The deep natural experience
The Big Creek Provincial Park begins 10 km (6 miles) south of the lodge and stretches itself nearly 40 km (25 miles) up into the Coast Mountains. The Big Creek Lodge, like most ranches in Big Creek, helped the community to push for the creation of this Provincial Park in order to keep the local lumber companies from destroying this pristine environment. In the years prior to the parks establishment, the ranch had used this land for its cattle operation and trail rides with their guests. We were given the right to continue to use this pristine land as we had done for decades.
For many years the Big Creek Lodge has owned and operated a little camp at the base of Anvil Mountain for its cattle outfit and guest business. The camp is 32 km (20 miles) from civilization in any direction and can only be reached by horseback through the park. It is made up of two cabins, a generator shed, a large corral system and a tack shed for all the gear. The remoteness of this camp means that it is a huge task to maintain the camp during the season and everything from hay to groceries is transported up to camp by horse drawn wagon or pack horse.
These trips to the camp can take up to 6 hours one way and makes up a whole days work. All this however, rewards the visitor with a once in a life time experience. You will always be surrounded by a new adventure from swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Sherwood Lake, to watching the many different wild animals in their natural environment. Sherwood Lake is also home to some of the biggest and nicest rainbow trout you will ever see. So, for the fisherman in some of us there is nothing like catching your dinner and cooking it over an open fire.
The trip begins after a hearty breakfast at the Big Creek Lodge. The horses are caught in a corral, saddled up and loaded into a horse trailer so that they can be transported for the first 12 km (7.5 miles) of the trip. This is done in order to save both the horses and the riders' energy for the long trip to camp.
The horseback part begins at the entrance to Fire Creek where the horses are unloaded and the pack horses are loaded up with supplies. The ride then gets underway on the old trail which heads south into the mountains. This trail is wide enough for only two horses at the best of times and is dotted with rocks, ruts and swampy ground making it even impassable for all wheel drive vehicles. As the ride makes its way up Fire Creek, you come to the first crossing through the cold blue glacier water. The trail then winds itself through a dense forest coming out into an opening that we like to call "Rusty Meadow". This meadow stretches itself almost endlessly towards the mountains and the trail leading out is hidden by the same dense forest that surrounds you while you make your way to the camp. Only an experienced guide will be able to find this opening as you continue along the trail.
After 2 hours on horseback you will find yourself riding along the Nadilla, which is another one of the many streams that snake their way down the mountains. As you ride through this stream, you will begin to see a cabin which is used by the local ranches as a "cow camp". The cowboy's use this is a place to sleep and a base to ride out from as they search for their cattle. As you continue on the trip you will dive in and out of huge meadow systems and untouched forests until you come to the final draw of Fire Creek. On your approach to the Anvil Mountain Camp you will first notice the "cook shack" which is where the guide sleeps, this is also where all the meals are prepared and eaten.
The guest cabin that sits behind the "cook shack" will be your home for the next few days. There is also a corral system in the camp where the horses are kept and a tack shed where the saddles and riding gear are stored. After a long day in the saddle and a hardy meal the outside camp fire makes the perfect setting for many stories to be told and where adventures from the day can be relived. In the next few days you will do everything from riding around the beautiful landscape up onto Anvil Mountain, to fishing in the still waters of Sherwood.
As your trip comes to an end and you make your way back down to the truck and trailer, you will find it hard not to think of all the good times you have experienced. Although after riding in a hard saddle over the past few days, a comfortable truck seat will feel better than it ever has!