Project Description

FAMILY

COASTAL

WILDLIFE

NATURE

Highlights: Scenic flight over Coast Mountains / Kitselas Canyon picnic / Gitksan feast and ceremony / Organic gardening lessons / picking berries & making jams / smoking and jarring salmon / trail hikes – wild foods & medicine foraging / drum making & cedar bark basketry / Energy & Water conservation practices in camp / tour of totem poles at Kitwnaga village / Battle Hill National Historic Site / salmon netting at Morice Falls / hiking Twin Falls / swimming & picnic at Ross Lake / Ksaan cultural village tour and Old Hazelton / historic gold rush towns / grizzly bear viewing at Fish Creek & Salmon Glacier

Grizzlies, Glaciers & Grandkids – 8 Days

Take a trip with the whole family, from Grandparents to Grandkids.  The natural beauty and rich cultural of the Pacific Northwest is the perfect setting to bring generations together for an unforgettable travel experience.  It would be hard to pack more adventure, wildlife viewing and cross-cultural experiences into an eight day program than this.  Families taking part in our Grizzlies, Glaciers & Grandkids travel adventure will fly above the spectacular Coast Range of British Columbia during transport from Vancouver to norther B.C. and return.  Within minutes of landing they will be welcomed into a local community and learning about the native history of this land.

You can witness native fishermen gaffing salmon at waterfalls using techniques that have changed little in 10,000 years.Visiting native villages, you will discover the world’s oldest totem poles and the descendants of the masterful native carvers that crafted them.  Families will have opportunities to catch, clean and smoke their own fish following time-honored and harvest garden fresh vegetables and berries at the ‘off the grid’ Soaring Spirits camp, learning how to live off of the land and become a sustainable citizen.

Heading north to Alaska, we visit one of the best viewing locations in the world for safely watching grizzly bears feeding on salmon, and we learn lessons in glacial geology by hiking to the base of one of North America’s largest glacials fields.  If there’s a better way to experience the wonder and majesty of this Great Land, we’ve yet to hear about it.

Highlights: Scenic flight over Coast Mountains / Kitselas Canyon picnic / Gitksan feast and ceremony

  • Grandparents & grandchildren depart Vancouver International Airport on a morning flight, arriving in Terrace before noon.
  • After a spectacular flight over British Columbia’s Coast Mountain Range, the largest granite complex in the world, we will share in a welcome picnic at Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, just 15 minutes from the airport.
  • Here we will learn about the fascinating history of the Tsimshian peoples who occupied this canyon for over 6,000 years and received trade items in toll payments from other tribes wishing to pass through the canyon on dugout canoe journeys up and down the Skeena River. Ancient petroglyphs, abandoned dug out cedar canoes and totem poles displaying the heraldic crests of their owners will all be part of this initial cultural immersion experience.
  • After our picnic lunch we continue our drive 30 minutes North to Soaring Spirits Camp in the shadow of the nine thousand foot Seven Sisters Mountains. We have now entered the traditional territories of the Gitsan – the People of The Ksan (Skeena River).
  • After a tour of the beautiful 175-acre camp along the banks of the Skeena River, everyone will check into large canvas wall tents on cedar platforms then head to the dining hall for a traditional Gitksan welcome feast.
  • Following the feast, Gitksan Chiefs (together with grandchildren of their own) will formally welcome the group to their territory in an opening ceremony at the camp Council Fire.

Overnight: Soaring Spirits Camp

Highlights: Organic gardening lessons / picking berries & making jams / smoking and jarring salmon / trail hikes – wild foods & medicine foraging / drum making & cedar bark basketry

  • After a wholesome organic breakfast from the camp’s garden and hen house, everyone can help with a few simple camp chores before starting a full morning lesson in organic gardening, food foraging and smoking salmon. Site selection, soil type, use of crop covers, composting, mulching, weeding, companion planting, crop rotation and natural means of protecting crops without the use of insecticides or herbicides will be part of the gardening lessons.
  • Grandchildren will learn about the native origins of crops that make up the garden as well as how to identify and harvest different crops. Berry picking, making jams, as well as cleaning, smoking and jarring salmon will be part of the afternoon lessons. (Everyone will be able to take home half pint jars of the jams and salmon they jar.)
  • We will hike forest trails this morning to learn how to identify and harvest wild foods like hazelnuts, Saskatoon berries and mushrooms as well as learn traditional medicines like pitch from Balsam fir trees for treating wounds and ‘chagga’ from Birch trees – the “Gift of the Gods” that Siberians used for centuries to ward off illnesses.  After lunch grandparents and grandchildren will work together making cedar bark baskets and deer skin drums. These projects will continue during our days in camp so that each grandchild can take home their own hand-crafted and painted drum.
  • The whole day comes together at dinner time when everyone helps prepare a meal featuring fresh organic produce from the garden and wild foods from the land.
  • After dinner chores, we gather for large group games in the field and stories around the council fire.

Overnight: Soaring Spirits Camp

Highlights: Energy & Water conservation practices in camp / tour of totem poles at Kitwnaga village / Battle Hill National Historic Site / salmon netting at Morice Falls / hiking Twin Falls / swimming & picnic at Ross Lake / Ksaan cultural village tour and Old Hazelton

  • Once again we perform a few simple camp chores this morning after breakfast. In doing so, everyone will learn how Soaring Spirits camp operates off the grid with just six solar panels and batteries, and how all toilets in camp are composting units that reduce water consumption and produce ‘humanure’ for tree fertilier.
  • With camp chores completed, we now set off with a picnic lunch to tour the traditional territories of the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en peoples.
  • Just a short drive from camp we will see some of the worlds oldest and most beautiful totem poles at Kitwanga village. Nearby we will explore Battle Hill – a National Historic Site where the Gitksan built one of the world’s most ingenious defense fortresses.
  • From Kitwanga, we drive 45-minutes East to Moricetown to view Wet’suwet’en people gaffing and netting salmon from the raging falls and rapids of the Bulkley River as their ancestors have done for countless centuries.
  • Driving east another 20-minutes brings us to Twin Falls cascading out of the rapidly receding glaciers of Hudson Bay Mountain. Here we can hike to viewpoints to see effects of global warming before our eyes.
  • Returning west, we come to Ross Lake where everyone can enjoy a swim in a beautiful lake while having an afternoon picnic.
  • Later in the afternoon we visit Old Hazelton – a quaint pioneer town that is the oldest settlement of non-natives in Northern BC, and Ksaan – a recreated Gitksan village.
  • Ksaan Cultural Village at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers is a world-class attraction offering insights into the rich complexities of Gitksan culture. A guided tour through the longhouses of this site will teach us about the potlatch system where all official business was conducted prior to government laws forbidding it.Before returning to Soaring Spirits Camp, we will stop briefly at Seeley Lake (the location of an ancient Gitksan legend) to learn how native stories are regarded as “true tellings” of historic events, increasingly backed by scientific evidence.
  • Returning to camp we will enjoy a BBQ dinner before gathering around the camp council fire to share thoughts on the day’s experiences.

Overnight: Soaring Spirits Camp

Highlights: Bush skills training – firewood splitting, bow drill fire starting, shelter making / fishing / canoeing & wildlife observation

  • Today is a day for life skills acquisition as grandchildren and grandparents learn how to start a fire with a bow drill, properly prepare a fire site, split firewood, set snares, fish for lake trout and build a bush shelter.
  • Right after breakfast we drive 40 minutes deep into the wilds to Keynton Lake Recreation Site where we will enjoy a full day of bush skills training, canoeing and observing wildlife – beaver, loons and possibly bear and moose.
  • A barbeque lunch will be prepared at the site and there will be plenty of time to swim in the lake if the weather is warm
  • Returning to Soaring Spirits Camp late in the afternoon there will be time to clean up before dinner and enjoy a Council Fire session featuring group games and stories.

Overnight: Soaring Spirits Camp

Highlights: scenic drive to Hyder, Alaska / world’s oldest totem poles at Gityanow / picnic at Mezidian Lake / exploring historic 1898 mining towns of Stewart and Hyder / Fish Creek grizzly bear viewing

  • After breakfast we pack up and set off by vehicle for a 2 hour drive north along Highway 37 to Alaska.
  • Our first stop will be Gityanow a small Gitksan village that displays some of the worlds oldest and most intricately carved totem poles.
  • Driving another hour north we arrive at the beautiful shores of Meziadin Lake for a picnic lunch and an opportunity to swim in the crystal clean (but cold) waters.
  • The final drive from here to Stewart is one of the most scenic in north America, passing Bear Glacier and ending at the head of Portland Canal – the longest fiord on the Northwest coast and the international boundary line separating Canada & USA.
  • After checking in to a local hotel, we will have time to explore an estuary by boardwalk and learn about this very important ecosystem for waterfowl, marine organisms and grazing grizzly bears.
  • Taking some time to explore the old Gold Rush town of Stewart, B.C we will then cross the border to the twin Gold Rush town of Hyder, Alaska. A short drive out of Hyder, we come to an elevated cedar walkway where we can view in safety grizzly bears that come to feed on the world’s largest chum salmon in Fish Creek.
  • There are few locations in the world offering a better observation place to study natural bear behavior in safety. We can linger here as long as we like before returning to Stewart for dinner and a good sleep.

Overnight: Ripley Creek Inn, Stewart B.C.

Highlights: Grizzly bear viewing at Fish Creek / Salmon Glacier / alpine ecology

  • After breakfast at our hotel, we set off early to Fish Creek for morning wildlife viewing. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves and beaver are all possibilities at this prime time of day, but spawning salmon, gulls, eagles and waterfowl are almost always sighted.
  • Near noon we drive a spectacularly scenic gravel road to Salmon Glacier, the largest glacier in the world accessible by vehicle. Along the way we will stop for lessons in glaciation. Everyone will see for themself what lateral, medial and terminal moraines look like as well as other glacial features like ‘horns’, ‘circues’, ‘nunataks’, ‘kettle lakes’ and ‘errants’.
  • A picnic lunch will be enjoyed while overlooking the vast sweep of the glacier before we set off on a hike to explore the unique flowering plants of the alpine.
  Here hikers will see how plants adapt to extremely harsh conditions and short growing seasons. We may also find some snowfields for a mid-summer snowball fight and some fun ‘bum-sledding’.
  • Returning down the mountain we will have one final stop at Fish Creek for wildlife viewing and an opportunity to shop for Alaskan handicrafts before crossing the border back into Canada.
  • Returning to Stewart in the early evening we can all look forward to a good dinner and a good nights sleep.

Overnight: Ripley Creek Inn, Stewart

Highlights: scenic drive / closing ceremony

  • After breakfast at our hotel, we depart Stewart and head back along the scenic highway to Soaring Spirits Camp.
  • Near the Cranberry River we may have opportunities to see black bear and kermode bear – also known as the white “spirit bear” – a genetic variation of the North American black bear found here in NW British Columbia and nowhere else.
  • Returning to Soaring Spirits Camp for a delicious home cooked lunch will feel like coming home again.
  • Everyone now helps prepare for a closing feast and ceremony to mark our last night together. Grandchildren can put finishing touches on their drum designs in preparation for drumming and singing around the Council Fire this night.
  • This evening we sit down with Gitksan chiefs and their grandchildren for a traditional feast and formally close out our adventure with gift giving, individual testimonials and drum songs in the true tradition of the Pacific Northwest Native Nations.

Overnight: Soaring Spirits Camp

Departure

  • It will be hard to say goodbye to our beautiful camp the past week. After a delicious homemade breakfast this morning we will have a short medicine wheel ceremony where each person can place a natural object in the circle and describe what it means to them in relation to their experiences and this place. Everyone then packs up for the 50-minute drive to Terrace Airport for the return flight to Vancouver and homeward connections.
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