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
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: