Saturday, June 9, 2012
Thursday, June 7: Coming out of Houston BC in the gray morning, we are following the Bulkley River north. It is huge and swollen, and today’s rain is going to bring it up even more! We are traveling in its valley, and a strip of clouds like a roll of cotton covers all but the peaks of the highest mountains. The road is good, the ditches cut way back to give more warning of moose crossing. Stopped for gas in a cute little town that time forgot, Tyhee Lake, next to the raging Bulkley. Feels like any little small town in Wisconsin, then you look up and there are the huge snow-covered mountains. “We’re not in Kansas anymore!” Our first stop this morning on the way to Stewart BC will be the ‘Ksan Historical Village in the Hazeltons, the totem Pole Capitol of the World. We turn east off #16 and cross the Hagwiget Bridge over the Bulkley, one of the highest single lane suspension bridges in North America. Below the First Nation men gaff fish in the dangerous rapids. The ‘Ksan site, where the Bulkley and the Skeena rivers converge then flow to the ocean, is very moving in the mists of the afternoon; the buildings are decorated in the manner of the Peoples of the Upper Skeena River and the totems are really impressive. We visit the museum on the site; the artifacts are very different from anything we’ve seen before. The buildings are actually used as a four-year School of Northwest Coast Indian Art, besides a tourist destination. A few hours later and we are crossing another unique bridge, a one-lane plank bridge over the wild Nass River; we can see the original bridge right next to us, just a shell since last summer’s floods took it out. We were having torrential rains in Douglas County at the same time! We turned west at Meziadan Junction on to the Glacier Highway, and start to see snow on the ground, then the coastal mountains up close and personal with lots of snow, and the huge bear Glacier, streaked with blue! The air is so cool and sweet with the scent of pine and spring rain. We follow the Bear River into Stewart and find our lovely kitchenette at the King Edward Hotel. Stewart looks a lot like something from Northern Exposure, old clapboard buildings on main street and a hodgepodge of homes of various vintages and construction materials. After a bite of supper, we stretch our legs on a boardwalk out over the salt flats at the head of the 90-mile long Portland Canal (a fiord from the ocean); it’s low tide and we can see the pilings from old buildings that used to set out in the canal. The plants and animals of the estuary are interesting and some are familiar. We’ll check out Hyder Alaska across the canal tomorrow!