ALASKA  ADVENTURE

Leg 2

Seattle  ->  into Canada

Across the Border

 

Seattle kept us captive for two nights giving us a chance to slow down even further. We spent the day relaxing, strolling to the cinema while picking blackberries from the roadside bushes. K19, by Harrison Ford as a submariner was our choice and twice we visited the KEG restaurant, the only decent food place in the area. Since the Hilton did not have the restaurant open over the weekend we took advantage of their shuttle service. 

Seattle Skyline on Departure

By Monday morning the weather looked promising enough to make a GO decision. As it was an international flight we had to file a flight plan and the customs officer was asked to check us at 1300 in Abbotsford, a town about 30 miles east of Vancouver. Taking off on the same runway we had landed 48 hours earlier, but this time we had the pleasure to see and enjoy the entire skyline of Seattle returning those seaplane memories of a few years ago.

 

Avoiding the larger airfields up north and some prohibited areas we motored along the coast, checked in with the military base at Whidbey Island and later Bellingham, the last larger airport before the border.  Canadian Customs at AbbotsfordFifty minutes after take off we arrived at Abbotsford and were greeted by a controller with a rather distinct British accent. Five minutes before 1300 we parked at the area designated as CUSTOMS and barely had shut down the engine that the customs officer with her briefcase arrived. Give me one minute to set up the office was her kind greeting. Joan punched the timer and when the 59th second was over we stepped onto Canadian soil and went to her office.

The formalities were short and uncomplicated. We received another stack of advice more "does and don'ts" and the ceremony was over. At the weather briefer next door in the red brick building we received a very comprehensive explanation of the weather on our next leg to the "108 Mile House." We were warned of considerable turbulence in the Fraser River Valley and the possibility of clouds boxing us in. This Valley was a stretch of more than 60 miles where the river has cut a deep V-shaped valley between now 6000 ft. mountains. Pilot reports indicated that the passage should be doable and turbulence not extreme. 


Fraser Valley to the North We were determined to move on and the weather did not look too bad at Abbotsford (CYXX) so we filed a flight plan and promised to make our periodic position reports. The sun had broken through the clouds and we happily took off in easterly direction. Following the meandering wide Fraser River we soon faced a wall of mountains covered by a layer of clouds, flat at the bottom and towering above. The river, our guide disappeared into a dark valley cut into the mountain range. Luckily the bottom of the overcast was at about 6000 ft. leaving us a good distance to the bottom. Next to the blue/brown band of the river we observed the lightly colored band of the road and the dark railroad tracks making their way to the North. There were cars on the road, so we were not alone. In contrast to what we were told there was no turbulence and the cloud cover was supported by the mountain peaks on either side permitting safe passage. An aircraft passed us in the opposite direction, another sign of all clear! Half an hour later we found the turnoff, like a side door out of a corridor that l led us out onto the large interior plateau with Kamloops at the southeastern end. We did our reporting and continued across the plain with rolling hills of forests. Everywhere there were signs that this is the place of the timber industry. 

Plateau up to 108 mile As the terrain rose  the gap between clouds and the ground became narrower. Cells of rain showers were scattered all over. It was not critical, however we could not escape an occasional splash on the windscreen. The engine kept on purring happily and blew all the droplets away so we could easily follow the road. It was a beautiful sight across the wet countryside, littered with lakes, swamps, little serpents of streams and forests as far as you could see. An occasional settlement or town, usually next to a timber mill glided past. Finally our GPS indicated that we should look out for our destination airport at "108 Mile" (CZML). The 4800 ft. runway was easy to spot, to find the windsock was a little harder. Two hours after departure the wheels touched ground again.

 

Ueli Securing the Plane As we intended to stay a few days nearby we pushed N85S to the edge of the hard surface and secured it with the pegs we had brought along. Those steel pegs 40 cm long resisted the heavy pounding with our ax and slid slowly into the heavy ground. Unloading some of our luggage and covering the windows was like putting our Centurion to bed. No formality with the local mechanic. He informed us, however that we should consider buying gas since their price was 0.99 Can$/liter (2.36 US$/USgal). The flight plan had been closed in the air with the FSS at Williams Lake.

 

Joan enjoying the CanoeWe intended to spend a few days at the Ten-ee-ah Lodge (near Lac la Hache) and if possible do some float plane flying. The lodge is at the side of a nice lake, about 10 km. long and it can be accessed by road or float plane. Henry, whom we have met at a Swiss Seaplane Association meeting had invited us to come there and check out his operation. In the morning we had informed him by phone that we would arrive some time in the afternoon and making our calls on approaching "108 Mile" he had picked up our transmission and hopped over with the Beaver on amphibs to pick us up. A 15 minute flight later we splashed down amid a flat of water lilies and checked in at a nice log cabin. To our disappointment, weather forbid us the pleasure of floatplane flying.  On the other hand, we had the luxury of more sleep, hiking, canoeing and wildlife spectating, not to leave out the wonderful dining each evening. Among the selection was caribou steaks which melted on our tongues, a succulent pig roast and freshly caught trout from the lake. All of this with fine wine of the region (Kamloops area).

 

Morning Mist at Ten-ee-ahHow could anyone possibly complain? We were rested and delighted with our wonderful stay. For all of you who ever dreamed of getting a floatplane rating, this jewel of a place offers you the possibility of doing not only this, but bringing the family along to enjoy outdoor activities with horseback riding, fishing, canoeing, hiking, etc. Now we were ready for the next leg of our adventure to meet up with the "FlyNorth" group in Springhouse. 

 

 

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This page was serviced last on  12. July 2008