Today is the last stretch of really remote driving. From Stewart it’s only a 220km trip down the remaining section of the Cassiar Highway to join the Yellowhead Highway, which joins the port of Prince Rupert to Prince George and on across to Edmonton.
Stewart has been a very interesting stop. It does feel like a town with no purpose, but also one with a real sense of community. Pretty much every person, young or old, that I passed in the street greeted me. My hosts at House Austria, Martin and Angelika, had moved permanently from Austria only 3 years ago, after falling in love with Stewart on holiday trips. Martin is an enthusiastic proponent of the virtues of the town and the area, and says that there has been a small influx of outsiders like them in the last decade.
The town has three schools, but two of them are closed and mothballed. This is the remaining one – Bear Valley School – which caters for all ages in two classes. The building also houses the public library. I have to admire the tenacity of the community.
Bear Valley has a haunting nature. It’s a place I would like to visit again, though if pressed I might not find it easy to explain the attraction. These two pictures sort of sum it up – and it’s striking that the town itself (which is the background to the first shot) is not the significant feature.
Heading up the valley, it’s evident that flood precautions are elaborate. In the shot above you can see constructed banks to channel flood water under a bridge. And then I notice that power line poles are all embedded in huge stone piles.
All because of the water that can come from this beauty at the top of the valley, just metres from the watershed that would send water in the opposite direction. I spent quite a lot of time just staring at the glacier; it has a strange hypnotic quality. It’s almost as if one can sense the very slow movement and the immense power locked away by the chance of temperature.
As I get on to the Yellowhead Highway, the road gets wider and busier, the views slightly more expansive and distant.