Monday, September 7, 2015

RandomRoadtrip : BC

So I completed another #RandomRoadtrip earlier this summer
I am quite a bit behind on the photos and posting of it though (as you can probably tell if you are reading this) 
This trip was slightly less random than my Saskatchewan one I completed earlier on this summer though as I was planning it around the attendance of music festivals that occurred on back to back weekends in early July.

A bit of the backstory. So quite early on in the year I decided to purchase a ticket to a festival called BassCoast which occurs annually in Merritt, BC. This normally would have just been a quick trip from Calgary to Merritt and back for the event. I did however apply for photo/media passes to many other music festivals around BC and Alberta as well. And sure enough I was lucky enough to get approved for Astral Harvest which occurs annually in Driftpile, Alberta near Lesser Slave Lake.

And so began the road trip planning (and I use the term planning very loosely).
I booked off a couple weeks from work, punched in my locations to Google maps ... planning done :D

As you can see I had plenty of Canadian soil to cover (not shown are all the additional side trips I added on as they came along). I believe the final tally on my car for this trip ended up somewhere around 3500 km's (2175 miles for any of my American readers).

This post however is not about the photos I took at these festivals, rather the randomness of small town and adventure getting to them. If you are interested in checking out my photos from them please head to my website neilmcelmon.com and explore the Portfolio section.



First portion of the driving was from Calgary to Driftpile (Lesser Slave Lake) which should have taken about 6 to 6.5 hours as I opted to drive along the "scenic" countryside highways instead of the main QE2 which is direct between Calgary and Edmonton. This did unfortunately take a bit longer as I was stuck behind a moving house for a long stretch of the single land highway, yes ... an ENTIRE house moving. Aside from that hiccup, I found there are many interesting and quirky little towns along the route I drove including Barrhead, Fort Assiniboine and Swan Hills to name a few, not to mention plenty of abandoned farming equipment and houses (all great for photos). I opted to get my camping groceries at Swan Hills as I have grown up with friends from that town so I wanted to check it out. Bad choice for a groceries and booze stop as Swan Hills is pretty damn remote, so the cost of products is quite a bit higher than some of the other places I had passed through earlier. Oh well, it was an interesting stop nonetheless. 

Arrive at Astral Harvest ... Photograph Astral Harvest ... Leave Astral Harvest.
After the conclusion of the 4-day festival in Driftpile I proceeded to jump back in the old roadtripmobile (which happens to be a fairly small Chevy Optra 5, good on gas but lacking in pickup ... either way, it gets the job done!) and started my adventure towards BassCoast in Merritt, BC. I made a quick pit-stop once I entered BC in the city of Dawson Creek, not to be confused with that cheesy television show in the late 90's. Aside from being a central spot for oil and gas operations, Dawson Creek is most famously known as being Mile '0' of the Alaska Highway, a road trip I plan to complete on it's own at another point in time which a truck.

Mile 0 Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek

Upon leaving Dawson Creek my goal was to locate a decent place to camp for the night which ended up being about 2.5 hours drive south along BC highway 97 (north of Prince George it's known as John Hart Highway, and south of Prince George it's known as Cariboo Highway). Where I ended up stopping for the evening was a abandoned (also for sale if you're interested) fishing and camping lodge located next to Azouzetta Lake. I figured this would be an amazing place to stop, set up camp and chill for a few hours. I located an absolute beauty of a spot lakeside. Sadly I had to assemble my tent while fighting off hordes of black flies and mosquito's. This being northern BC I shouldn't really be too shocked, but it was enough for me to say fuck it and simply go straight to sleep ... there would be no outdoor chilling on this evening. 
On a side note, a provincial wide fire ban was introduced about 2 days before I arrived in BC so I was not able to have a campfire at any point during the trip which was a bit of a bummer, any of you that have camped before you know what I mean.

Azouzetta Lake Lodge

Azouzetta Lake Lodge

The following morning I packed up my gear and proceeded to continue south along highway 97. Not too far from the lake lodge I came across Bijoux Falls Provincial Park which turned out to be the perfect spot to stop and eat some breakfast, as well as snap a few pics. The waterfall is located right beside the parking lot so I can only imagine how insanely busy this little stop would be during peak tourist camping season. I was pretty lucky as it was quite early in the morning so the lighting was great for some long exposure photos and I do not currently own any ND filters. I spent about an hour or so wandering and climbing around the falls capturing shots. A great little stop right on the main highway that i'd recommend stopping at early in the day if you are in the area.

Bijoux Falls Provincial Park

From the provincial park I headed back out on the road and put in some serious km's as I headed south. Stopping occasionally here and there to snap some pictures, camp and check out little towns and villages along the way. I stopped in at Whiskers Point Provincial Park located along McLeod Lake which is an absolute beauty of a lakeside campground. While I didn't setup camp there this time as I still had lots of ground to cover, I would certainly recommend it to anyone passing through. I was actually kinda bummed that I didn't find this place earlier on in my trip. Another place I found interesting to stop for a few minutes and check out was the lumber facility located in the town of Dunkley. I have never really seen a lumber mill before and the scale of the operations was pretty staggering to see first hand. I wasn't really able to find good high ground to take a photo but to show you the scale it's shown below from Google maps.

Dunkley Lumber
   
A short 20 minute drive south of Dunkley at Ten Mile Lake was where I decided to set up camp for the night. Lakeside camping, you really cant beat it! I spent the next few hours chilling with some tunes and re-organizing my car and camera bag as they tend to get a bit messy on these trips. It was an absolutely amazing evening out weather-wise as well so I opted to sleep without the rain cover on my tent, great decision I might add as you can see below :D

Ten Mile Lake