Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
A group of seven young people are having breakfast in the cozy dining room. The whirling buzz of a helicopter dampens their conversation. It is their transportation to work for the day. High into the mountain range they will fly landing in remote areas only accessible to birds, even if they are manmade. “A lot of hiking today” one of them says. “This is my first trip out here. I don’t know much longer I want to be a soil scientist”
The group rushes out of the dining room burdened with heavy backs loaded with scientific equipment. The day’s lunch has been dutifully packed by the Bell staff in traditional brown paper bags. The mandatory days water supply is secured in plastic bottles subemerged in overflowing ice filled multi colored coolers. As the whirl off into the morning fog I am alone again walking my way ever so slowly in the general direction of the great State of Florida which by now is only four thousand miles away.
Sadly, at the end of the day, which is also my birthday, I head to the nearest the airport in Smithers, B.C. some 150 miles west. My mom’s health continues to deteriorate. I long to be with her one last time.
Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Bell ll Lodge sits on the confluence of these two great rivers. During the winter adventurers from Europe use Bell l 11 as a Helisking resort. The snow, wind and chilling cold fire the excitement. In the summer temperatures are mild. Bears are out in force along the river’s edge. They stalk the lonely highway from the thick blanket of the surrounding woods
I stat my journey from Bell today. I drive north about 45 miles and then head south racewalking along the narrow highway. The quiet is broken by road traffic,one or two vehicles every hour. The warming sun, gentle breeze, and an old egg sandwich smothered with mayonnaise make me forget the loneliness.
There is a public telephone at a small airstrip. I call home. It is then I learn my mother I gravely ill. I wobble along in sadness.
Sunday, July 5th, 2009
I have a small wooden cabin at Tattoga Lake complete with a functional wood burning stove. There is a small restaurant with homemade food. I reject eating crushed romaine noodles and head toward the smoky little food spot.
A miner walked up to the counter as I was trying to decide where to sit. Like out of a story book he was covered with dirt. Half dry mud clung to his clothes. His fingernails were caked with black and brown gook which I hoped he wouldn’t eat along with his food. The affable miner turned to me saying “how are you doing tonight”. It was then that I noticed my clothes were as soiled as the young miner. There was one difference between him and me, however, he had shaved during the last week. I asked the owner of the little lodge if she could get me an invitation to visit the mine. “Oh no”, she said “Everything they do up there is secret”
The proprietor went outside for a smoke “These mosquitoes are terrible” and they were! “There’s a large flat screen television inside”, she said. “But we don’t have a satellite hook-up. I use the TV to play DVD’s.
Saturday, July 4th, 2009
There is a wonderful, exciting, dynamic reason to walk. Only b while walking can you touch, feel, smell, observe, hear, acknowledge, and respect every animal plant, sound, and person you encounter up close and personal. Even insects are distinctive despite the fact that they are biting you seemingly every minute you are walking. Real stars, stripes, good, bad and ugly are more alive when you walk.
I say to all of you “Stride To the Top”. Immerse yourself in a wonderful walk. “We are all living on borrowed time”
Friday, July 3rd, 2009
There is a funny thing about mountains. You admire them from a distance. They are so majestic. Then for a while as you travel around a twisting turning road you don’t see them. Suddenly thought, you find yourself climbing up and up. As you gasp for air, fight off the glare of a blazing sun and struggle with loose gravel blistering your toes the mountain no longer seems beautiful.
Mountains must be spiritual places. Going up you pray for the climb to end. Your prayers are always answered. You feel you are flying as you wobbly effortlessly down the other side of a mountain. Victory has been yours once again. You reach the valley below, stop and marvel at your accomplishment, and scream when you notice right in front of you that there is another summit to be conquered.
For the last couple of days I have been crossing through the Cassiar Mountains. It has been tough but exhilarating. In this part of Canada the Continental divide is known as the Arctic â€“ Pacific Divide. This is my fourth crossing of this imaginary geographic delineation of the far North from the rivers flowing to the south
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
It is a beautiful spot. Flowing water, big fish, fresh breeze with snow covered mountains and a pretty bridge serving as the backdrop. The little RV resort at the crossing has just been sold. The Bibers farmers from Wisconsin had owned the site for ten years. Now a Chinese national has bought the property. Soon the Bibers will head to Alaska possibly to set up a new homestead near one of their children. They are typical modern day pioneers. Independent outdoor types who have helped made this part of Canada culturally diverse.
Monday, June 29th, 2009
“I have been here six days. The new fuel pump get’s here tomorrow. I’m from Ohio. All that salt in the winter time has corroded some other parts. So I’ll be here a few days more.
“All I want to do is get back to my wife in Michigan” another RV driver said. “The part should have been here on yesterday’s bus” another stranded road traveler lamented
Throughout this pat of Northern Canada tourists, mostly seniors, travel through this magnificent country enjoying immense beauty from the comfort of their large recreational vehicles. Some which sleep five people are towed by heavy duty pick-up trucks. Others are self contained homes on wheels built on a bus chassis. Both often have serious mechanical problems after plying the rough roads of the Yukon and British Columbia.
Jerry Morgan and David Bivins RV joineries from Birmingham, Alabama seemed to have more luck in their vehicle as we joyfully talked over coffee at a road side stop near Watson Lake.
“it’s a hell of a way to spend a vacation” the elderly, distinguished RV driver said as he waited to have a blown out tire replaced. I knew he was right. “Try walking” I said as I wobbled off to repair my first foot blister of the trip. Even walkers aren’t immune from breakdowns during long arduous journeys!
Friday, June 26th, 2009
At precisely 12:01 AM the boats lined up on the shore of Dease [9 mile] lake. At stake was $6000 in prize money. The participant catching the biggest trout would win first prize. The whole town of Dease Lake has already begun to celebrate. A parade marches through “town” tomorrow. There will be music, food and excitement. Unfortunately, I will miss the fun. I will be walking along the lake watching carefully not for trout but for larger critters known as bears!
Thursday, June 25th, 2009
The Brown fox stared. His dark eyes focused steadily on me as I tried to walk by. “If a fox comes toward you it is likely rabid” a native had told me in Alaska. Desperately, I vigorously rang my bear bells. It worked, almost. The fox sauntered right in front of me strolling leisurely into the woods. As he passed I noticed the large piece of freshly killed blood soaked meat secured firmly between his teeth. It was obvious this s skinny creature was more interested in eating his breakfast than gnawing at me.
My walk has now officially started. I am near Dease lake, B.C. headed north on the lonely Stewart- Cassiar highway. In another day I will drive to Watson Lake, Yukon where I ended my last stage of this walk in 2008. Then I head south again.
Wednesday, June 24th, 2009
The folks at the Golden Nugget little hotel near the junction of route 37 and the Alaska Highway are true Canadians. That is, they are just plain hard working people hammering out a living usually when the weather cooperates. Linda the owner is the daughter of original B.C. gold miners. Her solidly built husband Scott keeps the fixtures and RV park in shape. Mark Gregg runs the kitchen, with the help of the morning chef Peter, at what must be one of the best little eateries in British Columbia. And then there is Roger. Master mechanic and super master wood carver. His art is well known throughout B.C.
Over four days I inched my way south of the Golden Nugget along route 37 headed back toward Dease Lake. I overnighted at the Dease River crossing and after two days journeying up and down long hills I had walked the entire distance from Dease Lake back to the junction of route 37.