Into the Deep: The Pillow Factory

Drag your Google Earth view from the very southern tip of mainland Alaska 50 miles due east, and you’d fly directly over the Kitimat and Skeena mountain ranges, home to some of northwest British Columbia’s most remote, rugged and expansive ski terrain. Zoom in a little further and you’ll find a Walmart, the only one for miles and home to a full inventory of camera SD cards. Not the first stop I imagined during a heli ski trip to Terrace, BC, last February, but a saving grace for a photographer short on memory cards at the edge of nowhere.

Terrace is perhaps more well known for its salmon and steelhead than its pow chasers (world records for both fish species have come from the Skeena River flowing through town). Still, at the intersection of British Columbia’s Interior and Coast ranges, the town of 12,000-plus residents is positioned perfectly to thrive on the adventure tourism that world-class fishing, skiing and mountain biking tend to attract.

Like much of British Columbia, Terrace is steeped in logging history. In fact, at one point it was Canada’s leading producer of telephone and electric poles, not to mention the world’s longest telephone pole, measuring 160 feet. Declining lumber prices in the early 2000s closed many of the sawmills, but the surrounding skyline tells of the other opportunities the region provides—peaks that reach for the clouds, a jumbled collection of ridges filling any space the flora allowed them to break through… 

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