"This exhausting trek follows
in the footsteps of Alexander Mackenzie in 1793" - About
The Blackwater isn't just about a river but a region full
of mystery and legend. It was the final landing place for
Pan Phillips and Rich Hobson, two intrepid cowboys determined
to build the biggest cattle ranch in some of the most remote
country in the world.
The Carrier natives followed a trail called the Grease Trail
on the north side of the Blackwater River for centuries in
their trade with the Coastal natives. The Grease Trail got
its name from the baskets of Ooligan grease carried over the
trail from Bella Coola to inland tribes in trade for furs
and obsidian. The Ooligan is a small greasy fish similar to
smelt, so oily that it's said you can light it and burn it
like a candle! The grease was used much as we would use butter
both to cook with, pour over food, or to dip dried fish into
and was acquired by fermenting the fish and then boiling and
skimming the contents of the pot. Locals joke that all the
grizzlies in the country were drawn to the trail for centuries
by the scent of the fish grease that leaked onto the footpath.
The Grease Trail is more famously known as the route that
Alexander Mackenzie was guided over by local natives from
inland British Columbia in 1793 in search of a route to the
Pacific Coast. They used a combination of the trail and canoes
on the river where possible. The heritage trail is 480 km
long, can take up to a month to complete and is considered
viable for the conditioned hiker only. There are no services
or shelters and hikers must make their own arrangements for
supply drops along the way.
The Blackwater River drains a huge area of over 12,000 square
km that includes both the Rainbow Mountains and the Itcha
Illgatchuz Range and isn't actually a noticeable body of water
until it empties from Eliguk lake. It drops nearly 2000 feet
along its 240 km course where it eventually meets with the
Fraser River. Along the way, its name changes from the Blackwater
to the West Road River, probably because parts of the Blackwater
can be reached by a road out of Quesnel of the same name.
A wide, slow moving river in most places, it offers fantastic
fly fishing, either by wading or using float rafts or tubes.
The region has a great deal of history associated with it
from ancient native villages to the more recent settlement
of the area in the last century by the rare but hardy rancher.
This area consists mostly of pine forest and grassland and
low rolling hills with little of the mountain vistas you will
get farther west. Where the river can be accessed, it is very
popular for fishing, camping, canoeing, boating, hunting,
and snowmobiling in winter.
Operators - Blackwater Region