Tuesday, August 25, 2009

To British Columbia

I flew to Seattle on Virgin America, rented a fast Toyota at the airport Alamo agency, spent a day exploring Mt Baker and environs before crossing into B.C. at Sumas. Then to the town of Hope, in the center of a mountainous area covered with tall fir trees, shining wall-to-wall green below misty peaks— it reminded me of Franconia Notch and the White Mountains in New Hampshire. I left Hope the same day some guy from L.A. who was on the lam because he had murdered his wife and put her body in a dumpster, hanged himself in Hope(less), happily not in the same motel as mine.
I followed the Trans-Canada Highway through the Fraser River Valley up to the confluence of the Thomson and Fraser Rivers: impressive canyon and mountain scenery, the forested areas quite obviously severely afflicted by the mountain pine beetle epidemic which has killed off whole forests in B.C. I was happy to have almost reached the 51st parallel, which must seem like the subtropics to many Canadians, but for me the northernmost point I ever reached in North America (but not in Europe or Asia). Down the Nicola River Valley through more arid landscapes to the border crossing south of Osooyos, which was happily deserted, giving me a chance to talk shop a bit with the U.S. Immigration Officer on the U.S. side at the border, since I exercised the same profession at San Francisco Airport in the late 1990’s.
Overnighted at Omak WA and then a delightful all-day drive across the Northern Cascades, a range of power-mountains if there ever was one. Hozomeen and Desolation Peak were clearly visible at the end of Ross Lake. I was pleased to see the Park Service had placed a plaque commemorating the celebrated fire-watch episodes of Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder and Phil Whalen in the mid-1950’s. I wonder if the authorities will one day carve their profiles into the side of Hozomeen, like those of the presidents at Mt Rushmore.
Next summer I want to fly to Juneau and do a loop as far as I can into Yukon Territory and back through North British Columbia.

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