I guess you never know how you might react to a bear walking into your path … until the day a bear walks into your path. And they said it would be so boring out here in the prairies.
The mountain folk back west had nothing good to say about the prairies, after we told them of our plan to head east before the snow finally set in. They usually just grimaced and muttered, ‘Stick your truck on the train and fly the plane. You’ll die of boredom out there.’ I have to agree, there are a lot of open, flat, endless … endless fields stretching from south-east Alberta, through Saskatchewan and into Manitoba. In fact, there’s a quaint little tale which says, if you set your dog loose to run across the prairies, he’ll still be at it five days later. Though why should crossing the prairies be all about going in a straight line? A road trip isn’t worth the name unless you meander a little; actually, out here, you have to meander rather a lot, yet it’s definitely worth investing the time. If I met those mountain folk again I’d be sure to tell them how misinformed they are, especially considering our little hike today in the Riding Mountain Park, where we’ve encountered a bison hoovering up thistles, spooked a moose with a rack the size of an oak tree, skirted round an amorous, bugling elk and suffered a garter snake slithering from under my boot …. and that’s all before we ran into the bear.
Okay, so I’ve read all the BEBEAR AWARE brochures appearing like confetti at the entrances to the parks. Several times, in fact; I know how you shouldn’t toss them half your Big Mac, try to beat them to a fifty metre sprint, race them to the top of a tree, or pitch up demanding a selfie. I imagine for a regular hiker in these parks an encounter like this is not such a big deal. However, I’ve only ever watched bears from the safety of the camper, or a specially designed platform. Meeting one face to face on a remote path is an entirely new experience. And now he’s here, right in front of us, I’m feeling ever so twitchy.
‘Look,’ I hiss over my right shoulder, pointing ahead. The bear is about fifty metres ahead of us. In the sunlight he looks very black and shiny and is ambling up the grassy track towards us, not a care in the world. In the next second I scrabble to recall every safety leaflet I’ve ever read about bears; we haven’t much time. We need to make a decision.
‘I don’t think he’s seen us,’ I whisper to Christine. Which gives me this great idea. I grasp her shoulder, shoving her towards a withered rose hip plant. This should do it, I reckon. ‘Let’s hide and watch him go past.’ Perhaps we’ll even get a photo.
‘What if he follows us in here,’ Christine says, not in the least appreciating my grand idea. ‘Then we’re all in for a big surprise.’
I think on what she says and can’t deny it: she’s made a very good point. Never surprise a bear – I’ve read that somewhere.
‘We need to make a noise … let him know we’re here.’
‘You’re right,’ I say, extracting myself from behind our pitiful hide.
As we edge forwards through waist-high grasses, Christine makes an attempt at some opera, whilst I talk in a bass voice about the vagaries of Canadian weather, all the while fumbling with the safety device on the bear spray. When we get back to the grassy track it appears we’ve made precisely the right noises: the coast is clear. The bear has vanished. Phew! That was a close call.
Who says it isn’t exciting out here on the prairies.
Forget to buy your packet of cigarettes in Carmacks and it’s another 222 kilometres before the next opportunity, such are the vast distances up here. For days forests and lakes and mountains unfurl beyond our stone-shattered windshield, though we are gaining ground, slowly but surely, on the Arctic Circle and our final goal. Having left Bahia Lapataia, southern Argentina, four and a half years ago, Inuvik, a small town in the Yukon’s Mackenzie Delta, is now tantalisingly close. We’re heading for a big moment in our journey: Inuvik is quite literally the end of the road and marks the most northerly point on our trans-Americas odyssey. Though, before embarking on this last leg to Inuvik we must acquire a few extra supplies: the 700 kilometre Dempster Highway is a rough gravel road that invariably has a sting in its tail. For the moment our nearest town with a store is a quick blast along the valley, a place made famous by the Klondike gold rush of 1897.
Dawson City nestles at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. In 1896, when Skookum Jim and George Carmack dug a shovel load of yellow dirt from Rabbit Creek, they let rip with a cry of glee. With their whoops still echoing in the valley Dawson City took root, quick to feature on every gold diggers bucket list of 100 Places To Bust Your Balls Before You Die. In those gritty days of 1897/98 DC was a tough place just to exist, let alone scrabble for a pan of gold; I’d like to write how Pat Garrett gunned down half the gunslingers in the Silver Dollar saloon, or the day Butch Cassidy lassoed the safe and tore it out the front door of the Wells Fargo, but it just wasn’t that kind of a town, mainly because it’s in Canada and the Mounties had a bite to them as crushing as any grizzly. Today, if you slip on your sepia-tinted shades, sweep the motorhomes and Harleys off the dirt streets, you’ve pretty much got a picture of what the town was like one hundred years ago. I’m not sure if Sourdough Jim existed back then, but if you’re heading beyond the Arctic Circle it’s important to tuck away the best halibut and chips the town has to offer. Who knows what lies on the other side?
HIGHWAY TO THE MIDNIGHT SUN
Notes from the journal
4th July: There’s an aspect to the wilderness of North America that appeals no end to a particular type of traveller. It plays on an irresistible urge to test themselves, or perhaps even to lose themselves. With their belongings pared down to the minimum they gradually withdraw from what is generally considered civilisation – they ride the last bus, depart the last town, beg the last lift, offer the last goodbye – and then simply disappear. By accident, or by design, whichever it is, some never re-emerge. I suspect there’s one of them here now, thumbing a lift by the gas station at the exit of Dawson City. The breeze catches his straggly hair and beard, tugging at the loose, grubby shirt. The smallest of backpacks lies at his feet, the words Inuvik scratched on a strip of cardboard held in bony fingers. His colour is grey and nobody sees him. Would it be for the best if nobody picked him up?
Construction started on the Dempster in 1959, reaching Inuvik by 1979. Oil and gas in the Mackenzie Delta is the principal reason for the road. The highway was named after William Dempster of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In his younger days as a corporal he was known as “The Iron Man of the Trail” for his legendary dogsled journeys from Dawson City to Fort McPherson, sometimes in temperatures of 40 degrees below. Dempster originally came to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. In winter he patrolled the route from Dawson to McPherson by dogsled, a 760 kilometre journey he completed 10 times in four years. Starting out of Dawson late afternoon we cut between the Klondike and Snowy Ranges, making camp by six. There’s a notice in the campsite warning that a wolf was present two days previously; we’re asked not to feed it. Though it’s not wolves that are the problem here – the mosquitoes are hellish. They hunt us in the outhouse, curtailing any ideas of living outside. They say these mosquitoes will suck a pint of blood from a moose every twenty-four hours. It is light all through the night – what an extraordinary experience this is.
5th July: Light traffic and a beautiful landscape. Trying to avoid the stones fired from the tyres of passing vehicles. So far so good. We leave the forest to climb over the ranges – the Ogilvy and the Taiga, followed by the Richardson Mountains. Thick dust and then more mud. Stones pound the underside of the camper. After crossing into Northwest Territories we drop down to the delta, the track cutting through the boreal forest, crossing the rivers Peel and Mackenzie by ferry boat. After 500 kilometres we can take no more; we stop by 8.30 in the evening, 30 kilometres short of Inuvik.
6th/7th July: Inuvik enjoys 56 days of 24 hours of daylight (late June, July and early August) and 30 days without sunlight (mostly in December). For us comparisons between Ushuaia and Inuvik are inevitable: Inuvik has no cruise ships, no Russians buying all the vodka at the duty-free store, no signs calling the British pirates for stealing Las Malvinas Islands and no snow (in fact it’s positively warm). Where Ushuaia felt vibrant Inuvik is most definitely snoozing. We camp in the Happy Valley Territorial campsite, overlooking the delta, and make for the tourist office, in the hope of uncovering the heart and soul of this Arctic town. Here we’re given a sheet entitled: Things To Do In Inuvik. Number 1 on the list reads: Check out the White Board at the Inuvik Visitor Centre to see if any current/special events might be happening, such as local feasts, local dances, Northern games, Gwich’in jigging, Inuvialuit drum dancing, etc. Number 2 reads: Watch the Inuvik Visitor Centre’s video collection, or read some books in our reference library, etc. There are 24 items on the list. I slip it in a pocket whilst we toddle off to celebrate our journey through the Americas in the Mad Trapper pub, which is not listed on the 24 Things To Do In Inuvik and then we go to the Igloo church, which is. In the Mad Trapper the Welders Daughter is the featured band; by contrast, in the igloo church, it is a civil engineer from Norway who entertains the small crowd. The following day we visit the northern-most greenhouse in North America. It is located in a former ice hockey stadium. The Things To Do In Inuvik list calls it the only Community Greenhouse of its kind in the world.
8th/9th/10th July: After a couple of days in Inuvik we’re heading back down the Dempster. It is raining and misty. We cross the Mackenzie River without event, though soon learn the ferry on the Peel is out of service: the recent heavy rains in the mountains have raised the water levels in the river, making it no longer safe for the ferry to operate. Small trees and thick vegetation churn in the current. We retire to the Nitainlaii Territorial Park campsite a kilometre up the road. Ironically, Nitainlaii, in the language of the Gwich’in means “water flowing out in all directions.”, so perhaps something like this should have been expected. This boreal forest is not a bad place to be held up, except the two motorcyclists camped a little way from us have to lift their mozzie nets each time they shovel a spoonful of beans into their mouths. When Robert drives round to collect the camping fees he says the ferry won’t run for another four days. It’s all nonsense: in South America a few floating trees and shrubs wouldn’t stop a ferry. By mid-day the following day the river has dropped significantly, though the grandly named Peel River Marine Operations manager won’t lift a finger. More cars and campers arrive. The hotel in Fort McPherson, 10 ks down the road, is now full. Robert organises small boats to ferry the half dozen motorcyclists across the river, charging them anywhere between 25 and 40 dollars. I’m beginning to feel we’re at the beck and call of the local Gwich’in mafia, as we pay another 10 dollar camping fee to Robert. He tells us his aunt has died and that they need to get her in the ground, except several car-loads of mourners are on the wrong side of the river. The food they’ve prepared is starting to spoil, he laments. ‘There’s plenty of chicken, if you want,’ one of the mourners on the right side of the river tells us. By Sunday a touch of cabin fever is creeping in, held at bay by frequent visits to watch the flow of the Peel River. There is a rumour circulating that work will begin in the morning on constructing ramps. The locals of Fort McPherson have taken to driving their pick-ups round the campsite in the evenings, gawping at the stranded travellers.
11th July: Despite thunderstorms and heavy rain in the night the Peel River Marine Operations crew have ambled into action, constructing a ramp from the surrounding mud. A dozen or so vehicles now await the resumption of services, all of us questioning how one makes a ramp from mud. The locals of Inuvik moan how useless the ferry service is and the incompetence of the Peel River Marine Operations manager in particular. Robert is talking of commandeering the one and only digger so that a hole can be dug and his dear aunt finally be laid to rest. Might this spark a riot? In any event all work ceases for two hours whilst the lady is buried. By 9 in the evening we are finally across and free to resume our journey. By midnight we make camp beside the Arctic Circle sign. It is as light as it was at mid-day.
12th July: Eagle Plains is the half-way point on the Dempster Highway. There is a motel here and a rather fine, old-world style hunter’s bar. Any wildlife you’ve missed out on the road can be viewed at your leisure nailed to the wall in the motel’s bar. A dozen grumpy truckers are awaiting the full resumption of services at the ferry landing. Too often their journey to Inuvik is interrupted like this, they tell us. I ask one of them if he is one of the famous ice-truckers. ‘Ooh, I don’t know aboot that,’ he says. (Many Canadians say oot instead out). They mutter about some guy called Dave or Johnny, who is an ice-trucker on the TV show. They say the whole thing is rubbish. Another trucker asks if we’ve seen a ginger-haired hitchhiker out on the road. We tell him we haven’t. The man says, ‘The kid left at two this morning on foot, heading for Inuvik. I told him the grizzlies would kill him.’ Perhaps he’ll get his head mounted in the motel bar, I want to say. By late afternoon we reach the junction with the Klondike Highway and turn towards Dawson City. There is a makeshift tent at the roadside near the junction. On a piece of cardboard is written “Cigarettes needed … and food.” Staring forlornly is the young, grey traveller we’d seen on the way out. He’s made it a little further along the road; the highway to the midnight sun is within his grasp.
Why are we drawn along some roads and not others, especially this one, a 112 kilometre dirt track petering out at an abandoned town, beside a fast, broad river running out of the Stikine Ranges? The writer Edward Hoagland came to Telegraph Creek in 1966, more or less 100 years after gold was first discovered on the Stikine River. In short time news of the find swelled the population, sending all kinds of normally sane people a shade crazy and was a precursor to the bigger fever that was yet to strike further north in the Yukon. By the time Hoagland arrived the characters of Telegraph Creek – the prospectors and trappers, the hunters and wanderers, the homesteaders and fishermen – they were all mostly the memories of a few old men. All that remained on these terraced hills were 150 ageing souls. The McPhees, formerly railwaymen from the east, arrived at Telegraph Creek in the 1930s. Alex McPhee had variously been the town’s gravedigger, electrician, carpenter and explosives man, keeping the river clear of debris, so the stern-wheeler could make it all the way up from Wrangell, Alaska, a three day journey during the ice-free months. During the non-navigable months the mail arrived by dog sled, until the bush plane era of the thirties improved things somewhat. In his spare time McPhee trapped beaver and marten, mink and otter and he told Hoagland he’d wanted to marry an Indian girl once, except she’d banged her head on the gunwhale of the boat and drowned in the river. The salmon running in the months through July to September in the Stikine and Tahltan rivers have always been a big deal; McPhee said they used to catch salmon so big they needed a hatchet to cut their throats. Doubtless the men and women who forged an existence in this town had to be as uncompromising as the hills and mountains hemming them in. Hoagland got wind of an old trapper by the name of Fowler who’d toughed out the whole winter with a burst prostate gland. He writes of how, on another occasion … “Fowler spent a year alone on the Taku watershed, where he thought he was on to some gold. When he returned he was batty and babbling and handing out gifts on the trail, his shirt and snowshoes and samplings of ore and fisher skins”.
For millennia the Tahltans have lived on the lands surrounding Telegraph Creek, setting their traps on the river when the salmon begin their run each summer to the spawning grounds further up stream. For them it had been a comparatively quiet place until the arrival of the white man and all his wild ideas. In the 1860s the Western Union Telegraph Company attempted a telegraphic link between New York and London, running the cable via British Colombia, Alaska and Siberia.It was to be named the Collins Overland Telegraph. The section coming north from Hazelton crossed the Stikine River at a creek, later named Telegraph Creek. In other circumstances this remote settlement might have featured in one of the world’s key lines of communication; in the race to communicate with Europe the Western Union were beaten by another company who successfully ran a cable beneath the Atlantic, and so the Collins Overland Telegraph route was abandoned. In the 1898 Klondike gold rush Telegraph Creek was one of many transit points for gold seekers heading to the Yukon. As a result of all this frenzied activity the government deemed it worthwhile to construct the Yukon Telegraph line in 1901, continuing it north from Telegraph Creek, through Atlin and up to Dawson City. The swathe hacked through the forests of British Columbia ended up as something of a thoroughfare for some, becoming known as the Telegraph Trail. Prior to the First World War Norman Foster was said to be an ‘expert’ on the Telegraph trail: when the creeks froze up Foster ran the mail along it using a sled and his dog team, for which he was paid $100 a month. The telegraph linemen in the relay cabins along the route fed him and stored food for his dogs, to help ease the toil of his nine day journey. In turn Foster kept them supplied with rum, on the basis that “… the isolation did nothing to them that the rum couldn’t straighten out”. One of the linemen had been a composer and Foster hauled out an organ to help soothe his nerves. The trail also attracted another kind of person, Hoagland writes in his book, folks he describes as … “the desperate and destitute, the specialist, the stunt man” … and those same telegraph linemen did what they could for all the people who came wandering to their door. The most famous was probably Lilian, a Russian lady on her way home from New York. Going north from Hazelton she found the trail getting more arduous, though she was well cared for: “the linemen in the cabins fed her and patched her clothes and bound her feet in moosehide when her shoes gave out”. They gave her a puppy for company, which shortly died and so Lilian stuffed it, continuing her trek with it tucked under her arm. She saw out the winter in Atlin cooking for miners and washing clothes in the freezing river. Later, she made it all the way to Point Barrow on the Bering Straight, a place where she hoped to persuade the Eskimos to paddle her across to Russia. Instead they fixed her a raft and pushed her off. “After that nobody knows her fate. It’s hard to think of her surviving so much and not making it home. But she hadn’t been talkative and she didn’t write”.
Today Telegraph Creek is all but deserted. It seems those who were left, for whatever reason, moved up the hill to the settlement of Dry Town. Some of the dwellings appear to have been abandoned at a moments notice, relics from various eras littering the backyard. It’s still possible to overnight at the The Stikine River Song, formerly a Hudson’s Bay Company store, and so we go there for a cup of tea and gaze for a moment at the solid-looking cakes in a glass display. I ask the young waitress if it’s possible to fix a river charter, as advertised on their sign above the door. ‘They’re hoping to get it going again soon,’ she says.
After the tea we sit on a bench outside, deciding where we should camp for the night. Enjoying this warm, sunny evening it is soon apparent how the new gold in Telegraph Creek is its tranquility and the silence following the sigh of the wind in the tall grasses covering the hill and in the trees lining the Stikine River.
(Extracts from Edward Hoagland’s Notes From The Century Before)
The scream of the reel is electrifying. The rod bends double, the tip almost piercing the swell.
‘You got a strike,’ yells Ryan.
Stumbling across the deck I wrestle the rod from the downrigger. Whatever’s on the end has already hit warp-speed. The reel handle thrashes my knuckles as the blur of line unwinds – this fish is really moving. Planting my feet I settle for the fight, switching the strain to forearms and shoulders. ‘This is a massive goddamn fish,’ I cry into the breeze.
‘Let it run,’ Ryan calls, snatching the engine control into neutral and leaping onto the deck. ‘Let the line run.’
Without doubt this is going to be the biggest salmon ever caught in the Seaforth Channel; right now I feel as if I’m attached to a plummeting bus. The muscles in my arms take the strain as the salmon does its best to snatch me over the transom. Just as I’m beginning to wonder if this could be one of those – I think we need a bigger boat – type of moments, the line goes slack. I yank up the rod and work the reel for all I’m worth. ‘I think I lost him,’ I hiss.
‘No,’ shouts Ryan, clearing the port rod out of the way. ‘He’s coming straight for the boat.’
Holy cow! He’s right. The flasher is riding the surface, racing towards us. A metre ahead of the flasher the surface of the water boils. The beast has turned. It’s homing in on the boat … coming straight for us. I can’t wind the reel fast enough; my wrist aches and my knuckles throb. As a bald eagle circles above, the thought of these orcas pinching my fish crashes through my mind. They’re not having my fish. And then the flasher pings into the air and the rod flicks upward, empty in my hands. I know for sure that this time I really have lost him. I curse as I wind in the rest of the line, placing the rod back in the downrigger. It’s all over.
‘I tell you … that was some creature.’ Panting from the exertion, I spread my hands as far apart as I can. ‘I swear, it must have been this big.’
Not that many years ago the only way of accessing the tiny fishing town of Bella Coola, located up the Burke Channel on British Columbia’s Pacific coast, was by sea. By necessity the settlers who lived up country from Bella Coola, along the Chilcotin Plateau and beside the Anahim Lake, had to be tougher than the hooves on a Yukon moose. Life was hard and often lonely out in this wilderness and pretty much all the stuff they needed had to be packed in on horseback, all the while avoiding the grizzly bears and the packs of wolves, or not, as was occasionally the case. When Isabel Edwards moved here with her husband in September 1932 it was an unfamiliar and scary world to her; she was even frightened of the snow. Twenty-five years later, all alone, she tracked and shot two grizzlies that had been killing her livestock. You could say she adapted pretty well to her surroundings. Many couldn’t stick the solitude and daily challenges, going in search of an easier life in such places as Vancouver Island. Today it seems you’ve still got to know how to take care of yourself if you’re to survive out here: the moment we park outside the Bella Coola store an old boy launches into the story of the cougar he fought one day, just off the main street. ‘Over there in those trees it was,’ he says. ‘He jumped on my back and launched its teeth into my neck. He chewed me up pretty good before I managed to get my hand in his mouth and pull the sucker off. Look at my thumb.’ He holds out his hand for us to inspect. ‘That cougar bit my thumb pretty darn good.’
Managing to avoid the grizzlies and the cougars, we’ve made it to Bella Coola to try our hand at catching a few salmon and halibut in the channels around King Island. This means being collected from the port the following day by Central Coast Adventures. We will spend the next four days based at their lodge on Denny Island, doing our best to catch our quota of salmon from their 23 foot Grady White fishing boats. By late afternoon the rest of our fishing buddies arrive from Red Deer and over dinner we’re already laying wagers as to which of us will land the first fish … the largest fish … the most fish … I never knew fishing could be quite so competitive.
The following day is an early start down at the port. Leaving our vehicles at the hotel we travel by boat for the two and a half hour journey out to Denny Island. Denny Island is not big; you could walk round it in a day, if there was a path, which there isn’t … and always remembering that it is apparently teeming with bears and wolves and cougars. And that’s the great thing about Canada … you are no longer the apex predator. Everywhere you go, in every village or forest, behind every tree or bush, there could lurk a killer vastly quicker and stronger than you are. It really keeps you on your toes. ‘Oh, we had a pack of wolves run down the main street of Bella Bella not so long ago,’ Ryan, our fishing guide, casually remarks. ‘Nice,’ I say, not in the least meaning it. Bella Bella is just across the channel from us, on Campbell Island, and is where Ryan lives.
After a quick lunch in the lodge, with Christine and I in one boat and our rivals in the other, we’re straight on to the Chinook salmon, setting our lines just off Idle Point. Except a pod of orcas thought to number 100 individuals is busily swimming up the channel at the same time. If you think of a shoal of salmon as carpet dust then orcas are the equivalent of the Hoover. These efficient fish killers are beautiful to behold, though not at all useful to have around when you’re trying to catch a salmon. That said I’m hauling in our first ten kilo Chinook after a few minutes of trawling at about 1.5 knots. By the evening the two teams are running head to head on numbers (though I can claim first fish!).
On the boat by six in the morning, the next day we go for the halibut in the Burke Channel. As we reach a stretch of open water the sea state takes a considerable turn for the worse. As if to combat the sudden violent motion of the boat Ryan simply reaches over to the stereo, whacking up the volume on the country music channel we’re listening to and those dulcet tones of the DJ Trace Atkins. Pounding into the waves with our speakers shrieking, I’m reminded of colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, though Kilgore was in search of great waves not great halibut and by lunchtime we’ve hooked a 30 kilo specimen which, from a depth of 450 feet, takes some bringing to the surface. Christine and I spell the task and after a ten minute struggle the brute finally breaks from the waves. We add a couple more in the afternoon and by the evening the two teams are again about evens.
The next day is a salmon day and sees our rivals creep ahead on fish caught, though it’s the last day where Christine and I are bowled a blinder. Convinced some fishy business is afoot, the rival team have peeled off, heading out to the ling cod grounds, where they ramp up the numbers, leaving us to the less productive salmon fishing off St John’s Point. By early afternoon a worsening swell makes life increasingly uncomfortable, forcing us to retreat down the Seaforth Channel, where the orcas have already enjoyed a feast.
It goes without saying that had I landed the one that got away our position as the premier team would be unassailable. But that’s fishing for you. Whatever disappointment we feel at having slipped into second place is amply taken care of by Timo and Tara’s dinner back at the lodge. All too soon we’re back on the boat with our boxes of frozen fish, heading for Bella Coola port. Recovering our vehicles from the hotel car park, on the drive back to William’s lake, as we round a bend on Heckman Pass I say to Christine, ‘Oh look, there’s a cow in front of us.’ This is not the kind of mistake one should make too often: I quickly realise that I’m in fact staring at a huge black bear grazing at the side of the track. Here is a reminder, if any was needed, of what those settlers had to put up with as they led their horses back and forth over these mountains.
When the explorer Mungo Park trudged into the African bush in the late 18th century he was fascinated by the Africans’ attachment to their amulets, or saphies, as they were called along the banks of the Gambia river and beyond. In most cases saphies consisted of prayers or sentences extracted from the Koran, written by the “Mahomedan” priests. These scraps of paper were considered to possess quite extraordinary virtues. Amulets, or talismans, or charms, each with their subtle difference, are of course not limited to the African bush but used the world over, probably dating back as long ago as man squatting beside the fire, the half-eaten, charred leg of a sabre-tooth tiger in one hand and his club in the other. Pliny the Elder named the amulet as ‘… an object that protects a person from trouble …’ which means the string of garlic, the bag of herbs, the talons of a Bald eagle or the pebble dredged from a river all have the ability to keep one from harm, once the power is ascribed by the owner. I guess many in this day and age dismiss the amulet as so much balderdash, at worst the conviction of a lunatic. I must admit, I’m the first to scoff at the thought of a lion’s molar protecting you from the ravages of wild animals, the thrust of a spear or that maniac overtaking on a blind Ecuadorian bend in his 25 tonne truck. Generally they occupy no place in my thoughts. So why have we so many of them in our car? Continue reading “CANADA: THE AMULET’S PLACE”→
Apparently the first white men clambered up Chief Mountain in 1892. When they reached the summit it’s said they stumbled across the bleached skull of a bison. Such a discovery undoubtedly intrigued them: just how did the skull of a bison come to be laid on the summit of this mountain? Located to the east of Glacier National Park, Chief Mountain towers above the plains.This prominent peak certainly impressed Meriwether Lewis of the 1804 Lewis and Clarke Expedition. He took one look at the impressive rock face and named it Tower Mountain. Continue reading “CANADA: A LANDMARK IN OUR JOURNEY”→