Sumas to Hope - The Subduction of Seaweed John - CycleBlaze

August 28, 2014

Sumas to Hope

"From the boat she had seen a few of such mountains  poking up out of nowhere, including a big solitary white mountain that they had sailed towards all morning, that the forest  now hid; . . . God might have created such a plunging shore as this before He thought of making people, and then when He thought of making people, He mercifully softened up the land in the palms of his hands wherever He expected them to live . . ."      -Annie Dillard; "The Living"

I checked the weather report, which predicted heavy rain starting in the afternoon and on into the night, so a change of plan.  I would save Mount Baker for later and ride straight to Hope today.

The clouds broke for a few minutes before reaching the frontier, and Mount Baker came into view.  Mount Baker recently took the record away from Mount Rainier (further south) for the highest annual snowfall on the planet at 95 ft (30 meters) and my guess is the record extends very far beyond Earth’s watery bounds.    But today in late August the mountain stood nearly bald with only streaks of white from receding glaciers contrasting with the stark brown rock and earth exposed above the tree line to the summit. My view of this sacred mountain was obscured with utility poles and wires, and a dense canopy of profane billboards advertising duty free liquor, cigarettes and cheap American gasoline typical of border towns all along the northern frontier.  A photograph could wait until I got to the other side of Baker when I crossed back into the United States though the wilderness of the North Cascades National Park. 

Apologies my photo of Mount Baker has gone missing. This photo is from 1903 by Charles Edward Clarke, common source. It appears something like one of Annie Dillard's characters might have first viewed it.
Heart 1 Comment 0

The Labor Day weekend  traffic at the Sumas/Abbotsford border crossing was long and choked in both directions, but I, riding a bike, just rode up to the Canadian station and walked in. I was motioned to counter by a young Canadian customs officer wearing a thick battlefield armored vest.  I assume this is standard issue these days but it was the first time I had seen one “on the longest undefended border in the world.” She was seated behind a high black bank teller type counter. I could not tell if she had a firearm on her person. I handed her my US Passport Card and even though I was wearing the exact same cycling jersey in the official picture sealed by the US Department of State. She stared into her computer and without an upward glance and started a game of “twenty questions.”  Then she asked for the date of the last time I was in Canada. I have no problem remembering all my bike rides but the years tend to blur together a bit. I hemmed and erred for a moment and said September 2010 and then corrected myself “it was August before Labor Day.” MJ and I crossed into Canada by car from Idaho and I reentered the US alone on the Flyer where the Columbia River crosses into eastern Washington State. The agent gave a very slight nod and handed me back my passport. There was no "Welcome to Canada!" or " Bienvenue au Canada! which I thought all Canadian government workers were mandated/requis to alternate with along with friendly smile.  Offering her my warmest thank you, she managed to tersely say “bye bye.” What can I say, times are different now.

Very light mist was off and on all day.  A very welcome tailwind made the flat Lower Fraser River Valley even easier to ride.  The official Trans-Canada bike route to Hope is very well marked and easy to follow. 

The shoulder on Canada 1 were amazingly clear of flat producing flotsam and jetsam. I did manage one double puncture from a large industrial staple.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Fresh road kill from the night littered Canada 1 in the morning.  A cougar (mountain lion) lay lifeless at the edge of the shoulder.  The big cat eyes were open and clear to such an extent that it made me hesitate approaching this top predator of the Cascade Range dead or alive.  Even though I have read about and heard stories from park rangers, and had bow-hunters show me fresh tracks, the size and power of mountain lion paws kept me at a distance as I took in a rare view of this animal so rarely seen outside of captivity.  The myths of its powers even in death were very strong.

This mountain lion appeared to have been hit by a truck, probably a few hours earlier near dawn. I all my decades hiking the back woods of the West I have only seen one living cougar, which is not to say there haven't been more than a few who have seen me.
Heart 0 Comment 0

After striking out in Washington, I found a gas canister for my new fire season safe isopropane stove in Langley, at the Canadian Tire – of course.  I am most happy to report that Canada 1 is virtually free of never ending truck tire detritus that gave me thirteen flats on the interstates during my Coal Train Tour the year before, but I did manage to find a large construction staple for the first flat of the trip.

It was an on and off mist and drizzle all the way to Hope, but the heavy rain held off until I turned in for the night.

Hope seems to be  the chainsaw art center of BC.

Hope, British Columbia
Heart 0 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Sgt. Preston and his dog King were part of my childhood dreams of north country adventures.

Heart 0 Comment 0

Saskon Indian restaurant clean, friendly, so-so food - 2 stars .

City Center Motel was clean and recently renovated perhaps Chinese-Canadian owned in that there was decent green tea along with the coffee in my room.  3. Stars


And then there is the rest of the story concerning the "reclamation" of Lake Sumas.  In the 90s I represented the University of Washington at a Northwest history conference at the Western State University in Bellingham, WA.  The Pacific Northwest is commonly defined as the historical reach of the Pacific salmon runs. So there were representatives from Northern California to Alaska and east to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and British Columbia inland to the Rocky Mountains.

A young Sumas First Nation woman presented the first reading of her dissertation on Lake Sumas and her people who had lived on, by and from the lake for thousands of years before it was “reclaimed” for western agriculture.  Where the European settlers saw a mosquito infested bog producing little to no value, the Sumas saw the Great Spirit providing sustenance while filling every need of not only the people but those of nature like the salmon fry needing still water to rest and strengthen before entering the sea at the mouth of the Fraser River.  The draining and filling in of Lake Sumas represented the death of a culture. A trail of tears.

If you visit Vancouver or Victoria and come upon a group of First Nation people sitting idly on the sidewalks perhaps nursing a bottle of beer or wine, think of Lake Sumas.

Again in my re-posting of this journal I've lost the photo of the plague whitewashing the destruction of Lake Sumas. Here is a Wikipedia look at the lake circa 1923, common source.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 92 km (57 miles)
Total: 142 km (88 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 2
Comment on this entry Comment 0