On the Ropes - Tom Roper

On the Ropes - Tom Roper

Cross one off the bucket list; hiking the Spatsizi

Search for the three-toed Spatsizi sloth and other tales from northern B.C.

We all have bucket lists for sure, but this one I packed around for 32 years. Finally it came to pass and did not disappoint. Somehow all the planning and organizing came together and off we went.

I love that corner at Kitwanga where you turn right and head north. Within two hours you are crossing the Nass River and passing Meziadin Lake. Here, four hours from Smithers , on a paved road you can start your staycation fishing and exploring.

If time permits turn left at the corner to Stewart and travel the Glacier Highway to another adventure driving up the mountain to the old Gran Duke minesite, the Salmon Glacier and viewing bears on Fish creek.

I love going up to that country. But let’s turn right at the corner and head north. Bell 2, Kiniskan, Edontedajohn, and Iskut, names that just demand more exploring.

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We have a destination and a timeline so they will have to wait for another day. Finally, arriving at the airport in Dease Lake we load all the gear and climb aboard, destination Cold Fish Lake. To say I’m excited is a true understatement.

Coldfish has a group of cabins available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a roomy cook shack and even an on-demand propane hot water shower.

The location cannot be described in one word, amazing, spectacular, a truly beautiful place. B.C. Parks oversee the area and have volunteer xgive you all the info for day hikes, fish locations and what animals have been seen lately such as grizzly bear, moose, caribou and even wolves.

Once settled, we convene to plan our itinerary. First off I needed a horse ride and Floyd had been in contact with Collingwood brothers who had a guiding territory and a large pack string. We hiked over to their camp at Bug lake and saddled a few cayuses to get a bit of exercise. Pretty nice setting for a ride below the Spatsizi plateau.

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Next day was reserved for hiking starting with an ascent of the plateau proper. We were challenged, but up for it.

Take this setting and then climb up another 1,000 feet and the vistas just keep improving. We were also able to get into Airplane Valley, Gladys Lake Ecological Reserve and Black Jack Mountain.

On the trail, Pete found a branch that was three-pronged and just for fun started making tracks in the mud. Sure enough there were some biologists from Prince George hiking in the area and Pete inquired if they had seen the elusive three-toed Spatsizi sloth.

Good laughs at the dinner table erupted as they described their find.

Collingwoods also had a boat that we could borrow. Good thing Floyd had been making hobbles for their horses for years and I was there for payback time. We all caught some fish and were able to live off the land for a brief moment.

As my wife and I were on a schedule, we were up the next day for a plane pickup and back to civilization.

Our friends had a bit more time and were able to hike over to Hyland post, another Collingwood camp, and get a view of the Spatsizi River and the Stikine.

This is a definite ”Need to do before I die” place to see. It has a reputation as the Serengeti of the north.

Drop me an email or call if you have any destinations you would like to profile. tr.ranch@hotmail.com or 250-877-1806.

Thanks, Tom


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