Two things had me thinking of BC’s Central and North Coast as I sat down yesterday afternoon to start this post. One was the noon hour CBC radio coverage of the hearings in Prince Rupert on the Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal. Everyone who called in was, like us, opposed to the project, concerned about the likelihood of a spill and the impacts of tar sands on the marine life and communities of the coast.
The other thing turning my mind north was the hard rain that was teeming down here on our little island in the Strait of Georgia: filling our ponds, drenching our garden beds, and feeding the groundwater reservoir that we’ll need to carry our island and all of the plant and animal life it supports through a dry summer and fall.
The rain reminded me of last summer on the Central Coast.
The photo above was taken in mid-July 2011, off Stryker Island, about 15 miles north of the Goose Group on the outer coast of BC.
Twenty-eight days into our summer boat trip, we’d had 19 days of rain so far with no real let-up in sight – forcing us to don a full set of raingear each time we left the boat to go kayaking. Still, any exercise is better than none, and it was an antidote to the claustrophobia that comes from hanging out together for too many hours in a relatively small boat. But vitamin D had to come from a bottle.
Off-and-on rain, at times heavy, continued for most of the remainder of the trip, ending only when we finally made our way back to the South coast – just in time to catch the last few weeks of blue skies and summer warmth.
So why do I want to return to the Central Coast?
I love the quiet and remoteness – finding anchorages where you’re the only boat – and it’s inspiring to watch humpback whales, seldom seen in my home waters of Georgia Strait. Some of the paddling spots are sublime, such as the outer coast kelp beds, where we’ve seen sea otters, another endangered species. And I have long felt a passion for BC’s remote coastal communities – places that cling tenaciously to life despite the odds, like Ocean Falls.
I also love the subtle colours and textures. All that rain nourishes a remarkable profusion of growth: hemlock, red cedar and fir, salal, thimbleberry and countless other bushes, even on steep, wind-battered shorelines where vegetation seems utterly improbable. Thick mounds of moss grow atop the rocks and along the tree trunks, and everywhere you look, branches are festooned with long garlands of lichens that dance in the wind like Buddhist prayer flags.
So despite the rain – even, perhaps, because of it – we may head up the coast again this summer for more of that wild, wet and wonderful world of green.
A few more photos of Stryker Island (click for larger view):
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