Sharon Hawley has finished her bicycle trip in Canada for this summer. She hopes to complete the adventure in another year. Please follow her winter adventure at

Route Map

Route Map

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Fraser River Valley

What a change on leaving Mission! Sure, it was early morning, but traffic was light and farms replaced yesterday’s suburbs. The wide Fraser River Valley, farmed in its fertile bottom, hairy on its sides with forest trees—western red cedar, sitka spruce and hemlock. And above all, snowy rock outcroppings pointing skyward. Waterfalls are so many they are like string clippings scattered on the mountains. They run down chutes, vanishing into the thick of forest above the river.

I stopped at the Deroche Café for breakfast and found it truly country in the way cafes often were in 2007 when I crossed America. Local farmers and loggers asked me what I am doing, and I learned which roads are better and why. It seems both sides, them and me, want to tell the other what we know that might involve their lives, a hallmark of conversation in country cafes.

I rode along in silence much of the day, interrupted by the occasional transport truck, pickup, or car, and saw only two recreational vehicles all day. I thought of the Kwakwaka'wakw first nation people traversing this river and their relatives the Haida, whom I learned about at the Anthropology Museum in Vancouver. They lived off the red cedars, making canoes from a single log. But unlike those heavy dugouts of other tribes, these ingenious people dug the wood out, then filled the opening with water. They put hot rocks in the water to heat it and soften the wood. Then they pried the sides out, making the canoe twice as wide as a simple dugout, and much lighter per occupant.

Tomorrow I shall ride up the Fraser River Gorge, through seven tunnels, I am told.

1 comment:

  1. Your descriptions of nature on the way, mixed with history and the local flavor really make this experience come alive to us, as if we were there with you. I would love to see the waterfalls and feel the air there. I love the description of making the dugout. It's like a motto to inspire inventiveness on all of our ways, to make life lighter, with more capacity.

    I found a similar creativity in Yazd, Iran- where I was adventuring yesterday and today. An intenesely hot desert town, they created wind towers to channel breeze into their homes (natural air conditioning) and dug channels to have water flow under their homes from the mountains, and high walled the lanes so that they feel cool with shade.