Cruising Pender Harbour – March 6, 2012

Today was one of those perfect “spring is almost here” days. Bright sunshine without a cloud in sight makes you feel so good after you’ve finished a wet & gray west coast winter. It is hard to explain having grown up in the prairies where a big sky is available most of the time. Sunshine Coasters are just happier and ready to give the sun a big hug when it returns to the sky.

I had the pleasure of escorting visitors on an afternoon exploration of Pender Harbour. After a lovely lunch of potato & corn soup & ham & cheese quiche & checking out the fabulous nature inspired art on display at Copper Sky, we took a short walk over to the docks. There we met up with Bryce Christie of Sunshine Coast Tours who had the boat ready and waiting.
I joked with Bryce as we headed out that we were hoping for a little wildlife adventure. I never dreamed what we would see. Soon we were cruising up to this small rocky island and something was moving. Isn’t this photo amazing! This sea lion was massive! Easily 1,000 pounds and he was just basking in the glory of the sunshine. Bryce cut the engines and carefully guided us quietly in for photos and stunning amazement & appreciation. We could have watched for hours, but this male sea lion would have none of it and waddled his way back into the ocean where he quickly disappeared. Bryce explained the sea lions visit the Sunshine Coast this time of year as they migrate along the Pacific Coast. We also saw 2 seals during the trip who were out for a swim. After seeing the massive sea lion, the resident harbour seals just seamed tiny.
It is often said that the way to truly experience Pender Harbour is to do so in a boat. This is so true. The beautiful harbour, well protected from the large waves of the ocean has drawn people for centuries. This was once the winter home for large numbers of the Sechelt (shishalh) Nation. What a beautiful place to gather, fish, and support each other in community through the winter. We viewed two different sites along the cliff faces where pictographs documenting the original residents could be seen.

This photo is as we first left the dock with Mount Daniel to the left and snow covered mountains in the background. The sharp contrast of the deep blue water, the green forest covered landscape, the bright orange trunks of the arbutus trees, and the snow covered peaks is just heaven to me. We explored Pender Harbour itself and then headed into the Agamemnon Channel which separates the Sechelt Peninsula from Nelson Island. We could see snow covered Churchill Peak and others that line Jervis Inlet on the way to Princess Louisa Inlet to the north. It is hard to put into words. I just sit in awe of this absolute gem…nature at its best, full of life and striking contrasts. Even the pictures can’t compare to the 360 view up close and personal. (Thank goodness Bryce shared these photos with me, as I managed to leave my camera at home!) I must remember to take more days to get out and appreciate the sights rather than work too hard in front of the computer.

Skookumchuck Narrows – May 2, 2011

Monday was an adventure day. We are entertaining guests from the U.S. so we took the day to explore the Sunshine Coast. The highlight was an evening cruise with Bryce of Sunshine Coast Tours to explore Skookumchuck Narrows in Egmont BC. Bryce is an excellent tour guide who freely shares stories and information about the area. Monday was an extra large current day and we happened to find some avid kayakers taking advantage of the rapids. Even though it had been a rainy day, the skies cleared for our afternoon cruise and we had a wonderful time on the water.

I highly recommend this tour. The hike in through the forest is an easy trail through the provincial park…baby strollers are often seen…and is 45min each direction. Huge ferns and endless Douglass firs, hemlocks & pine trees line the route past Brown Lake on your way to 2 viewing points for the Sechelt Rapids. The boat trip into Skookumchuck Narrows is a special treat, especially if some in your party aren’t ready for the hike. From land, it is hard to feel the full power of the rapids. From the boat, you can hear how hard the motor runs just to keep still against the fast current.

The Sechelt Rapids are a natural phenomenon that occur at least twice each day. Tide changes move millions of liters of water from the Pacific Ocean into a narrow spot at the top of Sechelt Inlet and then back again. A shallow section of the inlet bordered by narrow granite cliffs creates either fast moving salt water rapids or amazing whirlpools depending on the direction of the current. Skookumchuck Narrows is home to the fastest tidal currents in the world.

This was an experienced group of kayakers and we enjoyed the show. Surfers are sometimes seen here, too. In between tides, this is also a wonderful place to dive. Underwater reefs and bountiful sealife make for an exciting underwater experience.

Wildlife is plentiful. We saw many types of ducks and various migrating birds on their spring travels north. Bald eagles nest high in the trees and we were happy to see one looking for its dinner.

Altogether a great day experience.

Princess Louisa Inlet – September 13, 2009

Wow! Where did the summer go? I am very happy to say that Arcturus Retreat B&B has been very busy hosting guests from around the world. So many guests means no time to blog and not much time to hike. Now that autumn has arrived, I hope to get back in the swing of things.

My best adventure of late was while hosting a friend as B&B guest. We got to play tour guide showing off our favourite Sunshine Coast places, and I tagged along for a real treat, Princess Louisa Inlet. Bryce Christie of Sunshine Coast Tours is a wonderful tour guide. He really knows the history and the geography of the area, and is able to share information in an interesting way. Tours sail daily during the summer and less frequently in other months.

I highly recommend this trip to everyone. My pictures can’t begin to do justice to the amazing scenery. The only place I have ever been that approaches the natural beauty is Milford Sound in New Zealand. I would love to see the fjords of Norway someday to compare.

The peaks are just over 8,000 feet and the water is another 1,000 feet deep. The granite rock face is amazing. The sheer mountains go straight down, so boats can navigate incredibly close to shore.

We travelled 2 hours by boat out of Egmont on the Sunshine Coast up through Jervis Inlet and then into Princess Louisa Inlet. It is hard to believe that all this natural beauty is so close to my home. This is one of the many areas of BC coastline that are only accessible by water. Very difficult mountainous terrain keeps people away and leaves nature in all its glory.

Princess Louisa Provincial Park includes Chatterbox Falls and a bit of parkland around it. We were able to take a short hike to the base of the falls and have a picnic lunch. It really was an amazing day.

Soda Pop Falls

Albert Glacier