June 27, 2009 | Tips from Travellers >
Sechelt, Outdoor Activity Tours
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I hadn’t planned to take the boat tour to Princess Louisa Inlet, but after seeing West Coast Wilderness Lodge’s sleek, red zodiac I decide to jump aboard. A smooth ride at forty knots takes us up a glacier-carved fjord with towering mountains all around.
After a dozen waterfalls I stop counting – we pause at Soda Pop Falls, where the boat pulls up close enough that a German couple in the bow can fill their water bottles. The Lodge's owner, Paul, has tagged along as our tour guide. He tells a tale of young First Nations who would challenge each other to hold a large rock underwater for long periods of time. They survived by gulping bubbles of air forced down from the falls.
Paul winds up his story with an offer to anyone on board to take the test – he’s brought along a rock for the occasion. Looking up to the icy snowpack high above, no-one takes him up on it.
The jokes and fun turn to respectful awe as we cruise through Malibu Rapids into Princess Louisa Inlet. I can believe that for many of the international tourists on board, this one tour has made their entire trip to British Columbia worth it. Imagine travelling through an inlet 500 feet wide, surrounded by mountains 6000 feet high. Majestic and breathtaking are the only words to describe the experience.
As we approach the end of Princess Louisa, Chatterbox Falls comes in to view – a huge, glacier-fed waterfall surrounded by rainforest. We dock at the provincial wharf where Paul fills our coffee mugs and sends us off to explore. Walking up the cedar boardwalk as I feel the mist and spray from the falls, it strikes me that a few hours ago this water was ice and snow from the alpine. The plants here are a lush shade of green I have never seen before.
On the return journey, we stop at some ancient pictographs – thirty feet up a sheer rock cliff. Thousands of years old and made from the bark of local Arbutus trees, the paint is still a bright red. We pause at the mouth to Vancouver Bay as well. Towering above this bay are Mount Churchill and Mount Vancouver, both named by the first European tourist to the area – Captain Vancouver.
Total trip time? Just over three hours.