I've revisited this day a lot from my trip across Canada. Partly because I feel extremely lucky to have survived it and the other part because it was the first time on the trip I felt like I was truly exploring Canada. I was surrounded by so many mountains and very little law/regulations. The day before, July 14, 2019 I left Fort St. John around 11am and made my way up the only highway that went northwest, BC-97 aka The Alaska Highway. Once you get on this road, you really only have one way to go unless you turn around. There aren’t really any side roads or exits. It was a 323 mile trip into the wilderness that would take around 8 hours with all the stopping I tend to do to take photos. That night, I stayed at an abandoned cabin rental/cafe/gas station that was shut down in the 70s but the buildings still stood. Sometime between 7pm and midnight, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky drove past me as I was walking up and down The Alaska Highway taking photos or hanging out in my van planning for Denali. I didn’t know the significance of these names till a later date.
I woke up that morning, July 15, 2019 not knowing the bullet I dodged. I spent my day climbing 5 peaks in 2 hours and 57 minutes. For some reason, this day I was motivated and thirsty for adventure. Starting out at 4196 ft, I made my way through the spruce dominated woods on some hard packed dirt. Quickly crossed a river and started my elevation gain without much warning. I climbed to my first unnamed mountain at 6499 ft followed by St. Paul E2 at 6610 ft where I ate lunch and enjoyed epic views. The hiking was rather rugged and straight up.
I then summited Mt. St. Paul at 6984 ft, the tallest peak out of the 5. This was the start of my descent and my decision to go off trail to make a big loop. I then hit my second unnamed mountain at 6719 ft and my third unnamed mountain at 6660 ft.
The hiking was mostly scree, hard packed dirt and big boulders in a dried up river bed. Round trip was 4.8 miles and ended with me taking a bath in Summit Lake which was a very cold lake. Now that I was fully awake from the slightly above freezing waters, I drove through the rest of the Northern Canadian Rockies stopping 20 different times to take pictures and enjoy the views.
Driving through these mountains was just a sliver of what the Northern Canadian Rockies have to offer. My mood was at an all time high being able to experience these views and the remoteness I felt.
Muncho Lake was bigger than I was expecting and a nice change of scenery.
At one point 3 black SUV Police passed me just like in the movies, less than a car length away from each other going roughly 70 mph on windy single lane mountain roads. I eventually caught up to the police just before getting to Liard Hot Springs. There I saw a super sick looking 80s blue chevy van parked on the side of the road. Caution tape going from the van into the woods. Two bodies faced down in the grass with nothing covering them. The cops were pointing at my van smiling. I was completely confused. I felt sick and thought it was a bear attack since I had seen 11 bears the day before. I got to Liard Hot Springs where there had been a grizzly attack the night before which made me think even more of the same. Keep in mind, there is hardly any cell service, let alone LTE. I was on high alert the rest of the night and as I talked to multiple truckers, I was told two people were shot and killed and this was the start of the Northern British Columbia Murderers. Two teenagers, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were on a 3 person killing spree and traveled all across Canada. I will randomly play this over in my head wondering why they didn’t kill me and how lucky I am. The two victims were doing the same thing I was doing and their van broke down where they were shot and it sounded like they were planning on calling a tow truck in the morning. The place I slept the night of the murder was on the side of the road but hidden by some bushes, is this why I was so lucky? I have a lot of questions I want to ask but there are only so many answers and this report.