With landscapes of geological significance, Tumbler Ridge was the only Geopark in Western Canada. My itinerary changes presented me with the opportunity to explore this fascinating terrain. But since it wasn’t part of my original plan, how do I navigate through the area with absolutely zero knowledge prior?

My not-so-good luck (see previous episodes regarding broken CV) brought me to Edmonton – 10,000km away from where I planned to be. Reunited with Altar, I returned to BC through the Peace Region in northeast BC.

How do you always find the coolest spots?

This is the question I get asked often. To answer, nothing explains better than having to go through a whole new place by myself.

I took a stop at Grand Prairie Visitor Centre and enquired about Tumbler Ridge. The lady at the counter gave me a guidebook and showed me some cool hiking trails on the pullout map. Other than my souvenir magnate, I also picked up a few booklets for Alaska Highway. Since my original plan was to go through Cassiar Highway to Yukon, the detour to Alberta put me on the Alaska Highway side – not part of the plan, but we shall adapt.

Mid-September is a great time to visit Tumbler Ridge since it’s the season of colour change. The Peace River’s stands of larches are an exceptional place to witness warm fall colours.

There are more than 20 hikes in the Geopark. I found the corresponding spots on Gaia GPS. Combined with Top Notch Navigator map layer, which gives me more information than the layers in Gaia do.

I picked a few and hit the road.

“A few”.

Yes, I was overconfident about how much distance I could cover in a day.

The Shipyard and Titanic Rock

The steep and rocky track led me to a lineup of weird-looking rocks. The shape of them look like the sinking ship Titanic, hence the name Titanic Rock.

The guidebook suggests 2-3 hours. But realistically, it only takes 1 hour 40 minutes or a maximum of 2 hours if you aren’t getting lost.

IMG 0177 | Overland Lady by Monique Song

Kinuseo Falls

The viewing platform is only a 150m walk. The Kinuseo Falls is taller than the famous Niagara Falls in the east.

I could hear the water roar from a distance. There’s also an S-shaped rock formation right across from the viewing platform.

An unmanaged hiking trail led you down the viewing platform. Since it was already later the day, I only briefly walked the trail before heading back to look for camp. I overestimated how big the area was and wasn’t expecting to run out of time before I could see them all.

Mining in Tumbler Ridge

I might have been too dramatic when I screamed when I saw Teck’s mine site sign. This site is their Quintette Coal Mine. The mine wasn’t operating due to the current market price of steelmaking coal.

Back when working in the corporate, the building beside my office was, well, Teck. While researching North American gold mines, Teck’s name kept showing up.

Back then, looking on the maps of where the mines were, I remember that they all looked so far away from where I was sitting – in a Vancouver downtown office.

But hey, it’s right here! Right in front of me without me even trying to find.

It turns out they are not far at all. I just wasn’t going anywhere.

Seeing a coal mine while searching for nature’s wonder in Tumbler Ridge may not excite you. But it means so much to me personally. Perhaps my corporate time wasn’t a waste after all. Seeing this mine as a city girl exploring somewhere new and far from home brought a sense of familiarity, confidence, and a tiny crack of joy.

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Planning ahead of time is great, but you’ll never be able to truly appreciate the unexpected marvels of travel if you rely too heavily on your homework and ignore what’s right in front of your eyes.

The most vivid travel experiences usually find you by accident.

Not only does bold spontaneity add a spark of adventure to your travels, but it also reduces the kind of prejudices and preconceptions that might, well, limit your experience. The gift of the information age, after all, is knowing your options, not your destiny.

Like flipping through travel guides and reading online reviews.
It’s nice to make a few waypoints in the folder of “want to see”.

But those who plan their trips with the idea of eliminating all uncertainty are missing out on the whole point of leaving home in the first place, don’t you think?

The willingness to improvise is vital. My plans have changed a lot, and they will change more as I adapt to the situations thrown at me.

The goal of preparation is not knowing exactly where you’ll go but being confident that you’ll get there.

More information about Tumbler Ridge: https://www.tumblerridgegeopark.ca/