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Ice Hiking in British Columbia 5

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(I’ve been telling the story of the greatest wilderness journey I ever made, 64 years ago.)

I’ve lost most of the old photos which proved what a beautiful fjord Knight Inlet was. Steep mountainsides and cliffs higher than any in Norway. Waterfalls plunging into the inlet. Virgin forests. One inhabited dwelling in the many miles of its length.

Yesterday I left us on little Kwalate Float in the middle portion of Knight Inlet, waiting for a boat to come by. The wait was suspiciously short. Hardly had we rolled up our sleeping bags next morning when a powerful launch came quietly nosing round the point. A straight backed, serious figure hailed us... the Fisheries Inspector. He happened to be going to the head of the inlet. Did we want a ride?

It was slowly dawning on us that this was too easy. It was a very warm summer and the two great glacial rivers at the head of the inlet were discharging tons of fine gill-clogging silt. You could see it in the water way down here at Kwalate. There would be no fish and no fishing boats in that celadon-colored water. Nothing to inspect.

Some sort of benevolent conspiracy, undoubtedly arranged by ships radio, perhaps by an enthusiastic new friend we'd made at Alert Bay, Ronnie Shuker, was whisking us to our goal. 

To the inspector's very serious question we answered a very serious "yes".

He was one of those taciturn men of the north who resist conversation until you finally manage to break the dam, then the wonderful stories come pouring out: British military life in old India, mountain climbing while mapping in the Himalayas, hunting for snow leopards. The morning rushed by as we listened in awe.

Before we knew it we were at the head of Knight Inlet, deposited on Stanton's float at Dutchman's Head, near the braided mouth of our river, the Franklin. Stanton's was that one inhabitable cabin on the entire 80 mile long inlet.

The inspector roared away without going up to see if the Stantons were at home.

We balanced across the slippery chained logs that moored the float to the shore and went up the pleasant path through the forest. The 4-room cabin was well kept and beautiful, built palisade-style with the logs on-end because two people working alone couldn't easily lift the higher logs in a horizontal cabin wall. 

We knocked on the door.

More tomorrow.


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by Author MeadowMom


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