Winter/Spring 2016 Wild Coast Magazine

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WILD COAST Magazine The Magazine of Adventure Travel and Outdoor Recreation

Winter/Spring 2016

Issue #2


• Where to find the last ancient trees in

Greater Vancouver • Visit ground zero of the war in Walbran • Where the ancient


Best of BC

trees are still falling unchecked


How an attempt to set PM 41687515

a record for rounding

Vancouver Island by paddle went awry

Our list of the best trips and destinations for 2016 WINTER/SPRING 2016



Year-round comfort for sleep tight nights PHOTO / WALTER STEINBERG

The Synmat 7 features microfiber insulation providing maximum warmth and an integrated pump for quick and easy inflation.









Welcome to issue #2! Enjoy the extrasÜ Wild Coast Publishing is proud to unveil the second issue of the new Wild Coast Magazine, previously Coast&Kayak Magazine and before that, Wavelength Magazine. While still an old-style magazine in the print format, it does have some nice but not-so-obvious technical additions in the online edition. One is having a single link to bring the magazine to any device anywhere. So no need for an app. Just hit the one link to read us. The online access is unrestricted; that means no cost, no prompts for your email address, just the magazine free to read – with extra content. We’re actually cheating in this issue, printing a partial article with the conclusion online only. Sorry about that, but until we grow to the size we can support 12-page articles in print, it’s the best we can do in a 48-page package while still providing a well-rounded menu of articles. Otherwise we’d have had to cut a great article to make it fit the spot. The online edition, though, is significantly larger.

For those who don’t like reading magazines online, please use this as a chance to give it a second try. There are steps we are taking to make reading online more enjoyable and simpler for you. For instance, if you see a Ü in the text, that means it’s a hotlink. To save you typing in a long link (and to save us printing tediously long web addresses), just go to our website (www.wildcoastmagazine.comÜ), find the same page and the same link button and click it to go straight to the website that applies. Still not convinced? Still prefer reading the magazine in print? No problem, we’ll continue to provide print copies. If you do love the print product, please take us up on a very affordable $7.99 subscription offerÜ. This ensures you receive a print copy, with a great incentive. Subscribe to qualify for a monthly draw for some great adventure opportunities (see page 47). After all, sharing adventures is what we do.

It’s all about the trees Where the giants are Join Claudia Schwab for an interpretive journey to the best and largest of the ancient trees still standing in the Greater Vancouver region.

Page 50

The plight of Walbran Wild Coast Magazine takes you on a guided tour of the Walbran Valley, the last contiguous unprotected pristine valley on southern Vancouver Island.

Page 22

This issue’s cover

The Best of BC, 2016 edition The Best Paddle-Hike So why Lone Cone Trail? Well, it’s all about the view. And a few enticing extras as well.

Page 32

Wild Coast Magazine is proud to present this photo from Philip Stone, one of Vancouver Island’s pre-eminent climbers and writers. He is the author of numerous guide books including the new Island Alpine Select, a guide to alpine climbing on Vancouver Island. Other titles include Coastal Hikes, Island Alpine and Island Turns and Tours. The picture is of Anthonie ‘PJ’ Prihatining Jati on Eagle Crag. See page 26.

Share your adventures! Tours and Destinations

It’s a full menu of the Best of the Best. Discover Quadra, Kitimat and Haida Gwaii.

Page 42

Wild Coast Magazine is actively seeking new writers, bloggers and more to join us in our efforts to share adventures on the Pacific coast. If you have an idea, we can support it with professional editorial guidance and ensure you receive a wide audience for your work. Send us an email with your ideasÜ. WINTER/SPRING 2016




The end is nigh.


It’s just a matter of when.

decided to make this issue in large part about trees. They could use the help. Wild Coast

Magazine is not really meant to be a conservation magazine, but there is a role to be played by us, the users of the coast. By enjoying it we should also serve as its custodians and protectors. When I saw TJ Watt’s photo of the logging road cut through to Klaskish Inlet in the north entrance to Brooks Peninsula (page 29), I could have cried. I camped near there several times and once, in 2009, almost directly across from the new barge ramp. At the time it was pristine (as shown below, looking towards where the log dump is now located). I remember sitting at that beach watching the most remarkable behaviour of a group of diving birds called surf scoters. They would gather in a group, seemingly random, but if you watched over time they would straighten out into a line. Eventually one at the end dove, and in a matter of seconds, one after the other, the birds disappeared underwater down the line’s length. Blink and you would miss it. One by one they bobbed to the surface again, then eventually straightened into a line and dove once more in this synchronized way. I tried to research it to find out more, but found only guesses to explain the behaviour. I mention it because I can’t see these birds having the same habit or success with a log dump and loading facility within their hunting ground. Is this lost as a feeding area? Are they another unwitting victim of this devastation of our forests?


COAST Magazine

Winter/Spring 2016 Who we are:

Volume 2, Number 1 PM No. 41687515

Wild Coast Magazine is the magazine of outdoor recreation, adventure travel and eco-tourism for the Pacific coast. We publish three times a year in print and online with unrestricted global access. Print copies are free at select locations but we encourage paid home subscriptions to ensure you can continue to receive the magazine into the future. The magazine is a product of Wild Coast Publishing, a BC company and publisher of the BC Coast Explorer guide book series and other recreation resources. Editor: John KimantasÜ Find Us:

Online: www.wildcoastmagazine.comÜ

Perhaps they will manage and I’m just over-reacting. And perhaps life will generally go on as it always does along the coast despite our capacity to devastate these ancient places.

In print: We distribute to more than 300 locations across British Columbia and the United States. In addition, you can subscribe to ensure you never miss a copyÜ.

Yet even if this logging is harmless in the larger ecological sense, it’s moot. Sooner or later, and generally sooner, the last of the large tracts of unprotected ancient coastal forests will be logged. And at that time the forest industry will have to learn to get on without them. Barring the occasional small stand, they will have to turn their attention to their tree farms.

In person: Aboard the MV Wild Coast, somewhere on the Pacific coast, during the summer season. Or Loreto, Mexico in the winter. We are a nomadic company. Best to phone or email before visiting.

So here’s the option for Walbran Valley: a few jobs for a short period of time and a financial boost for very few; or the preservation of a large, intact ancient watershed in the interior of Vancouver Island – forever for everyone and everything that relies upon it. The sad part is that this is a war that not only should be won, but won easily. If a moratorium is placed on logging ancient forests, there won’t have to be any more wars in the woods: no more fighting forest by forest, tree by tree as a new region is slated to be logged. We won’t need camps, petitions, protests. It will be done.

By phone: 1-250-244-6437. By fax: 1-866-654-1937. By email: editor@wildcoastmagazine.comÜ Facebook: Follow us and stay in touch with us between issues! wildcoastmagazineÜ A product of:

Wild Coast Publishing

Now or later, eventually the outcome is the same. So why not now while something remains? - John KimantasÜ ps. I put an overlay of a Rumi poem on the Walbran photo on page 16. It may not be relevant; I think it is. When I read it, instead of a field, I lie down in a forest, one I envision much like the ancient forests you’ll see in this magazine. I’ll meet you there.




PO Box 24, Stn A Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, V9R 5K4 The world’s only magazine published from aboard a boat (that we know of, anyway). © 2016. Copyright is retained on all material (text, photos and graphics) in this magazine. No reproduction is allowed of any material in any form, print or electronic, for any purpose, except with the permission of Wild Coast Publishing.


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magine hiking for 70 days with nothing but you and the

wilderness. Surrounded by lush green ferns, calm blue lakes, and mountains with dustings of white snow on top. The hardest decision you need to make each day is how many M&Ms you can pick from your trail mix and still leave some for tomorrow. Hike 10 kilometres on each of those 70 days, and you'll travel 700 kilometres, the end-to-end length of Vancouver Island. But no trail

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by ross collicutt

U.S. These trails run through multiple towns and take weeks or months to complete. If you hiked 10 kilometres a day it would take you about 70 days to complete the proposed trail. Passing through six or more communities on the island gives you access to grocery stores or places to ship food ahead of time so you can restock. Don't worry, there are still hundreds of kilometres of hiking in wilderness between each stop. Towns on Vancouver Island aren't exactly close together once you leave the populated southeast coast. Hiking the full 700 kilometres isn’t an option for most people, but sections can be hiked a piece at a time, such as the Alberni Inlet Trail, which is already part of the Spine Trail route and a popular day hike.


he idea for the spine trail evolved through the travels

Hiking near Francis Lake on part of the Spine Trail.

traverses the island – not yet, though a group from Victoria is out to change that. Taking inspiration from other long distance hikes around the world, the group is building trails to connect the entire length of Vancouver Island. It will be the Vancouver Island Spine Trail, joining the likes of the Pacific Crest Trail in the U.S., which inspired the trail, along with others like the Camino Trail in Spain and the Appalachian Trail in the eastern

of Gil Parker, the current president and founder of the Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA). Parker came to Vancouver Island in the late 1960s and spent much of the next three decades climbing the coastal mountains, with trips to the Rockies, up and down the west coast of the U.S. and as far as eastern Russia and Georgia. Climbing eventually expanded into hiking, and through the late 1990s until 2007, Parker's focus was completing large parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,286 km trail running from the Mexican border to Canada. In that time, he's managed to complete all but 480 km of it. During some of his Pacific Crest trips, Parker began thinking about a Vancouver Island version of the trail. In 2009, the Vancouver Island Spine Trail Association (VISTA) was born with the goal of building the trail through the wilderness and working forests from Victoria to Cape Scott. Since then Parker has been working tirelessly to make this dream a reality, navigating both the difficult terrain and the difficult regulations required for each of the 700 kilometres. Determining the route of the trail is a long-term project. Parker and other organizers have used existing trails as much as possible. Linking trail networks increases the value of those sections and reduces the amount of trail-building on the spine itself. Huge hurdles remain for connecting the existing trails. The initial work is done with topographic maps on computers, but only so much can be done in the office. Until hikers lace up their boots and walk the area, it's hard to tell if it's a reasonable location to build. u


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ODDS&ENDS Since every section of the trail has to be approved by regulatory bodies or landowners, objections can also cause changes. Here's what the proposed sections look like so far.

1 Victoria to Cowichan Lake: Clover Point, Victoria, will be the start of the trail. From there the trail heads north to Cowichan Lake following the Trans Canada Trail. A connection over the Malahat and a route to the west end of Cowichan Lake has yet to be completed.

2 Cowichan Lake to Port Alberni From Cowichan Lake the trail heads west to the Tuck Lake Trail, built by the Spine Trail Association, then to the Runner's Trail, a collaboration with the Tseshaht First Nations and the City of Port Alberni. The Runner's Trail feeds into the Alberni Inlet Trail and then into Port Alberni.

3 Port Alberni to Cumberland In Port Alberni, hikers can restock then climb into the Beaufort Mountains. The exact route through the Beauforts hasn't been set, but one possibility is to hook into an existing

trail that drops into Cumberland.

4 Cumberland to Strathcona Park near Campbell River The trail leaves Cumberland, follows a completed trail from the Puntledge River to Forbidden Plateau, then climbs Mount Becher to an elevation of 1,390 metres. From there it goes into Strathcona Park to cross Upper Campbell Lake at the Strathcona Dam.

5 Strathcona Dam to Woss then Cape Scott At this point the trail route is less defined. VISTA has initiated a feasibility study to find a route from Strathcona Dam to Port McNeill and Port Hardy. From Port Hardy, the trail will go to Shushartie Bay then follow the North Coast Trail to Cape Scott.

The Relay and other Events To spread the idea of the Spine Trail and get friends out in the woods, VISTA has organized and co-hosted many events over the past four years. The events have included trail running, snowshoeing, horseback riding, ski touring, mountain biking and road biking

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at various locations on the island. The first and largest event hosted by VISTA was the Spine Relay in 2010, a three-week, island-long rally around the idea of the trail and a kick-off to construction. Starting near Cape Scott, members of the relay team ran, mountain biked, hiked and rode horseback almost 500 kilometres of the proposed route ending in Victoria three weeks later. Andrew Pape-Salmon, an avid trail runner and eventually a VISTA president, not only organized the event, but completed all nine legs. "I would do it again," he says. In between each gruelling section, Parker, Pape-Salmon and other volunteers held information sessions and group hikes with local hiking clubs. These community days were held in Port Hardy, Campbell River, Cumberland, Port Alberni, Lake Cowichan and Victoria.

Trail Building VISTA is using three strategies to build trails: existing trail, collaborating and starting from scratch. Collaborating on trails can reduce the

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School. Weekend trips to help build the Tuck Lake section and Runner's Trail were wet and soggy, but still uplifting. “Improving trail through thick brush in the pouring rain with wise-cracking teens – what's not to love?” he says. Burnett's group came back with some great stories and some great lessons – some very specific, such as don't set up your tent beside a dry creek when camping near Port Alberni in September. “Flood? Of course, six inches to hip-high after only six hours of rain,” he says.

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work involved for each group. The section west of the Town of Lake Cowichan is being approached with the cooperation of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. Building from scratch is the final approach and will probably be used extensively north of Campbell River. The same standards used for BC Parks trails will be used for all VISTA trails. The speed of building depends on the thickness of the forest Most of the energy so far on the project has been directed towards gaining access to existing trails. “In terms of the actual trail building, the most successful project so far has been the Tuck Lake Trail Ü,” Parker says. “This was completed almost entirely using volunteer labour to choose and to cut and mark the trail.” VISTA's next focus is cutting more trail north of Campbell River.

Building a 700-km trail is no easy task. Even with portions of the project linking into existing trails, a huge amount of trail still needs to be built. Access to private land is always tough to obtain. Funding might be the biggest issue, though. The more money the project can get, the faster trail can be built. Here’s how to help. Donate. Go toÜ to help with a donation. Even the smallest donation will help plan routes and build trail. Volunteer. If you'd like to help build trail, map proposed trail sections or plan events, you can let VISTA know at contactusÜ.

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After starting work with volunteers on the Tuck Lake section, VISTA members were getting questions, many from schools. The most popular question: How can we help? Charles Burnett, a VISTA board member at the time, started organizing trips through the YM/YWCA and St. Michaels University

Ross Collicut is a writer, hiker and runner on Vancouver Island and a VISTA volunteer. Stories from his hiking trips can be found on PureOutside.comÜ. When not stuck on the computer writing about his trips, he’s outside running trails with his rescued Formosan mountain dog.

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AY 1: Sunday July 25th, 2015

At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I said my farewell to my good friend Paul who had agreed to drive me to the launch at Port Hardy. A sobering moment was loading my custom-built touring surf ski with 100,000 calories of food, 10 litres of water and enough camping gear to stake a claim on the Klondike. At 130 pounds, walking it down to the boat ramp required fabricating two climbing slings with carabiners to create a reliable and simple harness to lift the ski and walk it down the ramp. That was the theory, but in practice while fully loaded it was more like grabbing a crocodile by of the scruff the neck and walking him down the bank for a ride. Doing this in the surf zone was something I didn’t even want to think about. Once in the water, the boat moved remarkably well despite its weight. Paddlers who master surfskis are rewarded with incredible glide and responsiveness. They are tippy when compared to a traditional sea kayak and require a different approach to balance, as they have very little primary stability. They also feature an open cockpit that many find liberating as it can be drained by simply paddling with the bailer open. In heavy offshore conditions, this dramatically changes the nature of taking an unplanned swim, as a remount can be accomplished in under 10 seconds. I left the marina in the fog and as my mind settled into the day’s work I quickly found my standard paddling rhythm. I enjoyed clearing skies as I paddled against the current in Goletas Channel, and made good time to Shushartie Bay where the current switched and I picked up my pace considerably, averaging 6 knots as I headed out to meet the ocean. I had planned to change my water supply at Cape Sutil, but as I landed I was approached by a black bear feeding on a carcass of some kind. Water would have to wait.

Nicholas Cryder battles the elements, injuries and his equipment in his bid to set a paddling speed record around Vancouver Island. Here’s an installment on the story of how it went wrong.

I arrived at Cape Scott at roughly 4 p.m. feeling dehydrated and hot in the unusually high temperatures and still air. I was in high spirits and motivated to face my first real challenge – rounding the cape. I found conditions hectic and up to the cape’s reputation with large, standing waves (three-metre faces), confused seas and surging currents. My rough water training and preparation paid dividends, and I was able to make short work of the transition around the cape with only a few sea lions for an audience. Once past the cape my adrenaline rush faded as the heat of day and tight water supply caught up to me. Battling confused seas and feeling heat exhaustion, I made the tough call to head in sooner than


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by nicholas cryder Cape Scott

to win

Goletas Channel Cape Sutil

The start: Port Hardy

Guise Bay

Quatsino Sound Lawn Point East Creek (page 28)


Cape Cook/Brooks Peninsula Kyuquot Sound Nordstrom Creek Ferrer Point (page 30) Nootka Island Nootka Sound Clayoquot Sound Lone Cone (page 34) Tofino

I would have liked, and camped at Guise Bay instead of my intended target farther down the coast. Disappointing but not a total disaster. Guise Bay was tremendously beautiful, and surprisingly well attended by a mix of hikers and a couple of fellow kayakers. It was here that I met another paddler who was also traveling around the island, but without the pressure of a record attempt. I suspected he would enjoy his circumstances much more than I would. As a strange matter of chance, I later ran into his son in Tofino who asked me out of the blue if I happened to see his dad out there. Small world. My first night, however, was not a pleasant one. My phone went bonkers and randomly turned itself on and started ringing. It did this

for six hours, and woke me even though I placed it in a small dry sack and buried it in the sand. Suspecting water as the culprit, I took the silica packets from a freeze-dried meal and placed them with the phone in a small ziplock bag to try to help it recover.



2: Monday, July 26th

I woke up at 4 a.m. drained from my phone’s antics. I began by figuring out a communication plan with my family in the event my phone failed completely. I was on the water by about 9 a.m., another disappointment, and decided that Lawn Point was likely my best bet as a target to end the day at roughly 80 kilometres away. When attempting a circumnavigation record of this magnitude, u


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The surfski in training use – you can’t do this when it’s loaded with gear.

A bear thwarts a break and a water resupply at Cape Sutil.

Final approach in calm conditions only to find Cape Scott in a rather testy mood. 12



every hour and every mile counts. If you fall behind, you have to find the miles the next day, lest the clock run away from you. Conditions were rough in the early morning with a wandering wind skipping across a fast-moving western swell with lots of rebound waves. The overcast skies with high clouds and temperatures in the mid teens Celsius were a welcome adjustment from the heat of the previous day. In my research, I found numerous sailing accounts that mentioned a countercurrent roughly four or five kilometres offshore in this stretch of Vancouver Island. What a relief to find this current and see my pace climb to 5.6 knots despite the rough conditions. I greatly prefer to paddle offshore for a handful of reasons. It makes going from point to point more efficient, and greatly reduces the rebound of the sea meeting the rocky shoreline. Less rebound means more boat run, and more boat run means more speed. Another aspect of paddling farther offshore is that the capes and points can be tricky, with fast-moving breaking waves that zoom into shore to meet the reefs and kelp beds. It was far simpler to just paddle around them on the outside than risk being thumped inside. But the real prize is being alone in the ocean. In contrast to our modern, hemmed-in world, being truly alone is a very fine luxury that energizes me in a way that few things can. There is, however, another curious benefit to paddling offshore that I discovered. It’s just heaps of fun to sneak up to within a few feet of a boat full of sport fishermen several miles offshore and suddenly ask ,“Hey guys! Which way to Victoria?!” They really love that. At around noon the current faded and my pace slowed to the low 4 knot range. Decent, but much slower than I am accustomed because of the severe weight of the boat and the messy water. The wind built throughout the day, and became a stiff southwest breeze by early afternoon along with a southwestern swell. Not exactly the epic downwind run I had fantasized about in my months of training. I arrived at Lawn Point at roughly 4 p.m. feeling strong. I was tempted to continue due south to cross Brooks Peninsula in the evening. After contemplating the risk of an exposed crossing at night in unfamiliar and formidable territory, I decided to call it an early day and attempt to get a better night’s sleep and an early start the next day. I found

THE COAST BY SURF SKI Lawn Point a beautiful location, but loaded with fresh signs of bear and no fresh water. Once again my desalinator was my best friend. The desalinator makes 1.3 gallons of water per hour of pumping, which with my water budget meant two hours per night to just make water. The device weighs 7.3 pounds. Not great. However, the act of taking water from the sea and converting it into drinkable water is right up there with human flight. I felt like I was robbing the world’s greatest bank as I quietly pumped water from a tide pool in the dark of night to supply the next day’s water.



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3: Tuesday, July 27th

My phone was in a much better mood now, staying turned off when it should, and I was able to give it a charge from my portable solar charger. Good dog! I slept very well, and had a visit from a bear and her cubs in the early morning hours as I made my breakfast. They calmly walked by my tent and paid me no heed as I held my breath with a death grip on my bear mace while the JetBoil quietly hissed. This may be the one time in my life when I was thankful to have a simple bowl of oatmeal instead of bacon and eggs for breakfast. At first light a dense cloud started to form over Brooks Peninsula, making me thankful for my GPS as I headed south in low visibility. The swell remained southwestern, but picked up significantly in size. It gave the ocean an eerie, slow, heaving sensation. No wind. No sight of land. Just a crazy guy paddling in a gray, featureless space towards a place with a great reputation for chaos. I arrived at Cape Cook at roughly 8:30 a.m., just as the morning clouds lifted to confirm what my GPS had been telling me all morning. I was at Brooks! u

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The beautiful beach at Guise Bay.

As is well documented, Brooks Peninsula has a strange, magnetic power and a curious rebounding wave effect that has sent many a sailor missing. I felt a bit like Indiana Jones as I committed to a center line between Cape Cook and Solander Island, and found conditions at first deceptively mild. The farther I went, the weirder things got. Flat water surged very quickly in a direction completely contrary to the swell and wind. And when that newly formed wave met the swell, the result was a fast ride upwards as the two waves formed a pyramid-shaped wave about the size of a modest house beneath the boat. It was a wild, fast ride, and this was a very mild day. This is what I had imagined, and hoped for, and I loved every second of it.


s I rounded the cape proper and faced the east, I was somewhat dismayed and amused to see a vast sweep of coastline with roaring waves closing out the horizon in front of me. The swell direction, out of the southwest, was setting off waves that looked like huge and fast runaway



mining trucks three miles offshore. As my eyes worked their way down the coastline, the clouds parted and a light breeze picked up behind me and the swell became more westerly. It was if a spell had been broken, and my spine tingled at the hope that I might get some usable wind. I made note of the very distant shoreline, checked my GPS and decided that an open ocean crossing of roughly 40 kilometres in such fair weather was worth the risk to gain the distance. But before I set off, I made the decision to attempt to go ashore at Nordstrom Creek to get out of my wetsuit (I was now very hot in the full sun) and change my water bag before committing to this very long and open stretch of ocean. As the big waves went off around me, I used the ski for a couple of very fast rides into the beach towards Nordstrom Creek by choosing smaller waves and riding in on the back of one of the big ones. Once on the inside there is enough of a reef to cancel most of the waves, but three to four footers were still coming through and dumping onshore with a very fast WINTER/SPRING 2016

frequency. Boulders and kelp beds mixed in to keep it true to the spirit of Vancouver Island – that is, requiring a technical, high stakes landing in the middle of nowhere that will leave you in trouble if you get it wrong and break something. I timed the last wave to perfection, hopped out of the ski and grabbed the bow and let the wave swing the tail towards the shore so I could then run the ski up the beach with the nose on the sand. I use this technique because the awkward moments after a surf landing are very vulnerable to both the rider and the vessel, and my ski has an extra large surf rudder under the stern that prevents a traditional shore landing. I executed this approach like the Red Baron himself, and enjoyed a euphoric, silly moment of relief as I took a deep bow for my imaginary audience. And in a rare moment of truly divine humor, a long legged and shaggy bear casually walked out of the forest and walked directly towards me. It then sat down and just stared at me, tilting its head sideways as we both looked at each other for a long, awkward moment. Both

THE COAST BY SURF SKI of us marveled at the insanity of what was unfolding in this very isolated place, like a Farside comic that unfortunately might have a tragically dark punchline. Assessing my very limited options, I snapped into action and hustled back out into waves. Hoping the bear wouldn’t be up for a swim as I calmly opened the back hatch between waves, switched the water bag and took off my neoprene paddling jacket, keeping a close eye on the shore. And

then the bear started to walk slowly out into the surf towards me. I slammed the hatch shut, hopped on the ski and managed to leave skid marks on the waves as I peeled out of there like a Clint Robinson wanabee. I checked the transcript from my mental tape and it reads: “FASTER FASTER FASTER!!!” Once past the backline I took a deep breath, ate some lunch and had a laugh at the absurdity of what had just happened. I also made some mental notes about being

more patient on beach landings and to remember to request more prayers from friends and family because I had burned through their entire supply in one morning. I was ready to get back to work and set off towards the far skyline of Kyuquot Sound hopefully to make camp at a promising location called Rugged Point. At some point the scale of Vancouver Island becomes formidable. It will confront you and break you down. u


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Lawn Point looks like a giant lawn as you approach from the water. Accessing the beach is a bit unnerving until you clear the reefs and kelp

I learned this repeatedly on this trip. I would muscle past yet another cape, only to stare into the fading landscape to see it arcing into the next horizon. This time was a bit different, though, and after paddling for four hours against a strong offshore current towards my landmark target it just didn’t appear any closer. The GPS assured me it was, but it was taking forever as I plodded along in what felt like the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I turned around to have a final look at the Brooks Peninsula, and it was still very close. Sigh. “No one mentioned that Brooks would follow me,” I say to myself. It’s a funny thing how temptation finds you in even in the most remote of places. I completed the crossing and made my way through the outer reefs of Kyuquot sound in the hot sun towards Union Island, feeling parched and tired from a long day out but satisfied at having achieved a significant milestone. A fishing boat sped up to me and came to a sudden stop. The guys said they had seen me crossing in the open water earlier, and were curious if I wanted a wanted a drink as they pulled an ice cold beer from a cooler. They were concerned to see someone that far off shore, and had 16


Brooks Peninsula and Solander Island in the distance. WINTER/SPRING 2016

THE COAST BY SURF SKI kept tabs on me as I crossed. Not so alone after all, eh? I declined their offer, explaining that I was on a mission around the island and could take no assistance*, however frosty and lovely. The kindness of total strangers here in Canada is not lost on me. Eventually, the miles gave way and I steamed into the white sand coves of Rugged Point. Upon landing, I was simply overwhelmed yet again by the endless beauty of Vancouver Island. Each beach

presented a fresh interpretation of the island’s greatness. As I marched up the beach I noticed a number of footprints. In particular a set of footprints from a child that appeared just minutes old. It brought a smile to my face to think of my own children one day running around this very beach, and I made a promise to myself to return as I set up my camp for the night. I scouted for water, and could not find the stream indicated on my map in the

fading light. So after dinner I went to find a good location to desalinate water. This is a bit tricky, as on a wide beach you must be able to pump water away from the surf and waves. I found what I thought was a good rock, and started to pump. Unfortunately, the location was not good and the desalinator intake sucked up rocks and sand, which tore the fragile membrane inside the pump and rendered it useless. I suddenly had to adjust to the reality that my trip was now u

* Editor’s note: It’s a source for debate as to what constitutes a self-propelled voyage around Vancouver Island and how that can affect the claim of a speed record for paddling around Vancouver Island. When Sean Morley set the record, he had assistance one night near Victoria getting taken, boat and all, to stay with a friend overnight. Another kayaker had a boat replaced. It raises the question of how much assistance someone can have before the trip no longer qualifies as self-propelled. A great deal of the difficulty of setting the record lies not just with the paddling but in pulling the boat from the water, setting up camp, cooking, looking for fresh drinking water, and so on. Because of that, a supported trip with a ground crew helping every step of the way is a completely different style of record than someone paddling alone. For that reason, and to support the spirit of the wild, demanding nature of the record, Wild Coast Magazine supports the “unassisted” category where, to qualify, a paddler must receive no human assistance, no matter how small, throughout the entire trip. Sadly, that means passing on a beer. But it’s like claiming a climb of Mount Everest without using oxygen tanks. Puff even a tiny bit of oxygen from a tank along the way and you can’t make the claim. Nicholas Cryder was the first to attempt the record truly unassisted; for now the record remains unclaimed.


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NORTH AND WEST VANCOUVER ISLAND entirely dependent on finding fresh water in a severe drought year. I also had the even less attractive idea take hold that I now had the privilege of lugging a seven-pound paperweight in the nose of my boat for the next 800 or so kilometres. First-class white guy problems, every last one of them.



4: Wednesday, July 29th

I got up early to head out in search of water. The moon made for a bright, clear morning and I was in high spirits. After an extensive search, I found the stream bed in the forest. It was dry except for a few deep, still holes that had numerous signs of wildlife visitation. But there it was, water! As I began to treat it with a UV light, I made note of the various tracks in the soil. Coyote, racoon, deer and... oh, a cougar! As the significance of these tracks sank in I had a very still, quiet feeling that I was being watched. Chiding myself for my imagination, I carried on with my task. But I couldn’t shake the feeling and was happy to exit the dark forest with my prize and hide intact as the sun rose. At the time, I did not know that a kayaker had been attacked by a cougar on this very beach the summer prior. I was on the water by 9:00 a.m. and felt good physically, and was motivated to soldier on despite my setbacks and the increasing number of sea sores (saltwater abrasions) that were beginning to appear all over my body. I used a mix of body glide and petroleum jelly to try to limit them. The petroleum jelly does a good job of slowing the waterlogging of skin. The abrasions that this will cause are similar to second-degree burns. Petroleum jelly is crucial for your hands that suffer particularly badly, but one must be careful to put the petroleum on well before one grabs a paddle shaft. This works for the first six to eight hours, but after that it wears off as the friction and miles pile up. Anything that has skin-to-textile contact (even neoprene!) will abrade in the saltwater. More so skin on skin. High quality paddling clothing and skin-tight rash guards will help, but all bets are off when you are out for 12 hours or more for several days on end and cracking the whip physically. The other aspect of sea sores is preventing them from getting infected. Easier said then done. I was careful to save a little freshwater for a sponge bath at the end of each day, and to use clean bandages and Neosporin at night. This eats a lot of time,



Sunrise on choppy water.

but it is a mandatory care regiment to keep your body running strong for so many days out in a harsh environment. My target for this day was to clear the Hesquiat Peninsula and make my way to a camp at Hot Spring Cove or possibly Flores Island Provincial Park where I would likely have good access to water. This task proved very difficult, with a strong current pushing against a light, on again, off again northwest wind and a large western swell. There were times when I made great progress, and this was the first time on my entire trip that I managed to catch a ride on a handful of waves resembling a downwind paddle. But otherwise I found the seas confused with very little directional energy to work with. Just mile after mile of hard paddling in messy water. At one point I was paddling past a buoy offshore of Nuchatliz, noting the strange mooing sound it makes as it sways in the swell. I recall staring at the buoy and reminding myself that sharks often hover near buoys in California. “Good thing to remember. Yup!” And then I glanced down to check my compass and noticed a shark swimming with me directly beneath my boat as it silently shadowed this strange new fish. I stopped paddling and just stared, totally absorbed like a child at the aquarium. WINTER/SPRING 2016

The shark then swam up beside me, tilted its head out of the water and stared at me with a jet black marble eye before disappearing. I noticed a large number of gills, so figured it was probably a six gill shark and was roughly six feet long. Not big enough to worry me, but maybe it was someone’s little sister? Onward! As the day and miles rolled by, I approached Hesquiat Peninsula at roughly 6:00 p.m. feeling tired but motivated to make the most of the day. However, the western swell made this a very demanding and dangerous crossing, as the breakers appeared to form three to four miles offshore and zoomed towards the reefs, closing out the entire bay. I thought I would be clever and save some miles by taking a tight, inside line. Upon doing this however, I was suddenly in a very dangerous spot as the reefs here are a maze and are loaded with kelp beds. On this particular day, six-metre barreling waves were making easy work of the reefs, blasting over them and into a washing machine. I delicately alternated between paddling over and through the tops of the breaking waves, and then turning back into them to surf down their backs to pick up speed as I tip-toed my way through the gauntlet. All the while the ghostly white lighthouse stared me down me like a witch tower out of the Tolkien trilogy. After punching through an oncoming wave I took a deep breath and sprinted into the next rushing blow. I was so thankful to be in a strong, stable surfski as I was paddling at my absolute threshold in an absolute no-fall zone. Once clear of the lighthouse and safely past the backline, I had a difficult decision to make. The wind was picking up quite a bit, and I really wanted to make my goal of Hot Spring Cove, which I could see roughly ten miles away. I had at this point paddled 100 kilometres of rugged, open ocean today. But the sun was setting, and it meant with some degree of certainty that I would be paddling an open water downwind in the dark. On the other hand, given what I had just gone through and feeling rattled, Hesquiat had a menacing, dark presence and I simply loathed the idea of a camp here. Remembering that the mileage is always greater than it appears, I reluctantly decided to head into Hesquiat Harbour, reasoning that I could make a fast, efficient camp and exit in the morning.


Haze over a distinctly Clayoquot Sound landscape.

As I paddled into the bay past a feature known as Anton’s Spit, I noticed an old sailing ship anchored just off shore. I wondered if perhaps it had been run aground there, as it looked to me in the fading light to be in rough shape and in shallow water. I thought it worth a closer look, and was surprised to see that the ship was occupied, and had a thick black smoke coming from a chimney pipe below deck. Its wooden boards had a slick, black oily finish with a tattered tarp and old dinghy on the back that gave it a creepy vibe. I joked to myself that it was good to know Captain Sparrow had found a proper place to camp between films. The bay itself has a shallow water sandbar that enables a strange wave to form very suddenly out of the still water; breaking and then rebounding as it rips across the bay like a wake of a ghost ship from an age past. If I were in an empty ski, this would be a very fun wave. But not tonight. Not now. I paddled up to the shore in the last

shreds of light to the location listed on my map as a good camp, and realized that the shoreline of the bay was made up large, basketball-sized rocks jumbled on top of each other. I muttered “What next?” to myself as I contemplated briefly heading back out to sea in the dark, but then decided against it and to try to get the boat up on the beach without damaging it. It was here that I was nailed by an oncoming wave at the worst possible moment and instantly regretted asking “what next?” just moments before. It was a tremendous effort to keep my footing and I nearly dropped my beloved, loaded boat on these rocks which would have been a very severe blow. In saving the boat, however, with my last ounce of strength I felt a sickening tear deep in my shoulder muscle and cried out. I was not able to set the boat down in the waves, but not able to walk either. I was left just standing there, frozen in a battle with myself. I took a few deep breaths, focused and let my feet carefully

try to find a solid footing in between the stones as I balanced on the slippery rocks and waves. It worked. I staggered step by agonizing step over the course of ten minutes out of the waves until I could set the boat down ever so carefully on the rocks. I then used my haul bag and raced two loads of gear out of the boat up the beach to my camp. After retrieving the now-empty boat and bringing it to the shore, I realized I had missed a very nice, sandy beach. Ah, maybe next time... I made a hasty camp under the light of a full moon. I was physically wasted from the day, demoralized and my shoulder muscle throbbed as I used the last of my fresh water to make a quick dinner. I debated not making dinner, but knew that I would need the calories to face the day to come. My map indicated a lake nearby, so I reasoned that I might be able to find it and draw water in the morning. As I fell asleep, I heard a pack of wolves howling to each other in the forest and u




NORTH AND WEST VANCOUVER ISLAND summed my inner Jeff Bridges to mutter a gruff “Fine. Come see me. I’ll be here.” Sure enough, they did. I was woken up at 3 a.m. by their bickering as they went through my hastily made camp. I decided to try and scare them off, and used my camera flash and a deep shout to send them running. Maybe not the most delicate way to make friends, but I was in a very bad mood and decided it was my day to be the bigger badder wolf. It had its intended effect, almost to the degree of comedy. I felt like a total jerk as I fell back to sleep. A big happy jerk. An important note: I had taken the time to secure my food well outside my camp in a bear bag hung from a tree. As a guy who’s spent a lot of time in the mountains, there are some rules you just don’t break. Ever.





6: Friday, July 31st


7: Saturday, August 1


5: Thursday, July 30th

I awoke just before dawn very tired, very sore and very thirsty. I grabbed my light, ate some kippered snacks and choked down crackers, nuts and dried apricots for breakfast and broke camp as I wrestled with my morale. I did my best to cheer up, noting the fine weather and the potential to rebound. But my inner Gollum called my bluff. “This is not going well. We’re losing, Precious. Piece by piece. Minute by minute this is slipping away from us, Precious.” Everything was hard. Packing was hard. Moving was hard. Thinking was hard. Complaining was hard. I briefly made a foray in search of the lake and water, and after taking a bad fall in the thick forest, I decided to retreat and just leave. Getting on the water, I was thankful to be out of the ocean swell in a flat, quiet bay. It hurt a lot to paddle, and as I slowly limped out of the bay I dared a final look back to Hesquiat. It was there that I realized I had paddled past some houses that night and not seen them. Crazy. I entertained the idea of trying to rally and make it Ucluelet. But the more I paddled, the more I realized that that my strength was ebbing and my sea sores were getting quite bad, making it very painful to just sit in the ski. I knew that this was likely the beginning of the end of my attempt. Or maybe even the middle of the end. I had mixed feelings. The fighter wants to go on because the fight is still on. The tired, broken man knows sometimes dreams are just dreams. I chew on these thoughts and decide to make my way towards Tofino and try not to come to


Sea sores and waterlogged feet. Sorry lads.

work with the inmates. My joke earns his empty, glaring stare. It’s time to go. I limp into Whitesand Cove and am greeted warmly by some fellow kayakers and a hiker. I learn that there is water in the nearby village and limp my way into town. I also make contact with my wife, and let her know that I have found a good, sheltered spot and will spend the day resting to see if my shoulder is workable. I know it’s not, but after years of working towards this goal, I owe it to myself and those who believed I could do this before pulling the plug.

Back on land in Tofino.

a hasty conclusion. Just paddle and see if things improve as the day progresses. Then then wind comes from the southwest, and pushes steadily against a northwest swell to make the sea rise up in hissing white caps. I should care a lot about this, but I do not. I am numb to each slap in the face by the oncoming waves. I limp on, puttering forward. Not advancing as I have trained myself to do, but not stopping as I have trained myself to do. Defiant. Willfull. Andry. Tired. Lonely. Wounded. Defiant. Eventually I slip past the reefs and into the wind shelter between Flores Island and Bartlett Island in the early afternoon, and the beauty and still water of Clayoquot Sound seduces me. The sun is shining. The air is warm. And then, a family of gray whales surround me as I destroy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are in a good mood and now I am in a good mood. My Avatar moment comes screeching to a halt, though, as a jet boat stuffed full of tourist in matching fluorescent orange jump suits roars up. They wait jealously outside my holy whale circle, impatiently glaring at me. I am right in the middle in their shot, and they paid good money for this. I casually paddle to the back of the whale boat, where I commend the warden for his WINTER/SPRING 2016

The next day I make a quick study of my injuries, and decide that this is the end. I spend the day cleaning wounds, stretching sore muscles and soaking up the sunshine and getting to know my fellow beach friends. All of us come from different places, but are from the same tribe. Doing our best to live good lives that we think count for something. I coordinate with my wife, who has worked tirelessly to make arrangements with my family for a pickup in Tofino. Incredibly I learn that my dad is flying out from Montana and then driving my truck to me. And other family have offered to do the same. It’s nice to be so loved. I love my family back. ay

I head into Tofino in the morning and make good time on the fast currents, despite my shoulder. I have been offered a tip to head to the Kayaker’s Inn, as they are very friendly to expedition paddlers and will likely let me stash my boat on their racks. Friendly was an understatement. I was greeted by a guide on the beach, and then introduced to Liam and a Tasmanian named Meg, who offered me a fabulous cappuccino and use of the guide’s shower. I wandered around town the rest of the day in a dazed culture shock, trying to adjust to the sudden influx of people, commercial zeal and cocktail of languages that is Tofino. And then, I realized that I already missed the wild, beautiful places that I had just worked so hard to leave. Imagine that. Nicholas Cryder is a competitive surfski paddler and expedition adventurist living in the Pacific Northwest. For more on the history and other circumnavigation records, visit the Island Race page Ü.



Locally Owned. Run by paddlers. On the water at 2020 Cliffe Ave., Courtenay, BC WINTER/SPRING 2016




“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make sense any more.” – Rumi.

ground zero for






by john kimantas


TJ Watt, left, and Ken Wu at the Emerald Pool in Walbran Valley.


Delica stops along a narrow, twisting section of the Walbran Main just a few miles from the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park border. We scramble from the van for a view across a broad valley overlooking two strings of hills that lead into the distance. At the bottom of the valley is a confluence of rushing water, a distant waterfall visible as a thin twisting ribbon glistening white amid a landscape otherwise green. It’s a deceiving green, as it hides the wealth within. A forest may seem just a forest, but TJ Watt, a campaigner for the Ancient Forest Alliance, points out the details. “Second growth forest will look quite monotonous. The trees will typically be all the same height and generally the same shade of green, almost looking like a lawn, very uniform, whereas old-growth forests tend to look messy, to put it the simplest way. “You have trees of varying heights so one will be sticking up higher than the other. Because of gaps in the canopy you’ll have these dark shadows that give the forest more of a 3D look to it. They often have more mosses or lichens so from a distance you can he

sometimes see those hanging off the tree branches. And also if there is a lot cedar there, then you often see the dead tops of the cedar trees sticking out; they look like white spires. That doesn’t necessarily mean the trees are dead, but sometimes the leader section of the tree has died off. Once you get used to seeing those, you can really tell the forests apart from a distance.” What we’re looking at across this wide valley is a messy forest – the indication it is old-growth. In the valley bottom is Castle Grove, one of the finest remaining examples of ancient red cedar stands. It and the surrounding old growth on the lower slopes make up one of the largest intact chunks of endangered, unharvested forest remaining on Vancouver Island. It’s a rare view. On Vancouver Island south of Barkley Sound, about 90 percent of the original forest has been logged, along with about 95 percent of the lowland old growth. “What we’re really down to is the last remnants of the classic giants and it’s the best of the classic giants because it’s literally in the Carmanah-Walbran-San Juan-Gordon River, these four southern valleys where you

get the very best growing conditions in the entire country. If you go north it gets colder, as you go east it gets drier,” says Ken Wu, a campaigner for the Ancient Forest Alliance. What we’re looking at is a snapshot of what soon won’t exist. Eight cutblocks are proposed for the slopes surrounding Castle Grove, and one has been approved. It’s what Ken and TJ are here to fight. “It would turn that whole region into a Swiss cheese if they were approved and cut,” TJ says. It’s a region already well sliced. Right behind us is a cleared slope of stumps, debris and encroaching scrub. That cutblock was logged in 1992, when Ken walked through the wreckage to come upon a 16-foot-wide stump. “It was as wide as the Castle Giant, the biggest known tree in the Walbran. That area was really a gargantuan Jurassic Park kind of stand – it was really one of the most significant, grandest old-growth forests in the world, and now they’ve logged it.” For TJ, as a new activist at the time, seeing that stump had a profound impact.





Ken Wu and TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance, one of the groups attempting to save the Walbran Valley.

“It was one of the first moments I realized old-growth logging was not a thing of the past and these giant trees were still being cut down each and every day. To think this is still happening another 10 years later is disheartening, but makes me resolve to fight harder to keep it from happening any more.”


he fight in the Walbran is escalating and while Ken believes the first cutblock is almost certain to be logged, – unlike the others, it has received approval – he believes mounting public pressure could turn the tide in favour of preserving the remainder. And the pressure is building.



The Ancient Forest Alliance spearheaded the drive to save nearby Avatar GroveÜ, an old-growth forest outside Port Renfrew. Ken credits the support of the Port Renfrew chamber in helping win that battle. The support to save the Walbran is already much stronger – particularly as a host of conservation groups are now involved in the Walbran. But Ken believes it is the business support, not the environmental support, that will be tip the balance. “The reason Avatar was protected was support from the Chamber of Commerce and the business community. That’s one of the key things we’ll be working on – the outreach to all the restaurants and B&Bs and lodges.” WINTER/SPRING 2016

If there’s a lesson learned from Avatar Grove, it is that conservation has a payback. The grove is widely accredited to a growth in tourism to the Port Renfrew region and is a key item of the region’s tourism menuÜ. Clearcuts, on the other hand, never make the must-see list.


variety of petitions, protests and

initiatives are planned by the various groups battling the logging, but another emerging element is a protest camp – at the Walbran Witness Camp, the same location for the camp in the early 1990s. That served as the base for the blockades that led in part to the inclusion of the Lower Walbran Valley into



Above: A roadside stop to look over the area slated for cutting. Right: A mushroom tree. Below: a hidden treasure of a waterfall and the fate that befell another nearby hillside.





The Emerald Giant, aka Mordor Tree, and TJ Watt above Castle Grove preparing a drone for a video of the area. View his drone video onlineĂœ. 26





Walb ran M ain

Botley L. North trailhead North trail access off Walbran Main off Haddon Main Auger L. Anderson L. Maxine’s Tree

Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park

Witness Camp and bridge Castle Giant

Proposed Teal Jones cutblocks in purple

Tolkien Giant

Cullite Cr.

Logan Cr.

Wes t Co ast T rail

Campe r Cr.

Wa lbr an Cr.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. A spraypainted slogan, painted by a protestor while dangling over the river on a log, still clearly proclaims “Wilderness forever” on the bridge. The park is populated full-time by only a small band of diehards, though the weekend population tends to swell. At the moment (November, 2015) no blockades are planned; the camp residents are only keeping an eye on the progress of the logging with one brief clash between protesters and policeÜ. Trails criss-cross the area around the Witness Camp, many leading to the monster trees that can be found nearby. One is the Emerald Giant, and Ken offers a laugh as he sees the sign, proclaiming it “aka Mordor Tree.” “I named it that back when Lord of the Rings was popular,” Wu says. “It seemed fitting because it looked like Mordor with the turrets for branches.” He concedes the new name sounds nicer and is more applicable as the Giant is adjacent to the Emerald Pool, a stretch of river that almost glows its namesake colour (the pool is pictured on page 17). We stop to admire a thick patch of tiny mushrooms growing from an adjacent tree. It’s an area that possesses an unspeakable beauty, from the smallest detail to the largest giant spruce. Previous ‘wars in the woods’ have garnered international attention, and many Canadians must wonder at the fuss. Yet’s it’s hard to believe those who would let the Walbran be logged would fail to be emotional at the bulldozing of the Serengeti or strip mining in the Grand Canyon. Wu sees no difference. “If you think about where the natural wonders of the earth are, say the Grand

Emerald Giant

Pacific Rim National Park

Walbran, help with any of the initiatives by the supporting conservation groups: the Sierra Club of British ColumbiaÜ, the Wilderness CommitteeÜ, the Ancient Forest AllianceÜ or the Friends of Carmanah/WalbranÜ. For driving instructions, the Friends of Carmanah/ Walbran website has detailed instructionsÜ.

Canyon in the U.S. or the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania, I’d argue that the coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island rank up among them. And the Carmanah Walbran is just too beautiful; I just can’t describe it in words.” To help the war in the woods to save the Specializing in Unique Coastal Real Estate

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There are other locations where the trees are falling unchecked with no protest camps or campaigns to save the forests. These include some of the most beautiful and pristine areas of the BC coast. Here are two more areas where the ancient forests are losing the battle.

East Creek B

ack when it was still one of the last

unprotected, intact watersheds on Vancouver Island in 2003, there was a brief glimmer of hope for the East Creek estuary. A Save East Creek campaign was launched by the Sierra Club to battle approval by the province for LeMare Lake Logging of Port McNeill to log 480 hectares within the East Creek valley. It was considered the first of a line of dominoes; if the access road for that project was built, it would make it simpler for later logging to push farther into the valley. The Save East Creek campaign, though, was a dismal failure. Too remote for a protest and too obscure to raise public ire, interest evaporated and East Creek became a forgotten cause for all but the logging companies. They, however, did anything but forget. Both East Creek and adjacent Klaskish River are important salmon, elk, wolf and marbled murrelet habitat. But somehow they were left outside the borders of Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park when it was created in 1995. “Nasparti, Power, Battle, East and Klaskish were like a bite taken out of an otherwise continuous protected area, and they had excellent fish and wildlife values and recreation for those hardy enough to get



there, but MoF (Ministry of Forests) didn’t think there were enough of you to be worth it,” Jill Thompson, the organizer of the Save East Creek campaign, told Wavelength Magazine in an interview published in the Summer 2009 edition – A Requiem For East CreekÜ. TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance was there in October to view the current situation and the fears that environmentalists voiced in 2003 have come to pass. “Being in this intact forest and just hearing the saws and cracking and booms of huge trees going down further up the valley – it was such a surreal experience. There was activity everywhere. They’re working in probably four different locations. There are trucks and rock trailers and new bridges going WINTER/SPRING 2016

in and it’s happening quick,” he says. Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance believes the amount of action is for a reason. “They’re going full on because they know sooner or later they’re going to run into a wall here with protests and all that.” It’s an area with cedar and spruce in the range of 10 to 15 feet wide in what was until recently one of the last primarily roadless valleys on Vancouver Island. “Now they’ve got a road down to the ocean and they’re barging logs right off the coast,” TJ says. “It’s just heartbreaking. It was such a beautiful view from there before and now it’s just blasted open and there are skidders and loaders and barges and stuff. It’s the last place you’d want to see industrial activity like that.”







Nootka Island

t was fitting that the inaugural issue of Wild Coast Magazine should include the Nootka Trail as the cover featureĂœ. It represents a wonderful recreation opportunity through a unique wilderness environment alongside a shoreline largely untouched by development or resource extraction. The logging, though, has been pushing increasingly west and south into Nootka Island, and many hikers who have spent days trekking to the island’s southern limits will be saddened to learn that you can now drive to the shoreline at Beano Creek by way of logging roads. Yes, roads now traverse the length of the island. The photo to the right shows what is at risk: an area of unbelievable beauty. Photographed by TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance, it shows an exceptional view of Ferrer Point looking into Nuchatlitz Inlet along the northern end of Nootka Island. Hikers of the Nootka Trail will usually arrive by water taxi or plane at Louie Bay and the adjacent lagoon, the waterways in the neardistance to the far right. A great kayaking beach is Benson Point, visible as the strip of sand at the left turn of the inlet as it curves around the Sophia Range. The photos below shows Ken Wu of the Ancient Forest Alliance amid some of the aftermath of recent logging, as well as other views. So far the logging has gone largely unremarked and unchallenged. That may change over the winter as the Ancient Forest Alliance plans a campaign.









Best paddle/hike combination LONE CONE TRAIL



his has been a category years

in the making. As a long-time paddler who hiked Vancouver Island many years before sitting down in a kayak, I’ve often looked for places where I can enjoy a paddle, stop on a beach and then clamber around before returning home (or to camp) for the day. There is a good reason for mixing a hike and a paddle in one day on the British Columbia coast. Since the wind is generally highest in the afternoon, it makes perfect sense to paddle somewhere in the morning when it is calm, hike to a great location in the afternoon, then paddle back once the wind subsides in the evening. The surprise is that there are so few challenging trails that begin alongside the BC coast. Many coastal trails do exist, of course, but too often a canoe or kayak is inconsequential or even a deterrent. Few




trails are built with kayakers in mind. When approached from the water they inevitably lead to a parking lot – hardly a holy grail of destinations. In the end I picked Clayoquot Sound’s Lone Cone Trail as the ‘best.’ There are other contenders, of course. One is Anvil Island in Howe Sound, but reaching that trail requires crossing private property, and the owners only allow limited periods of the year to cross it. So it is hard to name it a ‘best’ when it is unaccessible most of the year. A shame! Della Falls on the southern edge of Strathcona Provincial Park in central Vancouver Island is another contender, but poor trail conditions make it a hit-and-miss place to reach. Every year another bridge or two seems to get washed out. So why Lone Cone Trail? Well, it’s all about the view. And a few enticing extras as well.


by john kimantas


BEST2016 OFEDITION BC A mix of things to see and places to go based on a pleasant randomness. Enjoy!






ost hikes of the Lone Cone Trail will begin at Kakawis, a former native village site on the west peninsula of Meares Island. For decades it was home to a residential school, part of a dark chapter in Canadian history for the aboriginal students. Later it became an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, but that was closed and put up for sale when a more modern treatment centre opened in Port Alberni in 2009. The Ahousaht purchased the 600-acre parcel in 2013 and transformed it extensively into a campground with full facilities (including showers), a store and a hostel. A plan for the future is to add cabins. A key part of the development is improving the Lone Cone Trail. Access is closest from the dock at a small beach just north of the campground. Kayakers may wish to stay overnight – not a bad idea considering the demand of hiking the trail. If so, kayaks can be landed directly in front of the campground at the lengthy sand beach. The simplest starting point is from the public kayak ramp in Tofino at the end of First Street. The paddle to Kakawis is an easy hour or so, though currents can run strong while sandbars extending off the nearshore islands can ground even a kayak at low tide. The trailhead at Kakawis is mid-way along the access road between Kakawis and the dock to the north. Opposite the trailhead is a steward’s office, and if your timing is right it will be stocked with snacks and cold drinks – a welcome treat on the return journey. A nominal fee is collected to help pay for trail maintenance and upgrades, of which many are planned. “It’s a bit of work in progress, as you can imagine,” says Trevor Jones, CEO of Maaqtusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society, a group of companies owned by the Ahousaht. “We monitor the trail and provide some basic maintenance. It’s in an area we want to be steadily improving over time and we are definitely looking at a bit of a program this spring to get up to a standard that is safe and traversable.” The Ahousaht have converted the old centre into a hostel with dorms for men and women plus private rooms. It has showers, flush toilets, a full kitchen and the nearby store has fresh coffee each day – for free – and supplies if you forgot basic outdoor gear. The campsite is set around the waterfront with two communal fire pits.



Above: the trail uphill. Expect a good workout and then some. Below: the view into Tofino Inlet.



Oh no! A selfie published in Wild Coast Magazine! We promise to never do it again, but for now here’s editor John Kimantas at the viewpoint.




Your North Coast Trail connector! We can take you hiking, kayaking, and surfing. Come along on any of our tour or freight trips and see whales, sea otters, sea lions and all the North Island has to offer. 1.800.246.0093 |

Port Hardy, BC




BEST OF BC: BEST HIKE/PADDLE The trail itself is a demanding four and a half to five hours with an elevation gain of about 730 metres. Lower portions may be muddy, so dress accordingly. The reward is a spectacular view at the summit of Clayoquot Sound and the waterways around Tofino – and with cell phone coverage, you can even post a selfie of the achievement right at the peak (oh, how times have changed). For those who don’t want to paddle, a water taxi is available. In addition, the Tla-oqui-aht offer guided tours from Opitsat. To avoid the ascent, a more modest trail reachable by paddle from Tofino on Meares Island is the Great Cedar Trail, a short walk through an ancient forest. The access is at the south entrance to Lemmens Inlet in a channel midway down Morpheus Island. Water taxis are also available for that hike.

Epper Passage Provincial Park Lone Cone Maurus Channel Vargas Island


Duffin Passage Clayoquot Sound

Information about the trail and the Kakawis facilities is available at www.loneconetrail.caÜ

The view into Clayoquot Sound. Vargas Island is to the right and Stubbs Island in the foreground, evident by the sandy spit.





Meares Island Mount Colnett

Lemmens Inlet Morpheus I.

Great Cedar Trail Tofino


Secret Beach

Campground, Marina and Kayak Launch The NEW Toquaht Marina & Campground LTD (formerly known as Toquaht Bay Campground) is located in the heart of Toquaht Bay. Come visit this incredible new development, the gateway to the magnificent Broken Group Islands, Barkley Sound and Pacific Rim National Park. Toquaht Marina & Campground offers 66 site locations, suitable for all types of adventure. Rentals include nightly, weekly, monthly, and seasonal rates at affordable prices. Campground includes a boat launch, marina, and kayak launch area all available from May 15th- Sept 30th.








Best new adventure development



here do you think

you’re going?” my buddy Greg asks with enough firmness to sound as much like a challenge as a logistical query. “We’re not finished yet.” Twice we had each tried, or more accurately struggled, to climb the series of small, clean rock roofs above us. The evening was getting late but maybe the third time would be a charm. Greg tied back into the end of the climbing rope and headed up for another try. The climb involved a pair of small holds to pull up onto the wall and then a long reach to a square-cut edge. The move that had foxed all three of us so far was an angled slapper for the right hand. This time Greg held on and seemed to easily pull up to the next hold. And on he went, whooping as he did, toward the top. Once back at the bottom of the climb Mick and I quizzed him about what made it so easy, but Greg just grinned. We each took our turn, and this time it came much easier. Behind the palm slapper was a small but usable finger latch. It felt hugely rewarding pulling up on such clean rock and, with some strenuous effort, finding success. This was early days in the exploration of the rock climbing crags on Quadra Island, but it quickly showed us just how good the rock is and how much fun it can be to climb. That evening the lot of us were hooked. Steadily over the past two summers a



of quadra island Climbers take note: there’s a new contender for the crown of rock walls small group of local climbers has been busy developing a treasure trove of more than 150 rock climbing routes on Quadra Island – an island normally better known for its idyllic paddling, its challenging currents for whitewater sea kayaking, its maze of hiking trails and its flowing mountain bike tracks. Now rock climbing can be added to its adventure menu. Although climbing has a reputation as an extreme sport – and there’s no doubt that


there are risks involved – the truth is that like most outdoor sports, participants can engage in it along a wide range of difficulty levels all offering the same rewards. No matter if you’re a complete beginner wrestling with your first climb or a high-end crusher for whom 5.12 means a quick warmup, the payback and exhilaration is always there. The routes have all been set up to be userfriendly. Many of the top anchors are safely accessible to build top rope anchors and the lead protection bolts are closely spaced with few ‘runouts’. The rock is a variation on the region’s prevalent Karmutzen formation of basalts; the geological survey describes it as andesite and mentions the porphyritic crystals climbers have now come to love – and mistrust. These sharp, coarse, pea-size crystals can give superb friction for grip on the tiniest of features, but care is needed with ropes and clothing to prevent nicks and tears. The texture and micro-features of the rock are a delight to climb with many small, positive input holds, little pockets and edges. But in places, usually on the steeper stone, there are forearm-sapping pinches and vexing slopers. It all adds up to a highly enjoyable climbing surface, arguably one of the best in the region. u


by philip stone

Jan Neuspiel and Vjay Howe climb Wolf Pack Corner at Keystone Crag. WINTER/SPRING 2016



BEST OF BC 2016 What’s with the numbers? Climbs are rated for technical difficulty by number; the higher the number, the tougher the climb. Originally ending at 5.10, new standards and equipment meant adding grades of 5.11 and 5.12, with a subdivision of the upper grades by letter “a” (easiest), “b”, “c”, or “d” (hardest).

Nic Manders climbs Mortician, a 5.10a route on Lakeview Crag.

The highest concentration of routes is found on a group of crags dotted across the hillside below the well-known lookouts of Chinese Mountains. Here a well-used hiking trail makes a loop to one of Quadra’s most popular viewpoints. The trail provides a perfect thoroughfare with rougher interconnecting paths linking the crags. Climbers familiar with other BC destinations like Skaha and Crest Creek will find many similarities in the landscape of dry, open, mossy bluffs and appreciate the variety of rock from one crag to the next. For first-time visitors looking for some moderate routes, one of the best crags to visit is Hidden Corner. This bluff, as the name suggests, is tucked out of view on the downhill side of the main trail just a short 10-minute hike from the parking lot. There is a nice terraced area to gear up and hang out at the base and a great collection of climbs from 5.5 to 5.10. For a fun introductory route, the long, stepped Citizen’s Arété is 5.5. Nearby on the main wall are a pair of 5.7s (Be Mine and Secret Valentine). One of the highlights is Two Crows Walked Into a Bar. It climbs directly up a steep face on some incredibly positive holds for a 5.8 rating. The top anchors at Hidden Corner are especially easy to safely access, making it pretty straightforward to set up top ropes, but all the routes are also equipped for leading. Another crag that has become quite popular, also in part because of the quick access, is Manzanita Wall. This is a fairly high rock face, and at just under 30 metres, it is right on the limit of top roping; if you use a 60-metre rope, it requires some extra care and attention on safety details. The trade-route is Birds of Prey, a long and well protected 5.7 on the right side of the crag. A steep start leads up to a more gentle-angled ramp with amazing views overlooking Hyacinthe Bay and Rebecca Spit. 40



Illustration from www.quadraisland.caÜ

QUADRA ISLAND Quadra Island rocks! Access: Quadra Island is reached

Elsewhere at Manzanita Wall are several routes between 5-8 and 5.10, all interesting lines worth a look. Around the corner and up the hill tucked behind a stand of tall Douglas-fir trees is Leaning Tree Edge. This was one of the first outcrops to be climbed at Chinese Mountains and once you’ve experienced the rock here it’s easy to see the attraction. The wall is steep with generally large and positive holds. With a bit more time to play, the pièce de résistance of Quadra Crags is undoubtedly Eagle Crag. It takes about 40 minutes to hike out to the base, but it is well worth the extra effort. Eagle Crag is located west of Chinese Mountains almost in the centre of the island. It is perched partway up a hillside, which exaggerates the sense of exposure and gives incredible panoramic views of the Salish Sea and especially of the Vancouver Island mountains. The wall is about 60 metres high with 25 established routes. Most of the routes are equipped to be climbed in two or even three pitches, but with care to minimize rope drag, most can be done in a single one-pitch

push. As with elsewhere at the Quadra Crags, the rock is solid and clean. The routes at Eagle Crag vary widely in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.12. For a good moderate climb have a look for Fool’s Gold, which climbs a line up the far left-hand side of the crag. At 5.6 and all bolt-protected, it’s an excellent long introductory route or early lead. The main wall of Eagle Crag has Quadra’s most outstanding climbs clocking in at 5.115.12. Talon is one of the finest sport climbs in the region and can certainly hold its own with any similar route in terms of quality. The exposure up the wall and the finishing crack is heart-stopping and Talon should be on the list of any visiting climber capable of 5.11. Philip Stone is a Quadra Island-based publisher and photographer known for his series of guidebooks to hiking, climbing and mountaineering on Vancouver Island, including Quadra Island Rock Climbs. Visit www.wildisle.caÜ. More information about accommodation, dining and other outdoor activities visit www.quadraisland.caÜ

by BC Ferries from Campbell River on Vancouver Island, a 90-minute drive north of Nanaimo, where a ferry connects to the BC mainland. Once on Quadra Island, all major crags are accessible from parking areas near the junction to Hyacinthe Bay Road and Walcan Road. Difficulty: Moderate to extreme. Non-climbers will enjoy hiking the lookout trails on Chinese Mountains. Special considerations: Hours of service for the ferry to Quadra are limited and though regularly scheduled and frequent, may be congested during peak periods. Options: As well as climbing gear, bring hiking boots, a mountain bike, a road bike, a kayak and a canoe. Quadra has many accommodation options with camping at We-Wi-Kai, a campground located adjacent to Rebecca Spit Provincial Park. Rebecca Spit is a popular launch point for kayakers seeking sheltered routes. For whitewater kayaking, follow Village Bay Road to its end at a boat launch close to Surge Narrows, a tidal channel with a reputation for challenging waves and fast water – for experts only. More reading: See the Desolation Sound/Discovery Islands region at wildcoastmagazine.comÜ. For additional information about visiting Quadra Island and the area, the website quadraisland.caÜ has detailed guide information including rock climbing routes.

Winner of BC’s ‘Remarkable Experiences’ Award Discover the mystery of the Underworld at Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park & Outdoor Centre. See amazing crystal formations and ancient fossils. Slide down our new Cave Ramps & Ladders and climb an underground waterfall on this thrilling adventure – a small taste of “wild caving.” • 3 hour Winter Wet & Wild Spelunking Tour • Try self-exploring OR award-winning guided tours • Cave Theatre & Museum on site • Open Daily YEAR-ROUND

250-248-7829 WINTER/SPRING 2016





BEST OF THE BEST 2016 EDITION In the fall, 2015 Wild Coast Magazine put out the word to tour operators and destination marketing organizations to tell us why they are the best of the best at what they do in British Columbia. Here is the result: an assembly of locations and experiences covering a range of opportunities, some well-known and others complete newcomers to the scene.

Best Undiscovered Adventure Destination


These are their words and their message on why they’re the best. It is a great promotional opportunity for them, and hopefully as well it is a great way for you to discover travel locations and adventure options you might otherwise miss. We’ve put them on the map for you, in what should be everyone’s dream checklist of locations to explore in 2016. Enjoy!


Best Cultural Adventure Destination


Best New Adventure Tour

Adventure #13 Best Accommodation

Best Island Adventure Destination

Best New Adventure Development

Best Kayaking in the Realm of the Whales

Best Place To Refresh



Eco Resort #12 Best Kayak Adventure

#10 Best Zodiac Kayak Combo Tour



Best Paddle/Hike Combination 42


Best Day Tour Kayak Adventure

Please note the numbers are not a ranking; they match the location on this map to the corresponding “Best of BC” listing.





Best Sea Kayaking Destination



Best New Adventure Tour Adventure Kayaking / North Coast Kayak Adventures / Douglas Channel

Explore the pristine inlets and inner channels of the picturesque Douglas Channel. Departing from Kitimat’s MK Bay Marina, tours transport kayakers and equipment aboard our comfortable charter vessel. Paddlers may selfguide or paddle with our friendly, knowledgeable staff. The charter vessel remains in the area to provide support, lunch and bathroom facilities. The more adventurous may remain overnight or choose to paddle for multiple days exploring the rugged coastline and relaxing at the end of the day in one of many natural hot springs found along the way. Take advantage of our unique marina accommodation and enjoy multiple days of paddling – a different location each day. The Douglas Channel is an incredible destination for a truly unique and rewarding kayaking experience! Peak Season: May – September. Instruction available for novice kayakers. $200 inclusive per person. Multi-tour packages with accommodation available. Private groups (max. 10/group) welcome. 778-631-2995

Best Undiscovered Adventure Destination Kitimat’s Outdoor Adventures Photo credit: Rene Grabner


From family-friendly hiking surrounded by lush vegetation of the rainforest, to tackling the higher altitudes of adventurous alpine hiking, Kitimat has plenty to offer, whether on foot, ATV or snowmobile. Overnight at a remote campsite or in a rustic cabin available on two of the trails secluded high in the mountains, and enjoy the silence of the open space under a blanket of stars. Don’t forget your camera as the views of the Kitimat Valley and Douglas Channel are spectacular. An opportunity to observe wildlife, big and small, will present itself when you least expect it! Kitimat boasts 11 recognized, well-marked hiking trails located within the municipality and an additional six hikes located just short drives from the town. Most hikes and trailheads are accessible by two-wheel drive. Detailed information, including GPS coordinates, may be obtained from the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Centre. It only takes one visit to get hooked. 1-800-664-6554

A hiker’s paradise and playground all year round. /






Best Cultural Adventure Destination Haida Gwaii

“When you’ve reached the edge of your world, ours begins.” This archipelago off the northwest coast of BC offers endless recreational opportunities including kayaking, surfing, fishing (fresh and saltwater), hiking, and camping in and around Provincial and National Parks. Explore ancient temperate rainforests, quaint villages, secluded inlets and beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Home of the Haida, a vibrant First Nations culture and historic village sites all contribute to the Haida Gwaii experience. Visit Haida Gwaii and discover a world of intrigue, a world of adventure and a world of breathtaking beauty.

Opportunities vary year-round; guided tours available May-Sept., surfing and storm watching October-April. Reservations strongly recommended to prevent disappointment.


Best Kayaking in the Realm of the Whales Six-day expedition with Spirit of the West Adventures

“We want you to fall in love with kayaking and our unique coast and wildlife, and our passion shows in everything we do.” This philosophy flows through every aspect of our operation, from carefully planned tour routes to the home-cooked meals our guests enjoy while exploring the pristine wilderness of northeastern Vancouver Island. Since 1996, we have been guiding kayakers of all skill levels on tours into the realm of the orcas and humpback whales, one of National Geographic Magazine’s picks for their 2012 Ultimate Adventure Bucket List.


Our tours are distinguished by “leave no trace” principles, high-quality kayaking equipment, and caring and experienced guides. Book your unforgettable adventure before May 1st, 2016 and get 10% off (use booking code WCM2016). Explore Johnstone Strait & the Broughton Archipelago, end of June through September. Expedition starting at $1,495. Visit our website for all details. Call us! 1-800-307-3982






Best Place to Refresh West Coast Expeditions Kayaking Retreat, Mission Group, Kyuquot Sound

Fully refresh during a personalized sea kayaking adventure on the edge of Canada. Regardless of your kayaking interest and experience, you will appreciate being on “the perfect islandÜ” for a relaxing and engaging holiday, facilitated by experienced guides and staff who offer individualized attention with flexible daily options. Camping comforts at our enchanting wilderness retreat feature a hot shower and privately situated safari tents with beds, nestled along a cobblestone beach. Our camp chef and staff prepare delicious meals from a spacious dining shelter, where you can also socialize or disappear into a book. Nearby outings explore rugged and serene shorelines with abundant sea otters and rich marine life, towering old-growth rainforest, and unscripted cultural interactions with friends and family from the aboriginal community of Kyuquot. Trips begin with convenient transportation provided from your accommodation choice in the Comox Valley or Campbell River. All-inclusive packages starting from CAD$1899/p for 4 days. Personalized for families, groups, couples or individuals. 1-800-665-3040


Best Sea Kayaking Destination in BC Majestic Ocean Kayaking in the Broken Group Islands

Professionally guided day trips and multi-day trips, for novice to expert kayakers, lessons included, gourmet food, quality equipment, fun and knowledgeable certified local guides. 20-plus years leading on the west coast. Hundreds of Islands to explore with white sandy beaches and temperate rainforests. Paddle through clear sparkling waters and photograph the abundant wildlife. Watch the sunset and stay up for the stars, sleep beneath the forest canopy or on the beach. Nutritious meals are freshly prepared. An experience of a lifetime. Trip advisor quote 2015: “Organized expert guiding in a Stunning Region”; Isabelle from Toronto Day trips, multi-day trips, whale watching, kayaking lessons, kayak rentals, custom experiences. Lodge-based kayaking trips available. 1-800-889-7644 / 250-726-2868






Best Island Adventure Destination Quadra Island, Discovery Islands

It’s time to visit Quadra Island! Nestled between the convenience of small city life in nearby Campbell River and the wild spaces of the Great Bear Rainforest, Quadra Island is on the edge of an adventure paradise. Quadra is known for: Exceptional kayaking in sheltered bays and rugged tidal channels; Hikers enjoy miles of peaceful trails to sweeping hilltop vistas and placid lakeshores; Mountain bikers cruise a maze of forested tracks; While high on cliffs above, rock climbers cling to solid rock. Golfers, art lovers and beach-goers one and all find the perfect getaway on exquisite Quadra Island. The community extends a warm welcome to travellers, all year round, to experience island life. Make yourself at home in cozy accommodation; dine on delicious west coast cuisine; and connect with locals at farmers’ markets, events, festivals and the pubs.

Make sure to visit the renowned Nuyumbalees, First Nations’ Cultural Centre, South End Winery, the lighthouse, our provincial parks and many other Quadra highlights. Start your Quadra Island adventure online at


Best Day Tour Kayak Adventure

Quadra Island Kayaks, Quadra Island

Experience untamed wilderness and explore coastal beauty in just one day. Paddling with Quadra Island Kayaks has you exploring remote island archipelagos and driftwood-filled beaches alongside the towering Coast Mountain Range. This is not your average day tour! Located in the heart of the Discovery Islands, the experience of getting on the water here will have you leaning back in your boat staring at the beauty within moments. Marine wildlife viewing is always a highlight keeping every tour fascinating. Trips launch from a waterfront dock across from Rebecca Spit Provincial Park. Even if your playtime is limited you can still experience wilderness kayak travel on a limited schedule. Quadra Island Kayaks specialize in all-inclusive one-, two- and three-day tours for all levels of paddlers. May 1 – September 30 Half Day $69 1-877-475-8687 / 1-250-285-3400



Full Day $89 All-Inclusive two-day “Overnighter” Expedition $299




Best Zodiac Kayak Combo Tour

Terracentric Coastal Adventures, Lund, Desolation Sound, BC

The best of both worlds: boating in Desolation Sound and paddling through the Copeland Islands Marine Park. Our trip departs the Lund Harbour onboard our Zodiac where we head to the stunning scenery and fascinating history of Desolation Sound. After a few hours on board we rendezvous with our kayaks on a small island where we embark on a paddle back to Lund through the Copeland Islands Marine Park. A wonderful on-shore lunch along the way with time to explore the intertidal life rounds out this fantastic day.

Daily, mid-May to October $159 per person 1-888-552-5558


Best Eco Resort Kayak Adventure

Cabana Desolation Eco Resort

“Extraordinary, exceptional and extremely magical! What an unexpected delight for the senses – all of them!” A comfortably designed, exclusive eco resort located on an uninhabited island in the heart of Desolation Sound, BC. Where warm Pacific waters, lively marine wildlife and towering Coast Mountains provide an awesome West Coast setting. Enjoy freshly created meals, hot showers and a comfortable open-air lounge to relax and regale in the day’s adventures.

Dates: Four-, five- and eight-day packages launching Thursdays and Sundays. Lodge-based kayaking trips available. 1-866-617-4444





Sonora Resort

Nature &luxury

Together at last S

onora Resort wasn’t always like this. “Back in the day it had kind of a colourful reputation as a bit of a Wild West place: lots of gentlemen coming up to fish, and lots of beer and cigars, but primarily lots of fish,” says resort Vice President Sean Ross. “When Sonora Resort first opened, it was a rustic fishing destination located in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.” The goal became to create a retreat where couples, families and groups could come together as well. So the natural first addition was a spa – the beginning of the incredible transformation of Sonora Resort from a fisherman’s getaway to a luxury ecotourism resort. The result is a huge range of adventure



and travel options, from archery to grizzly bear tours; from serene paddling in a kayak to a helicopter glacier tour complete with a picnic lunch on the glacier. Or you could just stay at the resort, which features a swimming pool, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, a putting green, a 12-seat movie theatre, fly fishing ponds, a conservatory, an exercise room, a games room... Plus there is the food, included with your stay. It all started when Matthew Stowe, soon to take the crown of Top Chef Canada, joined the staff. “It was very clear very early on he had a skill none of the other chefs had and wanted to take the food to the next level,” Sean says. “The next thing you know we’re offering


a fine dining experience in the middle of nowhere.” Today the resort’s emphasis on food continues with executive chef Terry Prichor. The focus on cuisine matched a larger picture that was developing. In 2009 Sonora Resort joined Relais and Châteaux, a collection of 533 fine hotels and restaurants in 58 countries around the world. “They were like a good-sized piece of the

Photo by Wynne Powell


jigsaw puzzle for us,” Sean says. “We really liked what we saw there as they have 500-plus properties globally and each one of those properties is absolutely different, independent and unique. But first and foremost, common to all of them, was that they had superb cuisine and a superb level of customer service – quality, charm, character, calm. It truly reflected our own philosophy.” The unique part that Sonora Resort brings to Relais and Châteaux is the seclusion, best solved, Sean says, by helicopter – a 45-minute ride from Vancouver with stunning views along the way. A seaplane is another great transportation method from most places in BC, while a water taxi is also available from Campbell River. Once here, Sean says the guests are generally blown away by the view looking out. Others are blown away by the view looking in. “We’ll get boaters coming through who haven’t been to the area before and all of

a sudden they come around the corner and there we are, looking a little bit like a miniature version of Whistler from the water,” Sean says. Drop-in visitors can be accommodated for things like dinner with sufficient notice, Sean says. But as a private resort access is otherwise limited. Given the isolation and price (rates are $535 for a single occupancy room to $11,060 a day for a villa), the resort tends to attract a clientele that knows what they are hoping to enjoy during their stay, Sean says. “They’re looking for an experience. What they really appreciate is the fact they can venture into the wilderness and still have a five-star vacation with great service, great facilities and the great outdoors.” What Sean likes best is that nature is at the doorstep. Whales, sea lions, eagles, even grizzly bears – they’re never far away. “It is an absolutely special place,” he says. Ü WINTER/SPRING 2016

Top: an aerial view of Sonora Resort with insets showing a grizzly and the vessel from an eco-tour offered by the resort. Above: the resort swimming pool and the conservatory. Left: a room with a view and the conservatory at night. WILD COAST MAGAZINE



searching for the last of the


he forests of my childhood in Germany were tree farms with neatly aligned trees of the same species, the same shape and size. When I came to British Columbia I was fascinated by the wild rainforest. Walking into it was like entering an ocean of endless shades of green: mosscovered branches, myriads of twigs, needles and leaflets, beams of filtered light, old trees toppled over, young ones growing on decomposing wood. Seemingly a chaos, it served well to hide the forest’s largest inhabitants. I was in awe when I first stood in front of one of these hidden giants, an enormous Douglas-fir in North Vancouver’s Lighthouse Park. I had to crane my neck to follow its massive straight trunk rising through the canopy of smaller trees to scrape the clouds above. Trees are among the oldest living things on earth. Bristlecone pines in the high mountains of Nevada and California have been documented to reach ages of over 5,000 years. Trees here in British Columbia may live up to 2,000 years, which is not as impressive until one considers that this still equals 100 generations on the human time scale. Even though our trees are younger than the stunted bristlecone pines, the mild and moist



climate here allows them to grow into giants. Trees can grow to 80 metres tall, the height of a 20-storey building. Just like a multi-storey highrise, they provide ample living room. A diversity of fauna and flora inhabit the different levels of these trees.


n the second half of the 19th century Vancouver turned into a rapidly growing city. The pace of logging accelerated to provide wood for buildings. The tall straight trees were also very popular on the world market. The slopes of lower Hollyburn Mountain were logged until the 1950s. Grouse Mountain and the Capilano watershed were also extensively logged and in addition suffered from major fires. Artifacts from past logging activities can be found to this day; stumps with springboard notches, a maze of corduroy ‘skid’ roads and abandoned, rusted boilers. Historic photos of the time show entire hillsides bare of trees with just stumps left behind. It is nothing less than astonishing how quickly the forest recovered in just 50 years. But one only has to take a hike in the forest to see the difference between second growth and old growth. Old growth is much more diverse than second growth. There is a mix of tree species of different ages and sizes,


including snags and dead trees. The canopy is multilayered and open where old trees are tumbled over. This diverse environment supports a great variety of animal and plant species. In 1926, Ernest Cleveland, the provincial water comptroller and first chief commissioner of the Greater Vancouver Water District, recognized that an intact watershed was mandatory to supply the growing population of Vancouver with clean drinking water, and so he prohibited logging in the North Vancouver watersheds. The dam at Capilano Reservoir is named after this early protector of old-growth forests. After Cleveland’s death in 1952, logging in Seymour Valley resumed, but was finally stopped in the early 1990s when activists recorded and made


by claudia schwab


Visiting the General and his Wife in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve.

public the location of some of the remaining stands of old growth. Randy Stoltmann’s guide books and the UBC Registry of Big Trees originated during this time. The renaming of ‘Seymour Valley Demonstration Forest’ into ‘Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve’ symbolizes the growing appreciation for this example of undisturbed nature. Considering the extensive logging, one can’t help but wonder how any of the giant trees survived. But there were many reasons for loggers to leave some trees standing. Some of the big old trees have spiral growth trunks, broken tops, burls, pistol butts or are otherwise misshapen. In some spots topography was just too rough to log and remove trees safely. And at other times loggers were only interested in a particular

species of tree and there was not much value in others, so they used an early form of selective logging. If you are curious are to see these remaining giants for yourself, put on your hiking boots and follow the short guides below to visit a selection.



Roadside Yellow Cedar

The Roadside Yellow Cedar at Cypress Bowl is the record tree in the Vancouver area with the easiest access. To visit it takes nothing more than driving up the road to the Cypress Bowl Ski Area, pulling over and getting out of the car. A sign on the left just before the turnoff to the cross country ski area indicates the spot. This tree has the record trunk circumference of over 10 metres and is more than 1,200 years

old. But this is not ancient for yellow cedars, which may reach the ripe old age of 2,000 years. These trees, also called yellow-cypress after which Cypress Provincial Park is named, commonly grow at higher elevations than western redcedars. They can be distinguished from redcedars by their droopy branches, ‘flaky’ bark and differences in cone shape and size. Western redcedars have flatter twigs and the bark is stringy.




The Hollyburn Giant and Candelabra Tree trail on the lower slopes of Hollyburn Mountain is a half-day hike. This area was logged until the 1960s with part of the trail passing through second-growth forest.





A nurse log near Mosquito Creek in the lower Grouse Mountain.

Shelf mushrooms at home in the woods.

Here most trees are of similar age and height and form an even and dense canopy that does not permit much light to reach the forest floor, so there is little opportunity for other plants to grow. Relics of past logging can be seen: logs in the trail bed as support for logging equipment like the Walking Dudley (a steam powered logging train); foundations for a boiler house and sawmill; and remnants of Shields Log Dam at Lawson Creek for storing wood blocks and to provide water for a wooden flume. The network of trails is dense here so it is a good idea to download the brochures of Lawson Creek and Brothers Creek Forestry Heritage WalksÜ before setting out. The hike described here is a combination of both walks. It is about 7 km long with a 400 m elevation gain. The trails have some rough and wet sections and sturdy shoes are recommended. The Brothers Creek Walk starts at Brothers Creek Fire Access Trail near 1121 Millstream Road. There is no dedicated parking lot, so don’t block private driveways or emergency access on the roadside. After 300 m you will cross the Skyline Trail and Baden Powell Trail. Keep following the signs for Brothers Creek Fire Access Trail. At 1.5 km Incline Trail joins and after another 400 m start looking for a side trail to the right (east) of the main trail leading to Candelabra Tree. It is an enormous, but dead, Douglas-fir (43 m high, 8.5 m circumference) named for the pitchfork shape of its broken top. Other large Douglasfirs can be found nearby. Continue for another 1.5 km uphill through beautiful groves of old-growth western redcedar until you cross Brothers Creek. From here follow Brothers Creek Trail downhill along the creek for 1 km to where Crossover Trail forks off to the right/west. If you see a bridge across Brothers Creek you have gone too far. After hiking for less than 1 km you get to the giant Hollyburn Fir (44 m height, 9.4 m circumference, 1,100 years old). From here take Brevis Trail downhill for 300 m, turn left (east) onto Skyline Trail and follow it to Brothers Creek Fire Access Trail and the start of the hike. Many alternative trails are available to shorten or extend the trip.



Admiring 1,100 year-old Hollyburn Fir along the Lawson Creek.

Inside a big red cedar along the Seymour Valley Trailway. 52




Visiting the General and his Wife can be a full day affair as there are lots of other sights to explore in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve (LSCR). The total round trip is 27 km, so a bike is highly recommended. The trail starts at LSCR Rice Lake Gate at the end of Lillooet Road. From there paved Seymour Valley Trailway winds its way through the valley forest for 10 km. It is another kilometre on gravel trails (not feasible for road bikes) through old-growth cedar groves and past the salmon spawning channels of Seymour River to the two Bear Island bridges. These were opened in 2012. Cross the bridges and ascend the trail for 300 m to an access road (Spur 4) on the east side of Seymour River. Follow this road south for about 200 m to the somewhat obscure start of Vicar Lakes Trail. Take this trail uphill for about 400 m to two giant western redcedars. You have arrived at the General’s residence. The older, bigger tree may be well over 800 years old and has grown so many burls it seems to belong in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. On the way back check if the Seymour fish hatchery is open to the public and stop by at the Seymour Reservoir Viewpoint. On my last visit, scores of hummingbirds were fighting over first dibs at the feeders. The ‘See More Stumps’ trail just south of the 7 km mark on Seymour Valley Trailway is also worth a stop. Just up the trail is a giant ‘walk-in’ redcedar stump with a stunning 15 m circumference nursing numerous younger trees on its rim.






The Hollyburn Loop is a higher-elevation hike best done when snow-free in summer and fall. Snow for much of the year and colder temperatures mean trees have to contend with a shorter growing season. The Baden Powell Trail starts near the bunny slope just uphill from the first aid cabin at Cypress Bowl ski area and parallels Cypress Bowl Road. Follow the trail east for about 700 m to a creek crossing. Depending on recent rain there may be several small rivulets to cross, but the correct creek is easily identifiable as it runs in a deep ravine. Just after the creek an unmarked and faint trail branches off to the left and follows the stream uphill through a forest of big western hemlock and yellow-cedar trees, with Amabilis fir and mountain hemlock on the higher slopes of Hollyburn. After about 400 m of uphill travel this trail intersects Old Strachan Trail. Look for Hollyburn Giant near this intersection just downhill of the trail. Hollyburn Giant is an enormous yellow cedar with a broken and split trunk. It is amazing how some of these broken giants still cling to life with only a few healthy branches remaining. Turn right on Old Strachan Trail until it intersects Baden Powell Trail after about 2 km. Look for a huge hemlock tree just before the junction. Follow Baden Powell to the west (right) to return to the ski area. This loop is about 4 km long with 150 m elevation gain with some rough and wet sections.


ther suggestions

An easy walk is to Grandfather Capilano starting at the Capilano fish hatchery. Longer walks are in Lighthouse Park, Cypress

Falls Park and Stanley Park lead to many big western redcedar and Douglas-fir trees.


dditional reading and information:

• Friends of Cypress ParkÜ • Brochures and maps of Lawson Creek and Brothers Creek Forestry Heritage Walks, by the District of West Vancouver Parks & Recreation Department and West Vancouver Historical SocietyÜ • Lower Seymour Conservation ReserveÜ • UBC Big Tree RegistryÜ • BC Ministry of Forests Tree BookÜ • Randy Stoltmann Books : Hiking Guide to the Big Trees of South Western British Columbia 1991 and Hiking the Ancient Forests of British Columbia and Washington’1996, both Lone Pine Publishing.

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Recommended reading in new releases:

Love in the Northern Rapids

Paddling adventures in the Canadian Arctic and beyond by Freda Mellenthin When Freda and Ted Mellenthin paddled eight Arctic river trips, the Beaufort Sea, the Canadian and the Alaskan Inside Passage and the Sea of Cortez as well as numerous other adventures, all between the ages of 62 and 74, it only made sense to turn the trip diaries into a book. The result is part romance, part good adventure reading and part travelogue of many classic paddling routes. Price: $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-9939601-0-9 Ü

Wooden Boats

The Art of Loving and Caring for Wooden Boats by Andreas af Malmborg Many readers of Wild Coast Magazine will undoubtedly have a special love for wooden watercraft, whether that involves building a cedar strip kayak or restoring an antique sailing vessel. In Wooden Boats, author Andreas af Malmborg restores boats and in doing so teaches creative preservation techniques and boat care tips and tricks, including 60 do-it-yourself projects. It takes some of the mystery – but not the mystique – out of owning a wooden boat. Price: $24.99 ISBN13: 9781632204769 Skyhorse Publishing Ü

The Real Thing

The Natural History of Ian McTaggart Cowan by Briony Penn Ian McTaggart Cowan (1910-2010) is widely considered “the father of Canadian ecology,” and in The Real Thing Briony Penn explores the underlying story behind this remarkable man who explored the mountains around Vancouver in his early years then wrote definitive works on birds of British Columbia, all undertaken through a century of critical environmental change. The book explores how Ian became a key player, from his television programs in the 1950s and 1960s to his work in environmental education. Price: $30.00 ISBN13: 9781771600705 Rocky Mountain Books Ü

Uncharted Waters

The Explorations of José Narváez (1768–1840) by Jim McDowell The names of captains James Cook and George Vancouver tend to resonate through history in large part because their journeys are accessible in the English language. The Spanish explorers of that age, however, tend to remain shrouded in mystery despite contributions as significant as their betterknown British counterparts. Jim McDowell lifts the shroud of mystery surrounding José María Narváez, who charted a large part of the west coast of Vancouver Island and today’s Salish Sea. Price: $24.95 ISBN: 978-1-55380-435-2 Ronsdale Press Ü 54


Soul of Wilderness

Mountain Journeys in Western BC and Alaska by John Baldwin & Linda Bily Partners, co-authors and photographers John Baldwin and Linda Bily ventured deep into the Coast Mountains of British Columbia by foot and by ski to capture and document the most remote of places, from high meadows to mountaintops, and their residents, from wolverines to mountain goats. The result is a coffee table book that does justice to one of the most beautiful locations in the world – the mountains of western British Columbia. Price: $36.95 ISBN: 978-1-55017-735-0 Harbour Publishing Ü WINTER/SPRING 2016

Klondike Gold Rush Steamers

A history of Yukon River steam navigation by Robert D. Turner The Klondike Gold Rush in 1996 was an instrumental factor in the development of the north, with sternwheeled steamboats an essential component of the gold rush era. The trip required travelling from the Bering Sea at St. Michael up the Yukon River through Alaska. Robert Turner tells of the remarkable vessels and the hardy officers and crew who helped make these frontier boats the lifeblood of the Klondike and Alaska gold rushes. Price: $49.95 ISBN: 978-1-55039-242-5 Sononis Press Ü


Guide Books:

Waterproof Mapsheets:

Desolation Sound Desolation Sound is one of British Columbia’s top cruising and kayaking destinations, but there is so much more to discover than just the namesake waterway. The surrounding Discovery Islands and their waterways offer one of British Columbia’s most varied travel destinations, with remote wilderness, frequent community centres for services, mountainous fjords, a number of provincial parks and off-beat camping locations. This mapsheet details it all, in oversize 22x32” format that folds to a handy 4x11” size for easy transport and storage. Made on synthetic paper it is waterproof and virtually indestructible. You won’t want to travel here without it.

The BC Coast Explorer Volume 2: Vancouver Island South Through maps, photography and route descriptions, the BC Coast Explorer Vol. 2 provides the building blocks for a trip by foot, paddle or bicycle to all the must-see locations on southern Vancouver Island, from the coastal community of Bamfield down the West Coast Trail, through Greater Victoria and the Gulf Islands to Comox Harbour. You will find access points, campsites, points of interest, historical interpretations and the necessary technical details to get you there. Price: $34.95

Volume 1: West Coast Vancouver Island North u

Volume 1 covers the north and west coasts of Vancouver Island, from Port Hardy to Bamfield including the Cape Scott region, Kyuquot Sound, Quatsino Sound, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot Sound and Barkley Sound.

The Broken Group/Barkley Sound The Broken Group Islands are one of the most popular kayaking destinations on the British Columbia coast – and for good reason. There are a myriad of islands, serene passages and campsites to explore, as well as sea caves, historic locations and wildlife galore to see. This mapsheet details all of that in large (22” x 32” format), double sided, waterproof and tearproof synthetic paper.

The North Coast Trail:

2016 New for

The new edition of the North Coast Trail covers this fantastic trail that runs the north coast of Vancouver Island. It is the incredible extension to the Cape Scott Trail that opened in 2008. Discover this contender to the West Coast Trail for the title of the best coastal hike in B.C. On waterproof stock and available in April 2016.

Recreation Maps: Our series of coastal recreation maps covers all the key regions of the British Columbia coast. Available for: • The Gulf Islands • Clayoquot Sound • Broughton Islands/Johnstone Strait WINTER/SPRING 2016



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Welcome to the coolest outdoor store ever. That’s because we don’t actually have a store. We don’t stock, price, package, ship, or really do anything like a store. Our work is all on the advance side. We are partnering with a group of dedicated retailers to bring you the best selection of the best gear at the best possible prices. What we’ve done is the shopping on your behalf to make sure you get the best value. Here’s a sampling of the result. On our online edition, click the link Ü to go straight to the selected product in our online store. From our print magazine, go to our online store at There you can find the product you are looking for, plus many more not shown here. So browse here, and browse more online. We’ll be adding new products online constantly. Only the best, of course. And the most interesting. And innovative. And finely crafted...

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u Survive Outdoors Longer Escape Bivvy Condensation can build up inside bivvies, leaving your clothes soaking wet. With the Escape Bivvy, the proprietary fabric lets moisture escape at the same time that it keeps rain, snow, and wind on the outside – all while reflecting your body heat back to you. Seal out the elements with waterproof seams and a drawstring hood closure.

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u GSI Pinnacle Dualist If you are looking for an integrated cooking and eating solution, the Pinnacle Dualist has some great features, right down to nesting with an ultralight stove and fuel canisters (both the 220 and 110 gram sizes). The pots are crushproof and heat-resistant, of course, with folding handle locks and a bowl and mug solution with a low centre of gravity, spillproof design and insulated sleeve to keep your drink hot. It fits into a stuff sack that doubles as a sink and wash basin.

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Your order supports a network of independent retailers who are part of a new partnership with Wild Coast Magazine to add selection and value through cooperative specialization. Order through www.thewildcoast.caÜ. From there our role is to follow your order from placement to delivery. Orders are subject to availability and will be verified as soon as possible after the order placement. Report problems or errors; we will work to ensure your order is received as expected. Freight is $12Cdn/$19US by expedited parcel or free in Canada on orders over $100. See the ‘Policies’ online for details. WILD COAST MAGAZINE



Crossing Patagonia


tarting in late November 2015, three adventurers will begin a kayaking expedition to what could well be viewed as a trip across the end of the world. The kayaking expedition is intended to open a new route between Puerto Natales (population 19,000) and Punta Arenas (population 128,000), the largest communities in Chile’s southern Patagonia. It’s not a simple endeavour. The distance is 500 kilometres and while a beautiful trip through magnificent fjords and the Strait of Magellan, it also involves two tough five-kilometre portages through snowy mountains as well as glaciers, rivers, lakes, mountains, valleys, fjords and open plains. The team includes Mauricio Alarcón (Chile), Alex Albornoz (Chile) and Arek Mytko (expedition leader, Poland). All three are experienced kayakers. Arek has previously led different expeditions crossing Rio Parana solo (2,000 km), from Pacific to Atlantic Ocean (1,500 km), and crossing the Strait of Magellan and Beagle channel (500 km). The other two have guide experience including kayak and mountaineering, and have extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of southern Chile, specifically the Patagonia region. The team will have to carry all the necessary gear and food, as there are no other communities along the route. Patagonia is famous for its unpredictable and changeable weather as well as its strong winds. A typical day might see wind, snow, rain and warm sunshine in any order and in any combination.





The journey takes place between a latitude of 51° and 54°, placing it in the notorious zone called the Furious Fifties, known for its violent westerly gales, caused when warm air from the equator meets cold air travelling north from Antarctica. These winds swirl across the southern hemisphere from west to east with very few land masses to slow them down, making them much more potent than similar winds in the northern hemisphere. After the expedition Arek, Alex and Mauricio will be creating a film to present at various outdoor festivals. You can follow their progress on FacebookÜ. Sponsors for the expedition include Tahe Outdoors, Trujillo and Cascade Designs.

Win an adventure just by reading us! Extreme Rappel Caving To ensure you never miss another issue of Wild Coast, we’re offering home subscriptions for just $7.99 for a year. That’s three issues delivered to your door (or mailbox) for the price of two lattes. As a thanks, subscribers will be eligible for a draw for the following adventures of a lifetime at Horne Lake Caves: • One of four Ice Age/Wet & Wild Spelunking Tours. • A two-hour Outdoor Rock Rappel session. • And the Grand Prize: a five-hour Extreme Rappel Expedition. The draws will take place monthly starting February with the grand prize draw in July. Yes, online subscribers qualify as well. It’s also free to subscribe online. Pay nothing to read us and win. How perfect is that?

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