We are up early in Ginglox and say our goodbyes to Lavina. It has been a wonderful and emotional visit to a place that I only knew of in stories. But now 3 generations have experienced what the other 3 had loved. Mission accomplished.
As we head out on the 28km Kincolith Highway extension some locals advise us that there is a large grizzly hanging around and to be careful. We have not seen any bears while we have been here but about 6 grizzlies had been seen around the creek area the day before. The large hole that Sean said was dug by a grizzly; well he was right again! The eagles are flying overhead in a way that seems almost to be protective. I had seen about 12 of them overhead at the creek yesterday and think maybe just maybe they were keeping an eye on us.
Our first stop is the Lava beds. This bed is from Canada's most recent volcanic eruption in and around 1780. The site we have stopped at is called the Dedication Site which honours the 2000+ Nisga'a people that perished from the gases. About 1/3 of the population of the area. We all tumble out of the car each with our own mission: Hannah is in bare feet and is able to stand on the lichen bed path and not damage the delicate covering, Oliver is loving the formations of driftwood. There are not many places in Canada that you can experience a lava bed like this and we all consider ourselves very fortunate to have access to this site.
At this point our travel expertise fails us.The painted sign and finger says Canyon City but the village has been renamed and we question each other what this site might be. This is actually the village of Gitwinksihlkw where the suspension bridge over the Nass river is. There has been a suspension bridge there for 400 years and we have missed it. We all agree that this is just a sign that we must come back a little wiser next time.
Our next stop is The Drowned Forest. I had spotted the turquoise water when we first drove in but had never heard of the site. I wanted to check it out on the way back. This turned out to be an overwhelming phenomenally beautiful experience. Often, due to light, I have to filter my photo's to bring them back to the way we experience the view but not here. Every photo we take is perfect. It is hard to find information on this site but with a few local inquires I am told that when the volcano erupted the lava flowed through the river creating this effect.
To see it from the highway it looks like a turquoise swamp but it is moving water. The closest I can describe it is a Nisga'a Venice as the waterways are like canals. I think it would be amazing to see from above.
As we head down the highway we have time for one more stop: Rosswood. This very tiny community has a general store that everyone would love. We have stopped for provisions but buy way more than that. Each one of us have our arms full of goodies. It is a Sue's Paradise.
As we approach Terrace and our adventure is over, it is time for me to reflect on this amazing Nishga'a Nation. Their food, culture, arts, sports, entrepreneurship and innovation. It is any wonder a man like my father was drawn to this Nation and would stand beside them with their quest for a Treaty. In return, they recognized him with their highest honour: Honourary chief of the Killer whale tribe. His name was Alaysim taa.
Tips for Travel
Plan your trip don't be in a rush
Talk to the locals
Bring your fruits and veg
Try the local food
We have arrived in Gingolx. The twisting road that brought us here has diminished the appetite of some of our group of 5. But the first thing we see is a Seafood restaurant, "U" Seefood "U" Eat It! but our host is cooking dinner so we save our appetite. The sense of peace and isolation is immediate and welcome.
Our next observation is the sign Giver of Scalps. The history of this village is of warriors. Wikipedia says "The name Gingolx comes from the Nisga'a language words meaning "scalp givers." Gin means "to give" and golx means "scalps" When attacked by another nation or when the land was intruded, the people of Gingolx fought back and won. They hung their enemies' scalps on sticks, lining them up along the river as a warning." But today the people of Gingolx welcomes tourists to their village in many ways and none involve a haircut.
My first impression of the people of Gingolx is their entrepreneurship. There are little businesses everywhere.
Our first stop is The Lodge Coffee House. I have been following this cafe on Facebook for a few weeks as they have just opened. When we go in it is all new and busy with locals and tourists. We are all impressed with the beautiful baking done locally for sale and it is all priced so reasonably! Once again, you feel welcome. I chatted with the Baristas and found out where our B&B is located.
There are only two streets running parallel to each other here, Broad street which is where the cafe is and Waterfront street where our B&B is. So it is not going to be hard to find. I am getting very excited to see our host. Lavinia Clayton and her family have been our family friends for close to a century. Nelson Clayton was a dear friend of my father and their children Daisy, Darla, Abby, Ernie and Nadine were my playmates when we all lived at North Pacific Cannery. Today Lavinia and her family run a very successful B&B and we are staying here for 2 nights.
Lavinia has a beautiful home with flowers tumbling from the multiple decks. When we arrive, there are guests and children on the porch. With the help of social media I recognize my friend Darla's granddaughter right away. It is a tearful reunion as so much has changed in our lives and Lavinia and I get down to catching up.
The only thing on our little Oliver's mind is fishing and when is it going to begin. He is not the only one, as this is the reason a lot of tourists come here. The focus is Chinook Salmon in the river along the village.
We all sit down for a wonderful dinner we are joined by two other guests for a feast of crab, salmon and corn . This, my friend, is the life! There is so much that there is leftovers.
Our evening is spent on the river under the bridge and yes, Oliver, my niece Nicole's son, has the gift of his great grandfather and catches a fish, a wee rainbow trout, but we have already eaten, so it is released to grow larger for another day.
Our next day we head out to the creek where the locals go. The salmon are jumping and they are big! Oliver is the only one with a rod so we all work for him. Some catch minnows, while others bait the hook with the fish eggs. The fish are amazing I have never seen so many jumpers.
The evening comes and as Sean and I go for a walk, I now know why my father loved this place. The beauty is awe inspiring. My photos don't even need filters the light is perfect. The smell of the water is in the air and that is it.
This community has just got their first water treatment plant which puts them far ahead of Victoria and Prince Rupert! One of the first question I asked Lavinia was "Can I drink the water?" I asked this everywhere I go because it can be a issue. Turns out the water in Gingolx is the world's best and the communities in the area compete to take the title. So turn on the tap in Gingolx and enjoy!
On our stroll through the village we stop in at the huge sports complex. It would take me an entire blog to tell you about the All Native Basketball Tournament. This is the largest indigenous cultural event in Canada. The tournament takes place in Prince Rupert and sees up to 4000 participants and generates up to $4-5 million for the city's. So when I walk down to see the new building that houses the NBA size court 1 of only 3 in B.C it is impressive.
Our final stop is the church built in 1879 it is a massive structure. Now its off to bed for tomorrow will bring even more adventure.
It never fails, the best things in life are sometimes right in our own backyard. I grew up in Prince Rupert hearing stories about Kincolith, Greenville, and New Aiyansh from my dad. The only way to get to these spots back in the 60's & 70's was by boat. I would never make it out of Prince Rupert harbour without throwing up so I was left behind when my sister went up with my dad to visit. But now it is 2019 and there is a road.
This year my oldest daughter moved to Prince Rupert so I seized the opportunity to take the family on a bit of a pilgrimage.
We set off from Prince Rupert and headed to Terrace along the Skeena River for 139 kms. Once in Terrace you head up Nisga'a highway #113. As we drive along the highway the names of the villages are in the Nisga'a language so I am not prepared. We stop at the campground as there is a sign that states there is a visitors center there. But it is closed on Tuesday and today is Tuesday, luckily though Chris Moorman, who works for the village as a craftsman is there. He is working on a new carving shed on site so we chat with him. He tells us he just finished adding two more hot tubs up at the hot springs as well as building the walkway with just his chainsaw, and to make sure that we go. We get a pamphlet from him about the Auto Tour and gain a better understanding of the names of the villages we want to go to. We want Gingolx (Kincolith), Laxgalts’ap (Greenville) and Aiyansh.
We find the hot springs easily and head in on the new boardwalk. It is easy to access and is well maintained. The whole walk takes no more then 6 minutes. The air is scented with sulfur and we know we have arrived. There are two changes rooms at this level and a few more that are a bit of a climb. There are no outdoor toilets here, just at the entrance.There are two California style cedar tubs that are very new, each with a hose from the stream that can add cool water at your convenience depending on how hot you want the water. The water was VERY hot when we were there.
The original concrete shallow tub location is still there. The bugs are surprisingly not bad! We are here at the end of July and find the area empty.
Back on the road we head to Laxgalts’ap where I know there is a museum about the area and the Nisga'a culture.
The building is beautiful with over 300 priceless artifacts — one of the finest collections in the Northwest Coast and the world. "Hli Goothl Wilp-Adokshl Nisga’a (Nisga’a Museum) is a “Class A” museum — with a design inspired by traditional Nisga’a feast dishes, longhouses and canoes. The museum houses cultural treasures acquired in the 19th and early 20th centuries — our gift to each other and the world", states the brochure.
Once we are done exploring we are desperate for more to drink and head over to Grizzly Dan's. This is a new business that has just opened in Laxgalts'ap. They plan to have several RV sites a gas station and a store. As a tourist I often find myself paying huge amounts for things like bottles water and soda pop. So when I popped in to Grizzly Dan's I figured I would be paying a few dollars for a can of soda. But no I was pleasantly surprised, just $1. I can't remember the last time I paid a dollar for a can of pop.
Then off we go up Grizzly hill. I sense that Grizzlies might be a thing here! This is quite the drive. Several of the hills are 17% it is windy, our 16 yr old and our 6 year old passengers are not feeling well. It is a 30km drive to Gingolx but for the kids it feels like a 100kms! We finally arrive in Gingolx aka Kincolith its a beautiful day and we are hungry.
Here are some helpful links: