Jacob's Tails ... (Back-to-the-Land)"
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Someone suggested that there was a nice little campground in the
Okay – close enough that it was within our fuel budget; an area we had flashed through so many times but never explored; a viable solution.
It took us almost two weeks to get a site for a whole week (so unlike us to even make a reservation) and we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do once we got there (so like us to not plan).
Sparwood didn’t even exist when I was growing up in
To me, coal mines were tunnels drilled deep into the side of a hill. Each morning a whole horde of men went into the hole and came out eight hours later even greyer than when they went in. I thought of them as hard working and hard playing men who didn’t live very long because of all the accidents and disease that came along with coal mining.
This venture surprised me and definitely changed my attitude.
I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought this way because in 1967, the Provincial Government of British Columbia actually moved Michel and
Sparwood did exist before this but only as a supplier of tall straight lodge-pole pines that ship-builders on the west coast needed for the masts for their ships – thus the name Sparwood!
Getting to the
The only highway from
As close as I can figure it, the
We did two coal mine tours on this trip. The Elkview operation out of Sparwood was okay, but the smaller Greenhills tour was spectacular – it could be because the guides at Greenhills explained so much more about the area and the operations.
When we saw some deer drinking our of a puddle way below where we stopped, it gave me a chance to see how the 20xzoom worked on the new camera – not bad, eh?
On the Greenhills Operations tour, as we travelled up to an altitude of almost 7000 feet, we got incredible views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife as well as the working of the mine and the huge equipment.
The mines weren’t the only trips we took – we met Alan & Ina (folks we met in Nanaimo a couple of years ago) in Fernie (the town on the other side of the Valley) and headed up a steep winding wilderness road up to the mountains behind Fernie up to the Island Lake Lodge.
During the winter, the road is impassable but, apparently, the skiing in magnificent. The Lodge picks skiers up in Fernie with the Cat and takes them ‘anywhere you can see up there’ explained the fellow we talked to. They call it Catskiing and they use these huge machines on tracks to take people up to wilderness ski.
In the summer, it becomes a high end retreat complete with a Spa, an incredible view and wilderness hiking trails.
You know, when we spend so much time exploring places away from home, we forget how incredible it is right next door.