The nearest town to Mount Robson is Valemount. As I get closer to Valemount, the haze that has rested on the mountains since I left Clearwater is finally dissipating. A few of the mountains are peaking through the clouds. I aim to get to the visitor's center before it's closed. I got there just in time before it closed and got plenty of information on the area. I learned that as I face north, I have the Caribou Mountain Range to my left and the Canadian Rocky Mountains to my right. I learned that Mount Robson is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
While doing my laundry, I glanced at the map to get familiar with the area I am heading to. I am thinking of exploring places that were not on my map before. I circled in my mind the name McBride. Well, it turns out to be another small village up north. I love the feel of small towns, so I decided to check it out tomorrow. In the meantime, I need to figure out where I will stay tonight. I am not looking for a Campground. I'm looking for a place where I can stay for free. From the map I got at the visitor center, I see that there is a rest area just a bit further on the highway. I drive to check it out. It could be a great spot as there is everything I need. A picnic table and a clean pit toilet. I prepare dinner to get the feel of the place, but the only thing is it's on the highway and quite loud, so I decided to go back to town and check other possibilities.
Valemount is a small town, and I cannot go and park on the street next to a house because then I'm on their property. I have a feeling that at night, the main street will be empty, and would be very obvious that I do not belong there. I see a restaurant with a parking lot, so I decided to go in for a bite and see what the chances would be for them to let me park there for the night. As I pay my bill, I ask for permission to park in the lot; after all, it's private property, and even though there is no sign for no overnight parking, I cannot just stay there. The waiters don't see any problem with it, even pointing out the quiet area in the back. Just before I leave the restaurant, I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I make sure to leave a hefty tip and find my little corner. It is already after nine, and the parking lot is almost empty. It is a nice and quiet spot. Just as I am about to fall asleep, I find out I'm next to a railroad track, and the conductor loves using the horn. Of course, I'm laughing as this is a long train. Surprisingly, I have a good night's sleep. Maybe because I actually like the sound of trains.
I start my day by stopping at Tim Hortons for coffee and a fresh croissant. I will cross the highway to the visitor's center, where there is a picnic table. I am planning to see what a small town library looks like. Oh, it's a cute one that is a log house. I will sit and experience it, but the internet is so slow, I give up.
I start my drive to McBride and check out any rest stops as a possibility for later tonight. The drive is of lush green farmlands, cows, and horses framed with high mountains. When I approached McBride, I saw a recreation park sign and stopped to check it out. That could be a good option if I choose to stick around. I make sure there is no sign indicating no overnight parking. I continued to the visitor's center and asked for free camping places around. The young lady tells me about Beaver Falls, where picnic tables and pit toilets are nearby. That sounds charming; a view and a waterfall. I hope the rain will stop, it's raining quite heavily.
I find the trail to the waterfall, it is a short hike and easy along the river. It is very brief and I am taking my backpack with me where my bear spray is quickly reachable. With all the signs around about bears, I am fully aware that more than ever on my journey, I am certainly in the land of wilderness. Well, it is for sure getting to me. I cannot find myself able to relax and be in peace as I hike to the falls. There is an edge of fear in my body. I hope to get comfortable hiking with this edge. I know it will not go away. After all, I am hiking with the bears more than ever. I will need to be extra cautious. The falls here aren't dramatic falls, but they still come with power, and if I wasn't on edge, I could sit next to them without a fence between us.
The only road I find that could be the road to the campsite has a big sign saying "no trespassing", so I decide to return to the recreation park. I am the only car there. While I get my car ready for the night, a black pickup truck stops not far from me. I don't think much about it the first few minutes, but as time passes, I don't feel comfortable that no one is getting out of the vehicle. I make sure my bear spray is near me, and I keep an eye on the situation. After about twenty minutes, the black pickup truck left. It could be that they stopped to male a phone call or take a quick nap, but I don't have a good feeling in my body. An hour later, a minivan and an RV with a family also park for the night. I feel much better now. Before nightfall, a black pickup truck drives slowly through the park without stopping. I strongly feel it was the same truck. This is why I always keep a clear path to my driver's seat and park with a straightforward way to exit. I also don't cover any of my windows when I am not in a campground, and, of course, I always lock my car.
The rain doesn't let go. Here and there, I get a break, but it is pouring rain this morning. I escape to the only open place that is not a gas station. Mcbride is a village with a population of about 650 people. I do like the feel of it. It is charming even on a gloomy day. I love that when I enter the small cafe, it is clear I am a stranger. After a delicious breakfast, I stick around to write. I observed how the locals come in for a coffee before starting the day like they were entering their kitchen. There is a beautiful connection this community has, which I love.
It is time to start my drive to my campground in Mount Robson, but first, I want to stop in Dunster. Dunster is a small farming community of 250 people. The general store here is the supermarket, hardware store, and post office all in one. There is one gas pump that takes you back in time. It is only a ten-minute drive off Hwy 16. I am so glad I stopped!
Just before I get to Mount Robson, I stop at Rearguard Falls. It is a three minute walk to the view platform. Oh my goodness, this is an unbelievable waterfall! It is so hard to describe this power in front of me. This waterfall doesn't even have a significant fall, but the fast Fraser River makes this waterfall so unique compared to all the waterfalls I have seen.
The gloomy weather and the rain present a challenge for me, but more upsetting is that I cannot fully enjoy the beauty around me. Where are you, Mount Robson?