Long ago, this land began to shake and rumble. Nature’s harmony had been upset.
It began by the river when one child took a humpback (salmon) from the water and slit open its back. Then he stuck sticks in its back, lit them, and made the humpback swim.
The other children were amused to see the fish swim upriver with smoke coming from its back.
The same child slit open another humpback and stuck a piece of shale in its back.
Then he made it swim but the humpback floated on one side, weighted down by the shale.
The other children laughed despite the elders’ warnings.
And the ground rumbled.
A scout was sent to investigate the rumblings. From the mountain top, he saw smoke and flames up the valley….
The legend continues how the villagers, although warned by their scout, could not escape the lava flow. As they watched death and destruction surround them, they suddenly saw the mighty Gwa Xts’agat, a supernatural being who possessed the power of fire, block the lava’s path. For days the spirit lay with its big nose fighting back the lava. Finally, the lava cooled and Gwa Xts’agat went back into the mountain where it remains to this day.
The first thing we saw when we five jumped from the car were two ominous warnings:
First, lava in the park is sharp and unstable; walk only on designated trails. The lava is culturally significant---it is illegal to remove lava from the park.
Second, you are in grizzly and black bear territory. If you see bears, do not disturb---return to your vehicle. (Gulp… how fast can you run with three small kids?)
Although we did not have time to traverse the entire length of the highway to take in all the stops, our big disappointment was not hiking to the volcanic cone. Unguided access to the cone is prohibited and no guides were available this time of year.
Still, it provided an overview lesson in life for our three young grandchildren. And to our relief, but to their disappointment, we never saw any bears!