Counting Chinook 2

A view of the future in the Clore Valley near Terrace

THE WAY I heard it, a couple of Gordie Doll’s friends had been playing cards with the old trapper when the wind outside began to bend the trees. Gordie’s acquaintances decided to drink up and head back to Terrace before trees started to fall across their road out. When they returned several days later they found an old hemlock had split the cabin in two and that their friend was pinned underneath it. Gordie survived, but the accident hastened the end of his career, and probably the end of his life.

As we pass the remains, Oona sticks her head inside. I call her away.

Jim wants to have a look at how the construction of the Pacific Trails pipeline is progressing. We drive up the valley past sprawling, greening clear cuts. At the highest part of the road we get an expansive view of the Clore Valley. The far side of the river shows some signs of ancient fires but otherwise it is heavily treed. Directly across from us, surrounded by old forest, is a large slide. There are avalanche chutes but this isn’t one. It’s one of those places in the Copper River drainage where the land has given way for no immediately apparent reason.

When he’s taken a picture of the slide and climbed back into the truck, I ask Jim to picture what might have happened had a pair of pipe lines carrying condensate one way and bitumen the other been built on that side of the valley.  The question is rhetorical. I know that it’s not hard for Jim to imagine the devastation, for he and I have seen the effects of the 1978 flood, the disaster that left shards of yellow gas pipe and culverts three feet in diameter strewn about the valley where they still lie today. We also fished the river the day before the top broke off a mountain at the back end of the creek that powers Glenn Falls then sent a rock slide carrying boulders a big as houses down the precipitous, narrow creek ultimately blocking the Zymoetz for months; and, we fished it after that cataclysm, astounded by the wreckage. We have seen the Telkwa and Copper passes –  looked down upon them from helicopters and up their jagged walls to their craggy peaks from the valley bottoms. From both perspectives we have seen the treacherous and unstable slopes that, according to scientists, can only become more volatile as the earth warms.

We drive on and up. Sporadic chatter comes from the radio. At what turns out to be the highest part of the road we meet a large work truck. There is room to pass, but not much. As we do, I catch the eye of the driver. Something in our shared glance prompts us to stop and roll down our windows.

Working on the pipeline?

Working for the pipeline people, says the man. He’s maybe 40, maybe a few years younger.

Are they going to build a work camp up here? Jim asks.

Jeez, I don’t know, replies the man.

You from the East Coast? I ask.

Been in Alberta a long time, but from Nova Scotia a long time before that.

You can hear it, I say.

He laughs.

It would be a shame to build a big camp up here, says Jim. Could be hundreds of men here. You’d have to have trailers and infrastructure.

You’d avoid trips on this road though. I blew a tire. Cost me a thousand bucks.

Jim and I commiserate with the guy, wish him all the best, then we drive on until we see an ATCO trailer. We get out to investigate. Oona gets out to sniff. A young woman comes out of the trailer to greet us. I tell her we don’t see many pretty young woman this far in the bush. She smiles then tells us that we need a safety talk and hard hat if we want to go on. We tell her we’re just tourists who’ve come up the valley to count salmon and see how much has been done on the pipeline.

Do you know if they’re going to build a work camp? asks Jim.

The plans seem to change all the time, says the young woman.

I suggest that, in the end, the company will probably just transport their workers to the site in the same way that the forest companies did when they logged the valley.

Some of the men who logged here are back working for the pipeline, comments the young woman.

You live in Terrace? I ask.

Yes, she says.

What’s your name?

Christine, she says, Christine Leclerc.

Any relation to Carol?

That’s my mom.

My wife works for the same outfit as your mom, I say. Small world.

We say goodbye to Christine and drive down the valley toward town. With the sun lower, shadows dapple the hillsides.

We agree that the creek needs to fall six inches before we can count salmon effectively. And, we agree to give it a few days to week then try again.

 

 

Just Posted

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Most Read