Thursday, October 12, 2006

Harrison Lake to Lillooet Lake and Pemberton

Hosted by Ed Pedersen

In attendance:
Mark Woodside & Alina Smolyansky from Vancouver
Richard and Jan Leek from Portland
Cheryl Steele from Everett
Ken and Linda Pedersen from Maple Ridge

Right about the time I was bumping and crawling up a steep rocky hill in 4 low I was thinking how glad I was that I advertised this trip as a 4X4 trip only. Most of the trip could have been done in two wheel drive, but 4 of the miles in the middle of the trip consisted of pretty rough road. A clue was when my cup holder fell off the door spilling it's contents on the floor for the third time....

We left the rendezvous point pretty well on time, well, the term "on time" is flexible according to Ed's standards. We gassed up and headed towards Harrison Mills, our entry point and mile zero of the long forest roads we were to follow for most of the trip.

The south end of Harrison Lake is five miles to the east of Harrison Mills, but the West Harrison Lake FSR starts on the west side of a small mountain in Harrison Mills, heads north, then rejoins the lake arond the 10 mile marker. We stopped at the start of the gravel road for last minute instructions, such as spacing out between vehicles to keep the dust down, and to ensure we were all on the same frequency on our CBs.

I had previously been on trips with most of the people who came out for this ride, except for Mark and Alina. They were out for the first time, and I think Mark was surprised when he asked if I had a map, and my reply was "don't worry, I'm a trained's all in my head!", ...he must have thought we'd be getting lost for sure !!

We headed up the popular FSR amid a freeway of cars coming and going along the first part of the route. Viewpoints were hard to come by for the first stretch, but when they did the views were wonderful indeed..deep blue waters showed the depth of the glacier carved lake that we would be driving along for the next 50 miles.

We drove along through mature second and third growth forests. This area was the sight of a vast railway logging operation at the turn of the century, and still supports a large logging operation in the surrounding area. We stopped at the newly renovated campsite located at 20 Mile Bay. The original campsite was close to the road on the side of the hill: the new one was right down at the edge of the lake on a peninsula of land. The new spot is clean, the shallow waters of the bay at the campsite are warm and kid friendly, and the campsites are in the shadows of the trees, but subject to a breeze to help cool off.
We had a leisurely early lunch, then got back into the vehicles and headed further down the road. This was the stretch of road I was concerned about. In the past the FSR from here on was not maintained, and several wash outs had made the previous trips somewhat adventurous. Well, now the logging company has opened a new area to log further up the lake, and they have made the FSR into a main line, and it was smooth as silk. That is, until we were 4 miles from the end of the lake. The good road turned off the old West Harrison FSR, and headed up the mountain to the current logging areas. We had traveled through some active logging right at road side, but it was not the main logging site.

The further up the lake we went the more rugged the mountains became, and the blue water at the south end of the lake was slowly becoming more green as we got closer to the lake head. Here the emerald green waters of the Lillooett River carried it's colouring into the lake and extended it's reach for some miles out into the waters. The Lillooett is fed by glaciers on the surrounding peaks, and we could see remnants of those winter snows still defying the hot summer sun on the high, cragged mountain tops on both sides of the lake.

Well, about the same time the scenery starting getting our eyes off the road, the road went from good gravel to a deteriorated road bed....the FSR had several washouts and some of the long steep sections had small creeks flowing down the road, washing away the surface layer, and leaving uneven bedrock and small to medium size rocks for the 4X4's to bump and grind over as we used 4 low to either crawl up a hill or crawl slowly down a hill. It was at this very moment that I was glad I trusted my instincts and said "4X4 only for this trip", right before that darn cup holder went under my feet again.....

The rough section didn't last too long, and before we knew it we had crossed over to the next tree license area, and the logging camp at the north end of the lake had pushed a spur road south towards our location. A good graded road signaled that we had made it through the worst of the trip, and we shifted out of 4 low and cruised the last mile or so in comfort.

We drove down the last hill into the active Tipella logging camp. We came in through the back door, so to speak, and we drove through the large dry land sorting area towards the main offices and work buildings.

I was surprised at how empty the dry land sort was; while they had a fair amount of inventory boomed in the lake, lots of bare ground was showing in the yard. I think this is because of the current tariff war between Canada and the US. The Canadian industry has lost a large share of their market in the U.S., and there are thousands of laid off workers because of it. Generally yards like this are overflowing with stacked products awaiting sorting and grading prior to shipment.

As it was Sunday the camp was shut down, and we drove through unhindered, not having to worry about avoiding large grapple movers and logging trucks moving about. The other benefit of the weekend is that we did not have to worry about meeting a logging truck head on over the next 40 miles of FSR.

The camp was the official end of the West Harrison FSR, and the start of the Pemberton-Lillooett FSR, officially known as the In-SHUCK-cha FSR.
As this was now the main haul road north towards the mills in Pemberton, the road was in excellent shape but there was a trade off....DUST !!

Soft billowing talcum powder dust was to be our friend for the remainder of the gravel FSR. We spread out as far as possible in the convoy to allow the dust to settle, but that didn't work when we would pass a vehicle coming the other way. Then we would quickly roll our windows up, but that too was useless in deterring the inside of the 4X4's from being covered in a layer of white dust.

Three miles north of the camp we passed over the Sloquet River. It is 8 miles up this side valley to where the Sloquet Hot Springs reside, the same Sloquet Hot Springs that I have talked about before on the list. Another couple of miles and we took a side road that returned us to the head of Harrison Lake, only this time we were on the east side of the lake.

Port Douglas was the head of navigation for steamers from the late 1850's to the early 1860's. This was the first of four lakes that made up the Gold Miner route called the Douglas Trail. It was named after Governor Douglas who ordered a port to be built at this location. A city soon flourished to serve the needs of the hordes of passing miners. Being a frontier town there was no shortage of troubles and the crown colony of BC sent one of their judges to calm things down.

Judge Matthew Begbie was know as the Hanging Judge. He was 6'5" and solid like a rock..legend has it he saw a street fight where one fighter was taking on all new comers for 20 bucks...story is he took up the bet and knocked the man out cold. He gained a lot of respect that day!

When we first got to the hamlet of Port Douglas I jumped over a low fence to look at a historic marker in some ones front yard. Before long two dogs came running out and a lady was following after them. Turns out she is the caretaker of a metals research camp that now occupies most of the old downtown section of Port Douglas. She was nice enough to invite us onto the property and gave us a first hand tour of the camp and it's buildings, as well as supply us with some local history.

On the back of the property there was an old stone foundation that used to be the courthouse from the 1860's, and across from it was an enormous cottonwood tree that a man convicted of murder by Judge Begbie was hanged. Unfortunately, like most towns from this era, they had a major fire in 1894 that leveled all the wooden buildings. This lady spent a good hour with us and was most generous with her time, she really added a good historical footnote to our Gold miners trip for the day.

Back on the road we soon realized what it feels like to have some one pour bags of flour over your head. This section of the country was warmer and dryer than the southern end of the lake, and the roads here were wide and smooth, but covered in 4 inches of floured dust. All that dust kicked up by 5 vehicles traveling at 30 miles an hour, it doesn't take long to figure out what we looked like and felt like after this section of the road.

We were now on the east side of the Lillooet River, and it had that deep emerald green that comes with heavy concentration of glacial flour. We drove for many miles strung out a mile or so apart to give the dust a chance to settle, and trying to find the right spot between "not too far apart" and "not too close".

As we drove along the mountain views were spectacular; every turn of the road brought a new glacier, or a new jagged mountain peak to view, or the river would have a few more twists that would make the water sparkle in the sunlight. I stopped often snapping pictures, all the while trying to maintain the distance from vehicle to vehicle. Eventually the valley opened a bit, and along side the river we found the Indian settlement of Skookumchuk, which means "fast water" in the Interior Salish tongue.

The Reserve boasts a picturesque three tower church that is approx 100 years old. I've seen pictures of this church in many backroads books and web sites on the Vancouver-Southern BC area. Shortly after the Reserve we came upon St. Agnes Wells Hotsprings, administered by the local Skookumchuk Indian Band and supported by the Abernathy family, one of the pioneer logging families from the Fraser Valley.

St. Agnes Wells was the site of a hotel built to serve the miners and entrepreneurs that struggled along the Douglas Trail in the 1860's. It was named after the founder's daughter, Agnes, whom he obviously thought a great deal of.

They have done a great job on the camp site and the area around the hotsprings themselves. Originally there was one large rock pool made at the base of the small cliff from which the hot springs originate. Now they have two large bath tubs covered with A frame shelters, each of the tubs large enough for 5 people. They also have a tub of in the corner of the springs near a bush area, and another wooden one person tub right on the tiny creek that flows through the clearing. Even the campsite is wide open and spacious. It's actually a clearing amongst the trees, pitch your tent where you like, either close to the pools or 100 feet over on the edge of the emerald green Lillooet River.
We spent some time here, I think all wishing we had brought our swim gear, although, like most country hot springs this one was clothing optional.

Back on the road we once again got the pleasure of eating the voluminous clouds of fine dust, and what a joy it was.....Another 30 minutes down the trail brought us to the start of Lillooet Lake, and it was the same green that the river itself was, only this time the visual plane of green was as wide as the valley.

We paralleled the lake for many miles, keeping one eye on the lake views, and the other on the narrow one lane road as it ran along the base of the cliff at water level. Eventually we neared the north end of the lake, and here the valley was wider with more land at the edge of the lake.

We passed several Forest campsites along this section of the road, but my favourite was back at the hot springs. Another half hour of travelling and we were getting close to the end of the gravel forest service road. We had good CB communication as the valley was wide open and the terrain flat along the lake, and we counted down the mile markers to one another to keep a bearing on where we all were along the road.

It was with some relief that I called out "the leader is at mile zero and on pavement"! No more bloody dust up my nose and in my shorts !! I should have stripped down and jumped in the tubs back at the hot springs and to heck with modesty.....

We assembled at the end of the trail, and did our best to do a quick wash up of faces and hands to feel somewhat clean, and then headed a few miles down the road to the town of Pemberton to gas up and grab fresh drinks.By now it was 7.00pm, and we had been eating dust and rattling the 4X4's around since 10.00 am.

Over 110 miles on two Forest Roads covering just half of the historic Douglas Trail, and that was plenty enough for us. We lingered at the gas station reflecting backon the day, and we all agreed while it was harder on us then vehicles, we were all glad we had come for the day.

We convoyed south through the ski resort town of Whistler, and stopped at Squamish for a burger and drink that constituted a 9.30pm dinner. Again we convoyed south, now in the dark along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway, heading for Vancouver. Even in the dark the near full moon reflected on the waters of Howe Sound, lighting up the waters with it's glow.

11.00 pm and three vehicles were back in Maple Ridge, 10.00pm arrival for one to Vancouver, and CJ drove straight through to Everett and home, with her usual set of troubles to tell us about...

On the way home her soft top on the Jeep thought that 12.30 am on the I5 was a good time to start coming off.....I guess it had finally had too much banging around for the day, and rebelled...

This was a VERY long and tiring trip, which I knew it would be, as did the participants, but they still came out anyways. Through it all we kept our sense of humour and enjoyed the day, but I know we were all glad to head home after this one. My thanks to all who came out for the trip, I enjoyed all your company and was pleased to have a few extra folks along to show them the great scenery in my "backyard".

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chehalis & Weaver Creek Fish Hatcheries

After a cold Autumn Saturday, Sunday dawned warm and sunny, a perfect day to go see one of Mother Nature's wonders.

I headed up to the Harrison area of the Fraser Valley, approximately 80 miles from Vancouver BC. Specifically, I was aiming for the Chehalis Fish Hatchery and the Weaver Creek Spawning Channels. Here you can view thousands of Chum, Pink and Sockeye salmon doing what they have done for a millennia, returning to exactly the same stream from whence they hatched 4 or 5 years ago, with thousands of miles of ocean travel between birth and their return.

My first stop was the Chehalis Fish hatchery; the Chehalis River right the hatchery behind was a hot bed of activity with rods and reels sashaying back and forth through the air. The fishermen were out in full force, on the Chehalis and it's tributaries in the area they were literally shoulder to shoulder, all after the elusive bright red Sockeyes.I watched for a while as they repeatedly cast the waters, but only the Pinks were biting. Any Pinks caught were returned to the waters to carry on up river to complete their journey or to be caught again on the waiting lure of the next guy in hip waders.

Right behind the fishermen was a small channel of slow moving water, and it was alive with the thrashing of Pink and Chum salmon as they carved out a niche in the gravel in which to lay their eggs. On the wind was a whiff of natures cycle in progress. The smell of decaying fish was mild, not like it would be in a couple of months.

The dying and decaying fish will provide food for Great Blue Herons, Seagulls and of course, the Bald Eagles. The Eagles have not yet arrived, it's still a few weeks too early, but I'll be back when they are.

Eventually, I moved on and drove 5 miles up Morris Valley Road to the Weaver Creek Spawning Channels. The channels are actually one big channel, over 3 kilometres long which loops back and forth throughout the facility. The channel is a man made channel, only 1.5 feet deep filled with clean gravel, excellent bedding for fish redds (fish nests).

Only a pre-determined amount of fish are allowed in the channel at a time, this prevents over crowding and poor egg survival. Too many fish and the salmon only succeed in disturbing the other fish redds. Only three species of salmon are allowed to spawn here, Chum, Sockeye and Pink. To create optimum mating, the ratio of fish allowed is 2 male for every 3 females. Excess and non-desired fish are sorted into a bypass channel and allowed back into Weaver Creek above the facility to spawn naturally.

After walking the extensive grounds, I climbed back into the Jeep and headed back down the Chehalis and carried on to the Harrison River. I stopped where the bridge on Hwy# 7 crosses the Harrison, got out the binoculars and looked upstream at the vast mud flats. Here the air was more pungent, indicating higher amounts of decaying fish in the river. Still no Eagles to see, but acres of Seagulls, Great Blue Herons, crows, and fishermen in hip waders standing in the shallow waters along the banks. In the middle of the flats, near the main channel, more fishermen had beached their boats on the flats to try their luck in the swifter water.

By now it was getting late in the afternoon and as Annette was working, I was the one to get dinner ready. I joined the crowds of people who had been touring the fish facilities, and we drove back towards Vancouver like a giant centipede meandering along the turns of the country road.

Eddie in Vancouver

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Squamish to Whistler Trip Report

In Attendance:

Ron and Cindi Zuber from Seattle
Jerry Horn from Everett
Ed Pedersen from Vancouver

The morning dawned cool and foggy with a hint of the sunny day that was predicted. I shook out the cobwebs from the brain and headed over to North Vancouver to the rendezvous point at the White Spot restaurant.

All along Hwy #1 as I headed into Vancouver I was treated to the wonderful site of the North Shore mountains covered in new snow and lit up by the morning sun. This promised to be a gorgeous day indeed.

We met at the White Spot, ate breakfast while we got acquainted, (I think Jerry took some of my ham and eggs while I was looking the other way), and then set off for the day's exploration.

Once out of the restaurant parking lot we headed downhill to the foot of Lonsdale Street to drive past Lonsdale Quay, an indoor market. As the Lonsdale Street hill is quite steep and long, we were treated to our first vista of the day, that of downtown Vancouver still sleeping this early Sunday morning. At the foot of Lonsdale we turned west and followed Marine Drive as it wound it's way through North Vancouver and the affluent areas of Dundarave and West Vancouver.

As Marine Drive travels through West Vancouver the road is right alongside the water and we were treated to scenic views of the beaches of Spanish Banks in Kitsilano on the west side of Vancouver, as well as the huge Endownment Lands that contain the University of B.C. We passed million, two million, three million dollar houses located right on the water's edge, while some were precariously perched on the cliffs above us.

Marine Drive led us to Horsehoe Bay, site of the ferry terminal for the Province owned ferries that run between the mainland and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. At Horseshoe Bay we took a sharp right and got on to the scenic Sea to Sky Highway heading for our first stop 10 miles north at Brittania Beach.

All along the highway we were treated to a never ending panascope of sunsplashed Gulf Islands and the cold waters of Howe Sound covered in white caps. We commented on how ironic that the wind was whipping up the water but there seemed to be no wind in the trees where we were. Interesting.

Well, we got the shock of our lives when we arrived at the old Brittania mine site and nearly froze our butts off! We reluctantly alighted from our vehicles to wander around the buildings and ore cars scattered around the museum area.

Brittania Mines began operations in 1905 and processed 7000 tons of ore daily until 1958, then operated intermittently until 1974, at which time it closed for good. These days the old mine offices are home to the mine museum, which we were unable to tour as it was closed for the season. We also did not get to go 1/2 mile underground on the rail tram that shimmies and shakes as it takes you inside the mountain to the end of an old horizontal mine shaft. Once there you are treated to a live demo of the various types of mining methods that were employed in the mine shaft. We did get a great view of the concentrator building that soared 200 feet up the side of a cliff above the mine offices.

We climbed back into the warmth of our vehicles and drove another ten minutes till we got to Shannon Falls. The falls are spectacular to see as the water drops over a small, smooth spillway 1200 feet above us, ricochets off the side of the cliff and lands noisly at your feet.

In and around Shannon Creek we saw examples of early logging techniques. We observed several old stumps 12 feet or so in circumference that had spring board notches on the side of the stump. Springboards were long boards about 5 feet in length on which the fallers would stand to chop down the tree. The springboards would give them the extra few feet of height off the forest floor to have more room for swinging the axes and the two man bow saws the fallers used in the late 1800's. Plus the extra height meant they didn't have to chop through the thicker trunk at the bottom of the tree, this made their job easier.

We also saw magnificent nursery logs...these are trees that have fallen on the forest floor and started to rot, providing fertile ground on which seedlings would grow. We came across one such example giving life to 4 younger trees!
In nature, from death there is life.

Back in the vehicles and five more minutes up the road brought us to the logging town of Squamish.

Squamish has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Squohomish tribes,
part of the Coast Salish Indians with their roots in Western Washington and Northern Oregon. Small wonder that many town and place names in BC sound similar to names in Washington: Skyhomish, Snohomish, Squamish, Stawamus, Snoqualmie; they are all names in the native tongue of the Salish Indians.
Did you know Squamish means "Mother of the Wind"?
This is an indication of the winds that rise from the north before noon on warm days, and blow steadily until dusk. This makes Squamish a top wind surfing destination and a host to the Proam sailboard races.

The first contact the local Indians had with white men was in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver came to Squamish to trade with the Indians just north of Squamish in what is now the residential area of Brackendale.
During the 1850s gold miners came in search of gold and an easier gold route to the Interior of the province. Settlers began arriving in 1889, with the majority of them being farmers settling in the Squamish Valley.

After a quick tour around downtown Squamish, which took all of 5 minutes, we drove a couple of miles north to Brackendale for our date with the Bald Eagles, and we were not disappointed. Along side the Squamish River we stopped at an area on the dike where the BC Forest Department has constructed covered areas specifically for eagle watching.

On the sign boards on the inside walls of the wooden structures were several displays of the life cycle of the Bald Eagle as well as other information such as their flight range. The Park Rangers on duty stated that the eagles fly from their summer grounds in Alaska to several Pacific Northwest areas such as Squamish, and another primary Vancouver area in the Harrison Valley 60 miles east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley. In Washington the main area for eagles is along the Skagit River. Plus many other smaller rivers play host to the eagles, where ever there is a salmon run you will find the eagles.

Across the river from us, within a 1/4 mile stretch up and down the river, we counted 40 Bald Eagles sitting in the bare Cottonwood trees high above the river, more perched on huge driftwood piles on the riverbanks, and the odd one soaring on the air above us. The rangers perform an eagle count several times a day...they had just counted 60 a short time ago and at 9.30 that morning had counted 142 feeding on the dead and dying Chum salmon in the river at our feet.

We had an additional treat of sighting a Harbour Seal chasing the tired salmon in the shallows of the river. Between the view of the snow covered sun dappled mountains soaring above the valley, the Bald Eagles perched stately in the trees, and the cool sun of a winter's day, we were in heaven!!
Nature doesn't get much better than this.

As the day was still young, we opted to extend our agenda by making a run up to the Whistler ski resort. Shortly after leaving Brackendale, we entered the Cheakamus Valley and it's canyon area. The landscape changes here, gone were the wide open vistas of Howe Sound and the wide expanse of the Squamish River. In their place were the narrow confines of the Cheakamus Canyon and it's twisty, winding mountain road.

We gained elevation as we headed inland on a north-east course and broke free from the canyon as the road ran along the top of Cheekeye Ridge. It got colder and snow starting appearing on the side of the road as we approached Whistler.

It had been quite a few years since I had been up this way, and I was amazed at the growth that has taken place. Whole new villages existed where there were none my younger days I climbed steep bluffs and ridges in the area for magnificent views of the valley. Now those same bluffs were covered in chalets and row upon row of condos.

Even the small village at Whistler has been swallowed up by a larger version of itself. It truly is a world class ski resort on par with the likes of Aspen in Colorado. There are wonderful hotels within Whistler Village with amenties to match. When you eventually pry yourself out of the hotel or one of the fine restaurants, or any of the numerous coffee shops, you have your pick of 200 downhill ski runs on Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

We had a short look around at the Lower Village and at the open air shopping plaza that is the heart of the Village, then made a time check and realized we should reverse course, call it a day, and start heading back towards Vancouver.

Once again we headed through the narrow confines of the Cheakamus Valley, but this time when we exited the southern end, we were treated to a spectacular view of the snow covered Tantalus Mountain Range soaring up into the sunshine, and the Squamish River spreading wide as it headed through Brackendale, past the eagles, and onto it's date with the salt water of Howe Sound and the Pacific Ocean.

The rest of the drive consisted of more wonderful views of Howe Sound, with Gibsons Landing in the distance (where the TV series "The Beachcombers" was shot), and Vancouver Island off in the distance. The large ferries on the water heading for Horsehoe Bay reminded us that we were about to get caught up in the hectic pace of city traffic as the ferry from Vancouver Island was about to dock and would soon be off loading two hundred or so cars right into our path.

We chatted on the CB as we drove, all of us throughly pleased with what we had experienced during the day...there is only one word for it...AWESOME!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hope to Princeton to the Coquihalla

Trip Report Hope to Princeton to the Coquihalla

Hosted by Ed Pedersen

In Attendance:
Cheryl ( CJ ) Steele from Everett
Ed Pedersen from Maple Ridge BC

Pictures can be viewed at:
in the album titled Hope to the Coquihalla.

TIP: right click on the link and from the drop down menu choose:
Open in another window. That way you may view the pictures and read the story at the same time!

Well, the one good thing about a small crowd is that it's very flexible, and seeing that it was just CJ and I along for the tour today, that made changes to the agenda easy. The first one I made was to reverse the route, that way we would avoid the 35 mile long ascent up the steep Coquihalla Highway to the summit. That is a _very_ long climb and hard on vehicles, and I decided I would rather be coming down than going up.

So the route for the day was Princeton to Coalmont, then north to Tulameen, continue north past Otter Lake through the Otter Valley, then turn west along a side valley to the hamlet of Brookmere. Then rejoin the Coquihalla Hwy (Hwy #5) and follow it back down the long hill to Hope.

So CJ and I met at the rendezvous point, dilly dallied over coffee while we waited to see if any late arrivals would show up, then gassed up the Jeeps and made a bee line for Hope. Now, at this point you're asking, "why would they take both vehicles if there are only two of them? "Plain and in numbers. We were heading on a long day's journey with many miles in between towns, plus we would also be traversing 3 or 4 Forest Service Roads that put us 40 miles or so from the nearest town. If one vehicle broke down the other could go for help.

This was one of those days where we really appreciated the CB's. CJ and I talked constantly throughout the day, (OK, I did most of the talking) and at no time during the trip did we feel alone in the vehicles. We headed straight past Hope and continued driving to the lodge at Manning Park. Here we made our first stop of the day for a rest break and an early lunch. It was a little cooler up in the mountains, and we put our jackets on to keep the chill out. CJ was good enough to feed the Gray Jays that love handouts from the tourists, and after one had taken a tidbit out of her hand, it flew to the table and grabbed the small left over piece of her sandwich and took off up into the trees with it's prize.

Back on the road I mentioned to CJ that it was odd to be in the middle of the mountains, and not see much wildlife. Well, little did we know we were to get our fill by the end of the day. As we rolled along we kept watch in the fields and stream banks that bordered the road, and eventually we saw a deer or two grazing at the edge of the bushes. Who knows how many we missed!

Eventually we crested Sunday Summit and began our descent down the mountains to the town of Princeton. Being on the leeward side of the coast mountains, Princeton is a lot drier and hotter than the coast is, and certainly warmer than the alpine setting of Manning Park we had just left.

Princeton is also where we would pick up the old KettleValley Train route. In Canada they have started a program called "Rails to Trails". As old railways are discontinued, rather than tear up the right of way and build on it, the governments at all levels have banded together with local concerned citizens and have turned the old railway beds into trails. This one we were to follow was part of the "Trans Canada Trail" .It stretches from the Maritimes right across Canada to the West Coast.

The part of the TC Trail we were interested in was part of the former Kettle Valley Railway line.

In Princeton the first tour stop I wanted to make was a KVR tunnel right in town. Now, I've been to Princeton many times over the years, and I've never seen this so called "tunnel". Well, I found out why....CJ and I poked around the small town in the general vicinity of the tunnel as we tried to find it. We knew we were close cause we found the Trans Canada Trail, but, how hard can it be to find a tunnel ? I mean, come on!

Well, we finally found it, right under highway into town!! No wonder I've never seen the tunnel before, I always drove over top of it ! As Hwy #3 drops down into Princeton, it descend salong a narrow ridge of land that straddles gulches on either side. The tunnel was very long, longer than we expected; we estimated that it was at least a quarter of a mile long, and when we finally got to the other end of the tunnel, we realzied we had gone below the highway, through town, and were now on the banks of the Tulameen River!

Here we found an old railway bridge that was still in use as part of the Trans Canada Trail. We walked along the trail for a short ways, but decided that we should head back to the vehicles to continue our journey. For the rest of the day, we would be criss crossing the TC Trail at various points; sometimes we would be right beside it, other times we would be looking down into a canyon at the trail below us. All the time aware that the trail was actually the old railway bed, and it was easy to see set among the landscape as the smooth, raised bed stood out in the mountainous scenery.

Back in the vehicles we traveled out of town heading north west for Coalmont. The road soon skirted along the top of a canyon, and down below us was the picturesque Tulameen River, with the road bed and trail far below us.

As you can tell by the name, Coalmont's chief employer was the many coal mines in the area. The railways, especially the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR), bought most of the coal mined in the area. The whole area was a miners, silver, and copper ore were the main minerals in the area, and many small towns sprung up and died out as the seams of coal ran out.

Coalmont is one of the few towns to survive. A sleepy little town where every one knows your name, it looks like it's chief industry today is retirees. A close second is winter activities; every one has a ski doo or two in the back yards. The historic Coalmont Hotel, built in 1911, is still in use today, and caters to the winter crowd who love to ski doo and cross country ski.

One of the highlights of the day were the old ghost towns of Blakeburn and Granite City. We found the signs pointing us in the right direction, so CJ and I began to follow a Forest Service road as it ascended the mountains. A sign had said 8 kilometres to Blakeburn, and as we gained altitude we came across several forks in the road, some of which had directional signs keeping us on the correct heading. Along the FSR we had great views of the valleys below us, and at one point the road was cut into the side of a steep bluff; over the edge of the road was a two thousand foot drop, and the few trees on the way down wouldn't do much to stop your fall. Being the safe one I said "CJ, watch your step"!

After a few more forks and no more signs, we had reached kilometre 13 and no Blakeburn, meaning we had taken a wrong branch or two in the road. We decided to discontinue our search for Blakeburn, and headed back down the mountain, content with our short diversion along a steep FSR that gave us plenty of wonderful views.

Back down at the bottom of the Forest Road in a clearing off to the side of the road, I noticed a white cairn, and as we turned into the clearing we saw old log cabins that were falling down. We had found the old town of Granite City.
On the way up the mountain we had stumbled across the Granite City cemetery, and had wandered around looking at the old graves, but I thought that the city was higher up in the mountains like Blakeburn was. Obviously I was wrong!

We spent some time wandering around the old town site. There wasn't much to see by today's standards, but back in it's heyday the town had over 2,000 people, 200 buildings, 13 of which were saloons to entertain the miners from the surrounding mine and smaller towns.

The local heritage society is in the process of raising funds to begin restoration and salvation of the remaining buildings, but I fear they have lost more than they will ever save. However, for me this was a highlight of the trip. I have read about this place in many books over the years, and now I could cross it off of my list of places to visit.

Back down into the town of Coalmont, over the Tulameen River, and on out of town on Tulameen Road we went, heading for the much smaller town of Tulameen. Tulameen is one of those places that you can really call a backwoods hamlet. It sits right at the southern edge of Otter Lake, and is a favourite of boaters and campers who flock to this beautiful place. Interspersed along the lake's edge are old cabins and shacks that look like Ma and Pa Kettle should live in, complete with the beat up old pickup truck out the front.

Along the eastern shore we could see the railbed/TC trail etched into the bluff at water level as it stayed on the opposite side of the lake from the road. Along the western shore are newer log houses and large cabins, ones that you and I would LOVE to own.

As we traveled north along the western edge of Otter Lake, the pavement ended and a wide gravel road began. This is the main haul road south for the logging companies, so it was well maintained, but I hate dust!

Soon we reached the northern end of Otter Lake and as the lake ended marsh flats and the meandering Otter River began. The scenery in this area was beautiful, and here and there along the valley were farms and hayfields with bales of hay sitting ready for the barn. We past a cattle guard and saw a sign that we were entering the property of the Nicola Ranch. The ranch is part of the holdings of the historic Douglas Lake Ranch, one of the largest in North America. We were surprised to be this far south of the Merritt area and still be on their land, but when we remembered that the ranch has over 500,000 acres, it wasn't such a surprise.

We stayed along the edge of the bluffs on the western shore of the lowlands, and here and there small brooks and creeks flowed under the road to join the marsh area. As the road went along it oscilatted between the bluff on one side and the marsh on the other, never sure whether it wanted the safety of the dry land or the openess of the marsh land. After one bend in the road we were surprised to see a black bear in the centre of our path ,patiently waiting for us to decide what we should do. I radioed CJ to slow down and come up slow on my position so she could see him as well. I positioned the Jeep so I could snap a few pictures of him, and he alternated between running a few feet, then looking back at us to see what we were doing. After a few times playing this game, he got bored and slipped into the bush at the side of the road.

We carried on and came across a picture perfect ranch belonging to the Thynne family. They were one of the first white settlers in the area around the 1860's, and it was neat to see that the family still owned the ranch.

Another five minutes further and the road entered a small canyon, and we came upon some free ranging cattle on the road. For the next few miles we would meet more cows, and had be forced to a crawl as they criss crossed in front of the Jeeps trying to decide which way to go. Around one bend was 5 or 6 cows, and then 100 feet further down the road and around another bend was another bear ! And then another 100 feet were more cows. Whether the bear knew the cows where there, and didn't care, or whether he was looking for a meal, I don't know, but we scared him away anyways. But both CJ and I thought that was pretty neat, two bears only 10 minutes apart....most of the time if you spot a bear you're pretty lucky. My average is one a year, and I think that's good!

Further along the road one photo opportunity had me wishing for a camera that was as good and as quick as the human eye : as we passed by a small brook under the road, 30 feet off the road and lying down is a small clearing was a mule deer, just watching the traffic go by. What a picture that would have been!
It looked just like Bambi at rest.....

By now it was getting on in the day, and we were many miles north of Tulameen. I needed to find the road that would take us west over the mountain pass to the old railway town of Brookmere, and at this point I was having my doubts that my trusty instincts were to be trusted. We had passed several FSR's heading west, but none of them seemed to me to be the right one; they were either not a mainroad, or they were not far enough north of Tulameen according to the maps and books I have read. And, of course, you know I NEVER bring a map with me! "We don't need no steenkin map! "I radioed to CJ that we were at the make it or break it point; if we didn't come across the road pretty darn soon that meant we had missed it, and we would have to do a loop all the way up Hwy# 5A to the Coquihalla Connector, the head west to Merritt along the main 4 lane highway, and then south down the Coquihalla 40 miles to reach the turn off for Brookmere.

The road now travelled in a broad plain between low rolling hills, and sure enough, right in the middle of the valley was another farm taking advantage of the natural grasslands that were prime for feeding cows and horses. We stopped on a rise to take pictures of the idyllic setting, and not wanting to take too much time, jumped back into the Jeeps to continue on. No further than half a mile up the road a side road took off to the left across the valley through the grasslands, sign posted"Brookmere Road". HOORAY, we found it !!

As we ambled across the valley I noticed a colourful bird sitting on a farm fencepost. It was the size of a small hawk, and I was happy to say that I correctly identified it as an American Kestrel, a small bird of prey who loves hunting for mice and small birds in the wide openness of the grasslands. But by no means was this the only bird we saw; since we had entered the Otter Valley we were bewildered by the array of birds we had seen as we drove along, definitely more than I could name, let alone even count. And now, thinking about it, the Otter Valley is written up in the local bird guides as one of the best places to go twitching, which is what bird watchers call observing birds.

As the Brookmere Road leaves the valley it enters into an old forest, and the road was a pleasant change to drive on. Instead of dusty gravel, the road was now a small one car wide pathway covered in dirt and old leaves, and the trees created a sheltering effect as we drove along. It was such a peaceful setting that I stopped and took some more pictures. It was cooler amongst the trees, and we enjoyed the quietness of the forest, broken only by the sound of birds in the bushes as we drove past them.

After being in the Princeton-Otter Valley area for the day you tend to forget the geographical nature of the area. When we left Princeton we climbed all the way through Coalmont and Tulameen, and in retrospect we realized that we were ascending onto the Thompson Plateau. The Plateau is one of the many in BC that are the remnants of mountain ranges scoured down by glaciers thousands of years ago, and the whole area from just south of Merritt north to Prince George is all that is left of mountain range that once stood over 7,000 feet tall.

The boulders in the farmer's fields are evidence of the long gone glaciers that covered most of North America. As the glaciers melted, rivers ran down through them, and where the river deposited sediment it formed hummocks called moraines. Once we thought what to look for we realized that the entire Otter Valley area was scoured by glaciers, and the natural rolling hills were really huge moraines left by the retreating glaciers. So it was no surprise when we began our descent down the other side of the long gone mountain range's plateau towards our objective of Brookmere, to realize we had been so high in altitude.

Coming around a corner at the bottom of the mountain we came upon a speed zone sign, and we knew that we had made our final destination; Brookmere, once one of the main stops on the Kettle Valley Railway. There is a small village here still, as some of the people who hate the big cities find solace in this small setting. Best of all, right smack in plain view was the water tower of the long abandoned KVR. This is one of the few, if not the only one left standing, and rail buffs appreciate it for it's distinct design. While most water towers were sitting on legs above ground, the KVR towers look more like windmills from Holland.

The Brookmere station also had the distinction of being the only station shared by two railroads. Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Kettle Valley Railroad had a bitter feud for years over who would build along this section of southern BC. Fights in the court room were the norm, often accompanied by men from either side fighting right on the tracks themselves. Only at Brookmere did they manage to co-exist; the KVR built the water tower in their own design, and installed two water spouts, one on either side for each railroad.
One set of tracks on one side of the tower were CPR, the other side was KVR.

This was the unofficial last stop of the trip; the day had gone by quickly, and a glance at the clock said it was now 8.00 pm...another long day for CJ and I.
But I was extremely happy!!!
Even though we didn't find the Blakeburn mine,we still saw a lot of places on my wish list. We had followed the KVR line from Princeton to Brookmere, we had seen Granite City, Coalmont, Tulameen, Otter Valley, and capped the day off with a drive through a peaceful forest that lead us out to the old train town of Brookmere....ALL WITH NO MAP !!!!

CJ and I covered the short distance to join Hwy #5, the Coquihalla Hwy, and headed south back down themountains to Hope, the town from which all great roads begin!

A late dinner in Hope for us, then back on the freeway and homeward bound we were, both very happy with another day of backroad driving.

Birds, deer, field mice running across the road, Red Tailed Hawks, Northern Goshawks, American Kestrels, free range cows, bears, field swallows, old barns standing alone in the field, isolated farms, country roads, colourful butterflies, dragon flies, and views ranging from deep river canyons to peaceful, meandering rivers..WE SAW IT ALL, and we were that much better for it....

Long story this time, thanks if you read it all, and sorry you weren't there with missed a life time of views, some spanning over 150 years of life.....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Richmond Road Trip Jan 2004

Trip Report Richmond BC
Jan 25 2004

Attendees Ed Pedersen and Noreen Gordon

Photos can be viewed at
Click on the album titled "Richmond Road Trip Jan 2004"
TIP: Right click on the link and choose "Open in New Window" in the drop down menu.

Noreen and I spent an unusual semi-sunny Sunday meandering through some of the historic sites of Richmond BC. Richmond is a southern suburb Vancouver, and was one of the first municipalities settled by Europeans.

"Settled" is always a subjective term to use, as the Native Indians had already been in the area for 10,000 years.....Richmond is also the terminus of the mighty Fraser River, silt and sediment adds to the river delta an average of six feet a year. And where the river meets ocean is also a favourite place for salmon to feed. Canneries lined the banks of the river from it's mouth upstream for 50 miles. In the late 1800's, over 100 canneries were in operation.

Richmond itself is made up of 5 islands, the main one called Lulu Island, named by Royal Engineer Colonel Moody, (of Port Moody fame, another Vancouver suburb). Lulu Sweet was an actress from a touring theatrical company that visited New Westminster in the early 1860's. Settlers, mostly farmers, claimed land on Lulu, Sea, Mitchell, Twig, and Deadman Islands. Most built their own dykes to hold back the annual flood waters of the Frase rwhen the spring freshet threatened to wash away their homes and farms.

Our starting point was the tiny section of Richmond called Steveston. Manoah Steves came from New Brunswick in 1877 and settled in the area now named after his family. Steveston is also a perfect example of our heritage being preserved. Downtown Steveston looks much like it did in the early 1920's. Merchants are encouraged to maintain and enhance the old time charm of the original town, and it shows! A view along the main street looks like time was held back: old store facades and merchant names bring you back to a time when the town was the bustling centre of the surrounding farmlands.

But Steveston is not all farm heritage, a block over from Moncton street is one of the largest fishing marinas in Canada. No cabin cruisers or Sunday pilots here, this is the home of work boats. Seiners, Gill Netters and Trollers by the scores line the wharves, waiting for the next opening. Some are licensed to sell at the dock, so every morning there are a dozen boats offering salmon, snapper, squid, prawns and mud sharks fresh caught and flash freezed on board only hours before.

Instead of hiding the working area, Richmond has initiated a re-vitalization plan for the area, and many shops and coffee places have sprung up in the area. Of more interest to Noreen and I was the large Georgia Cannery. This was declared a national historic site a few years ago, and was restored to the way it was in 1894 when it began it's life. Unfortunately it is the off season, and we could not go on the tour and see the excellent displays they have inside. Oh well, just another excuse to come back on a summer weekend.

One of the reasons I asked Noreen to come along, is that this is her home town. She grew up in the area, and she shared a few memories with me of her child hood in the community. It was neat to hear her bring to life some of the background of the area we were in. The other reason I asked Noreen along, besides her good looks and wonderful company, is her sharp eyes. As good as an observer of our world as I am, Noreen's ability to note the finer details in the landscape almost embarrasses me. So, getting over that male stuff of being shown up by a girl, it's always a pleasant and more rewarding day when Noreen is riding shotgun.

We drove down what used to be side roads, that are now main avenues into sub divisions and found our next location. Britannia Heritage Shipyard started life as a cannery in 1892, and immediately was surrounded by small and large buildings that served as houses and work shops by the cannery workers. Only 9 buildings now remain, remnants of a bustling time.

A large Japanese population in the area is reflected in some of the gardens and architecture in the area, and to highlight the Japanese culture in early Steveston, the small Murakami residence has been restored to showcase a working families life style in the early days. Along side the residence sits high loft buildings, a still operational boat-building barn, and a roughly built but large two story building used by the Native cannery workers as housing.

Along the south shore of Richmond they have constructed a dyke trail for pedestrians and bicyclists, and it is a beautiful place to walk. It's peaceful along the south shore, and judging by the ducks and cormorants we have seen at the water front, they think so too.

Next stop along the south shore was London Farm. Charles London obtained the surrounding farm land in 1880, and built the first of several buildings on the property. The current large house still standing was built in 1898. Once again we were out of season for the official tour, but just viewing the large two story white house and it's out buildings, we could easily visualize life as it must have been for the original inhabitants.

Across the road from the farm is the south arm of the Fraser River. This is a major shipping lane for the local river traffic, and numerous tugs pulling scows, some heaping full of wood chips, were our constant companions along the shore line. Barrows Golden Eyes and Brandt Cormorants adeptly weathered the large wakes kicked up by the passing river traffic.

Continuing our easterly sojourn, a few more miles along the dyke brought us to one of those places that I have been trying to get to for years, but finally made it today.

Finn Slough is a small back water channel of the Fraser River, but it was a god send for the early Finnish settlers. Land was getting scarce, and all these settlers wanted was a place to dock their fishing boats, and a small shack to live in. They found such a place in this tidal slough. At high tide it is just wide enough to float a small fishing boat through, right past the verandas of your neighbours shack. At low tide, the boats sit marooned on the mud of the slough, keeled over, awaiting the next high tide. In the later years, this area became a haven for the bohemian crowd, and is mostly populated now by folks who don't need much in life. Descendents of three of the Finnish families still live on the slough.

Our final stop of the day was on a finger of land called Deas Island. No longer an island as the inlet has been filled in, it was still a focal point for the early Richmond area. Deas Island is located across the river from Richmond in what is now Ladner, Deas Point was the site of a ferry crossing for many years before Deas Island Tunnel was built for the freeway traffic to go under the South Arm of the Fraser River.

Deas Island was named after a Free Black from the U.S. who began a cannery here that operated for many years. Sadly, back in those days they used tin solder to seal the salmon cans, and John Sullivan Deas died of Tinsmith disease shortly after he retired.

We spent some time exploring the Regional park that is located here. The GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District) has installed a large 30' high viewing platform from which you can watch the river traffic float by right at your feet. As well, the platform gives a commanding view of Richmond to the north, and Vancouver even further north.

This is also a popular spot for Bald Eagles, as we could see their large bulky nests in the cottonwood trees along the river's edge. One even flew over us carrying nesting material for some home repairs. This is a very large river side park, with over 5 miles of walking trails meandering along the dykes and through the old fields. They also have a large covered picnic area in Muskrat Meadows, the name conjuring up images of when this area was a remote farm many miles from the city.

This was the end of the tour for us, the cool winter sun was slowly going down, and we had run out of time. It was fun to do some local exploring, and, instead of driving for a hundred miles to get home, Noreen and I were home in time for supper.

Harrison Bald Eagle Tour Dec 2003

Photos can be viewed at:

Click on the “Harrison Bald Eagle Tour Dec 2003” album


Mission and Harrison Hot Springs area 60 miles east of Vancouver BC

Small turn out for what would be a great day. Just my daughter Samantha and myself. After a few weeks of West Coast winter, we found ourselves at the start of what would be a very warm Autumn day. The sun was out to warm up the bones, and the previous week's cold wind had been replaced by almost short sleeve temperature...well, almost.

We loaded up the cooler with subs and drinks, and left Mission on a slow pace looking for any thing with 4 legs or feathers. We didn't have to go far, as we only got a mile out of Mission before we noticed waterfowl meandering in an old oxbow of the Fraser River. Hatzic Lake is a short loop of water that is over run with small cabins and trailers used as summer and year round retreats by cityfolk.

This time of year it is fairly quiet on the small lake, and many feathered species were enjoying the solitude. In the centre of the lake several Male Common Mergansers floated sedately, keeping a respective distance from a flock of larger, and crankier, Canada Geese. Close to the shoreline, the birds that first caught my eye angled away from my presence, but with the binoculars I was able to see that they were a group of Western Grebes. Scanning the far side of the shoreline I could make out a Great Blue Heron standing rock still on a semi-submerged log, waiting for a small fish to make the mistake of swimming too close.

Red Winged Blackbirds flitted over it's head but none broke the heron's concentration on the shallow water. Further up the road we pulled over at the side of Nicomen Slough, always a good place for spotting Bald Eagles. And we weren'tdisappointed. Here in this short stretch of shallow water we observed a dozen mature and juvenile Bald Eagles in the old Cottonwood trees lining the banks, and an estimated 40 other Bald Eagles scrounging on the mud banks for those "oh so" delicious carcasses of weeks old salmon.

Mixed in with the eagles were the ever present seagulls, and numerous types of other water fowl. As we were right on the edge of Hwy #7, the smaller ducks do not like all of the traffic noise. In order to view those ducks Samantha and I drove down the highway a couple of miles, then turned off onto a small side road that took us past farmer's fields and along side the slough in a much more isolated section. Here we were rewarded with a treasure trove of feathered friends.

The Bald Eagles were absent from this stretch, as the water is deeper here, with no sand bars for the Eagles to land on. Instead we were kept busy going from the water to our bird book to identify all of the birds gathered here. Male and female Hooded Mergansers with their crested hoods eyed us warily, while large flocks of Mallards swam in tight circles. Across the slough, a half dozen Trumpeter Swans from Alaska claimed a small section of an indent in the shorline. All up and down the slough I saw many types of fowl, so many so, that I said to Samantha that this was the most I have spotted in one area in a long time.

Greater Scaups swan in pairs, Common Mergansers mimicked each other's movements in mating rituals, American Coots stuck together in their small area, and a dozen or so Buffled Head languished in a small flock. Even a few Grebes didn't mind mixing with several American Widgeons. Off on a submerged log a family of six Brandt Cormorants took turns diving into the waters looking for lunch. They must be the bad boys of the neighbourhood, cause most of the ducks gave them a wide berth.

Back on Hwy #7 we ran a few more miles east to the hamlet of Deroche, but before we crossed the bridge over the slough, I took another one of those indescript side roads that paralleled the Fraser River until the road came to the end of the dike, and the road then led through a wooded section onto the wide open banks of the Fraser River.

Here the Fraser is mostly gravel beds washed down from mountains hundreds of miles away. The sediment deposited by the river in this section is said to be over one mile deep! On the far bank we could see two immature Bald Eagles fighting over a prize, while some ducks watched in amusement. Up and down the river trailer sized boats trolled the river hoping for a lucky strike by hungry salmon, or even better, a Sturgeon...those guys grow up to 20 feet long and live over 100 years. But the sturgeon stocks have been hard hit, and most of the time the catch and release program finds only 6 footers.

Back in the Jeep again, with the warm sunshine on our faces, we cruised up Hwy #7 to the Harrison Mills area. This is THE premier area to go Bald Eagle watching in the Fraser Valley.
While Squamish counts more eagles, here they are far more accessible to visitors.

We first took a saunter up Morris Valley Road along side the section of the Harrison River called Chehalis Flats. This 2 or 3 mile section of wide open mud flats mixed with low water marsh and small side channels are a bonanza to bird watchers like me!

Here near the back road in the shallow channels were thousands of dead salmon, and the ever present sea gulls were numerous both in their numbers and voices. Over head on low hanging branches a couple of Kingfishers observed the water from their vantage points. Further along in the quieter pools Green Winged Teal and Blue Winged Teal (small puddle ducks) rested among the remnants of an old beaver dam.

Back down the road and onto Hwy #7 we went, this time for only half a mile. We stopped at the Harrison Bridge which spans the Harrison River, and parked by the side of the road. The Chehalis mud flats are just up stream from the bridge and are about half a mile wide, and not quite a mile in length , and from this vantage point we were rewarded with a wonderous view.

From here we could see a myriad of ducks, too numerous to count. But we did count the Bald Eagles...over 100 in this spot alone!! Samantha had been keeping count of all the eagles we had seen throughout the day, and Samantha stated that between the eagles here, the group on Nicomen Slough, and many smaller groups observed along today's route, the tally was over 400 Bald Eagles ! WOW !Not to be out done, large flocks of Mallards, Common Mergansers and Hooded Mergansers vied for their share of space.

Our next stop was at the small historic site of Kilby Beach. This was the site of a small train stop in the early 1900's that grew into the main community in the area. There was even a ferry service that brought farmer's dairy goods from Chilliwack across the river to the train for transportation into the market place of Vancouver.

At the beach we once again were awed by the sheer number and variety of birds. Besides the Kings of the air, (more Bald Eagles), we saw a flock of Trumpeter Swans, large flocks of Buffleheads, Scaups, Mallards, Sea Gulls, American Coots, and even an acrobatic flock of Sandpipers rolling and weaving through the air; first showing their dark upper body, then their white under sides, all meant to confuse an air borne predator.

This was the planned end of the tour, and I again made the comment to Samantha that I have never seen so many birds as we did today. Literallythousands, all in just a few miles worth of driving.

However, we still had some day light left, and as some of you know, I have trouble knowing when to quit, , so Samantha and I headed to Harrison Hot Springs. We had a quick look around the town, then headed north on Harrison West FSR. We were headed 5 miles up the road to a beautiful waterfall created by Slollicum Creek.

Slollicum Falls are comprised of 4 steps, each situated in such angles that to see all four you have to walk back and forth on the road to different vantage points. We had a wander around the area looking at the different sections of the falls, checked our time, and then headed back down the FRS towards Harrison Hot Springs. We stopped along the shoreline of Harrison Lake to identify a pair of Common Golden Eye mixing company with a pair of Gadwalls, smaller sized ducks.

Continuing on our return journey, we made stopover at Sasquatch Park. This park consists of two medium sized lakes and 3 popular camp grounds. For me, the delight in the area comes from the history.

This area was the site of one of the large "camp shows" from turn of the century; the road on which we drove into the park is an old railroad bed used when a steam engine called a Shay used to pull rail cars full of logs out of the bush down to Harrison Bay, actually a large opening on the Harrison River.

Occasionally you can spot large stumps with spring board notches where "spring boards" had been placed on the tree trunk so that the loggers could stand a few feet above ground level and swing the axe or bucksaw into a smaller diameter section of the trunk.

It was very picturesque driving along the road, as various types of moss hung off of the tree branches showing their brilliant greens. Deeper into the park we came across Hicks Lake and Deer Lake, quiet now, but echoes of the summer crowd still played across the cool glacier carved lakes.

We opted for the long route home, and headed for the small town of Agassiz, and the long bridge over the Fraser River. We meandered alongside farmer's fields and houses, many with Dutch names on the mail boxes, eventually ending up in the small town of Chilliwack. The same town that a few hours ago we had been directly across the Fraser River from while at Kilby Beach.

Taking a couple of main thorough fares brought us back to the freeway, and a dead head run to Abbotsford, then south once again to cross the Fraser River to Mission, and westwards home to Maple Ridge.

Samantha and I had a GREAT day; the weather was fantastic, the sights we had seen were beautiful, and we got our fill of Bald Eagles and migratory waterfowl which was the purpose of the whole trip.

Every winter I go out several times to watch the Bald Eagles, and each time out they give me a great show. Whether watching a flock in the distance, or having a Bald Eagle in a tree 20 feet above my head stare me down with their fierce golden eyes, I am always in awe.