Posted by: cherylyoung | March 23, 2012


The central coast of British Columbia is a land of

fjords set between stupendous mountains, islands,

waterfalls and great river estuaries.

Home to grizzly bears, wolves and the mysterious

white Spirit Bear, it has many names – the Great

Bear Rainforest is most well-known.

Accompanied by wonderful naturalists, many of them

actively researching the area, we have enjoyed

spectacular trips here each year on the classic schooner

Maple Leaf since we pioneered these trips in the 1990s.

Great Bear Rainforest –

Rare Rainforest Fjords Harbour Wildlife

The sea winds its way around western islands and

then snakes down glacier-hewn valleys at the foot of

the mountains: these are the Great Bear Rainforest’s


Some call it “Yosemite by the sea”.

On Maple Leaf you’ll travel close to the fjords’ granite

walls, where waterfalls drop hundreds of feet

to the ocean.

Whales and dolphins may surface and feed beside us

as we travel.

The ancient rainforest of spruce and cedar trees clings

to some mountainsides and pushes out of the fertile

river valleys.

People have described these forests of ethereal green

light as “living cathedrals”.

In the eighteenth century the European explorers

had another word: sublime.

Where the rivers and forests meet the sea, the Great

Bear’s fecund estuaries form.

These meadows and brackish waters are of prime

importance to the area’s wildlife, from bears and

wolves to eagles, ravens and ducks, providing food

in spring and fall and transitioning fish and nutrients

between forest and sea.

Grizzly Bear, Spirit Bear and Other Wildlife Viewing

The rich river estuaries in the spring and the prolific

salmon runs in the autumn support B.C.’s largest

remaining populations of the mighty grizzly bear.

The area is home to an equally large population of

black bears and is the sole habitat of the white

Kermode Bear (or “Spirit Bear”, as it is known to the

native peoples of the coast).

With Maple Leaf, you’ll float in a shore boat or sit in

a safe place on land to watch these great mammals

fish, rear cubs, munch on sedge or turn over rocks for

crabs and other marine snacks.

You’ll also learn the “behind the scenes” information

about how the estuaries work and support the life of

the Great Bear Rainforest.

In the springtime, the meadows burst with new plant life,

and newly-awakened grizzly bears graze on tender

new shoots.

In the Autumn, spawning channels of the rivers are

covered with salmon.

This spectacle creates a feeding frenzy as bears and

other mammals feast on the bounty.

We may hear, and, if we’re lucky, see the elusive

coastal wolf, which researchers recently confirmed

catches salmon, too.

Eagles by the hundreds, ravens, harlequin ducks and

a host of other birds join the fray.

To witness these phenomena are two of the greatest

experiences in nature.

Explore the worlds of several northwest First Nations:

the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Haisla, Gitga’at and


Everywhere is evidence of their civilization.

Fish traps, bark-stripped trees and longhouse remains

give testimony to a way of life tuned to the rhythm

of nature.

You’ll visit modern villages, talk with local residents, and

see the ancient art traditions still in place today.

Remote Pleasures – Hot Springs, Wild Food

The Great Bear Rainforest’s ocean frequently provides

succulent Dungeness crab and prawns for our table.

We often visit one of the natural, out-of-the-way

hot springs that bubble up here.

Anchoring in a cove or bay, you’ll go ashore by zodiac

or kayak and sink into the rejuvenating warm water.

A far cry from commercial hot springs, these pools are

usually empty but for ourselves.

A Wilderness with a Complex Future

A ten-year land use plan recently announced by the B.C.

government, with stakeholders from conservation groups,

First Nations, tourism, local communities, resource

extraction industries, scientists and others, protects

2 million hectares of this wilderness.

Sadly, much of the rest of the area is immediately

threatened by massive clear-cut logging.

We feel it is critical that as many people as possible

see this place and become aware of the magnitude of

the potential loss of so much critical habitat and

immeasurable beauty.





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