Celebrating salmon

Learning about a magical fish at the Salmon in the Canyon Festival.

Credit: Felex

Leon Creek, August 21

We left on our rafts from Leon Creek this morning. A huge wave crashed over me as I was asking Glenda how to spell her name. We discussed population growth. Where do you put 1 million people? We would hit a set of rapids, duck and cover and then continue the discussion. At lunch Fin, Allison, Kayla and I did our push up pyramid up to 7. We read an article on peak oil and then went through the biggest rapids ever!! 20 ft from troff to crest! I held on like cowboys keep their grip on a bull. I think I smooshed Trevor a bit. Sorry Trevor.

After lunch our group walked around the Bridge Creek rapids. Both sides of the River have blue tarps with drying rack beneath them. We learn later they are two different bands from the same nation. There are two huge cement fish ladders on the River right. Our guides took the raft and out gear through the rapids. Shane glided a practiced dance with the rapid. Simon was a little nervous, first time and all. He got a little stuck exactly where he didn’t want to but he came out. Kaley’s family greeted us. We headed back on the raft where Shane and Simon rendezvous’d with us downstream. Quickly, we rafted down to the campground under the Lillooet bridge. The campground was hosting the Salmon in the Canyon Festival. We began touring the booths.

The spring salmon come when the sage and buttercup bloom. We watched a lady cut the fish for tswan, frozen, not fresh sockeye. The sockeye did not come home in the great numbers the people were expecting to greet. Shave pieces off till it is the right thickness. Don’t cut down too far and break the skin. It is the hot wind and not the sun that dehydrates. Can be flavoured with salt. When you pull a piece off and are eating it, your fingers get fish oil on them.

There was a display on sea lice. They had a map displaying the locations of the fish farms on BC’s coastline and a petition to get the fish farms out of the water. The wind gusted so I went to find a few more rocks to hold down the things that kept blowing away from the presenters table. There was a display set up for the migration patterns of deer. Females were tagged with remote sensors because the males necks would enlarge too much. They presented a map showing the northern deer to have traveled much further in the spring and fall than the deer in the south. In the winter and summer the northern and southern deer do not move much so there was a cluster of GPS of spots, with the transmission of points even being reduced from once every half hour to once every seven hours. The mating season is called the rut.

A group of us went back our camp near the river to put on some warmer clothes. I stopped in to use the washroom. Flushing water, a tap and a mirror have become luxury items. My group had already gotten into the dinner lineup when I met back up with them. Taking advantage of some “alone” time, I joined the back of the line and fell into conversation with Ruby, the lady who had been brought in to talk about sea lice. Wild adult salmon naturally have sea lice. It is the juveniles that will be killed by one or two lice. In a natural system the adult and juvenile fish never meet. Open net fish farms on the coastline have sea lice transferred onto them when the adult salmon are returning to the rivers to spawn. These fish farms are a sea lice breeding ground. When the juveniles come back to the ocean they will pass these fish farms and some of the sea lice will transfer onto the juveniles and they will die. Fish farms need to be brought out of the water. Water from the farms can not mix with the natural migration waters.

The dinner was wonderful and then we all introduced ourselves to the crowd. Tougher than I thought. We ate dessert and then played a little soccer and then a little volleyball and then danced like happy fools on the grass in front of the band. We stacked chairs and carried tables when it was dark and then we walked back to our camp on the river. It was difficult to pick just one highlight at our circle before we turned into our sleeping bags on the tarp under the sky for the night.