The cancellation of the Discovery Coast Passage sailing is going to affect all businesses along Highway 20, Williams Lake and beyond.
Called a “mini Alaskan cruise,” the loss of this circle tour is going to hurt tourism from Vancouver Island through Bella Coola, the Chilcotin, the Cariboo and the Highway 97/Highway 1 corridor to Vancouver.
With all the cutbacks it seems that the pristine wilderness and mountain areas of B.C. are gradually becoming secret again and may go back to becoming even more undiscovered landscape.
A secret hunting, fishing and scenic area of the 50s, it sometimes took a week to ‘drive’ to Anahim Lake.
When I resurfaced Highway 20 between Tatla and Nimpo Lake in 1998 we dug “corduroy” (pine trees laid across the clay with a spray of gravel over the top), Cariboo Flats required nearly a half kilometre removal. Pine logs are definitely not a government-approved road construction method. Mostly remembered as a gravel road, only 40 kilometres of gravel surface remains between Anahim Lake and the famous Bella Coola Hill now.
The Bella Coola Hill is best left as a gravel surface as it is one of the most spectacular highway sections in Canada. The 6,500 foot height at the top of the hill is amazing and the view as the highway drops into the valley between 8,000 foot mountains is breathtaking. Gravel surface throughout the winter on the steep grades is much safer than pavement would be.
Summer is fantastic in the West Chilcotin with rainbow and brown trout in every one of the 800-plus local lakes. Two glaciers in the area means that tourists don’t even need to drive all the way to Jasper and Banff to see and walk on the ancient ice fields. Grizzly bears are usually seen west of Anahim Lake beside Highway 20 each trip down the highway.
A tourists heaven, many are now going to be missing the opportunity of a lifetime with the ferry being cancelled.
Trail riding is available at Anahim Lake and there are many fly-in resorts supported by Tweedsmier Air/Stewart’s Lodge.
The summer is the time that tourism is greatest and the cancellation is going to prevent a lot of tourists from experiencing this adventure. Adventures such as this are what drives our economy and is part of what makes British Columbia so famous throughout the world.