crushed underfoot, of damp peatbog and scraped alder roots. The hike had also given me the opportunity to see many familiar friends - birds, plants and animals - flourishing far from the familiar river environment where I was used to seeing them. It was like discovering a whole world, lying behind the one I had knew before.
After leaving the Twitya, two long days of hiking carried us up the boulder strewn valley of Trout Creek and over Devil’s Pass. Beyond this high ground, tucked in an alpine valley under the flank of Mt. Eduni, lay the abandoned works of Pumphouse #4, the halfway point of our journey. In nine days, we had come over two hundred kilometers (120 miles) from the road head. The same distance lay ahead. Looking down from the pass, we could see two large red roofed buildings surrounded by a small village of dilapidated shacks and Quonset huts. A scattered fleet of graders and jeeps sat rusting outside, CANOL still emblazoned in bright yellow paint on their doors. We noticed a small swastika brazed by hand on a grader’s blade, a stark reminder of the reality facing workers on the project fifty years earlier. Most of the buildings were in shambles. The pumphouse appeared as if it had been abandoned in a mad rush, the offices overturned and papers strewn about the floor. Ferg and I poked through the sodden remains, finding records of equipment requisitions, labour allocation, and daily flow rates for the crude. Tucked amidst an array of collapsed huts, one Quonset was in excellent condition. We were obviously the first visitors in sometime, as the interior was littered with the mess of marauding rodents, but after sweeping, the hut took on a distinctly homey feel. A handmade sign posted above the potbelly stove declared it ‘The Canol Hilton.’
There was a log book, started in 1995, but only thirty entries existed, and many of those were scribed messages had arrived by plane and helicopter. Obviously few people passed this way. As with every shelter we entered, the walls were littered with graffiti, a record of the human visitation since the 60’s. Over the course of our travels we had been able to follow the progress of a snowmobile expedition that traversed the range during winter, and an astounding 1983 expedition that rode the entire length of the trail on three wheelers, carrying rafts to cross the rivers. Standing out starkly from the comments left by fellow