BC’s Highway of Tears, Highway 16

I don’t often write about negative things. I try to avoid negative things as much as possible, and I don’t like to pass any on. But the Highway of Tears is a subject that I’ve been following for many years, has been in my face during my last 2 long road trips in particular, and there’s a remote chance that passing the information on may even help keep someone safe.

The Highway of Tears is Highway 16, the Yellowhead Highway, a highway that crosses 4 provinces. It runs across central British Columbia as a 2-lane paved road, from Tete Jaune Cache in the Rocky Mountains to the east, to Prince Rupert on the west coast, a distance of 990 kilometers (615 miles) (see a map). Centred along this route, there have been many unsolved murders and disappearances of people between 1969 and 2011. All, or almost all according to some agencies, have been young women, and a high percentage of them have been Native. Different agencies and organizations disagree on the number of people – officially (RCMP) it’s 18, but 32 were identified in a ‘Take Back the Highway’ campaign in Prince Rupert in 2005, and some First Nations leaders estimate the number could be as high as 43. The Highway of Tears Web site set up by the Carrier Sekani Family Services agency in Prince George states that many people believe that the number exceeds 40, though their “In Memory” page lists 23.
BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
The first reminder to people who know the story is seen as soon as you enter BC at Tete Jaune Cache – this simple “No Hitch Hiking” sign that I’m sure the vast majority of people barely notice. I did a U-turn to photograph this sign in mid-March while I was driving back to Whitehorse from Hinton, Alberta, with this article in mind.
BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
Not until you near Vanderhoof do the tears along the highway start to show. The region is inundated with billboards and signs of every type posted by the family and friends of Madison “Maddy” Scott, the last official disappearance linked to the Highway of Tears investigation. She was 20 years old when she vanished from Hogsback Lake near Vanderhoof on May 28th, 2011. Even offering a $100,000 reward hasn’t produced any results.
Madison 'Maddy' Scott - BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
Madison 'Maddy' Scott - BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
There are other billboards, too. He’s not officially part of the Highway of Tears investigation, but 28-year-old Perry Sebastian vanished from Southbank, a tiny, remote community south of Decker Lake (where this billboard was photographed) on January 5, 2012.
Perry Sebastian - BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
The first “Highway of Tears” billboard that I remember seeing was the one that still stands at Moricetown. Erected in 2007, it lists 3 young women – Tamara Chipman, and cousins Delphine and Cecilia Nikal. Tamara vanished in 1985 when she was 22, Delphine in 1990 when she was 16, and Cecilia in 1989 when she was 22. It’s not clear to me why these 3 women were chosen.
BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16
BC's Highway of Tears, Highway 16

So that’s the basic Highway of Tears story that I’ve been watching for many years. There is no one-stop source for information about it, no agreement on what has happened or who has done it. Is it likely that a serial killer was/is working along the highway for 42 years (1969-2011)? I don’t know, but while you enjoy the scenery along BC Highway 16, I think it’s worth knowing about this incredibly sad story.

A Husky Day in the Dunes and on the Beach at Carcross

With the gorgeous days we’ve been having lately, I’m dying to get my huskies into the high country for some hiking. That’s weeks away yet, but yesterday we went to Carcross for some hiking/playing in the dune system and on the beach.

We were away from the house well before 09:00, taking the long way around via the Alaska Highway and Tagish Road rather than down the South Klondike Highway. The first photo stop was one of my regulars, overlooking the Yukon River just west of the Yukon River Bridge.
The Yukon River east of Whitehorse
While there are some signs of Spring around, there’s no hint of it at Marsh Lake, which is still locked solidly in ice.
Frozen Marsh Lake, Yukon
One of the reason for going this way was to get a few more photos for a guide to the Tagish Road, to add to my other Yukon & Alaska highway guides. This is looking west from Km 2 (measured from the junction with the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner).
Tagish Road, Yukon
I made a lot of stops as well as one detour down Secret Valley Lane which I’d never been down, and my very patient fur-kids didn’t get their first run until 10:45, at the base of Caribou Mountain at Tagish Road Km 49.
Caribou Mountain, Yukon
Once we reached Carcross, I made another detour, north to Emerald Lake, to see how the ice melt was progressing…
Frozen Emerald Lake, Yukon
…and to give the dogs a drink.
Husky drinking at Emerald Lake, Yukon
The easy way to access the huge beach at the north end of Lake Bennett is at downtown Carcross, but I drove about a half-mile into the dune system that’s most famous where it ends as the “Carcross Desert“. With a high-clearance vehicle you can drive right to the beach, but with my car it’s about a one-mile walk.
Carcross dunes, Yukon
These stored/abandoned tank and flat cars (about 30 of them) are at what is now the end of the White Pass & Yukon Route railway line – once Mile 69 of a 112-mile-long line.
Stored/abandoned tank and flat cars on the WP&YR at Carcross, Yukon
There is occasionally talk of putting the rail line from Carcross to Whitehorse back into service, but I’d bet a bunch of money that it will never happen. For freight, trucks run cheaper, and tourists are in too much of a hurry – to the south of Carcross it’s a successful tourist railway because it goes through spectacular country with no highway alongside most of its route.
Abandoned White Pass railway line north of Carcross, Yukon
This photo nicely sums up my reasons for choosing this route.
The beach of Lake Bennett at Carcross, Yukon
Husky Heaven πŸ™‚
Husky puppy on a sand dune at Carcross, Yukon
I often tell people what a difference Bella, our new puppy, has made in 12-year-old Monty’s life, but she added immeasurably to mine as well. I can’t begin to describe how happy it makes me to see them playing like this.
Huskies playing on the beach of Lake Bennett at Carcross, Yukon
Monty is a wonderful teacher, as I expected he would be, and Bella is often obviously watching him to see what to do in situations that are new to her. Over the next few weeks, her world will be rapidly expanding as the melting snow lets us get into more and higher backcountry, and new plants start to appear.
Huskies playing on the beach of Lake Bennett at Carcross, Yukon
Huskies playing on the beach of Lake Bennett at Carcross, Yukon
Huskies playing on the beach of Lake Bennett at Carcross, Yukon
Although I was able to put on shorts and walk barefoot on the beach, there was a strong and icy wind blowing off those glaciers and snowfields up the lake, so a fleece jacket was needed.
Spring on the beach at Carcross, Yukon
The 2-mile-long beach (of which we walked about half) ends at the mouth of the Watson River.
Watson River, Yukon
This is the view south on Lake Bennett from the same spot as the shot above.
Dramatic snowy peaks along Lake Bennett, Yukon
We took a very long, winding route back to the car, wandering up and down through the dunes. There are trails everywhere through them (perhaps 40 kilometers – 25 miles – of them), ranging from walking paths to ATV trails like this one, to vehicle accessible ones.
Carcross Dunes, Yukon
I tried a few times to get the kids to cooperate for a family portrait, but this is as close as I got to one πŸ™‚
Murray with his huskies in the Carcross dunes, Yukon
Just about when I thought that Bella must be exhausted, we met a friend and her dog, and away they went!
Dogs playing in the Carcross, Yukon

That was a great way to celebrate the fast-approaching hiking season, and gives me great confidence that my little girl will be game for pretty much anything. Come on Summer! πŸ™‚

Motorcycle Bucket List: Route 66, Chicago to Santa Monica

To me, “Route 66” has always been a magical term. Especially for anyone who still has a bit of their brain stuck in the 1950s (yes, that would be me πŸ™‚ ), that road is almost sure to be part of the memory. I’ve driven some small sections of it in California, but seeing the whole route, with lots of time to soak it all in, is still on my Bucket List. And it’s a road that may be best suited to my motorcycle. Kiara Wilson at Motorcycle House and I have been chatting about great rides and gear, and she offered to write a guest blog about Route 66 for ExploreNorth.

Every once in a while, a rider is called to the road like few other duties. Of course it’s involuntary, but the sheer passion and enjoyment of riding causes a burning desire to seek the open road. While afternoon trips and day rides can wane that burning desire every now and then, a multi-day trip is needed on the bike. For a select few motorcycle enthusiasts, the challenge of Route 66 is a calling that simply must be taken. Starting in Chicago and ending in Santa Monica, Route 66 is often referred to as Main Street of America for the amount of land area it covers: 2,451 miles, to be exact.

Riding Route 66

While the history of Route 66 is rich and lengthy, the proposal for the name and the exact route came about in the mid-1920s. Because the country needed a sustainable route that allowed travelers to move easily from the Midwest to the West, Route 66 was conceived to connect other major highway systems in order to create a vein-like system of roads. Today, Route 66 connects a seemingly infinite amount of public roads together in order to give motorists any number of opportunities to exit and explore the neighboring communities. The popularity of Route 66 boomed in the ’30s and ’40s as ownership of cars exploded. Many towns flourished along this highway, and new economies were born. But as changes in numbering and road construction came in the ’50s, Route 66 began to decline and many of these towns diminished. Today, Route 66 is still a staple among travelers, and it’s become an iconic route for American culture, as have some others.

Route 66

And then there was the motorcycle. Throughout the highway’s life, motorcycles have been a popular method of transportation. And why not? As it’s one of the longest stretches of a single-named road in the country, Route 66 covers so many various terrains and states; it’s hard not to accept the challenge of the ride. From flat, never-ending plains to twisting mountain roads, motorcyclists will get all the thrills and relaxation packed into one trip. Because Route 66 covers so much land in so many different counties, maintenance varies upon location. Riders should be aware that flat, even surfaces can quickly turn into bumpy roadways.

Route 66

Because the duration of the Route 66 ride is so long and covers so many different areas, riders will experience a multitude of different climates during their journey. Regardless of whether you head out in Summer or Winter, riders should understand that packing heavy is almost a must. You’ll experience both windy and calm conditions, and rain will surely present itself somewhere along the way. While First’s Buffalo Nickel jacket or similar light attire might seem comfortable for one stretch of the highway, rougher, colder areas might require something a bit heavier. In this case, pack away multiple jackets – River Road has one for just about any occasion.

Route 66

Route 66 simply must be experienced in order to appreciate its worth to American culture and the U.S. highway system. You’ll see majestic mountains and iconic towns along your journey, and there’s no replacing the memories you’ll have for years to come. Remember to set aside some serious traveling time, because Route 66 cannot be rushed.

Yeah, Route 66 is a ride that needs to be done! πŸ™‚
Alaska Highway Kilometer 1566
For loads of information about it, visit Historic Route 66.
Route 66 map

Alaska Cruise Season 2014: Day 1 in Skagway

I really like seeing the first cruise ship of the year sail into Skagway. It’s a bit tough logistically to make that happen, but as you’ll see below, there are some wonderful aspects to the trip. The dogs seemed to be somewhat confused about getting breakfast at 03:00, but Monty knows that being adaptable is part of life with me, and Bella will learn soon πŸ™‚

We were away from the house at 03:45, and the first photo stop was at the Bove Island viewpoint south of Carcross, at 04:30. The lakes are all still firmly frozen. Bella made her first important discovery of the day there – someone had dropped a used diaper, and I had quite a time getting that prize from my puppy. What is wrong with some people? – even “born in a barn” doesn’t cover that sort of behaviour πŸ™
Spring dawn light at Bove Island, Yukon
Travelling at that time of the morning allows total flexibility for stops, U-turns or anything else you want to do, because there is no traffic. None πŸ™‚ A U-turn got me this shot along Windy Arm just south of the BC border.
Spring dawn light along Windy Arm, Yukon
Among the things you can do when there’s no traffic is stop in the middle of the road and set up your tripod to get shots like this, taken at 04:55.
Spring dawn light along the South Klondike Highway, BC
Looking south over Tutshi Lake. Although it looks cold, the temperature was a very comfortable +4°C (39°F).
Spring dawn light at Tutshi Lake, BC
The view to the north, a few miles further south on Tutshi Lake.
Spring dawn light at Tutshi Lake, BC
A WP&YR work train sits at Fraser.
A WP&YR work train at Fraser, BC
Five minutes before the 05:58 sunrise, at the Thompson River. The railway crosses it on a small bridge in the lower centre of the photo.
Spring dawn light in the White Pass, BC
A few clouds obscured the light I had hoped for at the White Pass Summit. This is looking across Summit Lake to the Sawtooth Range.
Spring dawn light in the White Pass, BC
The only vehicle I saw in the 3 hours it took me to get to Skagway, a semi climbing the final mile towards the Summit on his way to the Skagway docks.
Trucking in the White Pass, Alaska
The BC/Alaska border just north of the Summit.
The BC/Alaska border just north of the White Pass Summit
The crossing into Alaska was very pleasant, as a Customs officer that I hadn’t seen in a long time and used to chat with a fair bit was on duty. When I reached Skagway and took this shot at 05:50 local (06:50 Yukon), it was very quiet – my car was the only one on Broadway. I processed a series of 3 photos to get this HDR image.

Almost all cruise ship schedules say that they arrive in Skagway at 07:00 but it’s common to get there much earlier, as early as 04:30. The first ship seems to be on time, but I kept an eye on the inlet as we wandered around Skagway looking for photo ops.

Bella’s next discovery of the day was barnacles – yuuum! πŸ™‚ I stopped her after a few nibbles, because it’s a safe bet that they would end up on my car seat in a while.
Husky puppy discovering barnacles in Skagway, Alaska
The Carnival Miracle first came into view down Taiya Inlet just after 06:00 – this was shot at 06:25.
Cruise ship Carnival Miracle sails into Skagway, Alaska
The Miracle is a mid-sized ship on the Alaska routes now, carrying 2,124 passengers and a crew of 961.
Cruise ship Carnival Miracle sails into Skagway, Alaska
Fresh from a cruise to Hawaii, the line-tossing crew of the Miracle was bundled up well against the Alaska chill πŸ™‚
Carnival Miracle
Fifteen minutes after the ship was tied up, the first White Pass & Yukon Route train arrived to take passengers up to the Summit.
White Pass & Yukon Route train meets the Carnival Miracle
This pickup arrived to drop gear off for the people who would get off the train to go hiking/snowshoeing up the pass at Denver Station.
Hiking excursion gear arrives at Skagway, Alaska
It’s great to see all of the White Pass locomotives getting new paint jobs.
White Pass locomotives
Soon after the train’s arrival, the tour buses started arriving. Day 1 – 140 or so to go! I well remember the knot in my stomach on the first day or 3. Every now and then I miss driving the buses, but I always get over it quickly πŸ™‚
Tour buses meet the Carnival Miracle at Skagway, Alaska
I had a look around the railway gift shop, where I met a long-time friend who introduced me to the new president of the White Pass, John Finlayson. I got a few photos around the offices, including some of this model of the container ship Frank H. Brown.
White Pass container ship Frank H. Brown
I went for a big breakfast and then the kids and I spent a while back at the dock meeting people coming off the ship – yes, a pair of huskies make it very easy to meet new people! By 08:45, though, it felt like time to go home. The streets were still pretty much empty, and few shops were open or looked like they might open. The season starts slowly – it’s tough to schedule staff for these first days.
Broadway on a 1-ship morning in Skagway, Alaska
We made a few short stops on the way north, but were back in downtown Carcross at 11:20. There, as expected, only the visitor centre and the charming little Caribou Crossing Coffee were open. May 12th is the first multi-ship day (3 ships with a total of 6,756 passengers), and that’s when most things open in Carcross.
Carcross as the cruise season starts - still boarded up
Emerald Lake will still be “White Lake” for a while yet, much to the surprise, I’m sure, of many of the people who will be coming up to see it. The very warm temperatures forecast in the next week (up to 19°C – 66°FΒ – on Tuesday) might open it up quickly, though, if some wind accompanies the warmth. When Does the Ice Leave Emerald Lake??.
When Does the Ice Leave Emerald Lake??
A total of 22 kilometers of the South Klondike Highway are being ripped up and re-sealed over the next couple of weeks. One 10-km section straddles the BC/Yukon border, and this one is between Emerald Lake and Robinson. I won’t be taking the motorcycle to Skagway anytime soon.

I thought that when I got home a nap in the sunshine might be in order, but there was just too much work to do outside. The biggest one was taking down a large and dangerous tree – a chain was bolted on to ensure that it couldn’t hit the hot tub when I dropped it, and we now have another 3-4 week’s worth of firewood for next year as a bonus.

Driving the North End of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

After starting off on the final leg of the drive home yesterday morning, I turned around for some more exploring in Stewart, but was back on the road for real just after 10:00 am. I had no real plans for the day – I might end up sleeping in the truck for a bit and would just get home when I got there.

These gates are used to close Highway 37A when avalanches come down. That happened as I was in Smithers on my way to Stewart back in March, and I had to turn around and go home via the Alaska Highway – an 800-km detour.
BC Highway 37A to Stewart
When I started off the first time, the clouds were thick and low, and I would have seen pretty much nothing along this stretch.
BC Highway 37A to Stewart
Looking back towards Stewart from about Km 38. The sign at the far corner says “Avalanche Area Year Round”. If you look straight up to the left from that sign…
BC Highway 37A from Stewart
…you’re looking at the underside of this blue-ice glacier!
Glacier on BC Highway 37A to Stewart
I set up this shot specifically to send to U-Haul. They have some trucks painted with collages of photos that people send in, and you can track the truck that your photo is on. I thought that was very cool, and they did want to use my photo. BUT, the release you sign to be part of that program gives them the right to use your photo anywhere, in any media, forever, with no compensation. Greedy bastards – no thanks.
U-Haul truck at Bear Glacier on BC Highway 37A
The view north from Bear Glacier. If you’re using The Milepost, note that they have the Hwy 37A mileages running from Meziadin Junction to Stewart, whereas the actual highway km posts run from Stewart to Meziadin. For example, the Bear Glacier is right at Km 40, but The Milepost says it’s Km 24.2.
Looking north from the Bear Glacier on BC Highway 37A
Back on the Stewart-Cassiar, this is Bell I, the first crossing of the Bell-Irving River, at Km 183. There’s a large rest area at the far side of the metal-deck bridge. For good simple navigation of the parks and rest areas along the highway, the Ministry of Transportation has a printable map online.
Bell I Bridge on BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
The view north at Km 231 just after noon.
The view north at Km 231 on BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
This sign just north of the Bell II Lodge (which has recently been bought by the Last Frontier Heli-skiing company) warns of possible delays, but there were none.
Powerline construction along BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
Looking south at the massive Snowbank Avalanche Area in Ningunsaw Pass, at Km 261. A sign at the large rest area here notes that there are 5 avalanche areas through the pass, with a total of 15 avalanche paths, down which 710 avalanches have come since 1974 – and 53 of those avalanches reached the highway. On January 7, 1999, Avalanche Technicians Al Evenchick and Al Munro were killed at Avalanche Creek while conducting field work to aid in keeping travellers safe. πŸ™
Snowbank Avalanche Area on BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
While construction of the main Northwest Transmission Line is almost finished, the extension to Iskut is just starting the tower erection phase, and there are crews working everywhere along that part of the highway.
Powerline construction along BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
I took this shot at 2:15 just as a record of what it looked like before the towers went up.
Powerline construction along BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
The large crane that helped put up that tower was just being moved to the next site.
Powerline construction along BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
Although the sign at the Iskut Motor Inn said they were open, it didn’t look like it, so I passed by. A minute later, though, I decided that I really was hungry, so did a U-turn when I could and went back. But, driving around the property I could find no good indication that they really were open, and it wasn’t really even clear where the cafe might be, so didn’t bother walking through the mud to see if what might be the front door was actually open.
BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
As expected, it was still Winter in Gnat Pass just south of Dease Lake at Km 468. This is the roughest section of Hwy 37, and pretty much always has been – for almost an hour, speeds above 70 kmh (43 mph) are just asking for trouble.
BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
I was dreading having to have lunch at the PetroCan station in Dease Lake, but luckily noticed a sign for a new cafe next door. Everything about Rumors Cafe was excellent – what a relief πŸ™‚ The big banner announces their Web site, and I was going to link to it for you, but there’s no such site.
Rumors Cafe at Dease Lake on BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar
The light got pretty flat for photography, so the drive up the highway was quicker than it often is. By 5:30 when I took this shot approaching the Cottonwood River Rest Area (which is lovely when it’s open), I was starting to think that I’d make it home that night.
Along the northern section of BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar, at the Cottonwood River
One last shot as I approached Good Hope Lake at 6:00 pm. Never plan on fueling up here despite what guidebooks and even highway signs might indicate. As usual, there was no fuel when I passed through, though Highways Department signs a few miles back said that there would be (I didn’t need any).
Good Hope Lake on BC Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar

With a couple of short stops for small amounts of fuel (the truck’s tank needed to be nearly empty at Whitehorse to maximize savings), I was home at 11:30 pm. Cathy had been watching my progress on my Spot page, so it wasn’t a surprise to her πŸ™‚

It was a particularly good trip, helping a friend out and having a fine adventure. Now, Spring is about to arrive, and lots more adventures, though shorter ones, are being planned!

Exploring Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska

I reached Stewart at 3:00 pm on Easter Sunday. Although it was very quiet, I was surprised by the amount of activity – I didn’t know that several mines are in exploration, development or production phases. This hoist is moving containers on the trailers, I think to increase axle loadings now that the trucks are going to be on a paved highway instead of gravel mining roads.
Mining trucks Stewart, BC
My first stop was at the home I lived in 39 years ago – House 1701, Granduc Subdivision. It’s on Hill Road, at the base of what was the ski hill. I could tell you Stewart stories all day, but I loved the place then, and I love it now. I didn’t love the company I worked for, however.
Granduc mine house in Stewart, BC
The old Granduc apartment building has been abandoned for many years. A woman I met outside it said that she heard that it’s been sold and is going to be rebuilt – it must be someone with very deep pockets! Dozens of townhouses around it are in similar derelict condition.
Granduc apartment building in Stewart, BC
In the 1970s this was the New Naked Spud restaurant. Yes, I am serious πŸ™‚ It was a typical “small-town-Canada” Chinese menu, but every now and then they’d bring seafood in right off a boat, and I had some incredible abalone there.
The former New Naked Spud restaurant in Stewart, BC
This was the Empress Hotel, built in 1908 by a German financier, Alvo Von Alvensleben. Nothing but the best went into the hotel, and the initial cost is said to have been $100,000. The hotel opened for business in July 1910, as construction began on the Portland Canal Short Line Railway which would connect Stewart with the outside world – only 14 miles of track was ever laid, though.
Historic and derelict Empress Hotel in Stewart, BC
Historic and derelict Empress Hotel in Stewart, BC
There are old pieces of mining and to a lesser degree logging equipment scattered everywhere in Stewart. I haven’t found a guide to vintage Caterpillar haul trucks, but I’d guess this one as being from the 1960s – perhaps an early Granduc model.
Vintage Caterpillar mine haul truck in Stewart, BC
The head of Portland Canal, looking south at the Stewart dock. I flew to Stewart in April 1975, and my wife and new Chevy Blazer followed on the freighter Northland Prince, which docked there.
The head of Portland Canal at Stewart, BC
The trees along the road to Hyder, Alaska, are all dripping with this moss-type stuff.
Mossy trees at Stewart, BC
There is apparently a granite quarry up there. A woman in Hyder said that the blasting practically knocks her over, despite those blasting mats at the lower right.
Granite quarry at Stewart, BC
The town of Hyder was originally built on those thousands of pilings.
Pilings at Hyder, Alaska

Although there is no Customs inspection post going into Alaska, there is coming back into Canada. To avoid any hassle, I asked the CBSA officer at the desk if there would be a problem taking a loaded cargo truck into the States and was told that there might be. So I left the truck in Canada and walked over.

At the far left is the Canada / United States border monument. The little stone building, Army Engineer Storehouse No. 4, was Alaska’s first masonry building when it was built in 1896 under the direction of Captain David D. Gaillard during his exploration of Portland Canal.
The international border at Hyder, Alaska
As far as I walked there were only two businesses open – a gift shop and the laundry. In Hyder it can be hard to tell which buildings might be open in the summer, but I think it’s a safe bet that this one won’t be.
Abandoned building in Hyder, Alaska
The large sign on the Sealaska Inn declares Hyder to be Mile 0 of the Alaska-Yukon Hwy. There’s no such designation of a highway officially, but sure, why not? πŸ™‚
Sealaska Inn in Hyder - Mile 0 of the Alaska-Yukon Hwy
Getting Hyderized at the Glacier Inn used to be a big deal, but now it’s just an expensive shot of 190-proof grain alcohol! It used to be called “snakebite” here.
The Glacier Inn at Hyder, Alaska
Looking back to Canada Customs as I left “The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska”.
Hyder, The Friendliest Ghost Town in Alaska
Back in Stewart at 5:30, I picked up my room key, which was in a basket outside the closed office as promised, dropped my suitcase in the room and went for dinner.
Stewart, BC
The choices for Easter Sunday dinner were limited – it was the King Edward Hotel, or the grocery store. The burger was very good, better than I remember them being when I lived at “the King Eddie” for a couple of weeks in 1975.
King Edward Hotel restaurant in Stewart, BC
Back at the main lodge of the Ripley Creek Inn – there are quite a few buildings with restored rooms now.
Ripley Creek Inn at Stewart, BC
Here’s a unique bulldozer! The body is an early 1950s British estate wagon – a Hillman, Anglia or similar. The owners of the Ripley Creek Inn have a huge collection of old “stuff” that is parked, displayed or just stashed everywhere in and around the many buildings on the property.
A unique bulldozer at Stewart, BC
This is the small private deck for Room 301 – a wonderful place to enjoy a beer.
Ripley Creek Inn at Stewart, BC
This short video will give you a better idea of what the room is like. I loved it.
This is the common lounge of the main lodge, beside my room on the second floor.
Ripley Creek Inn at Stewart, BC
The finest of the historic buildings in Stewart is the former Bayview Hotel, built in 1925 by the Rapaich brothers from Yugoslavia. It was restored in 1994 and the ground floor now serves as the Bitter Creek Restaurant, probably the best restaurant in Stewart but only open in the summer.
Historic Bayview Hotel in Stewart, BC
I really liked seeing mine haul trucks pounding through Stewart again. When no mines are operating, the town is far too quiet. There’s actually so much going on now that none of the locals I talked really had a good handle on the situation, and nobody seems to have tried a summary online yet.
Mine haul truck in Stewart, BC
Built in 1910 as the fire hall and government office, this building and its grounds became the museum in 1976. It’s in rough shape now, though, due to wet rot, and the inside part of the museum was moved into the court house 2 years ago. The grounds to the left are still the home of many artifacts.
1910 firehall in Stewart, BC
These two buildings are both part of the Ripley Creek Inn complex. I have no doubt that the rooms are really nice, as they all are, but it must be a shock to drive up to πŸ™‚ These must be the latest additions, as the Web site doesn’t have any photos of the rooms yet.
Stewart, BC
Just before 9:00 pm, I took a few last shots of the grocery store, went back to my room and was soon in bed, getting ready for the big push home on Monday.
Stewart, BC

On Monday morning, I was back at the King Eddie for breakfast at 7:00 am, took a few more photos around town and was on the road before 8:00. I had a nag that I wasn’t finished with Stewart yet, though, so I only got about 10 km up the highway before turning around. There were 2 things I wanted to see yet – the estuary boardwalk and the toaster museum.

At the entrance to the boardwalk, I was surprised to find a monument to the 26 men killed in an avalanche during development of the Granduc mine on February 18, 1965. Death Came Silently: the Granduc Mine Disaster tells the story – this was one of the first stories I ever posted online, in 1998.
Granduc Mine memorial in Stewart, BC
The boardwalk was a wonderful way to start the day. The views all around are amazing, and looking closer has lots of interest, from nurse logs to pilings from Stewart’s booming past.
Nurse logs in Stewart, BC
A video is a better way to share the feeling of the estuary boardwalk.
The Toastworks Museum, the main reason I turned around, was well worth the backtrack. I’ll tell you more about it in a future article.
Stewart, BC

Now well satisfied with my visit to Stewart, I was back on the road just after 10:00 am. I didn’t have a game plan for the day – it would depend on the weather, what caught my interest along the route, and how tired I got.

Road Trip Day 3: Smithers to Stewart, BC

On Easter Sunday, I had taken advantage of the toast-and-cereal breakfast at the Sunshine Inn, taken this photo from the viewing deck a few feet from my room on the 3rd floor, and checked out by a few minutes after 7:00. With my next destination, Stewart, only 328 km (204 mi) away, I had lots of time to look around both communities as well as points along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.
The view from the Sunshine Inn in Smithers, BC
At the eastern end of town, Highway 16 is flanked by two larger-than-life-size concrete sculptures. The point of the fisherman is easy to figure out – the area is famous for its fishing.
Fisherman sculpture in Smithers, BC
A prompt reply from the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce about this sculpture on the opposite side of the highway whose symbolism I wasn’t certain about says: “The mother-like woman holding the railroad tie symbolizes all the pioneer women who worked building the Grand Trunk railroad. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was a 4,800 km system whose main line ran from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Women played an important role in the blossoming of Smithers. Their husbands and sons labored on the railroad, prospecting, surveying and laying down track.”
Women pioneers sculpture in Smithers, BC
There are a few murals around Smithers, none more impressive than this one on the side of the Royal Canadian Legion hall.
Mural on the side of the Royal Canadian Legion hall in Smithers, BC
Hudson Bay Mountain, well known to skiers for 1,000 miles around, also dominates the view for many miles around Smithers.
Hudson Bay Mountain at Smithers, BC
I made a brief stop at Moricetown Canyon on the Bulkley River. Once the site of the largest village of the Bulkley Valley (Carrier) Indians because salmon congregated below the canyon and were easy to catch as they passed through it, it was named after pioneer missionary Father Adrien Gabriel Morice. I knew of Father Morice from an early age as the author of my father’s prized book, “The History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia, Formerly New Caledonia, 1660-1880”, published in 1904.
Moricetown Canyon, BC
The next stop was New Hazelton, with Roche de Boule towering over it. It would be easy to spend at least a full day here, as there are several very good walking trails and 2 historic villages.
New Hazelton and Roche de Boule, BC
All the activities didn’t help the New Town Pub, which is closed and by the sign in the window has been taken over by the local government.
New Town Pub, New Hazelton, BC
Over at the Visitor Information Centre, there are some interesting sculptures, including this “Upper Skeena Logger”. The plaque notes that “Since the 1950s logging and timber manufacturing have grown to become the largest employers of Hazeltons area residents.”
Upper Skeena Logger sculpture in New Hazelton, BC
At 11:00, I had finished a big breakfast at the PetroCanada gas station at the Highway 37 (Stewart-Cassiar) junction, and was ready to cross over the Skeena River.
Skeena River bridge on BC Hwy 37
Just 4.3 km up Highway 37, a took the short detour through Kitwanga to Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site. A fierce warrior chief, ‘Nekt, used Battle Hill as a base to make raids against Nass River and coastal peoples for food, slaves, and control of lucrative trade routes including the famous Kitwankul Grease Trail.
Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site, BC

To reach the top of Battle Hill, there are 107 steps down from the parking lot, and then 67 more from the base to the top of the hill (yes, I counted them πŸ™‚ ). So that’s 348 steps in total, in the 15-20 minutes that most people apparently spend here – a good morning workout as wel as being very interesting.

This is a model of the fortified village that existed on Battle Hill – the photo is on one of the interpretive signs at the site. To defend the village, ‘Nekt and his warriors hoisted huge spiked logs up the palisade walls and fastened them with cedar ropes. When the war horn signaled an enemy attack, the logs were rolled down to crush the invaders.
Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site, BC
This is looking north at Cranberry Junction, Km 76 on Hwy 37. To the left (west), the fairly rough Nass Forest Service Road leads to the former mining town of Kitsault, the First Nations village of New Aiyansh, and to Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park. It joins the Nisga’a Highway, which leads to Terrace (the last 70 km are paved).
Cranberry Junction on BC Hwy 37
The 344-kilometer-long (214 miles) Northwest Transmission Line is almost finished – the final lines are being strung at the south end with helicopters and bulldozers. It runs along the Stewart-Cassiar from just north of Cranberry Junction to Bob Quinn Lake at Km 296.
BC's Northwest Transmission Line
One of the side economic benefits of the powerline construction is the huge amount of timber that was cut and is being trucked to Stewart.
Log sorting along BC Hwy 37
The one-lane Nass River Bridge was opened on July 8, 1972. Of wood and steel construction, it’s 119.9 meters long (393.5 feet), with a main span of 56.7 meters (186 feet).
Nass River Bridge on BC's Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Nass River Bridge on BC Highway 37
At 1:45 pm, I reached the junction with Highway 37A (Meziadin Junction), and turned south towards Stewart, 61 km (38 miles) away. As I approached Windy Hill, it started to snow quite heavily.
Windy Hill on BC Hwy 37A
Within a couple of miles, though, the snow had stopped and the skies were clearing as I neared the Bear Glacer, which is at Km 40 (from Stewart).
BC Highway 37A to Stewart
There was enough mist in the air that photography of Bear Glacier wasn’t good, but it’s very impressive regardless.
Bear Glacier, BC
The massive avalanche chutes, glaciers and rock pinnacles through Bear Pass are all extremely impressive.
Peaks through Bear Pass on BC Hwy 37A
Even once the highway more or less levels out, it’s walled in by very steep mountains, and there are countless waterfalls and avalanche chutes. There are, however, very few places to get off the road for safe and leisurely photography.
Waterfall along BC Highway 37A to Stewart
The author with some of his favourite things πŸ™‚ This was shot at 3:00 pm, so my day was far from over. I’m going to post about my exploration of Stewart and Hyder separately, though.
Welcome to Stewart, BC

Road Trip Day 2: Clinton to Smithers, BC

On Saturday morning, I got off to a later start than is usual on my road trips but felt great. This was the view from the deck outside my room, #16, at 07:25. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at the Round-Up Motel again.
Round-Up Motel, Clinton, BC
I had asked the motel owner last night about a good place for breakfast, and he recommended the Cordial Cafe a block away. Man oh man, when they lay out a breakfast, they don’t mess around, even for $10! No, I couldn’t quite finish it, but I put up a good fight, and was certainly ready to put some miles on when I finished πŸ™‚
Huge breakfast at the Cordial Cafe in Clinton, BC
Clinton has some interesting antique shops that luckily were all closed. Luckily because I really like old stuff but don’t need any more!
White Elephant Antiques in Clinton, BC

The planned destination for the day was Smithers, 768 km (477 miles) to the northwest. There’s nothing spectacular along the route, but most of it is very pleasant country, and for someone with an interest in history, there are lots of spots worthy of note. It started to snow as I was having breakfast, and it got heavier as I headed north, though never heavy enough to be a problem.

One of the things that I always notice is the many old gas stations and lodges that are either closed or look like they’re about at the end of their useful lives. I’ve got photos of some, but would like to get many more some day when I have lots of time. 70 Mile House is one of the places I’d like to stop…
70 Mile House, BC
At 9:20 I reached 100 Mile House, which had been my planned destination for last night. 100 Mile is a rather prosperous looking community, thanks at least partly to a good-sized lumber mill.
100 Mile House, BC
I made a slight detour to the little 100 Mile House airport, which is located right downtown, and added a couple of planes to my collection, including this 1967 Beech A23A Musketeer, CF-VAF.
1967 Beech A23A Musketeer CF-VAF
Highway 97 roughly follows the Fraser River to Prince George. At this point, 52 km (32 mi) north of Williams Lake, the heritage sign seen at the far left says: “Paddlewheels North. Down-river lay the perilous and unnavigable canyon. Up-river the Fraser was swift and strong, but sternwheelers could travel 400 miles from Soda Creek. Men and supplies embarked here in the 1860’s for the fabulous Cariboo goldfields. Later, as the G.T.P. Railway was forged across the Province, nine paddlewheelers formed a life-line to the north.”
Along the Fraser River north of Williams Lake, BC
Another 14 km (9 mi) north, I stopped to get some photos of the Fort Alexandria cairn and the old Fort Alexandria Cafe beside it. The cairn reads: “In 1821 the North West Company built a post here as the northern terminus of their Pacific brigade trail. Goods which had been brought up the Columbia to Fort Okanagan were sent overland by pack train to this point, then distributed by water to the posts of New Caledonia. The post was named for Sir Alexander Mackenzie who had explored the upper Fraser in 1793. After the union of the companies in 1821, Fort Alexandria was retained by the Hudson’s Bay Company and played a key role in the logistics of the trade until road transportation supplanted the brigade in the 1860s.” The Milepost notes that the actual site of the fort was on the opposite side of the Fraser River.
By 1:20 I was well west of Prince George on Highway 16, the Yellowhead.
BC Highway 16 west of Prince George
At 2:20 I reached Vanderhoof, a community that I really like for no reason that I can put my finger on. I overnight here fairly often, at the Coach Light Motel seen ahead on the right the last few times (nothing fancy, just clean and good value).
Vanderhoof, BC
I had hoped to have a late lunch at the cafe at the Vanderhoof Museum, but it wasn’t open. The gift shop was, but I didn’t go in because as with the antique shops in Clinton, there’s nothing I need πŸ™‚
Vanderhoof Museum
After literally decades of telling myself that I need to get at least one picture of this place (a 1930s cafe is my guess) before it disappears, I finally did.
Old cafe at Decker Lake, BC
The last time I was by the former Upland Motel near Topley (on March 12th), it was still standing – it smelled like this fire was very recent. It’s been abandoned for many years, and I never did understand what caused it to be built where it was – it was a large place, perhaps 30 rooms in 3 blocks. There are still hotel-reservation Web sites out there that list it despite it being closed for almost 20 years.
Upland Motel - Topley, BC
I stopped in Houston for a few photos, including some of the Largest Fly Rod in the World. Erected in 1990, it is 60 feet (1829.8 cm) long and weighs about 800 pounds. The reel has a diameter of 36 inches, and the fluorescent orange “Skykomish Sunrise” fly is 21 inches long.
Largest Fly Rod in the World, in Houston, BC
Steelhead Park, where the fly rod and several other pieces of art are located, was a really nice place to stretch my legs.
Steelhead Park in Houston, BC
I reached Smithers just after 6:00 pm, and after quickly checking into the Sunshine Inn, went to the Trackside Cantina. I’d been to both places on my last visit, and was very pleased with both.
Historic railway station at Smithers, BC
Ah… a good start towards an Ultimate Burrito, finished with a totally unnecessary and totally delicious Adobe Pie dessert πŸ™‚
Chips and beer at the Trackside Cantina in Smithers, BC
After dinner, I went for a bit of a wander for photos. This is the old Smithers court house, built in 1925.
Old court house in Smithers, BC
And this is Alpine Man, originally the center piece for the Edelweiss Motel in Rock Creek, BC, which was destroyed by fire in 1973. Alpine Man was put in a temporary home, and the Smithers Lions Club brought him north from there. After some renovations, Alpine Man took his place on Main Street, as a focal point of the town’s Alpine theme.
Alpine Man in Smithers, BC

Sunday would be an easy day, to Stewart for a leisurely look around.

Another Vancouver-to-Whitehorse Road Trip: Day 1 of 4

I returned home at midnight Monday from a 4-day road trip up from Vancouver, driving a U-Haul truck belonging to a friend who has moved to Whitehorse (I drove her car up in 2 days last October). To make things easy at home for Cathy, I arranged to do this trip over the Easter 4-day weekend, flying down on Air North’s Friday morning flight.

While everyone else was getting settled on the plane, I watched one of Air North’s Hawker Siddeley HS748s being readied for a flight. A friend and his wife recently moved to Old Crow, and a funny story he wrote about the flight up in this plane was published in What’s Up Yukon.
Air North's Hawker Siddeley HS748 C-FYDU
It was cloudy for much of the flight, but the skies were clear for one of the most spectacular parts of the route, in the Tweedsmuir Park region of west-central British Columbia. Below are two of the most beautiful of the many glaciers there. I believe that the lower one shows the Scimitar Glacier in the centre, with the small Chaos Glacier feeding into it from the left, and Mt. Hickson the dominant peak between them.
Glacier in BC
Scimitar Glacier and Chaos Glacier, BC
Just after 10:00, we passed by the Vancouver International Airport, and made a turn over New Westminster and Surrey to approach the runway.
Aerial view of the Vancouver International Airport
Three bridges cross the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey – the railway on the left, the Pattullo Bridge (built in 1936–37 and named for the premier at that time), and the SkyBridge, which carries the rapid-transit-system Skytrains.
Bridges across the Fraser River at New Westminster, BC
Evolving Vancouver, with light industrial areas squeezing farms ever smaller (those are probably cranberry fields). The green space at the upper left is Central Park in Burnaby. Downtown Vancouver is out of the frame at the upper left.
Evolving Vancouver, with light industrial areas squeezing farms ever smaller
This is another Fraser River bridge, carrying the Canada Line extension of the Skytrain into Richmond and to the Vancouver airport.
Canada Line bridge across the Fraser River

Laurie met me at the airport, and we drove out to Delta to get the U-Haul truck. Shortly after 11:00, my gear was loaded and electronics (Spot and GPS) all fired up and I was ready to hit the road. The plan was to overnight at 100 Mile House, 440 kilometers (273 miles) north.

I had arranged for my niece, Sari, and myself to tour the Britannia Mine Museum for an article on my ExploreBC site. I’m very fussy about the quality of mine tours I go on, and Britannia Mine Museum and our guide, Michael, did an exceptional job that I’m happy to be able to tell you about.
Britannia Mine Museum during a BC road trip
I didn’t get away from Britannia until almost 4:00 pm, and after a fast-food lunch in Squamish, was anxious to hit the road. This sign over Rutherford Creek, though, was odd enough to get me to do a U-turn and come back for some photos. In October 2003, the bridge was washed away following torrential rains, and 5 people were killed – you can read more about it on the Pique News Magazine site.
Approaching Rutherford Creek on a BC road trip
At 6:00 pm, when normal people are thinking about shutting down for the day, I was in the small farming area north of Pemberton, about to head up into the wilderness of the Duffey Lake Road (still Highway 99 officially).
Farming near Pemberton, BC
The highway climbs steeply out of the Lillooet River valley into the Cayoosh Range of the Coastal Mountains, and gets to an elevation where snow was possible (1,275 meters, or 4,183 feet). Although a couple of inches had fallen very recently (the day before?), the road was clear.
A road trip on the Duffey Lake Road, BC Highway 99
There are several one-lane bridges along the Duffey Lake Road.
One-lane bridge on the Duffey Lake Road
Although the mileage from Vancouver to the Interior of the province is less by using this route instead of the Fraser Canyon, this is not a road to make time on πŸ™‚ The transition from the wet coastal climate to the dry Interior is quite rapid – this photo was shot at 7:00 pm.
There are several 13% grades in both directions. The U-Haul has some sort of power management system that I soon came to hate, as it would drop gears automatically at times and to gears that I didn’t want – downhills would often drop it 2 gears and then it would refuse to gear back up for far too long.
Duffey Lake Road
Time for a stretch and a shot of the truck. Other than the power management issue, it’s a very nice rig, though quite basic, as you would expect from a truck built for this purpose.
U-Haul truck on the Duffey Lake Road
While looking for a spot to get a picture of Seton Lake and the highway far below, I came across a very nice bench out in the middle of nowhere. How very odd – and how very wonderful πŸ™‚
Viewpoint over Seton Lake, BC
The Bridge of the 23 Camels takes the highway across the Fraser River at Lillooet. It was named to commemorate BC’s first – and last – experiment with using camels for transport. In 1862, 23 Bactrian camels were imported to carry freight from Lillooet to the Cariboo goldfields. The experiment failed largely because horses and mules were afraid of the camels, and the camels were eventually let loose to fend for themselves. No, there are no feral camels in BC today, so fending for themselves wasn’t successful either.
The Bridge of the 23 Camels at Lilloet, BC
This view up the Fraser River just north of Lillooet is one of my favourite highway views in the entire province.
The Fraser River north of Lilloet
It was almost 9:00 pm when I reached Clinton, and although I initially decided to continue on, I turned around a couple of miles past the town, and checked into the Round-Up Motel. For $69, it offers excellent value, and I slept like a log πŸ™‚
Round-Up Motel - Clinton, BC

About Dogs, and a Late Spring

It’s been over a month now since I’ve posted anything about what’s going on, so here’s a bit of catching up.

Our new puppy, Bella, has been the focus of my life the past few weeks. I seldom look at her without smiling – it’s hard to believe what joy she’s brought to our family. The south-facing slopes have been bare of snow for a while now, so we’ve had at least a hint of Spring even with below-freezing temperatures. This was shot overlooking the Yukon River on March 25th.
Huskies playing above the Yukon River
Most trails, though, are still snow-covered. On April 4th I got Monty and Bella out to play with a friend’s little Siberian, Halo, on the Valerie Lake trail between home and Whitehorse.
Huskies playing in the snow in the Yukon
It’s been wonderful watching Bella experience things for the first time – on April 6th, it was her first puddle. She ran back and forth through it, over and over and over, and in this photo I think was trying to figure out her reflection.
A husky puppy discovers her first puddle
On April 9th we went to Skagway to see if Spring had arrived there yet, and stopped at Tutshi Lake to play for a bit.
Huskies playing on frozen Tutshi Lake, BC
Although there were some Spring-like smells in Skagway and preparations for the coming cruise season were underway at several buildings, it was bitterly cold. The rocks were too slippery for the fur-kids to enjoy this spot at Yakutania Point.
Yakutania Point, Skagway, Alaska
Many of my friends on Facebook have been posting photos of their garden work for the past couple of weeks, but priorities are still very different in my yard. A couple of days ago, I got my summer tires ready to mount, but it snowed yesterday so I stuck them in the garage for a while yet.
First thing tomorrow morning, I’m off on another major road trip, flying to Vancouver and then spending 4-5 days driving a U-Haul truck back to Whitehorse for a friend who has moved here. I’m going via a fairly unusual route, through Whistler and then into Stewart for one night. So, I’ll be having lots to show you the next few days – probably no dogs, though πŸ™‚ Clicking on the map will open an interactive version of the map in a new window.

The great BC road trip