Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Smithers to Prince Rupert

Odometer - 4311

This morning, the mountains were visible behind the bed and breakfast. Mist still clung to the peaks, but we were able to see the glaciers.

At the suggestion of one of the B&B owners, we stopped at Moricetown, just out of Smithers. Native Americans, also known as the First Nation, fish for salmon there. The Bulkley River is especially fierce. The fishermen attach themselves to the ledge or pier with a strong cable in case they slip. Over and over again, they plunge a long-poled net into the water. At first we thought they weren’t going to be successful. Then one fisherman held up his net in triumph - he had caught a king salmon! The audience applauded their approval. I was surprised that I couldn’t see any salmon in the water. Gates and I had visited a salmon run in Brewster while we lived on the Cape. The salmon were so plentiful, you could have scooped out a dozen. The air was filled with the squawking of gulls as they tried to get dinner. Here, the Bulkley River was much, much quieter.

About five miles back we saw a small brown bear feeding by the side of the road. I have to say, we’ve gotten all kinds of information about how to be safe around bears. Much of it is conflicting. Also there are different techniques for black and brown (grizzlies) bears. But the latest information we received sounded the most logical - don’t use bear bells and here’s why: the bears are so acclimated to humans that the sound of bear bells is like a dinner bell - it means humans (and maybe food...) are nearby. I was ready to buy some or carry a string of jingle bells in AK when we go hiking. My new technique will be to hike in groups, clap my hands and carry a stout stick.

Now we’re driving along the Skeena River, about 50 miles from Prince Rupert, our stop for the night. There are many fisherman fishing. We smelled smoke and saw that there were fires along the river bank. Maybe the fishermen are cooking up the fish right there instead of waiting. Or maybe they’re smoking the fish to preserve them? We’re on the look-out for sea lions which are supposed to be jumping out of the water.

This area is foggy and rainy - a good preparation for the rain of Ketchikan. I am excited about boarding the ferry, about stepping off into Alaska and about seeing our home for the first time.

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