The People of the River of Mist at the K’San Historic Village

by Joslin Fritz
( September 12th, 2014 )

“Chiefs, Female Chiefs, and the rest of the people. My heart is full to see that you’ve come here to see us today. I am glad that we will share this beautiful day together.”

K'San Historical MuseumAlice Barnes, our guide at the K’San Historic Village, welcomes us with this traditional Gitxsan greeting in her native language. We’re just starting our afternoon walking tour of the  interpretive museum, built to showcase the heritage of the Gitxsan people. Immediately I feel welcomed and intrigued. Located near the town of Smithers in Hazelton, I’d already fallen in love with the mountain vistas and rushing rivers of Northern-Central British Columbia. But, as with many of my travel experiences, it’s my interactions with the people tied to the place that, in turn, gives me a deeper connection to the area as well.

For the rest of the afternoon, as we walked from one longhouse to another, Alice shared the history of her people, transitioning from topic to topic with personal stories that provided a more meaningful experience. Alice, not only a tour guide but also a hereditary chief, explained that the name of the tribe, Gitxsan, translates to the People of the River of Mist, as they live near the Skeena river.  She clarifies on this, that, “We don’t own anything, we’re simply the caretakers of the lands.”

Lineage is matriarchal, and are broken down into four different clans: Wolf, Frog, Fireweed and Eagle. Alice’s tribe is the Wolf, and she proudly shows me her carved necklace of a wolf. Each longhouse is named after a clan and each signifies a specific part of their culture. For example, the Eagle House is known as the treasure house, holding the various regalia for special occasions and performances, while the Frog House shows life of the Gitxsan people before contact with the outside world. In this manner, an overall understanding of the Gitxsan people can be grasped in a relatively short period of time.

Carving K'San Historical VillageA highlight for me was the House of Carving. Father and daughter duo Randy and Cecelia Adams are the main carvers, working in both wood and jewelry mediums. There used to be a carving school, due to a lack of interest they had to shut it down. Randy explained that it’s hard to get new carvers, as it takes time to build up skill and eventually make money.  In the Museum gift store, carved pieces are in higher demand than they can keep up with. Unfortunately, the younger generation is more interested in mining. “What they don’t realize” Randy says, “ is that carving is another type of gold mine.” When asked if her kids practiced carving, Cecelia replied that they are still too young, but are hoping that when they are older they will want to carve as well. They remain positive that one day they will reopen the school. On this note, Alice adds, “It’s important to create living cultural centers, not just showcase what we used to do.”

K'San Historical Village

Alice explains the significance of the totem poles in a way that changed the way I viewed totem poles. Since the river was the mode of travel for the Gitxsan people, the totem poles were like addresses, or house numbers. From the totem pole, you could tell who was chief and which clan the homeowner belonged to. If you were ever in need of help or lost, you could look at the totem pole and tell if the person belonged to the same clan as you. You could tell the homeowner your full name and clan, and soon you would begin a conversation about how you were related, and they would help you.

Interestingly enough, while Alice can show you how to read the totem pole, but she can’t interpret totem poles that are different than her clan, as it’s inappropriate. She could interpret it incorrectly, and this would cause great shame to her and her family.

I left the K’San Historical Village with a much deeper understanding of the Gitxsan, thanks to Alice. I reflected on what she said as we parted ways. “When you’re got so little left of the culture, it’s just that much more important to share all that I know.” I knew that each tour she gave, she was passing on her knowledge so that it could be appreciated to all that came to visit.

 

Adventure On,

Joslin

All photos taken by Joslin Fritz.

My visit to the K’San Historical Village was provided by Aboriginal Tourism BC, but as always, my opinions are my own.

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Gear Review: Eagle Creek Systems Go Duffel Pack 60L

by Joslin Fritz
( August 1st, 2014 )

Eagle Creek Systems Go Duffel Bag 60LI’ve been on the road now for almost a month, with only one bag to cover a wide range of climates and activities. I didn’t want to use a rolling suitcase as I knew I’d be “off-roading” it more often than not. This has been an excellent opportunity to test out Eagle Creek’s Systems Go 60L Duffel Pack.

I like variety. This pack works well for my diverse needs. It’s one of the more versatile I’ve used, due to its ability to be a backpack or a duffel. With a capacity of 60L, the bag is more than big enough for a long weekend trip to another city, while it’d be perfect for a outdoor oriented weeklong adventure. Systems Go Eagle Creek 60L Duffel Bag

Accessibility is one of the best features of the bag. The 3/4 front panel load gives full access to the main compartment, which let’s me easily unzip the bag so it’s completely open. This way I can get to things I stuff at the bottom of the bag. There is a separate, lockable, zippered compartment below the main chamber which I kept my shoes in.

 
Eagle Creek Systems Go 60L PackSomething I tried for the first time with this bag was the Pack-It Cubes. The Systems Go Duffel Bag was designed to hold five Pack-It Cubes. Pack-It Cubes are lightweight, zippered bags that help you to organize your pack. There’s a number of ways to use Pack-It Cubes to help tidy things up, such as having different outfits for each day in each cube, or, the way I did it, putting shirts, pants, dresses, and underwear into separate cubes. I kept one empty cube to put dirty clothes in. I loved this way of packing, and I think I’m a convert to the cubes. I’ll be using them for future trips most definitely.

Eagle Creek 60L Systems Go Duffel

The detachable straps were such a bonus, I really loved being able to switch wearing the bag as a backpack, to swinging it over my shoulder as a duffel. The attachment points are numerous and strong, the buckles are easy to clip/unclip, and the multiple grabbing points made picking my bag up a breeze.

 

I found the compression straps on the side and bottom to be very handy. When I was wearing it as a backpack at times it felt very tall in height, though once I strapped my hip belt on, it felt much more secure.

 

What I loved:

  • Accessibility. Long zippers and separate compartments made it easy to get to all areas of the bag.

  • Variety. I loved the detachable straps that let the bag be used either as a backpack or a duffel.

  • Durable. The material of the bag is built to withstand major abrasion. It’s not going to rip.

Not so much:

  • When worn as a backpack, the pack feels a bit tippy and high. Once I put the hip belt on though, this issue is minimized.

If you’re looking for a versatile, accessible pack, the Systems Go 60L Duffel is a solid choice. The pack also comes in 35L, for those looking for a smaller pack. The 60L Duffel can be bought for $160 here on the Eagle Creek website.

 

Adventure On,

Joslin

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Hiking in North Cascades National Park

by Joslin Fritz
( July 29th, 2014 )

Hiking in North Cascades National Park

“The wilderness is a place of rest-not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance. ” -David Douglas

North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite National Parks in the country. On that same note, hiking in North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite things to do in the park, as it’s easy to do and doesn’t require too much planning compared to backpacking or climbing.

Located just about two and a half hours away from Seattle, it’s not exactly a day trip, but it can be an excellent weekend getaway. I took on Cascade Pass recently with a friend, a reasonable high alpine hike that’s very popular for weekend warriors. We missed the crowds since we started rather early, and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

This quote was on the trail map handout that we picked up at the Visitor’s Center, and I found myself reflecting on it while climbing the never-ending (but easily doable) switchbacks. Isolation from distraction. How true. I head to the mountains to clear my head and to better listen to my heart. In wilderness I realize just how small I am, and I remember just how magnificent this world truly is. Everyday we get bombarded with news of bloodshed, war, financial turmoil, and global climate distress. When I’m in wilderness all of this goes away, and it’s just me, the mountains and my steady breathing in and out. I just focus on my breath and taking in all of the beauty that’s around me. Everything goes still, but yet everything is moving continually.

Almost equally as satisfying as the actual hike is the drive leaving the park. I have the music loud and the windows down, I’m snacking and drinking something delicious, my endorphins are high from my activity, and I’m feeling much more centered than when I came into the Park. Chances are, as I drive away, I’m already planning my next adventure in the wilderness.

Adventure On, 

Joslin

Photo by Joslin Fritz

 

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