In the summer of 2013 I took two weeks to go on a kayaking adventure around the Great Bear Rainforest with my cousin Jamil. This pristine wilderness, teeming with life, is what would be immediately effected by a spill with Northern Gateway Pipeline Oil. This was the first real recreational paddle I have been able to do since I was a little kid, sea kayaking with my dad. It was amazing to get to see one of the most beautiful places on the planet with amazing geology, spectacular wildlife, and no other people for several km in any direction.
There were several highlights for me, first of which was the way we got into our kayak. BC Ferries offered a service (which sadly has now ended) that allows kayakers to “wet launch” from the back of the ferry. The ferry literally parked right in the middle of the Hecate Straight and dropped the car ramp to let Jamil and I off right next to a pod of humpback whales. The trip was worth it for that experience alone but we had an amazing 10 days left to come.
Later that night we made it to Wolf beach, parked the kayak on shore, and cooked up a fresh caught rock fish. The next day we did some hiking/bouldering around a small island before we set off. The rock features were like nothing I have seen before; incredible jagged rocks that made for great climbing and amazing crevasses and caverns that we could swim through. I can not conceive how anyone who has been to that region could ever believe that future supertankers could consistently wiggle their way through the narrow channels in that area without incident.
The distance from major population mean that the marine life is still flourishing in a way I have never experienced. As we were kayaking on one of the days, the water around us erupted with hundreds of huge salmon. We were also passed by sea lions on several occasions, none of whom took much notice of us as if they were just more focused on their daily commute. We also ran into some sea otters on one of the days who were rafted up together with arms linked eating the meat from butter clams while casually watching some strange creatures in a big yellow kayak.
We spent two nights in the McMullen group, which is a cluster of 17 islands that were ours to explore. We found an old fishing net washed on shore and spent a few hours rigging it up between two islands to make the world’s most epic hammock. There were log diving boards, white sandy beaches, and and a large bald eagle population that made our stay on our 17 private islands that much more amazing.
On our way to Bella Bella to catch our ferry out we took a short cut through an amazing tidal river that we had to time perfectly. The tidal river has two channels that cut through a large island with a salt water lake in the middle where they meet. We rode the river down to the salt water lake and then stopped for lunch while we waited for it to fill to the top. As the tides changed, we could continue out the other channel, riding the current back out to open ocean.
Simply put, this is the most magical place I have ever visited and it needs our help to protect it. The Harper government has approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline that turns this area from remote, pristine wilderness, into a gambling chip on a poker table in our government’s endless quest for fast cash. There are other ways for our economy to grow such as becoming leaders in renewable energy technology and production. It may take us several years as Canadians to eventually phase out tar sands oil out of our diet but the justification is not there to sacrifice this beautiful land to feed the Chinese.
Please join the people of British Columbia, the First Nation’s communities, the millions of animals that remain voiceless, and myself in the fight to keep oil out of these waters.