RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Friday, August 23, 2013

Our Life Behind Bars – Father & Son Doing Time in the Northern Frontier (Mile 5228 to Mile 5999)

Days 22-23  (July 21-22, 2013)

After a good night sleep in Watson lake, I took off toward the Hwy 37, the Cassiar Hwy.  Just outside of Watson Lake I nearly hit a young bear, maybe 100 yards from the Sign Post Forest. The bear ran unexpectedly out in front of me and darted back into the bush. Undaunted, this bear started feeding on the side of the road. So I put my GoPro Camera to use and attempted to get my camera out for some more video. Unfortunately for me, the creature ran when the next pickup truck drove by and I was unable to get even a picture of this cute little creature. Shortly there after the sky opened up and it began pouring rain. It poured and poured until I got to Good Hope Lake. From there, Jade City wasn’t too far and I stopped in to say hi to my friend Kendra and a new employee there, named Jessica. I wanted to dry off a bit and they always have free coffee and cocoa. So I stayed a bit to chat They told me that they may be opening a restaurant across the road from the store. I told them tha tit would probably do good business in the summer and that I look forward to having a burger there on my next visit. I said my goodbyes and took off, only to be created by more rain showers. Form here on, all the way to Dease Lake I would be in and out of the rain. Once at Dease Lake I grabbed some lunch and the weather began to show signs of improvement.

Leaving the Air Force Lodge at Watson Lake

A break in the rain at Good Hope Lake

Jade City, free coffee and good company
It was still heavily overcast when I left, but as I go toward the native village known as Iskut, I could tell that I was out of the rain for good this day as I could see blue skies of in the south.
It was pretty uneventful, save for the few times I stopped to take some pictures and film some video. I happen to play leap frog with a couple that each had their own motorcycles. The lady had a lowered F650 GS while her husband had a big Harley and a tent trailer.
The Cassiar Hwy...somewhere near Kinaskat Lake

My overloaded steed

This rock looked a bit phallic (strange)

My arrival near Bell II Lodge

My camp at Mezidain Lake
Later that evening, I met up with them again at Mezidain Lake Provincial Park. Camping was tough there as the campground was nearly full. I happened to run into the couple and they invited me over to their spot. I said I’ll have a look around and eventually found a spot with a view… one of the last 2 campsites left. After dinner and some visiting it was off to bed. But I found it hard to sleep. All the light coming into my tent was keeping me awake. This time, it wasn’t sunlight. No, no, it was nearly a full moon and the moonlight was brilliant and lit up the lake and the sky and reflected off the midnight clouds. It looked like I had a fluorescent lamp on outside my tent.
Earl and an apprentice carving a totem pole out of Cedar
The next morning, I quickly packed up and headed to Gitanyow (A Ksan village near Hazelton). They have very old totem poles. Some over 200 years old. There happened to be two wood carvers working on a big cedar Totem Pole. While younger of the two men worked, the older gentleman introduced himself to me. He told me they were replacing totem poles as the older ones rot and fall over. They also introduce new ones. He briefly gave me a quick lesson on how to read totems, and discover the meanings and symbolisms of the poles. One thing he mentioned to me, something that  I would never forget is how, the white man came and initially destroyed and/or burned the totem poles when the first white men arrived in their country. These folks he told me were missionaries and they viewed the totems as statues to gods. Nothing could be farther from the truth he told me. The totems, tell a story, each of them unique. The most important figure in a totem is the individual sitting on the ground, holding all the others up on their hands, shoulder hands/or head. The least important person would be placed on top. In many totems, one sees the white ma at the top. As the white man was the least important person to them. White people thought they were being honored  as they were at the top of the totems. In any event, the elder gentleman’s name was Earl. He asked me where I was from and I told him Seattle.  He told me he helped carve and oversee the totem pole found at the Seattle center. It was carved in 1970. The Seattle Totem features from top to bottom a hawk, bear (holding a salmon), raven and killer whale. Earl was rather proud of that carving and told me he likes Seattle very much and l had lived there for many years. I asked about the carving they were currently working on. He said they have been working on it for 5 months. The artwork was fantastic and I watched as the younger gentlemen took Earls instruction to make the finer details seen on totem poles, like feathers and how to make the character look like it was in motion. I found it odd that I run into Earl out in the bush. Of all the people I could have run into, Earl was the man for that day. I felt honored that he even gave me the time of day. After talking shop about the totems, he told me about the sacred headwaters of the Stikine, where the Nass, the Stikine, and Skeena rivers start flowing, all within 300 yards of each other. These are large rivers of the north, the lifeblood for many of the natives that live up there. He told me that I should make it a point to go back there and see the place for myself. Something I plan to do soemtiem. Ealr also told stories of how they battled Shell Oil and the Canadian Gov’t to stop mining on their lands and prevented them from building a dam on the Stikine River Canyon. This was incredible canyon Johann and I had ridden down to the town of Telegraph Creek a couple of weeks earlier. Earl finally told me, that he didn’t much care for the white man and their ways. I think I surprised him, when I told him that I agree completely. There are some sacred places that we should let be. The Stikine region is one of those sacred places.
Earl stated that they have been working
on the totem for nearly 5 months

The village of Gitanyow the community of the Gitxsan people

Some of thee totems date back well over 100 years or more.

I parted ways  with Earl and shortly after getting back onto the Cassiar hwy, another little bear darted in front of me. This time, the bear startled me and I nearly dumped my bike.  The little black bear just sat there staring at me a bit while I struggled to get my camera out for some more bear footage. However, just as I was nearly ready, the bear took off for the forest, disappearing as fast as it appeared.

At the junction of the Cassiar and Yellowhead Highways, I gassed up and headed toward Smithers. From there it was long slog to Prince George… about 5.5 hours later. As I was gassing up, I inspected my tires, particularly my rear tire. Back in Watson Lake I made a mental note of how much tread I had left. I was carrying more with now as I had some of Johanns’ gear with me. I noticed that my cleat was nearly gone and that some cracks were forming in the rubber. I was a bit uncomfortable going the last 1000 miles or so home on this tire. It happened to be Sunday Evening and all the bike shops are usually closed on Sundays and Mondays.   

Instead of camping, I got motel and wi-fi to begin my search for a bike shop that would a) be open on a Monday and b) would have a tire for my bike.

Stay tuned to see what the next 2 days had in store for me.

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