A Current News update will be released shortly,meanwhile this is back to 15th – 16th June 2013 still in BC Canada.
Donny sent us on our way with a belly full of pancakes, it was Kev’s first introduction to the American/Canadian style made using a much richer batter and lashings of maple syrup – the other Canadian/American gold. Traveling in sunshine and showers we stopped briefly in a pull out style rest stop for coffee where we learnt not only was it named Tintagel in 1913 but the central stone in its cairn was taken from the northern wall of Tintagel castle in England. (reputed birthplace of King Arthur of the round table). Apart from a railway line alongside there was nothing else here, no other explanation of why the stone was bought here to this spot.
Thinking we might have been free-camping that night we stopped in Driftwood provincial park just outside the town of Smithers to cook our sausage based meal. We got in the habit of doing this when we could as it kept food smells away from our camp so we didn’t attract bears.
It was also known as an important paleontological site, although we struggled to find many fossils. The cliff was flaking away and most of the fossils with it but it was a good picnic spot. These were the best remains we could see.
As it turned out we ended up in the municipal campsite in Smithers with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Kev popped into town and on emerging from the store found Dave sat on his bike next to ours shaking his head and saying “I don’t believe it”. It turns out he had been following our travels and thought we were still in the UK due to our tardy blogging. Dave kindly invited us to stay the night but after Kev explained that he’d left Karen at the campsite Dave said come over for breakfast in the morning instead. Kev returned to the campsite where he found and joined Karen enjoying a glass of wine and chatting with the Kiwi neighbours at their fire pit.
We were told the short detour to Twin falls was worth doing so next morning found us bright and early at the twin falls just out of town. It was very difficult to get them both in the same shot. In springtime the falls can amount to as many as eight individual waterfalls tumbling over the cliffs. In the picture with Karen you can just see them both.
Dave lived a little way beyond Smithers and we stopped in as promised for breakfast and a chat, he gave us some good advice on things to see and do and told us of a friend of his further down the Cassiar Highway whom we could visit. He also sent us on our way with a trout for dinner that night. Thanks Dave.
After passing more snowcapped mountains en route we stopped at the suspension bridge over Hagwilget canyon. Hagwilget “the home of the quiet people” was a Carrier Indian village on the banks next to the Bukley river. Here a 150ft bridge spanned the river in 1856, poles, lashed with cedar ‘rope’, were supporting the timbers made only with axe and knife. Later reinforced with telegraph wire it served for half a century.
The current suspension bridge is the fourth, built in 1932 it is one of the highest in Northern America, 16ft wide, spans 450ft and is 262 feet above the river. If this wasn’t a challenge enough, it had what we were to discover was a very common surface on Canadian bridges, that is open steel grating. When dry this is difficult enough to ride a bike over as the bike wants to choose its own path on each new section of grating which acts like tram lines, when wet it is even more treacherous, the longer the bridge, the more the ‘fun’ lasts !!!
The historic old town of Hazelton had some great buildings. The restored heritage buildings served as a reminder of the days when Hazelton was the commercial centre of the northwest. From 1886 to 1913 Hazelton was the upriver terminus for a fleet of sternwheelers (paddlesteamers) which plied the wild rapids of the Skeena river and supplied the whole area. The town grew at the landing close to the Indian village of Gitenmaks. People and supplies were then dispersed inland to dozens of mines, farms and settlements. It had a fairly unique gallery housed in an old sternwheeler.
This paddlewheel shaft came fron the S.S Inlander salvaged from the Skeena river in 1988. The S.S Inlander was owned by the Hazelton residents until it beached in 1912.
Little remains of the ambitious project to connect North America to Europe by telegraph by October 1866 the line was in use this far north but the route to Alaska was abandoned following the successful laying of the underwater cable in the Atlantic. There were many pieces of historic machinery on display around the town. This Humbolt steam donkey was used for logging in the forests. Quite why this house had an aircraft sticking out of it we are not sure but it made a good picture.
Hazelton is the oldest surviving community in Northwest B.C. and was the home to the first trading post established in 1880 which included a bank, school, mining office, government agent, newspaper and hospital. The town enjoys a strong tie to its rich past and many of the institutions still serve the community to this day.
An excavation at the old hospital site uncovered a motor used to drive a generator used for lighting the hospital. It was discarded after an explosion shattered the engine block, the force so strong, the connecting rod can be seen to be bent completely around the flywheel shaft. I wonder how many more people ended up in the hospital from this event.
Hazelton also marked the last big town for a while, from here on in we were headed to more remote, less used roads on the Cassiar highway, the alternative route north.
Meziadin junction was where we ended up that night in a parks camp. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal of trout, thanks again Dave.
Meziadin Junction camp was also on the lake shore which had some great reflections. Many motorcycle riders passed through the camp some stayed and we met Bear and Steph from California and made loose plans to ride together to Hyder next day.
Next morning Bear was delighted to pose next to the Glacier of his name, Bear glacier, one of the few glaciers where the toe is visible from the roadside.
Bear Glacier descends towards Strohn Lake, down Bear River Pass. Ice once filled all of the pass, but in the 1940′s, the glacier began to retreat and Strohn Lake formed in the exposed basin. In 1967, Bear Glacier melted away from the valley wall and Strohn Lake was no longer damned. Since then the glacier has continued its retreat.
Next up – Hyder Alaska