Day 6 – The Drive to Kinaskan
When I woke the next morning at Rainey Creek Campground it seemed dark in the camper, as though the sky was socked in. Before we left home I cut cardboard covers for the camper windows to keep out the morning light. I can’t sleep once daybreak comes. I pulled the curtain back and realized it was the dense foliage of the old growth forest canopy keeping the sunshine out.
The campground is picturesque carved into the west coast rainforest drooping with moss and weird wisps of hair-like stuff.
After a quick breakfast, the group was ready for the last driving day of this leg of our journey. A couple of stops to refill the fresh water tanks, dump holding tanks, and refuel.
No RV dump available in the campground but we were able to refill our fresh water before leaving. Henry asked at the office about a dump, as luck would have it there was an RV dump close to the gas station (Petro Can) we spotted the night before. We refueled at $1.13 per liter ($4.50 per gallon) and dumped at the free community RV dump a block away. When passing through Meziadin Junction the day before we inquired about the cost of their RV dump at $10 and we decided to check out dumping at Stewart, good thing.
By the time we hit the road the sun was peeking over the snow-capped cliffs bordering the valley. Our destination this day is Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park. The drive back to highway 37 was great with views of cascading waterfalls and a stop for more pictures of amazing glaciers. However, if not for the scenic drive from Meziadin Junction to Stewart, this side trip could be skipped. Stewart and Hyder don’t have much to offer as a tourist, Hyderizing, an opportunity to see a grizzly bear, and souvenirs.
The road climbs steadily from Stewart to Meziadin Junction and highway 37. We headed north from the junction toward Kinaskan Lake, the speed limit dropped from 100 to 90 kph. (60 to 55 mph) reflecting a more winding section of the Cassiar highway. Our travel time to Kinaskan Lake was approximately 4.5 hrs for 269 kilometers, slower than previous days.
The skies clouded over as we drove. Lucky it was Sunday, there were signs of weekday road construction, road sealing, and loose gravel, dusty but smooth. The highway meandered through a wide valley with high mountain glaciers in the distance. Even though high cloud blocked the sun the views of rough mountain peaks and massive glaciers were spectacular.
The road surface was excellent, traffic light consisting mainly of RVs heading south. It gave me the feeling the party was over, everyone was heading home. We arrived ahead of schedule, about 2 pm.
Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park is typical of most BC provincial campgrounds built in the 50’s and 60’s. This park is beautiful with 50 well-separated sites on the lake shore. The campground is situated at the south end of Kinaskan lake, a large lake about 20 km. long and several kilometers wide. The view from our vantage point is breath-taking with towering mountains and fall colors beginning to appear.
The campground was almost empty, after a quick tour we picked out three adjacent lakefront spots and set up camp. Mooring Henry’s boat is always a consideration when picking a spot, it’s important for one of us to be close enough to keep a watchful eye. Fortunately, we arrived early in the day, as soon after more RVs arrived taking the other prime lakeshore spots.
The sun poked through occasionally as we set up camp and ate lunch around our newest campfire. The cool breeze off the lake picked up quickly, becoming unpleasant. Henry, Ralph and I erected a make-shift windscreen attaching two tarps to adjacent trees with a tree branch for a pole in the middle. To avoid a beating, I must mention the women helped as well. The pole became Ralph’s staff that arrived at each new camp spot in my trailer.
All were impressed at how well the windscreen worked. The blustery conditions dispelled any thoughts of fishing this day, we decided to wait until morning to launch the boat. The north wind caused a pounding surf from this large lake, not good for Henry’s boat.
On a trip to the pit toilet, I initiated conversation with a couple of fishermen camped a few spots away. My motive, the lowdown on fishing, the species of fish, what bait or lure set-up is successful and where to fish. Each lake has its own character and secrets for successful fishing, even though most lakes on the west of the continental divide contain the same species of fish.
One of the fishermen a huge man standing about 7’ tall explained he and his son had driven up from Hazelton, BC to spend a few days away from wives and cell service for their annual end of summer fishing and bonding time.
The friendly big man did not hesitate to fill me in on what they knew of the lake. “The fishing is usually good”, the large man stated, “a fly or lure with some red and maybe a willow leaf gang troll. The rainbows are pan fry size in front of the campground and larger ones on the other shore if you are willing to take the two-kilometer voyage.”
I am usually skeptical of fishing information, fishing is always a hit or miss adventure. I have often heard, “you should have been here yesterday we couldn’t keep them off our hooks”. I have never fished yesterday. However, the big friendly man seemed genuine.
Back at camp, I filled in Ralph and Henry on the big man’s recommendations. The three of us set about readying our weapons and ammo for the morning.
Later that afternoon the park operator, Margret, arrived to collect the $20 per night camping fee, the standard for BC Provincial Parks. The group opted to pay for one night at a time in case we decided to deviate from the itinerary and leave early. The weather and quality of fishing are our guidelines.
The group enjoyed happy hour and dinner around the campfire, our windbreak made for a pleasant evening.
Day 7 – Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park
We woke to clouds and showers, thankfully the wind subsided making the temperature seem warmer than the previous afternoon. I was one of the first to brave the rain and leave our camper. We needed shelter from the rain. I thought it a good idea to employ Ralph and Lois’s bug screen shelter. Ralph and I discussed it previously and surmised the roof should be waterproof.
I opened the carrying bag to confirm the waterproof roof, a rubbery substance. Next, I set about erecting the structure, I glanced at the vague instructions, no print so I thought my morning project would be simple enough and everyone would praise my efforts. Wrong.
I struggle for a while with this fairly large structure 13’ x 10’. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure this thing there were no parts, it obviously unfolded and stood up.
I was about ready to throw in the towel when Allyson arrived to give me a hand. By this time I was underneath the outstretched legs, she started to laugh saying it looked like I was being eaten by a monster spider.
I had just realized what she confirmed, the problem being the structure was upside down. The frame was supposed to be on the outside, not the inside. We turned it over, a few minutes later our rain shelter was standing.
The group’s morning ritual when we are not traveling usually is to rise between 6:30 and 8 have coffee or tea, eat breakfast then start the day’s adventure, whatever it may be.The women usually walk or a hike while the men get busy with chores. Vehicle or RV maintenance, camping chores and gathering firewood which is usually near the top of the list or if possible fishing.
This morning was somewhat different, the evening before the men volunteered for breakfast duty. It began with me mentioning to Lynda I would cook a big breakfast as I do on occasion at home. From there I’m not sure what happened but a major discussion involving the whole group ensued.
The discussion became, let’s say adversarial at times, about who was doing what. First eggs were my job, Henry was on bacon and toast and Ralph potatoes (hash browns). Ralph asked Lois if she could boil potatoes for the hash browns, to which I interjected, (apparently arrogantly), no need to boil potatoes I fry them from scratch. Potatoes became my job.
My plan was to set up our outside table and camp stove to cook the potatoes, unfortunately, the morning showers put a literal damper on this idea. The plan quickly changed to cooking in our respective rigs. Mini-conferences were held making sure timing was perfect. The potatoes needed to be started first, Henry’s bacon once cooked could be kept warm in the oven and Ralph‘s eggs needed to be last, overcooked or cold eggs are not acceptable.
After a surprisingly tasty and organized venture, breakfast in the shelter was completed and the day’s adventures began. A walk/hike for the women with our mascot buddy (Lynda’s dog) and fishing for the men.
It had become Ralph’s chore to unhitch his 5th wheel and haul the boat to the launch. It was easier and less cumbersome to use Ralph’s pickup rather than Henry’s truck with his monstrous eleven and a half foot truck camper.
We hitched the boat to Ralph’s truck and headed to the boat launch. The rain was light but steady, this didn’t phase us, we weren’t going to be denied our next fishing adventure. The boat was launched, Henry drove it back along the shore to our camp spot a quarter mile away. Ralph and I drove back, unhitched the boat trailer and prepared for fishing.
I think both Ralph and I were quietly hoping fishing this lake would be more successful for us, similar to Henry’s success at Dragon lake.
Rain gear was donned and off we went. My job was to operate the kicker at the rear of the boat, maybe because it was my motor, I’m not sure, I’m fine with the job.
Henry’s aluminum boat, a Lund, is specifically designed for fishing, several long compartments on the sides for storing fishing rods, life jackets and a live well for bait and fish, an open bow and walk through windshield. A canopy in case of rain.
Henry perched himself in the bow as he had at Dragon lake, Ralph in the driver’s chair facing rear and me at the stern port side operating the kicker.
We each selected the perfect lure or gang troll as per my research from our neighbors.
Henry decided on the red and silver dick-nite lure he had such success with at Dragon lake. Ralph, a similar pattern with a gang troll and I chose a bright red spoon with a willow leaf troll.
The lake is shallow for several hundred feet from shore so it took us a few minutes before there was enough depth to let our lines out.
I had no sooner let my line out, when yank, a strike, I reeled in my line but no fish., the one that got away. The strikes continued frequently I think five strikes before landing my first fish. I was ecstatic with all the action. It appeared our neighbor was correct, the fishing is great in this lake.
Henry was having the same luck and landed his first fish soon after mine. Ralph’s luck was good but his strikes were not as frequent.
The rain continued through the morning, but this was of no concern to us, the fish were biting at a frenzied pace, sometimes two or three fish on at once, It was the best fishing I’ve experienced in recent memory.
The three of us were having the time of our fishing lives. The only criticism was Henry’s comment about the size. The fish were all about a foot in length and weighed half a pound.
We ended the morning with thirteen rainbows on the chain, many more got away or were too small to keep.
Arrival back at camp brought a gaggle of compliments from our loyal supporters (our wives). Allyson, an experienced fisherman, (fish person?) led the way to our cleaning station. Ralph and I helped fillet the catch, Henry washed and bagged the fillets.
Filleting fish is faster than cleaning and descaling, less work involved and easier to refrigerate especially in our small RV fridges.
The afternoon brought more rain and another fishing adventure. Henry and I discussed trying a deeper set up possibly resulting in larger fish. I brought out my heavy mooching rod with a large flasher and rainbow colored small apex for use with the downrigger.
Even though the rain persisted the sun was visible through the gray layer warming the air making for a pleasant afternoon. The fishing continued at a similar pace as the morning. We decided to be more picky, keeping only the larger specimens.
Our stay at Kinaskan lake ended with a total of 23 rainbow trout, a great success and enough fish for another fish fry.
The rain subsided that evening as we enjoyed happy hour around a roaring campfire and a great community dinner of steak and mushrooms, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob expertly prepared by our lovely wives.
After dinner, it was time for a celebration, after a great day of fishing we were all in the mood. Various mixtures of ½ ounce liqueurs were created by Ralph and Lois.
During this evening’s campfire, it was announced that I was to be the main chef for tomorrow night’s fish fry. Not sure how this happened.
Check back soon for the next article on our Alaska RV Tour.
Or click on categories in the right column and scroll to OUR ALASKA RV TOUR and click.
Thanks for visiting