Should I tip my guide?
The guide’s work hard and do appreciate tips if you believe the service warrants it. We recommend $5-10 / person / day. As a percentage this will amount to only a small portion of your overall trip costs, about 2.5% to 5%, but it will make a big difference to your guide. Thanks for considering expressing your appreciation this way.
Why should I come on a guided trip?
There are many reasons for joining a guided trip. First, you will be able to enjoy the great company of like-minded folks. Hard and fast friendships are formed on these trips and the camaraderie is instantaneous. Second, NO PLANNING! Forget trying to figure out routes and maps and food and gear. Leave your obligations behind and let us treat you to a truly relaxing holiday. Great food, great accommodation, great itinerary and no effort on your part! Third, at this price it would be difficult to find a good meal and a hotel any where in North America let alone a high quality, fully catered trip in a spectacular wilderness area. The fourth and perhaps best reason is the guides themselves. Offering in depth knowledge of these wild places, they will help you to experience and appreciate the mountains in a way that would be difficult to do alone.
What does the price include?
The price includes great meals and snacks, your chalet stays, an expert and informative guide, local transportation and all equipment on the canoe trips except a sleeping bag (which are available to rent at a nominal cost). Basically, once you arrive in Clearwater you are our guests for the duration of your trip,
What is the food like?
We are fairly flexible in our menu, and our meals are simple and healthy. We can easily accommodate a vegetarian diet and if you have food allergies or any other dietary restrictions be sure to let us know when you book so we have enough time to adjust the menu. Our menu includes the highest quality breads (organic whenever possible) vegetables and fruits. For breakfast we will have either cereal, fruit and bread or eggs, or pancakes. Meals usually consist of a main course like chicken or spaghetti and include veggies and a fresh salad. For lunch, there will be a variety of meats, cheeses, whole grain breads, fruit and baked goods to choose from. You make the lunch in the morning and put it in your pack for the day.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
We do our best to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions, but there are limitations to what we can do on our mountain trips. We can accommodate vegetarian easily, so no problem with that. We are however having some unanticipated problems with GF and vegan. We have had clients who won’t eat some of the products we have flown in despite their being certified GF or Vegan. So, it becomes very difficult for us to be sure we are planning properly for these diets. We are asking people with these issues to please bring food that they like and are comfortable eating to supplement their diet with. Much of this depends on how sensitive you are. If you are a celiac with an extreme sensitivity, it becomes difficult to be fed properly in the cabins.
The diet that we really CANNOT accommodate is KETO. Because this diet relies on vegetables and meat, both of which are hard to supply and carry for seven days without spoiling, we do not offer a KETO diet while backpacking hut to hut. It is much easier to accommodate a KETO diet on a canoe trip. Please call and talk to us at the WGA office to discuss severe dietary issues PRIOR to committing to a trip.
What kind of fitness level do I need to do the hut to hut hike?
We offer three, five and seven day hut trips. The seven day trip is the most demanding, not only because of it's length but because the route has the longest hiking day as well. We will describe the two longer days on this trip here. If you feel like you could handle these days, you will be fine on the trip. The first long day is on the third day of your trip. On this day you will hike between the first and second chalets. The distance covered this day is not long, but you will be hiking through the alpine and for about 45 minutes in the forest without a well-defined trail. This sort of hike can require a bit of extra attention that may be tiring for folks used to a large, wide trail. This day is the longest day on the five-day hike. On the seven-day hike, the longest day is between the second and third Chalet. On this day you will cover about 15 km (9 miles) and it will take about 6 - 9 hours. All of these times include any stopping on the trail for pictures rests and lunch.
Remember that despite the distances you have two advantages. The first is a light pack. The second advantage is the itinerary. On the hikes you will spend one day moving between chalets and then one day exploring the environs of each chalet. The guide will lead a day hike from the building on these days. If you prefer, you can take it easy and rest up for the next day when you move between cabins. You may decide to take photos, read or draw, it is up to you. So, if you feel like you can carry your pack on the hikes between the cabins, you will be fine. For more information, look over the itineraries carefully and ask us to send you a FREE copy of the topo map. Also, feel free to call our toll free number and we will be happy to give you more information.
What if I am the slowest person?
This is a very common question!! Don't worry, there are other people on your trip who have asked the same thing! The people who come on these trips feel that it is the discovery in the journey that is important, not rushing to the chalet! Your guide will also emphasize this theme. We find the people who come on these trips are fit and strong but not competitive. There is so much to see that the faster hikers have plenty to experience and are always very happy to hike to the pace of slower folks.
How many people come on the trips?
On the hiking trips, there is a maximum of 10 people. On the canoe trips our maximum is 11 people.
What is the best time of the season to come?
If you are interested in wildflowers, Wells Gray is one of the premier places to experience the profusion of bloom that occurs in the short alpine summers of British Columbia. Each day offers a different and wonderful experience. We think the best plan is to choose a time that is convenient for you to travel in and enjoy what the mountains has to offer when you come. Every day of the two-month flower season offers a different character and on your hiking trip, you will see the color and life of the mountains evolving and shifting as the days progress.
From July 1 to mid July. The first bloom follows the melting snow. As the beginning of July approaches and the days lengthen and warm, the snow starts to recede. Blooming behind the retreating edges of the snowfields are the spectacular avalanche lilies, spring beauties, pasque flowers, marsh marigolds, arnica and valerian. These flowers create the freshest vistas possible carpeting the ground with yellow and white. Because they over winter as bulbs, these flowers have all the reserves they need to grow quickly and can often be seen blooming after pushing right up through the snow. The landscapes in early spring change daily as the warm sun frees up the ground. The animals and birds are frantically trying to fit a family in before the next snow and lovely fresh water streams rush headlong down the mountainsides to fuel the river valleys. The whole atmosphere of the mountains during this time is charged with exuberant energy.
Mid July to end July. Middle spring brings the rare mountain avens, clinging to the tops of the highest rides and glowing brightly as the sun streams through them. The indian paintbrush, lupine, and golden scenicio are budding and on the well exposed southern slopes beginning to show bloom and give the hikers a taste of what is to come. This is the time when you can spot the largest number of different flower species as the northern slopes are just losing the last of the spring bloom and the southern slopes are starting to show a bit of the summers promise.
Beginning August- third week August. As August begins it is truly summer in the high country. Now the ridges are lush with the fragrant but delicate boom of the heathers. Wet spots provide homes for the beautiful and fragrant rein orchids. All of the meadows seem to be moving toward the final major bloom of the summer, which occurs, between the first and third weeks of August. During this time, you can walk through flower meadows as deep as you waist in places. It is truly one of natures most incredible sights.
End of August and beginning of September - September is our driest month. You can expect clear, warm days and cool evenings. By now, there has often been a first frost which has killed any bugs that are left and put an end to the flower riot. The flowers are fading now but as they do, they make way for a more subtle palette of rich russets, golds and reds as the sedges, grasses and small shrubs take their turn on the mountain stage. Birds of prey soar over the meadows, and the animals of the high mountains are busy making final preparations for the long winter which they know must come. The heady rush of summer is gone and in its place a hush as profound as an ancient cathedral steals over the mountains. This is an incredibly inspiring time to be in the high country.
Will there be mosquitoes?
Through out the summer, the insects are also trying to complete their life cycle. The mosquito population will ebb and flow through the season largely dependent upon when the rain last fell and topped off the puddles of still water required for their egg laying. For the most part, the mosquitoes are not much of a worry on the Wells Gray traverse during the days in the higher mountains or on ridge walks as the almost constant breeze keeps them away. In the evening however when it can be much more still, they can be very pesky and you will be grateful to be looking at them through the window of the chalet while you drink your tea! There will be some dates where they don't make an appearance at all, and others where the lower more sheltered valleys and the evening will bring in enough mosquitoes to warrant long sleeves and long pants. Unfortunately, it is not possible to know ahead of time which situation it will be! After the first very hard frost, usually around the end of August and beginning of September, they are gone. So, if you would absolutely prefer not to deal with any mosquitoes, come in September!
What repellent do you recommend?
More important then repellent, we recommend appropriate clothing. Have light and loose long sleeved shirts and pants with you. We have bug hats for you to use if the air becomes still or if we are hiking through a forest after a hatch. Most folks say that anything with DEET as the active ingredient is good. It is very strong stuff, so we prefer to apply it on a hat or other outer clothing
What weather do I expect?
September is usually the driest month of the year. You can expect warm days and clear cold nights with chances of frost. Mountain weather is unpredictable and it can also be cold during July and August, but it is more likely to be warm enough for a quick swim in even the colder lakes. Most of the precipitation during these months is in the form of thundershowers toward the late afternoon and evenings. Raingear is always necessary as well as warm fleece or wool sweaters. A hat and gloves are sometimes welcome during a cool rain. For the most part, we do not get long storm episodes in the summer months and it is good to plan for sunny days by bringing sun-hats and sunscreen.
What animals will I see?
If you are lucky you will see some of the shy animals who live in this demanding environment. Wells Gray is home to one of the most southern woodland caribou herds. These incredibly beautiful animals run in loose, same sex associations this time of the year. If we are quiet and vigilant, we will see them on a mountain slope or grazing in the remote bull valley on the other side of 52 ridge where Fight Meadow Chalet lies.
This area is also home to the grizzly bear though we are more likely to see signs then the actual animal. The grizzly has a huge territory and wanders through it continually. They are also extremely shy of hikers and will go out of their way to avoid you so we have to be very watchful, looking out over the long horizons to be lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
Not so elusive are the cheeky martins, which are very inquisitive and will often allow us to photograph them or the slow porky pines who don't care if we photograph them! Marmots and pikas whistle at us from their lookouts. You will need a good telephoto lens to get a decent picture of these well-camouflaged animals. The bird life in the mountains is amazing, and the ptarmigans, grouse, and birds of prey are always an inspiration to see. The sides of Battle Mountain often have golden eagles nesting there .
When do the trips start to fill?
Some trips fill way in advance of the departure date and some can be booked the day before! If you have a very specific time in which to take your holiday than we recommend that you tentatively reserve space on the trip that suits you while you make your travel arrangements. In this way you will avoid the disappointment of having your preferred date fill before you get a chance to book it. .
Can we hike through the huts on our own?
Sorry, but no. All of the hiking in this system is guided. There are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most basic one is that the trails between the chalets are very indistinct and hard to follow. You are in a true wilderness here and a guide who knows the country well is very handy! Also, by taking reservations and guiding your trip, we are insuring that there is plenty of room in all of the buildings and that there are never more than a pre-specified number of folks on the trail. Having someone who knows the system with you means that you will get the most out of the chalets and be guaranteed the highest possible quality experience. The most important reason that all of our trips are guided however, is the environment. This system was built to provide access to this incredible wilderness but to minimize the effect that access could have on the sensitive alpine. Your guide knows how to lessen the impact of your visit. Guided visits insure that the water remains potable, trees are not cut, inappropriate fires are not lit, waste is looked after properly and the animals remain truly wild. This means that you can hike in this area and know that it is the same as it has been for millennia. Please let our extremely friendly and knowledgeable guides add to your experience and understanding of this incredible park by sharing their knowledge and love for the area and guiding you safely through it.
What time will we be back on the last day of our trip?
You will usually reach the trailhead by early to mid afternoon. This of course is subject to many things, and we normally recommend that folks don't make any hard and fast plans for the afternoon that they return! After your pickup at the trail or lake head, your guide will drive you to see the world famous waterfalls of Wells Gray Park, a spectacular and truly unforgettable sight. If you must absolutely be back by a certain time, make sure to discuss it with the reservation agent before hand so they can arrange the logistics if possible.
What are the sleeping arrangements in the Chalets like?
The chalets are two-story buildings. The sleeping area is upstairs and the living area and kitchen is downstairs. The sleeping arrangements are semi-private. The rooms are divided by walls and have a curtain as a door. There is enough space for everybody to have one of these berths to himself or herself and there is no extra cost for it.
There are duvets and pillows in the buildings. Most folks bring a sleeping bag liner or, for a couple, a double sheet set; a fitted sheet and a flat sheet. There are pillows as well, so bring pillow cases. Carrying a sheet to make your bed with instead of a sleeping bag will help to keep your pack light.
What size pack do I take?
We always tell people to take a good look at the equipment list, decide what to bring, fill a backpack and if there is room for two to four pounds of group food on top then you have a great pack size! Also, it is better to have a bigger well fitting pack with a good waist belt that is comfortable then a lighter smaller pack that is not comfortable. How you carry your gear is as important as how much you carry. If you have a light pack that is ill fitting, or not offering the support for the load that you need, you will be much more tired than if you had a well fitting, more supportive, bigger pack.
How much will I have to carry?
The chalets are outfitted with the idea of having everything you need for a comfortable stay and a light pack! You are not carrying a sleeping bag; (you carry a sheet to make your bed with). There is no need to pack extra shoes; there are hut slippers for inside and rubber boots for quick trips outside. Most of the food is in the chalets as well; we just supplement the menu with fresh food. So, if you are conservative with your personal belongings, the packs can be quite light. Normally, you would expect to carry 2 to 4 pounds of group food on the travel days between the chalets and your lunch on the days around the buildings. This is not a hard and fast rule however, and we often have enough folks on the trip who take enough of the group food that some one who is not up to carrying any extra weight is free not to. Basically it seems that most packs range from about 10 to 30 lbs and it depends on what you consider necessary!
Can I bring a drone on my trip?
Drones are not allowed in Wells Gray Park. If you have a drone you need to know that flying them anywhere in BC requires filing a flight plan to prevent accidents with helicopters and other aircraft that are in the area. So, sorry but you can't bring your drone but we highly recommend bringing a traditional camera!
What temperatures can I expect during our hike? Are the cabins warm at night?
All of the huts are in a mountains and subject to variable conditions. Mostly you can expect warm days. We recommend light long sleeves to keep bugs and the strong alpine sun off. The air will be cool in the shade. If it rains though, things can get cold quickly and having a fleece or light wool sweater to wear under your rain gear is important. A light wool hat and gloves might be a comfort if the weather turns rainy. Also, it is possible to get snow anytime of the year at the huts. Though it will melt off quickly, it will still cool things down considerably. The huts though are dry and warm. No need to plan for being cold once you are inside.