Kates Diary Installment Three - Banff

Thursday 2 September 2010, Filed in: General

After Stewart we went on the totem pole trail. We went to Gitanow, home of the Gitxan people. There were about 50 totem poles in the village. They were very very tall and some looked very old with no paint left on them.

One of them had a big hole through it which used to be used as a doorway to the longhouse when the village was at war. I made friends with a little girl who lives there called Maria. We wentround drawing pictures of the totem poles and a lady in the museum gave us an art lesson. We went to Moricetown Canyon and watched the Wetsu’Weten people catching salmon with nets on long poles as they jumped up the waterfall. The people have caught fish here for hundreds of years. They used to use fish baskets and sometimes still use gaffs which are like a hook on a pole. We bought a whole fresh salmon for 6 dollars. I gutted it myself!

Highway 16 goes all the way from one side of Canada to the other. The people we met here were very kind and friendly. We were invited to houses and had delicious meals cooked for us and made some lovely friends. I even got to stay a day and a night with Rhianna,12, Lindsey10, Sarah8 and Erin4 while Mum and dad biked to the next village. It was great fun. The road was really scary though and dangerous. The traffic was very fast and very busy. The trucks are twice as big as the ones at home. When they pass the wind from them blows us all over the place or sucks us into the road. Mum nearly went into a ditch once.The worst ones were the ones carrying woodchips from the sawmills to the pulpmills. Prince George has 3 pulpmills where wood gets made into paper.
They are very smelly!! We were next to the railway a lot and the trains were more than a mile long. I counted 153 carriages on one goods train.

We went on a trail to the Ancient Forest. Some of the red cedars here are 2000 years old and massive. It is part of the temperate rain forest which you normally only find close to the sea. It is very sad because the government still want to cut forests like these down for timber and most of the old growth forest has already been logged. Logging and Tourism are the main money makers in BC and they don’t often agree about cutting trees down. Anyway we were nearly back at the road when we heard crashing in the trees. There was a black bear right next to the trail just in front of us. She was huffing and did not seem very pleased. We stood our ground and said “Hello Bear!!” in a loud voice as this is what you are supposed to do. Then we saw two smaller black bears. The mother was sending them up a big old cedar tree. It was amazing to watch them climb. They didn’t even use the branches. They just hung onto the bark with their claws and ran up. The Mum or sow stayed at the bottom to guard her cubs. We backed off slowly and went the long way round!

Mum had to have a tooth taken out in Vanderhoof. The hole kept bleeding whenever she went up a hill.

We passed mount Robson which is in the Rocky Mountains and is the highest mountain in Canada. It is 4000 metres high. We biked down the Icefield Parkway between Jasper and Banff which they say is the most beautiful road in the world because of the mountains and glaciers and bright turquoise lakes which get their colour from the silt from the glaciers.

We had to go up some VERY steep hills and two high passes which were over 2000 metres high. There was snow on top of Sunwapta Pass. We sat in the Icefield Centre and ate our tiny bowls of fries and watched the snow coaches with their massive wheels driving the tourists around on the Athabaska Glacier. We met up with our friends from Calgary there. We met Kevin and his family in Whitehorse and they helped us by taking some of our heavy gear which we didn’t need so we could pedal faster. We all went on a hike to Wilcox pass where there is alpine meadows and we saw big horn sheep. We got very close and it was quite scary because they look quite fierce with their huge horns but they just ignored us and munched grass.

I liked the campsites here because there was picnic shelters and lots of people gather round the woodburner and have candles and I got to talk to lots of different people which made a change from Mum and Dad who only ever seem to talk about money (how much food costs), distance (how many miles behind we are), the new digital camera (what terrible pictures it takes) and whose fault things are!

We were feeling really cold and fed up when our friends Michelle and Ike came past in the car. We first met them on the Dempster when they were on their way up to build a church for the people of Fort McPherson. They picked us up and got us 2 nights in a posh hotel and took us out for dinner in a fancy restaurant and left us with lots of lovely things. I wore a lovely white dress and a winter Olympic hoody with an Inukshuk on because the Winter Olympic games are in Vancouver next year.

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