Northern BC

6/8 Port Hardy –

Talked to one of the guys in the biggest and best sporting good store in Campbell River (if not all of the north half of the island)- River Sportsman. I asked one of the guys there if I should fish the island or head north. Didn’t take him long to decide - a little early for the island. Of course I often wonder if these guys are spoiled - and think a few trout is terrible fishing. One guy said the north part of BC has some nice Arctic Char. One nice Arctic Char would be worth more than what my license cost.

 Campbell River is just north of the 50th parallel. The snow was further down the mountains up in the north part.

We went to Port Hardy and moved the reservations up to 6/9 – instead of the original 6/15. They charge $30 to move it earlier - seems like a no brainer to charge nothing and thank me for doing that - since tomorrows ferry is not full and by moving me sooner, they may be able to add a car to next week.
Nothing spoils faster than a ferry space. Asked about staying there tonight and parking in the lot since we have to be there by 5:30 am. Said that it would be $20 to park in the paved lot.

We went to Wildwoods Campsite about 2 miles away and got a campsite with an electric hookup for $18 on the water with showers and free firewood. The owner stopped by to see Effie and told stories and answered questions. Invited us to walk down on his 400 foot dock and look around.

Big Dock

Big Dock

Some paddlers out practicing in a voyaging canoe, we heard the drum keeping time.

This voyaging canoe was on his dock.

Voyaging canoe

Voyaging canoe

 Got some nice photos of a bald eagle sitting in a tree by his house. Real nice guy.

Eagle

Eagle

 Much better than staying in a parking lot - especially when the ferry heading south comes in about 10:30 tonight.

6/9

Supposed to get to the ferry dock at 5:30 – but they didn’t start loading until about 6:10. Pretty clear day - although they predicted rain in Prince Rupert. The boat is 150 meters long and very new.

Ferry ready to load

Ferry ready to load

Built in Germany and brought over via the Panama Canal - Put in service May 15. Cruises at about 20 knots. Everything seems first rate. It was certainly not full – can hold 130 vehicles and 600 people. It also has 55 staterooms. Showed movies and the the Stanley cup hockey game. Had an relatively expensive dining room and a cafeteria style one. They even set up a cookout on the back deck -hot dogs and “smokies” - a grilled sausage.

Talked to some of the crew - they work 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off - about 12 hours a day - get some time of during the day.

Certainly don’t pass many towns or other boats - except fishing boats and the occasional cruiser.

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

 Bella Bella is about 5 hours up into the passage on an island, and that is a small but prosperous fishing/logging community.

Talked to quite a few people, there were several German tourists. One young guy from Campbell River was heading up to work on a small (42′) salmon boat - They troll the west end of the Queen Charlotte islands, just him and the captain - 6 lines out – about 10 hooks each. Spring quota is 1500 – They get kings and silvers (chinook and coho). Another guy from Scotland was traveling – taking time off after getting his degree.

Effie has to stay in the van – although we can occasionally walk her around the car deck. She is house/boat trained and doesn’t want to pee inside. We didn’t think to bring a bush for her to go on.

Only one other dog on the boat and that was a little tiny one. Effie actually made it thru the trip without going from loading time at 6:10. When we got to the campsite at 11PM – less than a mile away, she got out of the van and watered some grass. It was still light enough to hook up.

 

Have seen several whales - some hump\backs and 2 killer whales.

Whale

Whale

There were also some otters as well as many eagles. No bear along the banks and no moose on this trip. It was a very clear day – despite forecasts of showers in Prince Rupert.

Snow melt

Snow melt

water

water

There is a narrow channel about 40 miles long just south of Prince Rupert – mountains with snow on top and waterfalls. I guess the last ferry hit some rocks and sank last year - losing 2 people. It is wild country.

Prince Rupert is an active place - a container ship was loading – grain silos on the dock – coal from the local mines - some for ships and a train terminal there. It is the last big port in the north of BC.

6/10

Terrace

Along the Skeena River – near the junction of the Copper River. It is a big river - great salmon run but not yet - it is very high with the snow melt – logs and silt coming down at a very fast rate. It is supposed to cool of avertinng the flood – but it is plenty high. We are camped right next to it. Scenery is still spectacular - snow on the mountain tops - waterfalls.
There are special regs here too - so we are going to go up to the Cassier highway and find some lakes. It is now about 550 miles to the Yukon and we will intersect the Alaskan highway near Watson Lake.

 

6/11

Headed west toward the junction of the Cassier Highway - along the Skenna. Some big mountains to the west in the Coast Range - lots of snow up top and you can see the timberline. Finally got far enough east (50 miles or so) to turn north on the Cassier highway. A big sign that says it goes to the Alaska highway – and a flashhing highway sign that sayss road closed north of Bell 12. Stopped at the gas station and they said there was a landslide and it has been closed for 2 days and may open tomorrow noon – but that is what they said yesterday.

We are finally using The Milepost (as well as the Alaskan Camping book) and we saw that we could go to Meziadian Lake Provincial Park – where they have camping and fishing for trout on a big lake. The book said watch for bears along the road and we saw a mother brown bear with two big cubs within 10 miles. We were about by her when we saw her – and is was not a good place to turn around - so no photos. Stopped att a roadsid rest area and found mosquitoes.

Got to this big beautiful lake  Meziadin Lake Provikncial Park  with only about 10 sites taken, could park right on the water – but we moved one row back for the shade - still hot. Talked to 2 camper and they said the camp hostt will take you fishing for $60/hour (for up to 3 people). They limited out in about an hour and a half this morning after throwing some back. You can only keep one over 50 cm but 5 total. They used salmon eggs at the mouth of a stream - got raiubows and Dolly Varden . Talked the camp hosts and they were wearing full mosquito nets. We got the screens in the van and used headnets for walking around. They said internet is available for $5/day when the generator is running -4-10pm and 8-10 am.

Lake

Lake

 

Spotted 2 campers coming in with a rowboat and 10 hp kicker – they had no luck - but they didn’t go to a stream mouth they said the lake is big and the wind might kick up, I will wait until it is closer to dark tonight and tomorrow morning early to try it from shore. He had a fishfinder and said they were down deep. The host said the water is asbout 45 degrees – so seems like the fish don;t have to go deep. One girl waded in and washed her hair..

We may take the side road to Stewart BC/Hyder Alaska tomorrow. There is a glacier on the way and it is famous for bear viewing as they catch the salmon - a little early for the salmon though - Be interesting to see when the road opens and what it looks like now.

They said they may open the road at noon tomorrow - but the confidence level is low.  There is a campsite just below it but it is full and they are charging full prfice to sit in the parking lot - from what we hear.  

The Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite has the highest number of mosquitoes per square inch of any place yet - of course it was on a lake. It was a fairly low spot – just above the level of the lake and it looks like they put several feet of gravel down in places and then made the paved roads and unpaved campsites on the gravel. Between many of the campsites, there were many spots of standing water – perfect mosquito breeding places. The camp hosts wore headnets when they were mowing and weed whacking. We wore ours sometimes too. The screens we got for the front windows of the van worked great and seemed cheap in retrospect.

I tried fishing from the shore at night and the next morning – but no hits. One of the other campers caught a 4 # Dolly Varden trout that night.

Talked to Bob – a real interesting guy from the Falklands. He keeps a camper in BC and often has taken it to Alaska – an old Minnie Winnie. He said the salmon run in Homer is great - real frisky fish - fresh from the sea. He had a rod broken in two places by one fish - a silver later in the summer. He has worked for the US Gov’t.

We heard that they opened the Cassier highway in the morning so we headed north. We went a short way down the Stewart/Hyder road and saw the Bear Glacier. It was well worth the detour – other small glaciers were visible too – for a lot of the day. The Coast range has some big mountains.

We wanted to get thru the slide so we didn’t go into Stewart and Hyder. The salmon run hasn’t started there – so the bear viewing is slow- normally it is great.

The mudslide area was a mess - Apparently a loader/backhoe had started to clear mud and more mud came down - half burying the loader and the road- but no one got hurt.

Mudslide

Mudslide

More equipment got there road was closed for at least 2 days. When we crossed, it was one lane at a time with a lead truck - going thru running water and some mud.

We got up to the Mountain Shadow RV park for the night -nice and very well kept place – short walk to a nice lake - no fish yet though - there are rainbow trout there. Mosquito level is much lower here.

The hostess told us part of the Alaska Highway was closed because of forest fires.

OH NO!!!!

but it was the part east of Watson Lake in the Yukon. We will take the turn onto the highway just west of there. Plan on getting up early and getting thru there soon – it is 190 miles north of here, and the fire could spread west. From there it is 770 miles to the Alaska border – and the salmon runs have started there. Makes me anxious to get there.

This area must be real interesting in the winter with road problems.