Saturday, June 04, 2016

Driving Through Canada: Along the Fraser River

Day 1 , May 31, 2016, 50 miles from Sumas, Washington to Emory Bar, Canada

There was a time in this fair land When the railroad did not run 
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun 
Long before the white man and long before the wheel 
When the green dark forest stood too silent to be real.
   - - The Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Gordon Lightfoot

We spent the first hour after crossing the boarder into Canada refreshing our math skills. Navigating east on Canada 1, converting miles to kilometers and gallons to liters. Grocery shopping in Chilliwack, converting ounces to kilograms and dollars to loonies and two-nies at the Visitor Information Centre. When it's time to fill up with diesel, I'm just going to fill the thing. Liters and gallons, and the exchange rate calculations are just too much.

61 kilometers east on Canada 1, and our math-challenged selves fell away as our adventurous selves took over and turned North into the Fraser Canyon. 35 km later we backed into our first British Columbia campground at Emory Bar. Right on the banks of the Fraser River, and surrounded by huge pines, big leaf maples and cotton woods.
Loonies and Toonies

The Fraser River runs from high in the interior of British Columbia to Vancouver, where it joins the Pacific Ocean. Pushing over 200 millions gallons of water per second at 25 mph, this huge green roiling river is serious. Apparently it had also been loaded with gold. In the 1850s gold miners began flooding up river, followed by roads, the lumber industry and railroads. 150 years ago the campground had been a mining town of over 20,000. Today there were less than 20 campers. .. and the railroad. Two, in fact. North bound freight used the western track, south bound used the eastern, right alongside the river, 500 ft from the campsite.

Even with rumbling, or maybe because of it, the site remained scenic, beautiful and historic. With every train I thought of the first peoples, the miners, the railroad workers the road builders and eventually the setters. After the train, I marveled at the "green dark forest" and the flowing green power of the river.

Day 2, June 1, 2016 : Emory Bar to Lyntton, 62 miles

Retraction Ferry
Just for the record - we're in no rush and have all of June set aside to drive to Tok. It's a trip that many do in a week but our Plan is to average 100 miles a day and see the sights. And there are a lot! But it will be interesting to see just how much touristing S.D. and I can actually manage. One year on the road and we're still working on our relaxation skills.

Today we continued North of Canada 1, rolling and winding along side the Fraser River. Hell's Gate is a spot on the river where all those rushing 200 million gallons squeeze through a narrow rock chasm. B.C. has built a gondola that carries tourists from a platform alongside Canada 1, down hundreds of feet, over the Gate and to a little museum/salmon exhibit/fudge shop. We arrived 25 minutes prior to the first gondola ride. Walked alongside the canyon, watched a gondola - load of workers descend to the fudge shop and left. Not sure how well this slow trip to Alaska is going to work.

After setting up camp at Skihist Provincial Park, we visited the nearby town of Lytton. Lytton sits at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, and at least 5 different railroad lines. It also boasts one of few remaining retraction ferries in operation. Retraction ferries use only the power of the water for propulsion. Like a sailboat on a reach, but using the ferry's hull and a series of seriously strong cables and wires the ferry almost sprints across the Fraser River without using an engine of any kind. (The was a small push boat tied alongside but it was not used.)

Tomorrow we leave the Fraser for about 200 miles and head into the heart of the Cariboo, "Canada 's Arizona. "

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