Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adventures in British Columbia - July 20th

Monday, July 20th
I walked up Main Street in Port Hardy past the totem pole at the corner of Hastings to the coffee shop to have French toast while Jane used the motel internet connection. We checked out at 11:00, heading south. On a winding side road that led to the east coast we passed Beaver Cove, a HUGE log sorting operation. An enormous area of the cove was filled with floating logs waiting to be bundled into rafts to be towed to a sawmill. On land, giant front end loaders with big steel claws in place of scoops picked up eight or ten logs at a time, moving them around to different piles according to size. Deformed logs or those that were too short were dumped sideways into the maw of a machine whose spinning innards chewed them quickly into shreds that were carried away along a conveyor belt to some unknown destination. Other machines grabbed the piles of sorted logs, whipping bands around them to tie them into bundles, and trundled them to the edge of the water where they were dumped. Tiny little boats, tipping and rocking alarmingly, their narrow widths and high pilot houses making them look in constant danger of capsizing, scurried around a very large pond, pushing and nudging the groups of logs into larger collections to be rafted together.
A few miles farther we came to Telegraph Cove, an interesting collection of quaint old small houses balanced touching a steep, heavily forested slope and extending mostly out on pilings over the water. Long ago it was a logging camp, then a fishing village. Now it has a marina and a big motel out over the water on the opposite side of the small cove. It provides services for private recreational fishing boats that take advantage of the strong tides through a narrow channel that brings rich nutrients to the surface for the salmon that abound here.
Driving south again on Hwy 19 we pulled off at a rest stop, and discovered a nice woodland trail along the side of a beautiful lake. A short walk down a trail to the water’s edge revealed how quickly the land can recover from clear-cut logging. Pines, spruce, cedar, and alder trees with trunks a foot or more in diameter provided dense shade for ferns and other low bushes that lined a pleasant path that used to be a logging railroad bed.
Another hour’s drive brought us to the little town of Sayward. Driving along a narrow two lane road through scattered houses, we never did find any town center. We continued a way down the road to Kelsey Bay. There IS a discernable village here, set around a green, and just a bit farther, a bay opening into the sound. There WAS a big logging operation here sometime in the not too distant past, but everything is shut down and empty. Very strong winds were whipping up big whitecaps on the channel outside the bay. There were a few boats huddled behind a massive breakwater of large sharp rocks at the left edge of the bay, and several rusting hulks of old ships formed a gloomy looking breakwater on the opposite side. Describe the Cable Cookhouse.
Driving back up the road almost to Hwy 19 we checked into the last available cabin at “The Fisherboy” motel/campground. All the rest of the accommodations were occupied by firefighters who spent each day miles away battling a forest blaze in a box canyon over some distant ridge. They showed up with blackened faces and clothes at around 9 p.m. an hour before sunset, looking pretty exhausted at about the same time I showed up, also exhausted, after running 10k. There was much chuckling, not-very-well-muted commentary, and elbow nudging about my short running shorts on their part as I turned my back to go into the cabin.

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