Posted by: Silver | March 18, 2011


Possibly Clearwater’s greatest claim to fame is as the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Depending on which blurb you read, Wells Gray is either the third largest or the fourth largest Provincial Park in British Columbia: either way, it’s definitely quite big and definitely quite beautiful. It’s probably even more beautiful in the summer, but as people are still perpetually telling me, this really isn’t the best time of year to see Canada. Most of the trails were only accessible to considerably more experienced XC skiers than me, so many of the park’s highlights remained tantalisingly out of reach. Wells Gray’s most famous attraction, however, was still open for business, and to my mind, made the journey worthwhile all on its own…

Helmcken Falls is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada (unless I just haven’t read the blurb that says it’s the third highest, of course…), but at this time of year, it wasn’t the height that particularly impressed me. This being Canada, it gets pretty chilly, and, as spray from the falls hits freezing air, it turns to ice. Over the course of the winter, this ice builds up into what is known as an ice cone: a towering mass of blue-white ice up to 50m tall at the base of the 140m falls. Personally, I thought it looked most like an exploded marshmallow, but whatever you likened it to, it was pretty spectacular.

More than the wondrous waterfalls though, what probably sticks in my mind the most about Clearwater was my first ever experience of speaking to schoolchildren about SOS Children’s Villages. Three presentations in two hours to sixty children under twelve years of age. I think I’m still recovering… I was very impressed with how closely they listened though, and how enthusiastic they were about engaging with what I was saying; I may have emerged a little shell-shocked, but I was also very heartened.

Ice cone or exploded marshmallow: whatever you call it, it was pretty cool (pun totally intended...)

(slow internet connection today, so only one photo, I’m afraid – apologies to all my photo fans!)


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