Vedette Lake, British Columbia (July 2015)
I have been longing to travel here for years, although I really needed to wait until the right time to have friends with me who own a truck and knew the way to Lonely Planet’s number one Kamloops attraction, the Centre of the Universe. I am not a religious person by any means, and I still appreciated this experience with an open mind and heart.
Take it from me, this is an incredible adventure! It is a beautiful drive up through two provincial parks filled with beautiful landscapes of caves, volcanic areas, hoodoos, wildlife and several forestry recreation sites.
Upon arrival, my friends and I met with Mr. Ray Stad, the present owner of this area and the Vidette Lake Resort or Gold Mine (now known as Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat). He was a great host and invited in his home for a cup of birch bagga tea. One of my friends with us is a cancer survivor; Ray recommended this tea that he made from fungus of a dying birch tree that has been said to cure many different ailments. While the colour of the drink looked daunting, it actually tasted quite neutral! What I loved most about this adventure was that Ray joined us in exploring the area and offered such great insight, stories, and genuine love for the natural outdoors.
Upon entering an area marked “No Trespassing”, Ray introduced our group to the concept of dowsing for water by using two metal prongs the same way some people use pendulums.
We visited “The Healing Tree” along the path, filled with semi-precious stones, sage, crystals and messages tucked into its bark. We followed tradition as Buddhists do and walked around the tree clockwise in a full circle before placing our left hands onto the tree and leaving our right hands to release our negative energy.
The trail was filled with neat tree formations and rocks that are all naturally found as they were. Without Ray to point out a ‘Sasquatch foot’ or the ‘two headed snake’, I may have missed them! All in all, the trail only takes about fifteen minutes to walk along. It is not considered intensive, although it is not accessible for those unable to walk well.
Once we were atop of the hill seen in this photo, we were greeted by a grassy knoll, a rock and juniper tree decorated in prayer flags. As a Buddhist custom, we walked around the rock in a clockwise circle three times before entering the sacred space. Our bodies gently brushed up against the juniper tree budding with berries. The tree is adorned with tattered prayer flags of various colours. Ray informed us that is a Buddhist belief that every strand that falls off a prayer flag and is released into the wind, a prayer is shared with the universe.
Other highlights included the beautiful view of Vidette Lake and the surrounding mountainside, the Turtle Rock, and a simple, yet beautiful altar. Turtle Rock is a rock (of course) found a short ways down the hill and is said to be the place to release all of one’s prayers. One must do so barefoot. It is a place of silence, contemplation, and prayer. This natural rock has comfortable space for all feet sizes to stand on. It is called the Turtle Rock as it looks like a tortoise or turtle shell.
The altar is a simple circle of rocks filled with treasures and tokens left from other visitors over the years. Many people feel the need to leave a homage behind to pay respect to the universe, Mother Nature, and this space. I had told a friend of mine who is currently abroad in the United Kingdom that we would come here one day. I hadn’t thought of leaving something behind before leaving my house that morning, but it felt like the right thing to do when I left my London key chain in honour of my friend.
Everyone will experience something different when they visit this gorgeous, treasured area. Some say that they have seen the tips of grass light on fire or hear beautiful voices singing in the wind. Others say that it is too emotional to even step into this space. Perhaps, you will just enjoy the stories and the gorgeous view. Keep in mind that everyone (humans and animals) are welcome to visit the Centre of the Universe.
It is also important to remember that natural spaces like this need to be cared for, respected, and most of all, not over-used. In my opinion, visiting the Centre of the Universe was an incredible experience, but it is an alternative tourism product that is hard to truly convey to future visitors. Ray’s ‘guided tour’ is completely organic and can not be experienced in the same way twice. This is one of those adventures that you just need to experience for yourself!
According to the Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat’s website, travel north on Deadman Creek Road from Hwy 97 for 54 km (33.5 mile), where you will reach Vidette Lake. At the north tip of the lake you’ll see the entrance to Vidette Lake Gold Mine Resort veering to the left. Deadman Creek Road continues very steep up the hill and makes a sharp turn to the right. The road continues a little further towards Deadman Falls. After that you’ll need a four wheel drive to continue. The elevation is approximately 2,500 feet. The shoreline is approximately 22,590 feet.
Know Before You Go:
- Call ahead to ensure that Ray Stad is available before heading out.
- It’s highly recommended to drive up in a four wheel drive vehicle.
- There is an entrance fee of $20.00. Bring cash.
- From March to November, be aware of tick season.
- Bring your own lunch, water, camera, and proper hiking gear.
- Prepare for warm and cool temperatures.
Vidette Lake Spiritual Retreat (Official Website)
Tourism Kamloops Information
The Globe And Mail Article (2013)
Great Canadian Bucket List Blog
Vancouver Sun Article (2007)