Off to see white bears

No, we are not that northerly yet. 😉
They are called Kermoda bears, also know locally as ghost bears or spirit bears. They have a recessive gene which makes them white or off-white in color. All natural! It’s like with redheads in humans.
Regular Black bears also have color variations, as they come in a variety of colors, among which are black (obviously), brown, grey, cinnamon, blue and for the Kermoda bears we can add cream, and various shades of white to the list.

Unfortunately, there’s only a small population of these bears, and of those only 10% is actually white, and we didn’t see any of them.

This part of British Columbia is very rich in Indian culture, and quite a few Forts Nations tribes still call this land home. The people live their lives pretty much the same way as their ancestors, but with the help of modern amenities like motorized vehicles, running water, electricity, modern fabrics and modern tools.

We started our little tour today with a view of fishing indigenous people at Moricetown Canyon, where the river is forced through a small canyon of bedrock which gives the people the best chance of catching salmon (we are in the salmon season tour now!) with catchpoles and fishing nets from a rocky outcrop, just like they did generations ago. Catching is done selectively and only as much as they need, so it is granted by the province for them to keep their catch, as regular fishermen, both commercial and leasure fishermen are not permitted to keep the salmon they catch.

After watching some pretty big salmon being caught, we carried on driving and headed for New Hazelton where the local suspension bridge was rumoured to be worth a visit. It actually is quite an interesting bridge, as it’s really narrow and only suitable for light loads. When walking on it the bridge flexed and moved with every car entering it. The signs told us it was way better than the old one, as it would violently sway under the loads and was not suited for any vehicle at all!

The trip continued on to Terrace, but on the way we actually ran into some more wildlife! First a couple of black bears; a mother and her two cubs! All black, black bears by the way. 😉
After this, we also ran into what seamed a  rather large domestic cat. What stood out though, was the fact it only had a really short tail and was pretty bulky for a cat. Too flabbergasted to take a picture we finally figured out what had scurried across the road: lynx! Nice!

The drive from Smithers to Prince Rupert is awesome in many ways, take the massive river system you encounter the final 75km, where the river broadens and mingles with the sea, and you drive right alongside it on sea level. Really picturesk. Throw in some more stunning scenery and 5 hours driving turns into a festive pasttime.

Tomorrow we are going to board a boat. For quite some time actually. And *really* early. We are supposed to check in at 05:30 am!

Hills and lakes

This post might also have been called ‘Rushing for Gold, part 2’ as we are still driving over the Cariboo Wagon Road, or Gold Rush Route. Now stopping at Prince George for a well deserved break, todays journey has been quite long, strenuous and quicker than anticipated.

TomTom and Google both told us, today would be a full 5 hour drive, when we would drive without stops and in a straight line. This would mean missing out on some stuff on the way, and was simply not acceptable for us. So we told ourselves we would simply start off, and see when we’d arrive where and go from there.
Soon, it turned out both TomTom and Google were grotesquely overestimating the durations, as we covered the first 3.5 hours in just 2.

This got us going; to Barkerville. A 4 hour drive (160km return) to a gold rush town from the late 1800’s which pretty much was preserved in that state by continuous occupation up until the 1970’s.

Barkerville is the town where the 1860 gold rush stated with a certain gentleman Barker struck gold. And a very rich strike that was. In todays money it would be around 70 million EUR! This sparked an influx to Williams Creek and soon all land there was claimed. Mining over there still takes place today and a very large deposit has been proven to be there by the current claim holders.

The town has been actively occupied from around 1860 to 1972, and acquired by the province of British Columbia in 1954. The last of the original inhabitants left in 1972 and now no full time residents remain. Still, a few houses are privately owned and used as housing for a period of time each year. That is, while the park is open to visitors! Weird.

In Barkerville, all houses are on display and staffed by employees who are age correct dressed for 1870 and participating in a simulated regular working day back then. In the meantime they are teaching us visitors what the life back then was like. Very entertaining, and a joy to see how much the employees love their job. Very enthusiastically yelling everyone about ‘their’ Barkerville and it’s rich history.

Luckily for is, the drive to Barkerville wad not 2 hours one way as predicted but 2 hours return, which left us another 2 hours drive to Prince George.Oh well, we are here now. 🙂
Tomorrow, another busy day while travelling to Smithers.

PS: we spotted our very first Moose today! Yay! Also a very placid black bear who allowed us to take a very good look at him while he was fouraging. Lovely!

Pictures will follow soon!