Wednesday, June 26, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0059 - Days 15-21, Las Vegas-Alaska-Las Vegas 2013 Trip

Week 3

DAY 15. – We started the day with a bike trip in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, which is considered to be a world-class attraction. The abandoned railway trail through the Othello Tunnels was very impressive as it followed the narrow canyon through tunnels and over the small bridges that crossed the raging creek waters. Due to excessive snow melt during the past few weeks, all of the creeks and rivers are in flood stage, so water levels are very high. Several movies have been filmed in this area, including Rambo: First Blood, Shoot to Kill, Far From Home, Hope Springs, The Pledge.

We stopped in Hope for lunch and discovered that Hope is the “Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World.” (We have discovered that every town in BC has an attraction that is the world’s “largest, smallest, best, only, greatest, scenic, etc.”) There are numerous wood sculptures lining the streets and parks that were carved with chainsaws. The detail on the sculptures was really amazing! If you are into chainsaw carving, the Annual International Chainsaw Carving Competition is held the first week in August at the Hope Memorial Park!


While walking around Hope admiring the sculptures, we came across the Christ Church, which was designed by the Royal Engineers and built in 1861. The Christ Church is the oldest continuously operating church on the British Columbia mainland. With its dark wood interior and leaded glass windows, it is considered to be one of the best examples of mediaeval Gothic religious architecture in the area.

Outside of the Church there is a classical labyrinth that is difficult to follow. The labyrinth is based on a pattern from an 11th century manuscript produced at Abirgdon Abbey and reproduced on the floor of St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Abingdon, England.


The afternoon was spent at the International acclaimed Minter Gardens, where I went a little crazy taking pictures.












DAY 16 – A large portion of the Yale Museum is dedicated to Sasquatch (Big Foot). We watched movies, viewed foot prints, and learned of an old prospector that actually lived with a Sasquatch family. I was surprised to find out that there are more than 400 sighting of Sasquatch every year!

Also located on the museum grounds is the St. John the Divine Anglican Church that was built in 1863. The museum was doing a special presentation for the local elementary school students the day we were there, so just peaked in the door.

Outside of Yale are the Alexandra Bridges, but it is the Old Alexandra Bridge that is the most scenic. A short hike along a narrow path through a lush green forest of old trees leads to the bottom of the canyon where the picturesque Old Alexandra Bridge crosses the Fraser River. From the bridge, there are great views both up and down the river.


A short distance up the road is the Hell’s Gate Airtram and International Fishways. The Airtram is described as the only descending gondola in North America! After a ride to the bottom of the canyon, it is possible to walk across the churning whitewater of the Fraser River on a suspension bridge and then have lunch on a restaurant deck adjacent to the river. At this point the canyon narrows to 33 meters; thus, the name “Hell’s Gate.” As the water travels under the suspension bridge, it reaches speeds of over 35 km/h (20 mph), so the International Fishways were built as a joint project between Canada and the USA to help salmon negotiate their way up the Fraser River.


DAY 17 – Hope, Yale, Spuzzum, Boston Bar, Lytton, Spence Bridges, Cache Creek, Clinton, Chasm, 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, Loc La Hache, 150 Mile House, Williams Lake.

 Lytton calls itself the “Rafting Capital of Canada;” but Lytton is also known for its world famous rock formation that is known as the “Jellyroll Rock,” located just across the street from the Lytton Visitor Centre. The structure is a rolled layer of silt encased in coarser sands and gravels that were deposited about 11,000 years ago from melting glaciers. St. Annes Church is also located adjacent to the Visitor Centre, but is closed to the public.

100 Mile House is the self-professed International Nordic Skiing Capital of the World, with over 150 km of groomed trails. Although most people use smaller skis, in front of the Visitor Centre are the world’s largest cross-country racing skis, accompanied by a pair of 9 meter ski poles, which I assume are the world’s largest ski poles.

Day 18 – Riske Creek, Hancefille, Alexis Creek, Redstone, Chilanko Forks, Tatla Lakes, Kleena Kleene, Nimpo Lake, Anaheim Lakes, Hagensborg, Bella Coola.

 The trip to Bella Coola required negotiating “The Hill,” with grades of 10%, 12%, 14% and 18%. The dirt road descends more than 1,500 meters (about a mile) in elevation over 20 kms (12 miles) and is only 13 feet wide in places. A real RonneiAdventure! To make the journey more exiting, we had to make the drive in the rain and fog, with nasty dirt road conditions. Fortunately, after arriving in Bella Coola we were able to find a car wash before we checked in at the campground.

The campground was located in a beautiful valley surrounded by high, snowcapped mountains, adjacent to the Bella Coola River between Hagensborg and Bella Coola. When the fog lifted, we could see waterfalls cascading down the sides of all of the mountain faces. A great place to camp for several days! We even watched a bear swim across the river right by the campground!  

DAY 19 – Hagensborg is a Norwegian pioneer settlement that was established in 1894 by colonists from Minnesota. The Norwegian colonists chose this area because the landscape reminded them of the fjords in Norway. We were able to tour the Norwegian Heritage House, which was one of the first houses build in Hagensborg. The house was furnished as a typical Norwegian home in the early 1900s. Adjacent to the Norwegian house is the original Norwegian church.


We were told that no trip to Balla Colla is complete without hiking the Big Cedars trail at Snootli Creek Regional Park just up the road from our campground. There was reported to be a wide variety of birds that nest in the big trees, including a number of humming birds.

Arriving at the trailhead, I was surprised at the number of humming birds surrounding our truck. Then I realized that they were not humming birds, they were mosquitoes the size of humming birds! Before the hike was over, I had bites all over my body, including places you really don’t want to know about! Then, we were dumb enough to hike the Saloompt Forest Trail looking for bears. I think I’m going to make a T-shirt with a picture of a large mosquito and a saying “I donated a liter of blood in BC.”


In the afternoon we arranged for a boat trip around the Bella Coola harbor and went by the old cannery on the far side of the bay. The old cannery is now privately owned and requires special permission to dock and view the buildings, so we just took pictures from the boat. Arriving back at the dock, we walked down the road to Clayton Falls, which are called "Thousand Faces" by the Nuxalk.    
 Day 20 – The trip back to Williams Lake was much less exciting than the trip to Bella Coola and for part of the way the clouds parted, giving us some good views of the mountains. Although it rained part of the way back, the sun was shining in Quesnel and we found a nice campground by Dragon Lake. Now to get dried out!

 DAY 21 – When I learned that the “Largest Gold Pan in the World” was in Quesnel, I had to have a picture. Printed literature indicated that the gold pan was 5.5 meters across and weighed 1,400 kilos. However, after stopping at the Visitor Centre I found that Quesnel had lost the "largest" title to a gold pan located in the Yukon. It seems that the gold pan in Quesnel is not technically a “gold pan” and cannot be used to pan gold. Therefore, they lost the title of “Largest Gold Pan in the World” on a technicality.

While at the Visitor Centre we also visited the Quesnel Museum, which is fairly extensive, and contains the largest publicly accessible collection of Carrier and Tsilhqot’in photographs of Interior Native People in the World. Also on display is a Linotype machine that contains over 10,000 moving parts and is considered to be the 8th most complex machine in the world!

We also walked across the Old Fraser River Footbridge, which provides stunning views of the Fraser River.