The Picturesque Wilds of the Great Bear Rainforest

Exploring the Great Bear Rainforest – beautiful and untouched – with Outer Shores Expeditions. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, June 3, 2017

One of the simple pleasures of sailing aboard Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud is being out on deck as you pass through impossibly picturesque fjords. Under sail, Passing Cloud is whisper-quiet, with on the sounds of her sails fluttering in the wind and the water idly lapping against her hull audible.

We’re approximately halfway between Bella Bella, British Columbia and Bella Coola today, transiting the strait on the northern end of King Island. Looking at the ship’s digital navigation plotter, I know where we are – but the view outside the ship’s wheelhouse might as well be the end of the world. There’s no one here, and the simple act of passing another sailboat – one of only three we’d see all day – is cause for celebration, as people on both ships come out on deck to give a hearty wave before receding into the distance.

Today, Passing Cloud transits the strait on the northern end of King Island, British Columbia…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as our cruise through BC’s Great Bear Rainforest continues. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Just passing another ship – a rarity here – is cause for celebration. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

After a morning of sailing, we went ashore for an afternoon hike on-land. This is my favorite activity onboard Passing Cloud, as you never know what you’ll find. Case in point: our view of the clearing is anchored by a large, wooden barge that has come aground decades ago. Rusted and rotten, it serves as an oversized flower pot as nature seeks to claim it for its own.

Rather than talk a lot here about what we did and where we went, I’d like to focus today’s report almost solely on photographs. Passing Cloud’s crew encourages guests, as much as possible, to take some time to be still, quiet and mindful – both onboard the ship, and ashore.

It’s a wonderful exercise. When you stop and listen – really listen – the forest comes alive with sounds, smells and sights that were hidden from you before.

Here’s what we found today:

With Passing Cloud anchored…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…guests keep an eye peeled for wildlife on the zodiac ride to shore. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The landscape here is dramatic…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and breathtaking. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

No bears today, but lots of evidence of bears and other wildlife were found during our hour-long exploration of the shoreline. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

An old barge, run aground, now serves as an oversized flower box. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

This evening, we anchored offshore near a remote hot spring that’s popular with boaters; the most people I’ve seen since we left Shearwater at the start of our journey. Beset by pouring rain, I elected to stay onboard the warm, cozy Passing Cloud as my fellow guests donned rain gear and umbrellas for the short cruise over to the hot spring.

Getting Creative: guests shelter from the rain using umbrellas…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as they make their way to a nearby hot spring for an evening dip before returning to Passing Cloud. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Standing on deck watching the rain come down, I marveled that four small sailboats at anchor can suddenly feel like “civilization.” Really, it’s not. One couple let their dog off their boat for a walk and a bathroom break on a midden where we’d seen wolves prowling as we entered. People or not, this is still very much the wild frontier.

It’s all the more reason why not just these forests, but all forests, should be protected. Without environmental protections and agreements like the historic one recently afforded to this part of the Great Bear Rainforest, who knows how long scenes like this will exist?

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud in the Great Bear Rainforest will continue. You can learn more about travel in British Columbia by visiting the HelloBC website.  Follow along on twitter with @deckchairblog.

Springtime in the Great Bear Rainforest

May 29Arrival in Bella Bella
May 30Our Expedition Sets Out
May 31Beaches and Excavations
June 1A Day at the Hakai Institute
June 2The Abandoned Town of Ocean Falls
June 3Adventures on King Island
June 4Bears and Dolphins: a Wildlife Paradise in the Great Bear Rainforest
June 5One Last Day; Recapping our Voyage

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