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Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry


The Allure of the BC Coast - Part 2 - Preparing for a 5 week kayaking trip along the BC coast

Part 2: By Phil Climie / West Coast Collective

Last week, we were given an account of a May 2015 trip around Louise Island. This week, Phil Climie tells us about the preparation for a much longer kayaking trip along the BC coast. 


  • 5 weeks
  • 4 paddlers
  • 3 waypoints
  • 2 kayaks
  • 1 coastline

Fast forwarding one year to the summer of 2016, we found ourselves looking for more ways to experience the feelings we had in Haida Gwaii. At that time, the topic of BC’s coastline was illuminated in the eyes of the public with the newly elected Federal government about to decide on a number of pipeline proposals that would potentially increase energy production and marine transportation in the region. Although this was by no means the driving force behind the decision to launch a new marine adventure, it provided us with further incentive to witness the true beauty of the entire coastline. Sometime shortly after we committed to the full paddle, the flame of the Northern Gateway pipeline was snuffed out. Economic benefit hadn’t tipped the scales in favour of resource development over environmental preservation, at least in the North Coast.

Cumshewa Village Site - Phil Climie

There is more than enough turmoil that exists in our world today from an ecological and environmental perspective. The effects of climate change are leading to the erosion of stable ecosystems. Coral reefs are experiencing extraordinary bleaching events that threaten their existence in the coming decades. (link) The planet as a whole is experiencing rapid levels of species loss and population regression. Paul Ehrilich, a Stanford Professor of Population Studies, estimates that about half of all of the life forms that people are aware of have already disappeared. (link) That said, there's one species that isn’t following this trend, and that species has now converted approximately 37% of the earth’s surface to agricultural land and continues to dump plastic directly into the oceans at a tremendous rate. Probably worst of all is the influence of utterly unscientifically backed positions that lead to the denial of our current unbalanced environmental situation.

We could soon lose the opportunity to explore, in isolation, the true beauty of what our world has to offer. A vast expanse of more than 400km of coastline and 21 million hectares of temperate rainforest might be one of the best opportunities remaining for exploration in an unapologetically natural world. (link) The Great Bear Rainforest is home to towering cedar trees that have grown unabated for thousands of years. It is guarded by mountains that plunge straight into the inlets that create a miraculous symphony of islands and passageways. The harmonious connection between land and sea extends far beyond the simple visual appeal of the region. The ocean is fed the freshest of waters by the stoic rivers of the Sacred Headwaters: the Skeena, Nass and Stikine. Salmon species that run upriver to spawn provide a staple diet for Coastal Wolves and Spirit, Black, Brown and Grizzly bears. In turn, these mammals return the favour to the forests in the form of decomposing, nutrient-rich fish carcasses. This one example of the symbiotic relationship between the plants and animals is a testament to the true power and longevity of the region. It is something that deserves to remain unaffected by excessive human consumption and development. 


A final fast forward to January 2017. 6 months until departure. 

As we researched and planned for our trip, it became very clear to us that: (i) we are very fortunate to be planning this trip of a lifetime; and (ii) it certainly is not going to be a walk in the park (…a paddle in the pool, if you will?)

As we dug into research and scoured for materials, we found our gold standard in a book buried in the seventh floor of the Vancouver Public Library: Wild Coast 2 (author - John Kimantas, section HIS 917.11104 K49w). The book was written and published in 2006, after John spent 95 days exploring the coastal waterways. Along with the BC Marine Trails Network Association, he has continued to work towards conservation, awareness and accessibility for kayakers. 

A beach campsite in a sheltered bay - Phil Climie

The marine trail as it stands today consists of the Sea-to-Sky marine trail that was opened in Howe Sound in 2015. In addition, a proposed Salish Sea Marine Trail is planned to be officially opened this July (in conjunction with the kick-off of the Trans-Canada Trail). The route covers about 250km of BC’s southern waters and extends from Victoria up to Horseshoe Bay.

There is a great deal of work being done to clean up the local shores, to open up the waters to paddlers, and to promote exploration along the BC coast. Conversely, there is so much more information, education and recognition about routes, campsites and conservation that can be shared. An inventory of these sites is being amassed by the BCMTNA and we are happy to provide any support to the initiative throughout our trip.

A river campsite that severely floods at high tide - Phil Climie

At this point there is still much to be determined about our trip including acquiring topographical maps, planning routes and food, and selecting equipment. 

We have tentatively set out 3 main waypoints: Bella Bella, Klemtu and Hartley Bay. The launch point of the journey is yet to be determined.

Stay tuned for more posts to come that will cover the finer details of the trip as they come. And if you have any questions, experience in the region, or local advice, please send us a message at


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