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Ice Hiking in British Columbia 1

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(Here in California, we’re into the lemonade nights of late August. A good time, I guess, to tell you the story of one of the great adventures of my life.)

This is an old Kodachrome of the Cardena, the legendary little Canadian coastal steamer which, until 1960, carried passengers and supplies to the hamlets and camps on the Inside Passage in British Columbia. My new husband and I, both college seniors, went north on her in the summer of 1952.

Even after she was long gone, the public's affection for Cardena continued. Years later, visiting BC, all I had to say was "We first came up on the Cardena in '52" and heads would turn, faces would beam.

There are places in the Inside Passage where tidal rapids swirl over dangerous underwater rocks and shoals. We were late arriving at Seymour Narrows, which had the worst underwater rock of all. All craft needed to creep through there at slack tide. This time the tide had turned, was just picking up. Our captain decided to run it. Standing on deck we looked over at deep whirlpools forming, possibly big enough to capsize Cardena herself.

At one tiny village there was a newly built fishing boat waiting on the high wharf. As we watched, the ship’s mate unloaded a few things with the big freight boom and then picked the new boat off the wharf, swung it high over our bow, and gently launched it on the ship’s far side. A friendly courtesy to a remote hamlet, at no charge.

On this trip, Cardena was heavily loaded. Her passenger manifest was full and her hold and maindeck were stacked with groceries, package mail, lumber, hardware of all kinds. drums of gasoline, and three house trailers headed to communities which had no roads. When I asked a deckhand how he would describe the little steamer's most important cargo, he grinned and said "bread and beer".

More tomorrow.

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