The Modern Witch’s Travel Guide to Northern British Columbia

Last month, as the final lingering traces of winter began to transform into spring before our very eyes, my husband and I had the pleasure of taking a trip to the awe inspiringly gorgeous region of our province that is generally referred to simply as Northern BC (or the North Coast).

The Modern Witch's Travel Guide to Northern British Columbia

This trip, while long desired and hoped for, came about rather suddenly (in a good way!) when different travel plans fell through for reasons beyond our control.

Neither of us (myself a BC born-and raised-lass or my husband, a native son of Italy) had ever been further north in British Columbia than the city of Prince George, so venturing several hours (drive time) beyond that area of the province was something we two travel-adoring souls had been eager to do for ages. 

As in many other parts of Canada, BC’s highest areas of population density occur lower down in the province (for numerous reasons including the somewhat “milder” – by Canadian standards – weather as one nears the 49th parallel). The further north one ventures, the fewer and far between, generally speaking, towns and cities become and the populations of those that do exist are generally on the modest side.

For those looking to immerse themselves in spectacular natural settings, breathe in almost intoxicatingly pristine air, and perhaps get away from the usual metropolis that they call home, heading north is generally a wise move. 

Northern BC is not without its own charming towns, villages and rural communities though, please don’t get me wrong. Several do exist and we chose the largest, the city of Terrace, as our base camp for this getaway. 

After splitting in half the approximately 14-hour drive from our wee town at the uppermost tip of the Okanagan Valley to Terrace (staying overnight, both to and from the north, in Prince George), we arrived in Terrace on a sun-spangled, mid-spring evening and were instantly smitten. 

The entirety of this road trip spanned just under two weeks. As neither of us had ever been to Northern BC before, the terrain was sparklingly new to us and we were eager to see, experience, explore and savour much of what the area had to offer. 

Northern BC is, as the name implies, in the upper portion of the province. This area is also known, especially in a historical context, as Skeena Country. It begins on the westernmost side of British Columbia, encapsulating part of the majestic Pacific Ocean, extending far inwards beyond that saltwater-kissed shoreline. 

Some of its larger communities include Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands). Port Edward and Stewart, though much smaller (each housing less than 600 residents at present), are two other well-known municipalities in the general area. 

Much – the majority, in fact – of Northern BC’s total area is unpopulated – save for the seemingly countless wild animals (such as bears, moose, elk, deer, mountain goats, eagles, salmon, prairie dogs, and scores of other creatures big and small) and dense tree cover that call the area home.

As we set out each day, either exploring Terrace and its surrounding lands or heading further afield, I was struck by how profoundly I was sensing the presents of each of the four (or five, as your personal beliefs may dictate) elements in our surroundings. 

This is not uncommon for me to experience while traveling, but the sheer magnitude with which each of the pagan elements presented itself to me, speaking to my soul, stirring my imagination, and finding itself into my on-the-road spiritual workings was intense and wonderful.

In today’s post, I would like to share a few spots in particular which I felt did a stellar job of representing each of the four elements, as my fellow pagans, witches and spiritually-centered folks who visit Northern British Columbia may wish to mindfully engage with the elements themselves, too. 

Earth:

Each of the four traditional elements is connected with a compass direction and it is the north that is most often linked to Earth. As such, it feels like an especially fitting element to interract with while in the northern reaches of BC. 

It was in the dense, enthrallingly beautiful forests and other greenery-filled areas of the North Coast that I generally felt the element of Earth most strongly. The verdant and cocoa hues of soil, leaf, branch and blade of grass a mighty and meaningful reminder of Mother Nature and how vital her presence is in each of our lives.

If you’re looking to spend time focusing on the element of earth on your own travels, I highly recommend visiting one or more of the many (stunning!) Provincial Parks (such as Kleanza Creek, Exchamsiks River, Bear Glacier, or Lakesle Lake) that abound in the area.

The Modern Witch's Travel Guide to Northern British Columbia

Air:

Ethereal yet vital to the foundation of life on this planet, air is a hugely important element and aspect of daily existence. There are many ways one can connect with this element. Visiting vantage or lookout points that allow you the ability to take in a vast swath of the surrounding area – seeing as far as your eye (and weather that day!) will permit – are a beautiful and very inspiring way to spend time appreciating air. 

Throughout the course of this trip, I personally felt the strongest connection to the element of air while we were at Coghlin Park Viewpoint in Kitimat. Hundreds (if not thousands) of gorgeous springtime blooms – chiefly, but not exclusively, tulips – were out in full force at our feet as we stood on this lookout point and gazed at the splendor that is the Pacific Ocean, as well as taking in the equally lovely mountains, woodlands and rivers that comprise the area. 

Fire:

The most literal connection that I had with the element of fire on this getaway was when, on the first day of our drive home, we passed a rapidly spreading wildfire – something that, heartbreakingly, is far too common in Western Canada during the warmer half of the year. 

Thankfully we were not in immediate danger ourselves, and after safely pulling off to the side of the road to take some quick photographs and video clips, carried on with our journey (while the fire did spread quickly, thankfully it was able to be extinguished within a few days). 

Less dangerously, the element of fire presented itself to me in picturesque sunsets and rises, the returning warmth of spring and summer, and the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Beds Provincial Park, located about 60 km (37 miles) north of Terrace. 

A little over three centuries ago now (circa the year 1700), in what is believed to be Canada’s most recent volcanic eruption, the Tseax Cone erupted, sending deadly lavas flows out into the surrounding area which killed an estimated 2,000 First Nations People who were living in the area at the time.

While the Tseax Cone is still active and could erupt again at any point, mercifully, it has not done so again in recent centuries. The Nisga’a Memorial Lava Beds Provincial Park includes an interpretive centered located in a tradition Nisga long house, waterfalls, and a landscape that has been heavily shaped and altered by lava activity.

Water:

As incredibly abundant as trees and a sense of the earth are in Northern BC, perhaps no other element is quite so easy to connect with in this part of the world as that of water. 

The largest body of water in the area is the Pacific Ocean, but it is by no means the only one. Many impressive rivers (including the Fraser, Skeena, Kitimat, and Kalum, to name but four), scores of lakes, and tons of smaller bodies of water call the area home as well. 

Water is the element that I generally connect with most powerfully and easily (no doubt, in part at least, because my sun sign is Cancer). I am pulled as though an eternal magnet draws me to natural sources of water, and I seek them out whenever and wherever we travel.

For me personally, on this trip, I experienced the deepest (pun not overly intended) connections to the element of water when we visited the Pacific Ocean in Prince Rupert, standing on the shores of the staggeringly beautiful Lakelse Lake (which is located west of Highway 37 between the towns of Terrace and Kitimat), and along the banks of the glacially-fed Kitimat River. 

Spirit:

While not everyone chooses to integrate the fifth element, Spirit (which goes by various other names as well, including Aether and Akasha), into their personal beliefs and practises, those who do are apt to feel the presence and wonder of Spirit while traveling around Northern British Columbia.

Spirit connects and interlaces the physical realm with the spiritual. Though invisible, it is to be found in everything – each of us, every rock, wildflower, woodland creature, pine needle, flowing stream, and everything else on earth. 

As such, I personally felt Spirit with me most intensely on this trip whenever we saw a wild animal. This included seven different bears (though, alas, as much as I dreamed of spotting one, we did not see any of BC’s extremely rare, truly beautiful pale creamy white hued Spirit, aka Kermode, bears which reside only in the Central and Northern Coastal regions of this province), a young moose, many elk and deer, fish leaping in rivers and lakes, and a hefty-sized eagle that flew over our picnic table one day, eyeing us and moving its head as if to distinctly nod hello in the process. 

It should not be difficult to see wildlife in Northern BC, especially between the months of mid-spring and early autumn. Always keep your wits about you, use common sense, never approach or feed wild animals, and take safety precautions while outdoors in such a rugged landscape. If you wish to try and see specific animals who inhabit the area, such as orca whales, otters, and bears, there are numerous professional guides and tour companies that can be hired/booked to help you, hopefully, accomplish just that.

After nearly two weeks on the road, we returned home, our heads teeming with positive memories, lasting impressions, unforgettable encounters, and a strong desire to return – hopefully multiple times – to the unforgettably lovely area of BC that is the Northern Coast.

The Modern Witch's Travel Guide to Northern British Columbia

If and when that happens, I know that the elements and I will meld again in the evergreen-filled woods, on the rocky river shorelines, as lofty mountain ranges tower like silent giants stretching towards the sky, in each crimson- and apricot-tinged sunset, and on the face of every animal we spot.

Should you have the chance to venture forth to Northern British Columbia, grab it and hold on tightly with both hands. This is a part of the world that will endear itself as much to your heart as it will your soul, and which is apt to be a rewarding, unforgettable spiritual experience as well.

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