Sunday, July 25, 2010

Out of the mountains onto the plains

Friday, July 23, and we have now been on the road for two weeks. In some respects it seems like an eternity since we were in Park City, as we have seen and done so much. Just like two weeks ago today - it was a travel day. We were off to Vanderhoof, BC - via Hwy 16, the Yellowhead Hwy. The highway is named for the Yellowhead Pass, the route chosen to cross the Canadian Rockies, which in turn is named after a fur trader and explorer named Pierre Bostonais, who had yellow streaks in his hair and was nicknamed Yellowhead!! Sometimes the craziest names stick forever.

Following the Yellowhead Hwy.

We were so very sad to be leaving Jasper - but there are more experiences to be had and scenery to be seen. We did try to stay in Jasper another couple of nights beyond our reservation - but, out of almost 800 camping spots, they couldn’t find an extra one for us for a couple of extra days. So - we reluctantly went on our way -

Jasper BC is a beautiful area-sad to leave;-(

Three things about the Yellowhead Hwy on the segment we drove this Friday - Moose Lake, animals and Mount Robson. Unfortunately, the photographer was not quite awake as we passed by Moose Lake and not quick enough on the trigger for the animals! So - you have to trust me on these. Moose Lake was simply beautiful at the hour we passed it in the morning! Quite large, right up against the highway - but, not a moose in sight;-( Three bears were sighted, though - one running across the road right in front of us! But, they were clearly not as used to cars (or people) as those in Jasper. They disappeared into the trees along the road as fast as we spotted them. So - no pictures of them either. Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, on the other hand - posed! However, the top of this mountain - similar to Denali - is not seen very often. It creates its own weather and is almost always shrouded in clouds. Gary spent about 30 minutes waiting - and waiting - and waiting - as the clouds teased him. Every minute looking like there would be a break and he would get that elusive photo of the top. Never happened - but, what he did get is still awesome -

After a long wait, this was all I could capture of the upper section of Mt. Robson.

The NP’s, mountains and forests were left behind (for the time being) and we entered the Nechako Valley on the banks of the Nechako River. The stop was Vanderhoof, British Columbia (BC) - the geographical Center of BC. This valley is an agricultural, farming valley - and very different from the Jasper area.

(Note - We have been happy to learn that after our posting about the Icefields Highway and Jasper, it appears that we have some Canadian writers (??) following our blog. But, that also means that perhaps our comments should be tempered??)

SO - Vanderhoof was not what we were expecting - but, the welcome sign was quite lovely -

The prettiest part of Vanderhoof ;-)

A side trip to Fort St. James National Historic Site of Canada proved to be quite interesting and informative. Simon Fraser and John Stuart established a trading post here, Stuart Lake Outpost, in 1806 for the North West Company’s expansion west of the Rocky Mountains - as they found the area rich in all kinds of fur-bearing animals. The Outpost was renamed Fort St. James in 1821 with the ‘merger’ of the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company. It was hard for us to imagine that the hunting of animals for their furs was so lucrative that it made sense to establish this trading post in this ‘remote’ location and ship these furs around the Cape of South America to Europe. But, that is just what they did!! And, they did this in conjunction with the Carrier people of the Nak’azdli nation, who were the natives of the area. The fully restored Hudson’s Bay Company post commemorates this partnership between the fur traders and First Nations from 1806 - 1952. Here is just a glimpse -

Historic Fort. St. James. A Hudson Bay Co. fur trading outpost.

After Fort St. James - we just couldn’t handle our scheduled tee time at the course ‘in the pastures’ - so we called and cancelled;-(

A slight variation in the schedule occurred here - one less day in Vanderhoof - as we continued on the Yellowhead Highway to the next stop - Telkwa. Burns Lake was on the way - and made us think that perhaps the ‘Welcome’ signs were much more important here than in the US. It made us stop, look and take a picture -

Welcome signs are BIG in BC!! REALLY FUN - don't you think??

Then there was Houston (BC - that is), with the world’s larges flyrod!! A tribute to the fact that Houston is the Steelhead fishing capital of the world - this impressive structure measures 60 feet long and weighs in at 800 pounds!! Elizabeth was just a fleck in the reel -

You can almost see Elizabeth below the reel. The T-shirt in town says "the best head is steelhead".

Finally we reached our current destination of Telkwa - meaning “where the rivers meet”, as this is where the Bulkley and Telkwa Rivers come together. In 1906 the valley’s first European settlers put down stakes here on the bluff above the Bulkley River and established a restocking spot for prospectors following the call of the Gold rush. As the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now the Canadian National Railway) began constructing the western section of their railway in 1907, many businesses and settlers began to move down the hill to the present site of Telkwa to be closer to the anticipated railway and an easier water supply. Many of the historic buildings still exist - as this restored 1910 St. Stephen’s Anglican Church -

The old church.

Just a side thought from our travels - As we listen to the trains go by, and given the history of Telkwa, we are reminded, again, of the role that the railroads played in the development of North America! All of the Lodges in the NP areas that we have visited, of both the US and Canada, were built by the RR’s. Much of the exploration of the west in the 1800‘s was done in order to bring the RR west - which resulted in a good portion of the development. So many of the towns we have passed through in our travels - all across the US and Canada - came into existence/grew because of the RR’s. Seems as though we do owe them a debt of gratitude.

Well - enough of our thoughts. We shall see what another day brings. Until then -

Our Love to All - E & G

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Just caught up... the photos are absolutely incredible! Keep them coming, they almost make me feel like I'm there :)