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Dentalia Shells
These thin, tubular mollusks formed the currency of commerce throughout the Pacific Northwest as long as 3000 years ago. Pre-European civilization is often considered a barter economy, with, for instance, coastal tribes swapping oolichan grease directly for prized Oregon obsidian. Commodity traders, however, could rely on this wampum to close a transaction when interest in the goods was decidedly one-sided. Called hykwa in Chinook jargon, dentalia shells possessed all the necessary attributes of money, being portable, recognizable and durable but rare and desirable enough to foster trade. Being available in a variety of sizes, the tusk-like shells were even divisible into small change. Professional traders are known to have tattooed measuring lines on their forearms as a handy calculator of individual shell values. Only a handful of groups, including the Nuu-chah-nulth in the vicinity of Tofino, possessed dentalia in quantities sufficient enough to make them wealthy. Harvesting the deep water mollusks was no easy undertaking however. From a dugout canoe a long, broom-like apparatus was thrust straight down into the muddy sea bottom then retrieved. With any luck a shell or two would be trapped amongst the stiff twigs at the end of the handle. Dentalia were also ostentatiously displayed as symbols of wealth and power in the form of body adornments. Perhaps most recognizable are the breast plates invariably worn by cheesy Hollywood Indians.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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07
Feb
2007
argaiv1572
Phyllis Creek E-mail
(12 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   

Level: Moderate
Distance: 16 km r/t
Time: 7 h r/t
Elevation Change: 460 m
Map: Squamish 92G/11
Season: Year Round
Access: See Getting to Whistler

Easy hikes are few and far between in the rugged mountains of the Sea to Sky corridor. The hike up Phyllis Creek is a happy exception. Get off the bus or train at Porteau Cove Provincial Park and look for the trailhead along the highway, 300 metres due south of the park entrance. The trail, marked with orange tape, services this and the following hike. From the outset the route is decidedly up, cutting under BC Hydro transmission lines within a few minutes before rounding massive granitic outcrops towards the south. Continue southwards and away from your destination until the trail begins paralleling a raging brook.

Climb a short distance along the waterfalls to the top of the bluffs before turning northwards (left) onto an overgrown service road. The trail continues more or less along contour lines through ancient forest for more than an hour before circling eastwards around behind the Furry Creek Golf and Country Club. The creek in all her springtime fury should be plainly audible from the viewpoints. From the last of these the route drops steeply down an overgrown logging spur before reaching the active service road and powerline at the bottom. A left turn leads down to Furry Creek, the golf course and Highway 99 while a right parallels Phyllis Creek to her source. Continuing southwards, when you reach a fork in the road veer right as the left branch leads to Mount Capilano. Continue a short distance before crossing to the opposite bank of Phyllis Creek. Follow the power lines up through second growth forest to reach first Marion Lake then Phyllis Lake at 518 m elevation.

bearpaw

 

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