Every year at this time a group of energetic young people paddle past McBride in a 34 foot (10 m.) canoe in the first leg of their 1,400 km (870 mile) journey down the Fraser River. They are part of a program called the “SSLP” or Sustainable Living Leadership Program, sponsored by the RIvershed Society of BC. Along the way, they learn about local ecosystems and environmental concerns, as they meet with local residents, and make their nightly camps in rain forests, deserts, and grasslands along their way down the Fraser to Vancouver.
The group always camps at the Goat River Trail, and while there, they dedicate a day working on the trail. F.H.A., (Fraser Headwater Alliance) an environmental group I belong to, always meets them at the trail and helps direct their labors. The top photo shows Roy Howard giving the group a bit of history of the Goat River Trail, an old route used during the Barkerville gold rush. This was the first year I was part of the project, and I had myself a good day putting up a kiosk-type sign at the trail camping area.
It was reassuring to meet the university aged group, hear about the individual projects they are working on, and just enjoying their energy and optimism. Their trip sounds like a lot of fun, they sometimes sing as they paddle their giant canoe, and jump into the Fraser when they need to cool off.
I will always remember on incident that occurred near Dunster during the trip two years ago. As they paddled, someone saw or heard something along the bank of the river. When they investigated, they discovered the head of a dog, at the shore, sticking out of the mud. The dog was still alive, but it was slowly sinking deeper and deeper at the edge of the river, and the water was already lapping around its mouth as it struggled to breathe.
The dog was extremely fortunate, for if they had not happened down the river at that time, it would have drowned. Luckily, they had a shovel, but it still took a lot of hard digging through the hardening mud. The dog’s legs were tightly packed in the mud, but they eventually were able to free it and get it to a vet where it was later returned to its owners. The dog had been missing for two days.
You can can read about SLLP and see photos taken from the group’s earlier trips at:
See my paintings at: www.davidmarchant.ca