Photojournalist
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SUMMER IN THE ROCHE DE BOULE

North of Nowhere

There’s backcountry. And then there’s way back country.


After seventeen hours crammed in the car with four people, a dog, and several hundred pounds of gear, there’s not much I wouldn’t do to escape those four doors. We rolled through a knee-high grass field toward the cabin and all I could think of was how refreshing a dip in the river would be. But as I started to open the door, thinking “Free at last!” I instantly recoiled.

“Holy shit,” I said, slamming the door closed, much to the bemusement of Leila, our four-legged companion, “This is going to be war.”

We scrambled to put on layers, pull up buffs, and switch our sandals for shoes. It was mid-July in Northern British Columbia—the cold wasn’t the issue.

The mosquitoes were the worst I’d ever seen.

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Welcome Home

Off the grid.

But besides the bugs, we were in paradise, and we weren’t going to let those buzzing annoyances rain on our parade. We went to work, mowing the lawn, un-boarding the windows, chopping wood—all covered up in Gore-Tex shells and thick flannels. Thankfully, clearing the tall grass had a night and day effect on the swarms of mosquitoes, and by the evening we had “acclimated” to the decreased number of bugs.

The property extends toward an oxbow on the Bulkley River with stunning views of the surrounding peaks of the Hazeltons and Roche du Boule in all directions. With dozens of trailheads minutes away, evening river runs part of the daily routine, and a seemingly endless network of active and abandoned forestry roads, there were off-the-beaten-path adventures no matter which direction we took.

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Midnight Sun…

…and 11pm golden hour.

The crew… next time, more women and dogs.
(Left to right, clockwise: Dave, Chris, Arie, Cameron, Leila, Jake, Sam and Bill.)

Of course, every adventure comes at a cost. “Wrecked,” was the typical response to, “How do you feel?

But no number of blisters, bites and bogs could diffuse our stoke.

We had a saying on this trip:
Our vacations are harder than your work week.

There’s bushwhacking… and then there’s whatever the hell this was.

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Dog Tired

Halfway through Day 2

(Roche de Boule, BC)

Now, don’t get us wrong: we don’t always beat ourselves up. We always allocate a couple afternoons to enjoy a beer (or seven).

Molsen’s probably ought to sign us to a contract next time.

Getting to this part of Northwest BC carries its own set of logistical challenges. Simply getting to the Bulkley Valley is a trek, and once you’re there, you can expect all forestry roads and trails to be unmaintained… if there’s any trail at all.

(Cameron puts in some trail maintenance hours deep in the boonies.)

But that’s the point. Increasing population, the proliferation of social media geo-tagging, and the steady push of industrialization is making the world smaller and wild natural environments harder to find. These places exist because they can’t be found just looking at a map.

When asked, I tell people it’s “up north.” Where up north? “Oh, you know… north of nowhere.”