We woke to a more typical morning in Prince Rupert. We had watched a fog bank roll in last evening and it still enshrouded the city in the morning.As we drove east toward Terrace the fog lifted and lessened until we were in lovely sunshine again. The Basalt Creek Rest Area had a nice view. The railway doesn’t exactly have much right-of-way space between the highway and the tracks in some parts around here. On the western outskirts of Terrace there is a road heading north called the Nisga’a Highway. It leads to four Nisga’a villages and the Provincial Nisga’a Memorial Lava Beds Park. I was unaware there were any lava beds in British Columbia, but today we learned otherwise.
There was a geocache hidden at the Peeing Tree. We looked and looked but could not find it. The Peeing Tree is a huge Cottonwood that has grown around a pipe that collects water from a creek. The pipe in the tree has provided fresh, cold water to local area residents for years. While we were looking for the cache a truck pulled up and two fellows got out and filled up several containers with water before heading out again. It was a very unique site and unless you were looking for it you would never know the tree spouted water because it is on the back side and flows into the creek. The only indicator that something is there is a wide pull-out spot and a community notice board.
The Lava Beds Memorial Park is the first park jointly managed by a First Nation and the BC Government.In the 1700’s the volcano Wil Ksi Baxhi Mihl (“Where the fire ran out”) exploded and in two days covered a swathe 23 kilometer long in lava; some places 12 meters deep. The volcano continued to erupt for two weeks before settling into slumber once again. (It is considered an active volcano that is currently dormant.) Two villages were buried and 2,000 Nisga’a people lost their lives. The Nass river was pushed form one side of the valley to the other, a stream became a lake and the landscape was changed forever. Even over 250 years later much of the lava is only covered with lichens. There are trees and other plants that have taken root in soil caught in the spaces but the lava bed itself is still almost void of vegetation. Lava Lake
The Visitor’s Center is built like a Nisga’a Longhouse.We drove to the first of the four Nisga’a villages – Gitwinksihlkw – to see the four Welcome totems at the bridge. Until this bridge was completed in (I think) 1999, the only access to the village was via a 600′ long suspension bridge. A suspension bridge had served the community for over 400 years. The bridge – a more modern one than the 400-year old one for sure – is still used by people of the village. It is a very long bridge over a very deep rive channel. From the pedestrian walkway on the bridge you can see the two fish wheels used by the villagers to catch fish. I am not sure how they work, but fish wheels have been used for generations among the Nisga’a. There is a second fish wheel on the right in this photo, and if you look hard you can make out the suspension bridge along the back by the tree line. There is a 60′ Education pts’aan (totem) and a 55′ Bears Den pts’aan. I had John stop in the middle of the road so I could get a photo of the other two totems at the bridge. We headed back toward Terrace with some stops along the way. First was to see the Tree Cast in the lava beds. The molten lava would surround trees, push them over, the trees would burn, and then, if the lava cooled quickly enough the shape, including the bark, would be left in the lava. Beaupre Falls was not very full in the mid-summer but it was easy to visualize how roaring it would be with the spring melt. The Drowned Forest is so named because when water levels are high the Tseax River flows over the land through the forests at this location. The water pooled among the trees was a lovely glacial green.
After we stopped at the Drowned Forest it was a straight drive back of about 70 km down to the junction with the highway and into Terrace for the night. Another good day. Not too many left now before we will be home again.