Down the Cassiar Highway

We’re heading south through far-western Canada along the Cassiar Highway, a relatively new road (1970s) that connects the Alaska Highway to British Columbia.  There are a few small First Nations villages on either side, and that’s it.  

The Cassiar

The highway runs through the Cassiar, the Coast, and the Skeena mountain ranges, in a southward river valley that sometimes widens to clear lakes created by glaciers.  A handful of provincial parks have been created along the lakes here, most with a boat ramp and a small campground. 

For our drive down the Cassiar so far, the sky’s been grey, but when there’s a break in the clouds, the views are magnificent.  

The fireweed that’s been along the roadsides this whole trip has lost its bloom but has turned this lovely dusky color.  I say that, but it’s made Melanie and Doug so allergic that they had to speed through.  

Little Blue River Fire

At the north end of the Cassier, we’ve been checking the 511 apps for the location of a fire that’s had the highway closed on and off this fall; although it’s grey right now, British Columbia’s been in a drought.  We boondocked near the start and confirmed that the highway was open that morning before heading down. (Google Maps said closed, which meant many people who were going to go south that way must’ve picked the Alaska Highway instead—at least it seems that way since we’re almost the only rig we see all day each day.) 

The fire is still going though, and we followed a pilot car through the area for maybe 30 miles. I think the fire crews wanted to control public access. 

The recently burned land looks like Mordor.  

Boya Lake

All the lakes around here have white bottoms from glaciers having pushed the earth aside and left nothing but rock and sand at the lowest points.  

The sunlight filters through the glacier water to this white bottom so you see the brightest blues and greens in the water, very much like in the tropics.  

This lake we camped by was so still that you could see not just the mountains and trees reflected in it, but details from the clouds as well.  Just like a mirror.  

One afternoon we put $20 in an envelope to rent a canoe, hoping the sun might come out to show off the water’s color, but no dice.  What amazing colors though even without sunbeams. 

There are a kazillion beaver lodges and several large dams in the area: what is so cool is that from the water you can see the submerged portions of the lodges clear as day.  Beaver lodges are huge underneath!  Just like an iceberg.  We could see two entrances for this one, a lower one and a higher one, I guess depending on the ice.

I’ve gotten good at identifying otters versus beavers even when they’re far out in a lake.  Beavers swim with their heads above water, going under just to take care of business.  When they see you, they smack their tails sharp against the water like a belly flop.  

Otters swim all the way under water, and they come up with the top half of their bodies showing, looking around and popping their whiskers out.  They they dive again like dolphins.  We saw a family of five or six swimming together at Boya Lake.  

Oh, and the moose tracks!  In the few areas of shore with dirt and grass (not rocks), moose feed.  We didn’t see any, but we sure saw signs of them, including several sets of deep tracks on the lake’s bottom, where sediment lay at the bottom of each print, showing a dark trail.  

As Jacqui pointed out, they’re future fossil trackways! What a cool thing to see while in a canoe. 

The forest here includes lodgepole pine trees surrounding large stands of Aspen that are turning yellow noticeably every day.  

We won’t be able to enjoy this for long, since we have appointments in the Midwest in just a few weeks.  Which is a good thing; it’s been in the 30s at night and we’re going through propane for the furnace as fast as we can find places to buy it, almost.  Time to get south without a doubt.  

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