The SpaceThe seemingly endless rivers, valleys, lakes and peaks of BC’s Northern Rocky Mountains still remain wild and roadless, and you have a chance to see them as the first explorers did - a pristine Rocky Mountain wilderness still there for you to explore. The Mayfield Lake Base Camp is located in the heart of that vast wilderness, more than a six day horseback ride from the nearest road. The peace, silence, and wild space that surrounds the camp will reinvigorate the senses and sooth the soul.
Along the scenic drive to the Northern Rockies Lodge at Muncho Lake to meet our pilot, you have an excellent chance of spotting caribou, stone sheep and possibly bears, moose and elk as you traverse the historic Alaska Highway. You are encouraged to stop along the way at the Cinnamon Bun Center of the Galactic Cluster for refreshments (great cinnamon buns obviously) and in Stone Mountain Park - home of the stone sheep.
Upon arrival at the Northern Rockies Lodge, you will be met by Urs and Mary Ann Schildknecht. Urs will then fly you deep into the Muskwa-Kechika to Mayfield Lake in his bright yellow de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver float plane. You will first follow the Alaska Highway back towards Fort Nelson, continuing due south and gaining altitude as you follow the course of the Toad River to the Rocky Mountain divide. There, you will spot Ram Lakes far below, a small string of jewels set in the high alpine. Once over the Divide, you will begin the descent to Mayfield Lake. Watch along the way for wildlife, particularly moose, along the streams and in the willow patches below you, and watch for white coated mountain goats clinging to the cliffs near the divide.
Upon landing at Mayfield Lake, the float plane will taxi up to the dock where you will be greeted by your hosts for the week: Wayne Sawchuk, Jerry Pavia; and other camp staff.
Wayne and Jerry are both internationally recognized photographers so be sure to bring your camera gear. During your time at Mayfield, Jerry will lead a digital photography workshop at any time of the day (as long as he’s not cooking the next meal).
Wayne and Jerry have been the sole or principle photographers of 18 books and their work has appeared in over 300 other books over the years in addition to numerous magazines across North America. Wayne was the sole photographer of the beautiful Muskwa-Kechika coffee table book. Jerry wrote and photographed The Explorer’s Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers. Those two books will be on hand at Mayfield Lake for your enjoyment. Exhibits of their work have been held in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Whitehorse in the Yukon, and Dawson Creek in British Columbia among other places.
Wayne and Jerry found that the preservation of this pristine eco-system forged a lasting friendship which enabled them to embark upon this venture: sharing this journey with those of you who also have a desire to save some of these places for future generations to know and enjoy.
Prior to Y2Y, Wayne had spent his early life in the woods as a logger and a trapper, but then found his true calling as a conservationist. He worked for nearly two decades to protect the wilderness of the Northern Rockies, and this dedication was ultimately rewarded with the creation of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. This unique designation protects the largest wilderness area remaining in the North America’s Rocky Mountains, an area of approximately 6.4 million hectares, or 15 million acres. As part of Wayne’s work, and because of his love of wilderness, each summer for the past couple of decades he hits the trail with his 17 horse packstring, accompanied by guests who crave a taste of the explorer’s life, heading deep into the mountains on what is usually a 5 week long expedition. By visiting the Mayfield Base Camp, you will become a participant and supporter of this unique conservation venture.
Prior to Jerry's tenure with Y2Y, he worked in the timber industry for 11 years, while at the same time promoting the conservation movement in Idaho. He was Chairman of the Idaho Conservation League, Idaho’s largest environmental group, for 7 years and he has spent the last 38 years hiking, climbing and backpacking throughout the American and Canadian West.
You will be in safe hands with Wayne and Jerry as they illuminate the wonders of BC’s northern Rocky Mountains and their understanding of wild places.
Well, you’ve made it! All the way from your home, wherever that may be, to the heart of the Muskwa-Kechika at Mayfield Lake. First is orientation! We’ll introduce you to how camp is set-up and explain the dos and don’ts of Mayfield Camp. The camp is fully outfitted with a backcountry first-aid kit and satellite phone on hand for emergencies. Both Wayne and Jerry are first aid trained. This introduction to camp might include meeting the horses if they are in the corral and not out grazing.
At Mayfield Lake, you are not only watching the wildlife, but living with the animals as they go about their daily lives. Moose, caribou, and loons and a wide variety of other birds are almost daily visitors, and you may see elk, wolves, river otters, grizzly bears, or many smaller animals as well.
Stroll the lakeside paths, or take a more adventurous hike down to the Gataga River where a recent lightning strike has renewed the boreal forest, all the while reveling in a soundscape free of manmade disturbance. After your hike, relax in the lakeside sauna, and later stargaze at the deep, dark heavens free of artificial light.
Canoe the quiet waters of the Mayfield Lakes (steering clear of the feeding moose) or take advantage of Wayne’s experienced packstring, available for those who would like to ride.
We will sit by the campfire in the evenings, share our stories and gaze into the darkness through the sparks as they fly upward. Should the weather be cool, we will gather around a fire in a traditional teepee for conversation and hot chocolate.
Enjoy gourmet meals, prepared by experienced wilderness cooks and spend the night under canvas like the old time cowboys used to do. And on one or more mornings you will be sated on the most wonderful backcountry pancakes you’ve ever experienced!
You might be serenaded to sleep by the singing of loons or the howls of wolves. Your canvas tent has comfortable beds, mosquito nets, and dreamy bedding means you will awake refreshed and ready to take on the challenge of the wilderness.
Before you know it, your vacation will end and you'll hear the drone of the yellow Beaver aircraft as Urs lands on Mayfield Lake to whisk you back to the Northern Rockies Lodge. Guest AccessYou will be in the heart of a Wilderness area that is larger than Switzerland. A big big area to access parts by hiking, canoe or horseback. Interaction with GuestsThe camp comes with full staff including experienced wilderness cooks and wranglers for working with the horses. Getting AroundAt camp we have canoes, the pack string of horses and hiking trials. You will be some 70 miles from the nearest road, a true Wilderness experience Other Things to NoteClients fly into the airport in Fort Nelson, British Columbia where they will be met by our driver for the 3 hour trip to the Rocky Mountain Lodge to meet our pilor, Urs. Our driver will meet you and return you to Fort Nelson at the end of your stay. OR you can drive all the way from where ever you are to the Lodge on Muncho Lake.
Here's a list of various activities you can take on while at Mayfield Wilderness Base Camp.
Fishing for Arctic grayling
Photography (including workshop on Wilderness Imaging)
How to start a fire
Splitting firewood in a very efficient manner
Wilderness sewing techniques
Muskwa-Kechika Documentary film & discussion
Mayfield Olympics (fun and games)
Animal track identification
Introduction to horse riding workshop
Horse packing techniques
Shoeing a horse
Learning about knives and axes (including sharpening)
Canoe trip to island for overnight camping
Horseback trip into the alpine for two nights of camping
Learn how to make the perfect campsite
Gear talk – what works, what doesn’t!
Laundry in the outdoors
Tall tales around the fire
Learning how-to cook in a dutch oven
Getting up early and seeing what it takes to get breakfast ready
Just plain relaxing and taking it all in