Canada 41, 15th September 2006

In the morning I had visitors. They looked somewhat menacing so I locked the doors and got out of there at high speed.

I then took a diversion of about 100 miles just to see the Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump. Wow! How could I miss a place with a name like that?

It's a very simple idea. You get behind some Buffalo, get them running so that they run over a cliff and die in the fall. It actually took rather a lot of organisation and people to keep them going the right way. Well, right way for us, wrong way for them. It's quite important that the ground should rise a little before the cliff, so that the buffalo can't see that there is a cliff and that they should be running so fast they can't stop.

Archeologigical evidence shows the site was used for 7,000 years. Now that's a long time by any form of people measure.

We are told a young Indian wanted to watch the fall from behind, rather like you can sometimes go behind a waterfall. But there were so many buffalo he was killed by all the falling bodies, and was later found with his head smashed in. I myself think it's just a tale told to support such an interesting name.

There was one period of 1000 years when the site was not used, it's not known why.

I retraced my steps 50 miles and stopped by a waterfall.

I talked briefly with a man with a Texas plate on his car, there are not many of us up here. He said it got to 44 degrees in Dallas, he couldn't stand it, so 2 weeks ago left to head north.

I took a side road, and then another, then pulled off and parked next to a field gate. Fortunate I chose to park next to the gate. Around 9 pm, in the dark, a truck went into the field, loaded up with straw bales, and left. Rain is forecast for tomorrow, maybe he wants to get the bales under cover.

The first village I passed in the morning had a free RV park. There's not many around, I wish it was easy to find out where they are. I usually find them first thing in the morning, almost never when I am looking for them.

The next village offered underground visits to a coal mine. I would have been first in the queue except they were closed for the season.

Then I went to the Frank Slide Interpretative Centre. This just a rock slide, but on a large scale. In 1903 a rather large part of the top of a mountain crashed down into the valley. 90 million tons of rock. I cannot imagine 90 million tons of rock. Nor, actually, can I imagine how someone could be so precise with the amount! Why not 80, or 100 million tons?

But to get some idea, there is a bump centre left on the photo below. Originally the mountain carried on up from there to a peak further to the left. It's all gone.

The slide continued for about only 100 seconds. It reached a speed of 80 mph and finished up covering an area of over a square mile with rock up to 100 ft deep. It flowed like a river.

Some of the rocks are as big as houses.

I went to a little museum further up the valley. It was nice. They had a display of photographs I wish I'd taken this one.

There was a forecast for snow so I climbed near the top of the Crowsnest pass and took off up a small lane, and parked next to a bubbling stream. By now it was raining, so it probably wasn't going to snow. The local radio forecast was now saying 20 to 25 mm of rain and during the night it rained heavily.

In the morning I checked to see if my bubbling stream had turned into a raging torrent but it was unchanged. This was my route back to civilisation.

Just when I started the engine I noticed I startled a large animal which moved away rapidly but apart from catching a glimpse of dark brown I couldn't tell what it was. Offhand I can only think of grizzlies that are that colour brown. Hmmm.

This was the view that greeted me when I emerged from the wood.

So it had been snowing, maybe 1000 ft higher up then me.

It kept on raining. I looked at the World's biggest truck at Sparwood, it can carry 350 tons and was used in the local opencast coal mine. My photo did not do it justice but it looked just like the one I photographed near Vancouver, which was a tad smaller, carrying only (only!) 250 tons. I looked at some pretty uninteresting murals on the walls of buildings - those in Vernon were much better - but I only found about half due to having probably the world's worst location map to guide me.

In Fernie I looked at the museum. Best thing I can say about it is that it was free. But the people were friendly.

It was still raining. I reached the US border. Did I have any beef I was asked, it's not permitted. Darn! I had been thawing out that steak since morning, ready for dinner tonight! I lost that, plus another 3 steaks from the freezer.

A few searching questions later and I was back in the USA.

I pulled off the road down a sort of track next to a creek. There was another RV parked there on the bank and before I had got myself parked the driver of the RV was around saying hello and telling me that he was going fishing in the morning, and that he would catch his allowance of 40 salmon, it would take him about an hour and half. That's one every 2 minutes I worked out. I had some difficulty in understanding what he said, it didn't seem to be a speech impediment or an accent just a strange way of speaking. Anyway he took me to the river. Now I can understand catching fish at that rate.

I'm told that they are spawning sockeye salmon, apparently they come up from the reservoir, and they only arrived yesterday. They are about 9 inches long so they are not the same as the sockeye salmon I saw in Canada, there the sea going sockeye are much larger, around 24 inches long when full grown. I actually got all this information from some fishermen who where there in the morning, there is no way I could have understood all that from the fisherman I met last night!

The view from the van was nice. You can't get this sort of unspoiled view from a hotel window.

Just a few emails ago, in my Canada 36, I showed a photo of a waterfall. Just a couple of days ago my cousin from Calgary, Martin Booth, went hiking in the area (he claimed he was just taking the dog for a walk). He took a photo of the same waterfall (the Takakkaw Falls) but from much higher up. It shows the glacier behind and I think it's a photo worth sharing.

Best regards

David Barker
On the road in Montana

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