Before arriving in the Great Bear Rainforest, I spend a few days exploring the Island, starting in BC’s capital city of Victoria. I make myself comfy at the Fairmont Empress and visit Fisherman’s Wharf, The Butchart Gardens (the Japanese Gardens in autumn are jaw-dropping), and the Royal BC Museum, where First Nations artifacts showcase the connection the Kwakwaka’wakw, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Gitxsan, Haida, and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples have to the wilderness here. It’s a bond that celebrates Nature as the ultimate force, uniting every creature on the land, in the sea and the skies above; where humans are but one thin thread in the endless tapestry of life on Earth.
But on morning walks in Victoria’s picturesque harbour, I gaze out over the Pacific, dreaming of seeing orcas. Large pods live in these waters and the fall season brings transient orcas here—incentive enough to book a three-hour cruise. As we slowly sail out of the Inner Harbour and into the Salish Sea, the autumn sunset creates pink wispy clouds and turns the calm ocean lilac.
Soon, we find a small pod of orcas in the distance, mini puffs of fairy-floss appearing as they come up for air. I’m holding my own breath watching them, enjoying the almost-silence as the swell laps against the hull, when I hear a whoosh-pah! at the back of the boat; two whales exhale and come in to look at us. Right then it hits me: the whales are just as curious as we are. Maybe most living things feel this need to connect, at least at some point? Either way, it’s life-affirming. BC in full effect!