Anchors up at 9am sharp gave the whole fleet a morning of soaking up Grace Harbour’s serenity and golden glow. With coffee steaming and breakfasts readying, we discuss float plans and before we know it, we are tossing lines and watching the raft unravel.
Headed up Malaspina Inlet and navigating north, we reenter the open waters of Desolation Sound. Even with the high-altitude peaks draped in cloud cover, the steep ranges surrounding us are breathtaking. Continuing towards Prideaux Haven, our passageway between Otter Island and Unwin Range calls for us to throttle back, a perfect time for sightseeing paying close attention to our surrounding depths.
This narrow passage was full of native conifer trees. Firs, cedars, hemlocks and spruces coloring the coastlines in lime and deep evergreens. This color palate makes one of my favorite trees here in the pacific northwest, Arbutus Menzizii, pop.
Arbutus can reach 30 meters tall with deep red bark that peels with age, exposing fresh yellowish green bark. More commonly known as Madrones, this evergreen broad-leafed tree is found on dry, sunny, and often rocky shorelines, placing roots in coarse-textured soils. Their berries are popularly eaten by birds, but humans did not find them tasteful and rather utilized them for medicinal properties and colorful dyes. Holding different names rooted in different languages, ultimately these names were coined in a similar fashion. Arbutus means, ‘strawberry tree’ in Latin after its red fruits, while Madrono means ‘strawberry tree’ in Spanish after the Mediterranean strawberry tree resemblance.
As we continued to sight see, we were able to get a closer look at the mosaics of vegetation covering the rock faces, identifying lichens, mosses, and wildflowers. There are upwards of 700 different species of mosses living in the northwest, and that’s pretty hard to believe to the untrained eye as a lot of them do look the same.
Glaciation shaped a large amount of the terrestrial structures we see throughout Desolation Sound, and being able to observe geological history through mountainous cross sections is quite an incredible site. Exploring the sediment, one of the most predominant minerals you can find here is granite, which, to circle back to Day 1’s blog, is the same mineral you find as glacial erratics in the San Juan Islands! What an incredible example of how extensive the natural history is throughout the North America’s west coast.
Turning into Prideaux Haven after a short yet eventful crossing, we passed by the quaint Laura Cove while headed into Melanie Cove, already scouting routes for our adventures.
Already, there were a few sail boats anchored and hunkered down for the night, so we navigated our rafting spot towards the back of the cove and waved hello as we passed by our neighbors. After having the experience of rafting in Grace Harbour under our belt, the fleet was swift with our tasks and we all settled in with ease.
Arctic Star’s crew invited the fleet to join them in a Happy Hour social and we were all very excited to join. Sharing laughs, snacks, and stories about ourselves and our loved ones was the perfect way to start off our evening. We often speak on how thankful we are to be spending time on adventures that take us away from our everyday lives, but the distance we feel from the ones we love most keeps them so very near and dear to our hearts.
After our social time with the fleet, we all saw to our own vessels and wound down, finished dinner, and tucked in. We are looking forward to spending more time exploring Prideaux Haven tomorrow, as excitement stirs with chatter about morning kayaks and afternoon hikes already floating in the air.
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