This source of Watching Creek begins high on the plateau of Porcupine Meadows Provincial Park at 1815 m (5950 feet). The area around Carlo Lake receives early snowfall and the snow pack remains for a long season. When it finally does melt, the area is a wide, wet meadow. A number of years ago, I hiked over from the Jamieson Creek Road then up the Wentworth Road, parking then hiking in, navigating by map and compass. Ponds, scrubby copses, meadows, knolls, and forest cover the high plateau and it was impossible to keep my feet dry in the traverse to Carlo Lake. All of this water feeds Watching Creek which flows south to the Tranquille Plateau.
A number of tributaries feed the stream until it becomes Watching Creek. For 10 km the creek continues down forested slopes. A looping resource road does run past the upper creek (10 km from Carlo Lake). This backroad is part of secondary roads connecting the O’Connor Forest Service Road, logging roads up to the Silwhoaikun Plateau, and the Jamieson Creek Forest Service Road. Many of these roads are reasonable to drive once they are dry.
For another 7 km, the creek descends south, crossing the Cannell Creek Road west of Pass Lake. The Cannell Creek Road continues west toward high country near Saul Lake, Truda Lake, and Tranquille Lake, but Watching Creek runs under the bridge, continuing southwest around the slopes of Opax Mountain. Cannell Creek joins Watching Creek in this steep-sided valley, dropping as a waterfall.
The hills on the north side of the creek can be accessed y hiking. Near the top of one of these hills, I found my best agate sample. Closer to the confluence Watching Hill rises up 320 meters to a fine viewpoint. The slopes of Opax Mountain on this side are trackless, heavily forested, and steep.
After 25 k, Watching Creek runs into Tranquille Creek in a dramatic canyon with views of hoodoos, rushing water, colorful cliffs, and ragged rocky slopes.
A hiking trail starts at Tranquille Crossing, following an old double track road down Tranquille River to the confluence. (Watching Creek Trails). From the confluence, hikers can cross the creek (there used to be a bridge) and continue down the bench above the Tranquille River. There used to be two other bridges providing a loop hiking trail from the west side over to the confluence then along the bluff and back over a narrow bridge but all of the bridges have been washed out with spring freshets.
There is an informal recreations ite on the west side of the river. A double track leads down to a bench overlooking the confluence. There was once a homestead there. Paddy Docksteader was raised and traded horses. He had once worked for the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. He could be seen running a line of horses up or down the river to trade with ranchers and farmers. Nothing remains of the homestead now excet for the clearings. A steep trail goes down to the river there which has also been used by gold panners. There are two claims nearby and the BC Lapidary Society also had a claim for up Watching Creek for the apple-green opals and agate geodes in the steep bluffs.
We have seen gold panners working the creek a few times over the years. I wrote an article for Gold Country and included this information: “ The present site of Tranquille was on the route and a small settlement and some gold panning started at the mouth of the river, mostly by Natives from the area, including Jean Baptiste Lolo “St. Paul”, who went on to become a chief of the Shuswap people.
Some minor trade in gold started in 1859, and a minor rush started soon thereafter. By 1861, hundreds of miners were working the creek. Production dropped by 1870 and many miners moved on to the construction of the CPR. Chinese miners continued on the Tranquille River until the 1890’s. At that time, hydraulic mining started with a company from the Coast building a 25 foot dam and a 1200 foot flume. A new mining boom started and continued until the 1930’s. Some platinum was found in the river and a number of miners continued to live off mining until the 1950’s. The Tranquille River is now known as one of three “18-carat rivers” in B.C. Today, we can still see evidence of the hydraulic mining along the river.”
For four decades I have explored sections of Watching Creek from the source to the confluence with the Tranquille River, but there are more days of hiking along forgotten tracks and through the forests in the high country.