Hell’s Gate

“A Place where no human being should venture – for surely we have encountered the gates of hell” (Simon Fraser, 1808).

Last weekend we linked up with Lorne and Maree for a day tour of the mighty Fraser River. The Fraser is the longest river in B.C. flowing through the Rocky Mts all the way into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver. We connected with the Fraser at Abbotsford along it’s fertile flood plain. Lorne provided a running commentary from his intimate knowledge of the region – having been raised in Mission across the river from Abbotsford on the Fraser’s northern bank.

We heard about the disastrous flood of 1948 when Lorne and his family were among thousands evacuated due to days of hot weather hastening the melting of the mountain snow.

We learned about the importance of the river to the region. Its waters supply the pulp mills and dams and create hydro electric power. Its fertile banks support diverse farming from dairy and poultry to crops including corn, mushrooms and a range of delicious berries. The latter proliferate here in British Columbia!

The highlight of the trip, however, was heading north into the mountains and upper reaches of the river. Here in the Fraser Canyon, the river reaches its narrowest point squeezing into the thundering passage known as “Hells Gate”. Encountered by explorer Simon Fraser, his hellish passage has been recorded for posterity in his journal. Today exactly 200 years on, we travel over the treacherous waters in the relative comfort of the Hell’s Gate Airtram!

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