop which isn’t counted in Helmcken’s official height. The two drops make Helmcken over 500 feet. The volume of spray is sufficient that under the right conditions it can be seen well above the canyon rim.

The view point is some distance from the falls making it difficult to truly appreciate the power and size of the falls. Still, the view is nothing short of awe inspiring. The World Waterfall Database says, “Simply put, Helmcken Falls is unquestionably one of the best waterfalls in all of North America.”

Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Park, Clearwater BC

Helmcken Falls

 

Helmcken Falls in Winter

The water plunges over the canyon rim year round. The spray bowl in winter can exceed 200 feet tall. In recent years ice climbers have discovered the falls and it is rated as the world’s most difficult mixed climb. The falls are accessible year round.

Helmcken falls - Winter

Helmcken falls – Winter

Helmcken – the name

The falls were discovered in the summer of 1913 by by Canadian Government land surveyor Robert Lee in July of 1913. The falls were named for Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken who was active in the early governance of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.

Getting to Helmcken

Take the Clearwater Valley Road (main park access road) 42 kilometers north from the highway in Clearwater, then turn left at the signs for the falls and follow 4 kilometers to the end of the road. A short well maintained trail will take you to the viewing area from the parking lot (approx 5 minutes).

 

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

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

Contact us

Book your stay

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non- smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Clearwater – A Restful Stop

Clearwater – A Restful Stop

Clearwater is a restful stop for those who are doing their Alberta/BC tour. One of the most common comments from our overseas visitor is “If we had known it was this beautiful and peaceful we would have booked to stay longer”.

Tourist come from around the world to explore the beauty and majesty of Canada’s incredible wilderness. Here in Clearwater, we have it all. Majestic mountains. Pristine wilderness. Breath taking waterfalls. Wildlife. Birding. Unspoiled lakes and rivers.

It is with good reason that Tourism Wells Grey uses the slogan “The Canada You Imagined”. We have the things you want to see without all the heavily commercialized tourism that accompanies some of the better known locations such as Banff, Jasper and Whistler. Wells Grey Park has more than 5,200 square kilometres (1.3 million acres) of alpine wilderness.

There are 39 named water falls in what many call Canada’s Waterfall Park. One of them, Helmcken Falls was named byReader’s Digest as one of “Canada’s 10 Most Beautiful Waterfalls”. There are waterfalls accessible year round for your viewing pleasure.

Our guests have called Valley Hideaway “like home, only better”, “a wonderful retreat” and a “restful place to stay”. After the hustle and bustle of packing up every night and driving several hours for the next sightseeing stop, only to repeat the process the following day, they have appreciated being able to have full use of the house and yard and just enjoy.

There are plenty of activities to keep you occupied, sightseeing, hiking, whitewater rafting, parasailing, horseback riding, kayaking and more. In season there are some unique and delightful restaurants. Even in the offseason, there is good food at fair prices although the number of restaurants is smaller. In the off season enjoy frozen waterfalls, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and more. There is never a shortage of things to enjoy.

 

Front view Valley Hideaway Guest House Clearwater

 

Edmonton to Vancouver (or vice versa)

Clearwater is strategically placed for a great stopover when traveling from Northern Alberta to the Lower Mainland. Break the driving in two. Take a stretch, enjoy a meal in one of the local restaurants and get a good nights sleep.

 

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

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

Contact Us

Book your stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Moul Falls a hidden gem

Moul Falls

We continue our exploring the waterfalls of Wells Grey with a look at Moul Falls. Neither as tall as Helmcken Falls or Spahats Falls nor as wide as Dawson Falls, Moul has a unique charm is should be on every visitor’s must see list.

Moul Falls, Grouse Creek, Waterfalls of Wells Grey

Pouring from Grouse creek, spanning 40 feet with a vertical drop of 115 feet, Moul is pretty year round. The crown in this hidden gem is the undercut behind the falls. It is possible to actually stand behind the falls or traverse the creek from behind them.

Accessing the undercut ledge (cave) will mean crossing some slippery, wet rocks and you will likely get wet from the spray. It is worth it (especially on hot summer days), there are few places you can stand behind a real wilderness waterfall. You can photograph the falls from front and behind, just be careful on those wet rocks.

Moul is a little less accessible than some of the other front of park waterfalls as it requires a 6 km round trip hike from the parking area, but is well worth the hike. Like many of the falls in Wells Grey, Moul cascades down where the lava has been eroded to the underlying basalt.

ACCESSING MOUL FALLS

The parking area for Moul falls is approximately 20 km up Clearwater Valley Rd on the south side. After parking, hike through the gate and down the old logging road following the signs. The trail eventually swings to the left and takes you to the falls (distance from trailhead to falls – approx. 3km each way). Note that while the bulk of the trail is a gentle slope, there is a steep set of stairs to access the base of the falls.

Moul Falls, waterfalls of Wells Grey

Stairs to Moul Falls

 

 

Book your stay

 

Contact Us

 

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non-smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

 

Rainy Day – Things to do

RAINY DAY

Spring is on the way and with it comes rainy days. A rainy day, we all have them. You have been hiking all day or just travelling and the rain starts. Maybe you have enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and the rain starts before you head out. What are you going to do?

Rainy day, puddles

At Valley Hideaway Guest House we have plenty to keep our guests entertained.

Kick back in the living room and enjoy a real fire in our wood burning fireplace.

Find something to watch. We have a variety of movies on VHS, DVD and Blue Ray. There is Apple TV hooked up to the internet and Netflix. We have basic cable television. Pop some popcorn and relax.

A cupboard full of board games can keep you amused for hours. Have a family tournament or find out how competitive your friend/partner really is.

RAINY DAY ALTERNATIVES

Don’t mind the rain? Then sit outside under the tall Douglas Firs and enjoy an outdoor fire in the backyard firepit.

Consider going for a white water rafting excursion, after all you are going to get wet anyway. There are three outdoor rafting outfitters in town all with excellent reputations.

Take the hike into Moul Falls. Moul has a feature you don’t often find, you can hike in and stand under it. Why not? You’re wet now anyway.

Grab a fishing licence and take a cast or two. Fish often love the rain. Try your luck for rainbows and kokanee at Dutch Lake. The local rivers are home to more than a dozen species of game fish. There are more than 50 fishable lakes with trout within an hours drive.

Go for a walk in the rain. Let your inner child out to play for a while and splash in some puddles. Watch the clouds change shape and colour as they move over the mountains, the view can change from moment to moment (as can the weather).

Check out the North Thompson Aboriginal Centre, located in the flats of Clearwater.  Visit some of the local shops.

Don’t let a little liquid sunshine ruin your day. Stay inside or head outside, but take charge and enjoy yourself. It’s your holiday, don’t let a little inclement weather ruin it.

Rainy Day, release your inner child, puddle jump

Book your stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House. Open year round … rain or shine.

Winter, spring, summer, fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Valley Hideaway Guesthouse is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises