the marriage of rivers
We’re on a little road trip, a spur-of-the-moment whim to travel into the Thompson-Nicola area for a few days. We drove up the Fraser Canyon, a route that is deeply nostalgic in all kinds of ways. Signs remind the traveller of the goldrush and the building of the Cariboo Wagon Road begun in 1860 and the highway winds past the old Alexandria Bridge, the lodge, a hundred small reminders of those times. And this was the route my family took regularly when I was a child — I recall my father announcing various places along the way (“Children, look at Jackass Mountain!” or “We’ll stop in Spences Bridge to stretch our legs” or “If you don’t talk until Boston Bar, we’ll have ice-cream…”). I loved the hot air — the Canyon is like a funnel in summer and there are wonderful archival photographs showing how the Native people used the heat and wind to air-dry salmon on racks above the river. I always hoped to see a rattlesnake but had to wait until I was an adult to see one on a road near Cache Creek. I loved the pines and the wildflowers and waking in our tent in the mornings to the smell of sage.
This is also the route John and I took on trips to the Interior with our own children so there is an added layer of nostalgia as we remember camping at Skihist, stopping for ice-cream at Boston Bar, walking a length of the old Wagon Road near Lytton. And there’s now another layer too as we stood at the Skihist picnic area and looked down to see the Thompson River racing towards it marriage with the Fraser and recalled rafting that length a few years ago with Forrest, a special gift to celebrate his successful defence of his PhD dissertation on British Columbia history. Here’s the Thompson, seen on a cold March day:
We’re looking forward to taking Brendan and Cristen on the rafting adventure this August (to celebrate their defences a few years ago and now Brendan’s appointment as a tenure-track professor of math at the University of Alberta) when I hope the water will look less forbidding than this. (Seriously, that raft trip was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done! We paddled from Spences Bridge to Lytton, swirling out at the end in the wonderful confluence where the Thompson and Fraser Rivers meet, two colours of water flowing side by side for a time, then merging…)
And here’s the little pre-1900 Nlak’pamux church at Pukhaist which I’ve looked at in its isolation below the talus slope as long as I can remember. My father pointed it out when I was a child and I pointed it out to my children and I hope it will still be there in years to come so I can show it to my grandchildren…