As I was trying to prepare this next section of the RR, I hit this next picture and I realized that I have made a mistake and gotten ahead of myself with my last post. Probably should have been sleeping last night at 2am instead of catering to you FF's (fine folks.) Good thing, I'm not writing the report 6 months after the fact like last time.
Those last five pics were actually from the Cassiar highway between Bell II and Tatogga. (I had inserted the ones of the lodge and lake from last year's pics, as I remembered not taking any this time.) The terrain is very similar to the Ealue Lake road and the first part of the rail bed and the gravel shoulders threw me off. I could have edited the previous post and swept it all under the rug, but either my sense of integrity arrested me or I was just too lazy to redo the post. You can decide.
Either way, here's a few more from the last section of the slab.
Looks a lot like the rail bed, doesn't it?
This one was taken on the fly (not of
the fly), and was supposed to feature the scenery behind me, but my arm wasn't long enough
NOW, we are in Tatogga Lake. Here's the map that hangs on the door of the lodge:
On the Ealue Lake road, we ran into an American couple who just been checking out the rail bed. They had only been in 46km, but had seen lots of bears too, and a cougar (walking down the road towards then.)
That fireweed is horrible for my allergies, but it sure is pretty. (FYI, This is the picture that messed me up last night. I remembered taking it and thought the one a few back off the Cassiar was this one.)
This was one of the biggest black bears I saw that day, but he was camera shy.
Saw lots of the these guys (ruffed grouse) as well. I was tempted a few times to "accidentally" hit one with the bike and add it to the pot, but I kept remembering when I hit a raven with my shoulder at speed (and how that felt), so I would always dodge at the last minute.
In short order (and without hitting a bear) we were at the Klappan River.
This is the bridge that was out when Swinada was last here, 18 years ago. By now, looking at how high the Klappan was it was pretty clear that the river crossings we had planned for the next day were not going to be easy.
Sure beats swimming.
Pretty soon we were at the rail bed. This sign was new.
Before we even started down the rail bed, I confirmed there were bears there as well. I took this one while riding (as I do with most of my roadside wildlife shots, because the critters tend to take off as soon as you stop.)
Here's the rail bed going north, which we would later explore.
But for now we were making some miles, as we wanted to set up camp before dark. There are lots of mice little wooded bridges on the rail grade. I think this one is at McEwan Creek.
Oh, I guess I should explain why there is a rail bed here in the first place. Once again, Wikipedia is your friend.
In the 1960s, a new line had been projected to run northwest from Fort St. James to Dease Lake, 412 miles (663 km) away. On October 15, 1973, the first 125 miles (201 km) of the extension to Lovell were opened. The cost of the line was significantly greater than what was estimated, however. Contractors working on the remainder of the line alleged that the railway had misled them regarding the amount of work required so that it could obtain low bids, and took the railway to court.
The Dease Lake line was starting to appear increasingly uneconomical. There was a world decline in the demand for asbestos and copper, two main commodities that would be hauled over the line. As well, the Cassiar Highway that already served Dease Lake had recently been upgraded. Combined with the increasing construction costs, the Dease Lake line could no longer be justified. Construction stopped on April 5, 1977. Track had been laid to Jackson, 263 miles (423 km) past Fort St. James, and clearing and grading were in progress on the rest of the extension. It had cost $168 million to that point, well over twice the initial estimate. The trackbed can be seen on Google Earth all the way to Dease Lake, via the small towns of Leo Creek and Takla Landing.
The management and operation of the railway had been called into question, and on February 7, 1977, the provincial government appointed a Royal Commission, the McKenzie Royal Commission, to investigate the railway. Its recommendations were released on August 25, 1978. It recommended that construction not continue on the 149 miles (239 km) of roadbed between Dease Lake and the current end of track, and that trains be terminated at Driftwood, 20 miles (33 km) past Lovell. The rest of the track would be left in place but not used. In 1983, after logging operations ceased at Driftwood and traffic declined sharply, the Dease Lake line was closed. However, it was reopened in 1991 and, as of 2005, extends to a point called Minaret, British Columbia, still over 175 miles (281 km) south of Dease Lake.
The only section of rail bed north of Minaret that has been maintained is the 102 km from the Ealue Lake road to the Didine Portage. I'm glad it is, because I'll going to be launching a canoe from there in a couple weeks
Beautiful country though. Early on you pass though this recent burn.
Even the little creeks were real high.
You can see where the rail bridge was slated to go in.