Current News – The predicted snow storm came through the Yellowstone area (we are outside the park boundaries), the snow settled and for a morning at least the land looked beautiful. The sun is back out again only a smattering of snow remains. Our plans are very fluid at the moment and we have many options to get south or west thanks to Jim the person we are staying with. For now enjoy the fact we can catch up on some of our blogs, here we are arriving at Fort St James in Canada.
Blog 270 Fort St James June 2013
We were being looked after so well by Hans the caretaker of the Quesnel campsite and we had a day of sun forecast so it was declared wash day and an afternoon off.
That evening we were keen to visit the Pinnacles provincial park to see it at sunset but the locals warned us against it because of the cougar/bear issue. We went the next morning instead.
The rock formations here are called hoodoos. Pinnacles Provincial Park protects a very unique formation of hoodoos. These hoodoos began their formation 12 million years ago, when molten lava flowing over the earth’s surface cooled in flat basalt layers over older layers of ash and rock. The Ice Age followed, and when the ice mass receded, melt-water streams eroded the valley below Pinnacles Park. The hoodoos are formed from the effects of this natural erosion and weathering. The basalt is eroded away, revealing the more resistant ash layer, and often producing vivid bands of color as individual basalt layers are removed.
The pinnacles were a little walk away from the road and the signs reminded us we were in bear and cougar country. We found this orchid alongside the path way, we thought it was a lady’s slipper orchid but we were not sure. The views down the valley and across Baker Creek were also worth the walk.
Back in the town of Quesnel we saw another example of the Cornish wheel used to pump water and extract gold-bearing gravel. The engines on display were the boilers from the first river boat on the upper Fraser river the SS. Enterprise.
Quesnel is also home to the longest wooden truss walking bridge in the world. 831 ft long. The Fraser river was originally only crossed by canoe then ferry, construction on the bridge began in 1928. It greatly aided the citizens of Western Quesnel. When finished it was used on cattle runs when over 400 cattle would cross the bridge rather than swim the river as was usual. Cars could travel across until the new bridge was opened in 1971. It was also used to carry over birch timber from western Quesnel for making mosquito bombers in WWII.
We took the detour off the main highway to visit Fort St James. The town had a placer (loose gold) mine in the early days and gold mines still exist in the area. This Tom Creek steam shovel was bought into the area in the 1930′s and worked every summer in the placer mines until 1940 employing 15 men.
Because of its location and large lake Fort St James was also an important float plane base used to supply the outermost reaches of Canada which were inaccessible by motor vehicle.This 1/3rd scale Junkers 34 was built to commemorate the brave bush pilots that flew from here. Bush pilots served remote mining, forestry, trapping and hunting camps and could reach settlements which would previously have only been accessible by canoe and horse in summer and skis or sled dogs in winter.
Historically Fort St James was also well-known as an outpost of the Hudson bay fur company. We planned to explore the historic fort tomorrow. Our campsite for the night was in town by the Stuart river, it was a cold night so we lit the woodburner in the tent.
We didn’t sleep too well, not because of the cold but the air bed. It had developed a leak so the next morning we spent hours searching for the tiny hole that caused us so much grief in the night. At the eleventh hour we found it and patched it much to our relief.
This delay in our departure enabled us to meet a local called Donny. He’d seen us riding by the day before and wanted to take a closer look so walked down the road to say hi. During the conversation he asked us to stop by his house on our way out and have a look at his collection of animals and antlers. Like many northern folk he hunted extensively in his youth although he confessed he no longer had the heart for it.
We both liked Donny straightaway, we could tell he was the real deal so later when he invited us to come out for a ride on his boat and stay the night we both agreed without hesitation. Some people get a bit squeamish about stuffed or mounted animals but we found them fascinating although we would both much rather see animals alive in the wild besides we were about to visit the Hudson Bay Fur companies outpost.
The Black bear is smaller than the Grizzly and Karen shows how large the Grizzly bear paw is.
Next up – Hudson Bay Fur company museum