The Yellowhead Highway or Hwy 16 is the main artery from coastal Prince Rupert to central Prince George. Known locally as the Highway of Tears for its haunting past. Over the past number of years many local, predominantly native women have disappeared while hitch hiking along the road. Its hard to put into words the eerie feeling you get, there’s a tangible cloud of tragedy or loss that hangs in the air. Its pretty striking the number of memorials and crosses dotted along the roadside.
An array of huge mountains towering to the south welcomes you onto the Yellowhead, the Rocher Déboulé Range. The largest of which is …. Brian Boru Peak. I did a double take at the map, but sure enough there it was. A mountain in central British Columbia named after the most notorious High King of Ireland and like myself a Clareman.
Its big farm country here. I’m noticing for the first time isolated farm houses and fencing around fields, not the norm up until this point. Huge logging trucks roll by, a couple every hour. Massive machinery is transported north for mining operations on the Cassiar and further north. Industry is booming and that’s very evident. On through the Hazeltons and towards Smithers where I stayed for a few days. It’s a picturesque place with a smart, rustic downtown. Really liked this little town. I stayed with a doctor who is about the leave the profession and embark on a bike adventure of his own which will last a couple of years. We connected via the bike touring equivalent of couchsurfing.com.
Prince George, what can I say. Industry pumps a layer of pollution which sits just above the city clearly visible from my approach. Not much in the way of cafes or bars, its a busy town where people in their spare time seem to prefer an escape to the country. Stayed with my buddy Sean, I was glad of the comforts of home for a few days. The route out of town is the Cariboo Hwy, a straight shot from Prince George to Cache Creek.
From here down its all about big highways and big trucks, not conducive or designed for riding a bike and the wildlife is noticeable by its absence. This stretch of the trip is one which is very much touched by the industrial arm of humans. Next is the Sea to Sky Highway where I’ll welcome narrow roads, significantly less traffic and the route to Vancouver …. nearing the end.