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Terrace, Nass River, Kitimat and back to Telkwa

Community Highlights North America Terrace, Nass River, Kitimat and back to Telkwa

As I sit to write this it feels like so we have seen so much. I have been without wifi and even power for the past two days and nights on the road. Did manage to write a blog that first night which I have just posted but now I shall try to bring you up-to-date, as we are settled in at Fort Telkwa once more. Yesterday morning we awoke later than usual, not sure why as we were in bed earlier which is often the case when we are without power and wifi. That's alright, though, our only plans for the day were to travel "up the Nass" ... that's what I recall saying back when we first toured up there, when it was all gravel and most likely more of a logging road and long before the lava beds and area became the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park, "the first provincial park in BC combining interpretation of natural features with native culture." There were not signposts back then telling the story. I believe we knew there were lava beds, but maybe not, we did a lot of driving when we moved up there, seeing all we could see. As we drove up Kalum Lake Road that at some point becomes Highway 113 DSCF1716.jpgNisga'a Highway (no doubt aptly named for the 113-year journey to the Nisga'a Final Agreement (effective May 11, 2000), Denis comments that it seemed more exciting on the logging road or that he almost missed the logging road, something like that. It is some 70 km. up the highway before you reach the welcome to the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park. The park is very impressive and and handy brochure, Auto tour Nisga'a Nation, was an asset to making sure we saw as much of the highlights as possible. What Denis mostly recalled was the lava beds that seemed to go on for as far as your eyes could see and, for me, the most vivid memory was of a turquoise flowing stream the colour I expected to see in Hawaii (though, I had only ever seen Hawaii on tv at that time).

First two stops after the Welcome: Lava Lake and Crater Creek. The first a brief stop to look at the lake which had seen its water level rise about 30 m. due to molten lava damming the stream flowing from the original lake. The second stop, Crater Creek, we walked through the lava bed up to a lookout where we found ourselves standing atop lava some 30 m. deep. It seemed more covered in lichen than we recalled and, of course, more vegetation was around. Will have to search my photos and see what I might have taken way back then.
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Onward, bypassed the next two stops on the auto tour. Stop 4 was Drowned Forest, which we came upon too suddenly and then could see some of it from the highway and Stop 5, Beaupre Falls, had a bear alert sign which deterred Denis plus the mention of a 25% slope for 20 m. I hate to pass up falls but concurred with the decision as the entrance looked very woodsy. The next stop was Vetter Falls and the start of the trail was through a lava bed. This one we did and we figure this might've been where the truly turquoise water was that first visit except that the day was a bit dreary and the water was flowing hard so lots of white showing as it fell, both, we figure, could've resulted in the turquoise water not being visible. Still it was a beautiful stop.
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The next stop, Visitor Centre, a longhouse at the entrance to the campground. Unfortunately, not yet open for the season. There are four villages on this auto tour, two within the park's boundary and two outside. All four, and pretty much all the stops carry the First Nation name in addition to the English form. Back in the 70s we only knew the villages by their English form.
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From this point we decided we would head East to the end of Highway 113 and the village of Gingolx (also known as Kincolith or Place of skulls) after a stop to view a Tree Cast. What might that be? The answer from the brochure "During the eruption, molten lava solidified around trees which created hollow tubes after the trees burned or rotted away." We walked across the lava bed once more to view one. I marvelled at the vegetation-- always so amazing what manages to grow in such a stark environment.
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The next three stops we bypassed were the Nisga'a village of Gitwinksihlkw (also known as Canyon City, it seems) which we would go in on the way back, Dedication Site (other side-- we would catch it on our way back as well) and the Hot Springs (though this did appeal the threat of bears in the area mentioned by the Info Centre staff as well as an image in the brochure won out and we didn't go).

Next up, another village, Laxgalts'ap (aka Greenville) which we drove through on our way to the end of the highway, some 30 km. further (though, heading there it felt like so much more). A reader board actually warned DO NOT STOP BEARS IN AREA. Not a bear, but bears, plural. The road from Greenville to Kincolith had more curves and ups and downs and then at some points followed the shore of Portland Inlet. One final descent and we were in the village of Kincolith. Our experience in the short visit we had there was wonderful and encompassed all an experience could-- local culture, history, friendly people, good food, beautiful nature. We walked the sea walk and checked out the Recreation Centre -- a very expensive centre for such a small community but a very friendly caretaker, Reynold, showed us around it, showing off the cottonwood canoe members of the band had carved but then it didn't float (too heavy) and now is on display inside at one end of a meticulously cared for basketball court. He also showed us the magnificent kitchen, particularly the huge steamer used for shellfish and finally, the impressive weight room which he said got the most use. He spoke of the first all native games where his dad and uncle had performed in an brought home a banner, back in 1947. Denis also couldn't help but ask if things had gotten better since the treaty. He said, actually no, and that many wish they were still DIA (Dept. of Indian Affairs) as they were high on the totem at that time and now feel they are at the bottom as they are at the end of the road literally. Kind of sad. We did partake in halibut and chips. Who wouldn't when in the "seafood capital of the world" and had also heard that they were catching halibut and salmon right off the docks. As I say, we had a full experience, including a hawk or golden eagle soaring barely over our heads at one point. Of note, a two piece halibut and chips order was $12 at the WindSurfer take-out. It did take 20 minutes and was cooked in what appeared to be a person's home but, once again, all part of the experience and it was delicious. Only could've been better if the fries were fresh, handcut (but I totally understand why they were not). Denis had the opportunity to chat with the cook and perhaps the grandma and was told that the reader board was to warn of grizzlies in the area and it was mentioned that three years back a grizzly was so aggressive it even chases after a car! The grandma also told of the white bear (kermode) having been spotted in the area in the past. We lived in hope of seeing one but, alas, it was not to be. Our wildlife count for the trip though was fairly extensive-- 2 chipmunks, one porcupine, a fox, and two sightings of black bears.

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After lunch, it was back on the same road, opposite direction, with a few stops where we'd missed as we came out, stopping in the villages mainly to see the church and totems (which the literature seems to call pts'aan) and other "things to do/see" as suggested in the brochure. It was most interesting to me that each of the four villages we were to visit had a church and each church was of a different denomination. Gitlaxt'aamiks (aka New Aiyansh) = Holy Trinity Church / Gitwinksihlkw (aka Canyon City) - Salvation Army Church / Laxgalts'ap (aka Greenville) St. Andrews Anglican Church / Gingolx (aka Kincolith) = Gingolx Christ Church.
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As we left the park and headed back to Terrace we reflected ... we had driven some 35 km. along the highway lined with lava and, in places, we expect the flow must've approached 2 km. in width. It took us about 4 hours to reach Kincolith and the rain had held off most of the trip but the glorious mountains would never come into full view. Back in Terrace there was more rain. We had decided to camp at Lakelse Lake (Furlong Bay Campground).

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It was a good decision, despite the rain, arriving there around 6:15 pm, tired from the long day but feeling so good about the day. A beautiful provincial park with probably the best shower/washroom building we've found in a provincial park. All through the park there is evidence of very large first growth that once existed there. This morning the rain had subsided and offered an opportunity to walk the beach before heading out to Kitimat. It seemed to have grown from what I recalled and turned more beautiful, but then it was a gorgeous day and the mountains were all in view-- so pretty. A short drive around Kitimat and a few photos and we were on the familiar Highway 16 heading east, stopping at the Usk little chapel and a couple more brief stops for nourishment before arriving back here at Fort Telkwa late afternoon. Today's wildlife was one bear... we hoped hard to see a moose but it was not to be.
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This featured blog entry was written by BevH from the blog Roaming around British Columbia - 2017.
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By BevH

Posted Wed, Jun 07, 2017 | Comments