After Canmore, AB, we stopped in Jasper, AB – where I helped an elderly woman who was walking with a pair of forearm crutches. I mention this only because it is a strong memory in very short sequence of quirky events.
I helped the woman, and then, several seconds later, an older man coming out of the restaurant said, “What a guy!; way to go sonny!” and punched me in the shoulder with a closed fist; he just walked away. While Andy and I were marveling at what just happened, I found $15.
After Jasper, we cut west in through the Canadian Rockies and headed for a diesel refill in McBride, BC. Being from the midwest, I find elevation fascinating. It is the dimension that no one even thinks about. It just does not affect weather which in turn does not affect peoples’ plans.
In Minnesota, at the high end, you have Eagle Mountain in the Sawtooth Range on the north shore of Lake Superior – it is 2301 feet (701 m) above sea level. On the low end (and, coincidentally only 17 miles from Eagle Mountain) is Lake Superior with an elevation of 600 feet (183 m).
From Canmore, through Jasper, and finally to McBride, we dropped from 4,860 feet (1,480 m) through 3,484 feet (1,062 m), and finally to 2,560 feet (780 m). We dropped even farther later in the trip, but the area just past McBride turned out to be extremely interesting because of its location, elevation, position between two mountain ranges and a likely host of other variables: it is on the edge of the world’s only inland temperate rainforest.
After the diesel refueling we hit the road. We would have completely blown past the rainforest if we had not seen a sign that said, “Ancient Forest” with an arrow pointing ahead. Andy has a similar affinity for trees, lumber and wooden creations as myself; we decided to give it a viewing.
We followed the signs, and eventually pulled into what appeared to be a recently cleared area; the parking lot, gravel, was impressively compacted – gravelly, yet, like concrete. An outhouse was tucked into the forest along the northwest corner of the cleared area. A new, roughly hewn cedar walkway trailed off into the woods.
We really did not know what to except. We both had thoughts of a placer mining operation uncovering a long dead, but petrified forest. We were wrong. The trees were much alive. Dozens and dozens of enormous cedar-hemlock trees. A rushing stream carrying snowmelt from higher elevations cut under the cedar walkway.
After we left the area, we both talked about how we wanted to fill the back of the truck with cedar; we thought of humorous things we would have told customs as we attempted to re-enter the U.S.
We rolled out back onto Trans Canada Highway 16 – heading northwest. Prince George was the next stop; we pushed on after a quick stop there. Andy drove, and I slept. I woke up as we were approaching Kitwanga Mountain Provincial Park in far western British Columbia. Again, the underlying protagonist of our journey, diesel, was in need of resupply. Highway 16 ends at the Provincial Park; the Dease Lake Highway or more commonly called, Highway 37, begins.
A little ways up highway 37, you will find Meziadin Junction. Turning right leads to extremely long stretches of wilderness and no near-term supplies of diesel; turning left, leads to Stewart, BC, and diesel. We turned left. We found more than diesel. We found an incredibly rustic and interesting place with colorful characters.