Expedition Alaska 2015: Meeting a Moose in Smithers, British Columbia

The adorable alpine town of Smithers, B.C.
The Yellowhead Highway is dotted with a dozen or so historic towns, each unique and worthy of exploring. Although most have some modern amenities (like fancy espresso drinks and wifi) they still give off that stepping back in time vibe. One thing that stood out were that many of these towns are home to a "World's Largest" item, usually located at the Visitors Center. Our first experience was at 100 Mile House...home to the World's Tallest Skis. Not far from Burns Lake, in the village of Houston (plenty of RV parking and free wifi), we passed the World's Largest Fly Rod. I'll admit, it kinda became a thing to find these along the way.

I present...the World's Largest Fly Rod!!!
We spent two nights in the Safeway parking lot in the town of Smithers (<<-the town has a really great website, seriously, check it out). This is a small lot that can only hold a few RVs and not much of it is level. But overnighting is allowed and we were welcome to stay these two nights. Safeway was perfect base camp for exploring this alpine-themed town. Situated at the base of  Hudson Bay Mountain (where parts of Liam Neeson's The Grey was filmed) Smithers has something to offer everyone ~ restaurants, coffee shops, boutique shops, a bakery, parts stores (in case things have already started to rattle loose), grocery stores and a fantastic used book store/cafe called Mountain Eagle Books. During an early morning to the bookstore visit I met a local named Toby. After a nice chat I learned that he built himself a house here back in 1980. But it wasn't just any old house...it's shaped like a shoe! Hundreds of people stop by to check it out and you should too. Check out this link for more info...and say 'hi' to Toby for me.

Enjoying a soy latte and a "new" used book by one of my favorite authors at Mountain Eagle Book.

Stacks and stacks of books...all hand selected for an exceptional selection of used books, one of the best I've seen.

Nellie and Miso enjoying the view from our spot at Safeway.
Some of the recommended loot we acquired in Smithers: a collection of great books and a bag of excellent coffee from Mountain Eagle Books and a loaf of the famous Cinnamon Bread from Paul's Bakery.
If you need hookups, the Riverside Municipal RV Park & Campground, located right on the banks of the Bulkley River, offers everything from dry camping to full hookups. We took a hike from our spot at the Safeway down to the Riverside RV Park where we had our fist close encounter with a real live MOOSE! But this was no ordinary moose...nope, it was a momma moose and her baby. Now, before anyone goes off on how dangerously close you think we were to this duo here are a few facts: we were on a trail about the width of a vehicle heading downhill when the moose (meese, mooses?) came running up the hill toward us, we were at a bend in the trail and didn't see or hear her (nor did she see us) until she was quite close, they were running from something (I presume it was humans because we were almost to the campground), momma's ears were pinned back well before she saw us (probably to listen for whatever scared them in the first place), she never once appeared to want to attack us...as we dove for the brush on the side of the trail she moved as far as she possibly could in the opposite direction and finally, my camera had a zoom lens (this photo was NOT taken on cell phone).

Don't worry folks...although this encounter was close the photo was taken with a bit of a zoom lens AND it was a surprise encounter all around. We were hiding in the bushes and gave this momma as much clearance as possible.
We also chose to pay for one night at Glacier View RV Park ($25CAD), just a few miles down the road, so we could do laundry, take long, hot showers and hike the nearby Twin Falls and Kathlyn Glacier trail. True to it's name, the RV park had a great view of the glacier and just enough wifi to check emails and let my mom know we had not been killed by the above mentions moose. Sure we could have stuck to a "free camping only" mentality but breaks like this really helped us enjoy the cross continent adventure, while not getting too smelly. =)

Glacier View RV Park near Smithers, BC. The glacier is in the bowl of the mountain. Where the two points come down twin waterfalls have formed. This is where the Twin Falls hike takes you.
Nellie at the base of the waterfalls.
For us, Smithers was a place worthy of spending a few days. It has everything you could need to resupply and recharge. There are hundreds of things to do and plenty of hiking options in the area. It has all of the conveniences of the larger cities (like Prince George) without the need for driving around (in case you don't have a tow vehicle). But be warned, it's the kind of place that just might make you fall in love with British Columbia.

Comments

  1. We'll be going thru Smithers on the return leg of our trip. Thanks for the great info on what to expect. Added your Twin Falls hike to our options. We too like the whimsy of 'World's Largest ...' - if your travels take you near Casey, IL, it's worth a stop.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! It's a short hike but very pretty. Easy enough to make it a trip from Smithers too. But we really needed to do laundry and we couldn't beat the view from the RV Park. =)

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