Friday Classic: The Journey – Three Days To The Dean

I’m not ready to concede the cliche “it’s the journey not the destination that matters” is true in all cases. I’m usually headed somewhere for a reason, so to say it simply doesn’t matter seems overstated. Generally speaking though it’s a good axiom for life; a metaphor that you can tip your hat to when it’s convenient and leave at the door when you please.

Putting on miles for work, or to hunt and fish, sometimes I think I  spend more time in the journey phase than at the destination. Fortunately for me modern pop music is one of my guilty pleasures. Air drumming on the steering wheel, hitting the hard notes somewhere near the rear view mirror, I cover highway miles across the American West with a sense of euphoria rarely matched elsewhere in my life. In short I like the journey.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a journey of larger proportions to a destination that is on the life list of many anglers. It took the better part of three days to get from my Wyoming home to British Columbia’s Dean River. This is a case where it was certainly more about the destination, but in retrospect the journey is worth recounting. Here’s the quick hits:

The Yellow School Bus, Photos by Steven Brutger

Chilcotin Highway, Photos by Steven Brutger

Drive (Toyota Land Cruiser) Lander to Denver 6 hours Highlight: Eminem is blaring and one friend cracks a 24oz Tecate as my buddies pull into my driveway at 7:45am. (Note, I am 10 and 30 years the junior to my two companions. They set the bar high).

Flight (Boing 737) Denver to Vancouver 3 hours Highlight: Sunset over Mt Baker on approach was unreal.

One night in a hotel in Vancouver Highlight: We arrived late and were hungry. At 11:30pm we headed to what appeared like a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that was recommended to us. Upon entering we were surprised to find the place jam packed with Chinese family’s and not a word of english being spoken. This is not a surprise to anyone who knows Vancouver, but it caught a couple of Wyoming boys off guard. The food was fantastic!

Flight (Beechcraft 1900 C) from Vancouver to Bella Coola 1 hour, Highlight: I extra hour on the tarmac (no AC) due to a flock of birds being hit by previous aircraft. Once airborne the flight could not land in Bella Coola due to weather, rerouted to Anaheim Lake.

Bus (Yellow School) Anaheim Lake to Bella Coola 3 hours Highlight: Descending several thousand feet on the most improbable of of dirt roads. Built in the 1950’s the Chilcotin Highway was carved into the side of a mountain and has an 18 percent grade with no passing room for a particularly rugged five and a half mile section.

One night in a hotel in Bella Coola Highlight: Waking up to overcast skies and steady drizzle, with hopes that it would help usher in a push of fresh fish.

Helicopter (Eurocopter AStar) to The Dean River, 30 minutes Highlight: Worth the trip alone, cutting through rain and clouds over a glaciated mountain range and then dropping into the Dean Channel is a site I will never forget. Topping it off with an up close fly by of the river had everyone salivating to rig up our rods.

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