Desolation Sound 2021: Day 4: Ganges to Grace Harbour | NW Explorations


Desolation Sound 2021: Day 4: Ganges to Grace Harbour

Today we officially made it into the waters of Desolation Sound! Leaving Ganges, Pender Harbour, we were greeted with yet another golden morning glow. It is such an incredible send off to our next stop, saying goodbye to the rolling mountains as sun beams framed their fluid shapes. Here in Desolation Sound, there is gorgeous evidence of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet that has periodically covered pieces of North America over the past 2.6 million years. However, glacial bodies still existing despite much of that sheet retreating and dissipating with time and climates changing throughout the years. The mountainous fluidity you can see not only here in British Columbia, but over in the San Juan Islands, they appear to be traced in recreation of the way water moves due to the inherent flow of a receding glacier being both frozen and melting water.

In stark contrast, these sheets contained such dense ice that their movement carved and scraped rock mineral to the degree visible right at sea level, resulting in faces of costal shoreline perpendicular to the water line. These coasts can easily drop down to hundreds of feet right at the water line.

Entering Malaspina Strait, we unpacked the history of Texada Island and their 61-year-old limestone quarry, and even how on the east side of the island there have been fossils found that date back to 100 million years ago.

Alongside being a capital of limestone production, a town on B.C.’s mainland called Powell River, has a paper mill that has acted as the world’s largest single unit paper mill, producing millions of tons of newsprint for the world market. Given that, as we cruised by the coast lines of Powell River, we passed a log tow and spotted Northern Fur Seals hitching a free ride! Fur Seals are closely related to Sea Lions, just a bit smaller and darker with longer flippers, and a pelt so sought after they almost went extinct in the 19th century. This pelt was so well known that Fur Seals were first named, “sea bears” by Europeans, in fact their scientific name translates to “bear-like” with each square inch of fur equating to almost 300,000 single hairs.

Passing the town of Lund offered us the opportunity to discuss the Tla’amin Reservation’s success in recently gaining self-governing authority of their own nation’s community. They received almost 7,000 more acres of their land back, after 22 years of hard work to pass their Tla’amin Final Agreement.

As we rounded Malaspina Peninsula, we spotted our first Humpback Whales as they were taking advantage of the almost 1,000-foot depth and diving deep for optimal feeding and cruising. However, getting the opportunity to watch the two animals’ fluke and dive deep before we turned into our harbour for the night was a great sight to turn in on.

Coming into the harbour every boat was assigned a spot and we quickly and effectively rafted up together in the cove. Rafting was a breeze with such attentive crew, giving us more time to transition into discussing the chance to take some time for ourselves onshore. Once officially rafted and anchored, everyone settled in and a handful of us got out to stretch our legs for a lush hike.

The hike in Grace Harbour took us up to a lake that was so still it acted like a mirror, reflecting the bordering tree line­­­­­­­­­. Yet, as it had just rained, the hike was filled with varying species of mushrooms and a few of us found ourselves stopping every few steps to take a closer look. Overall, our first group hike was a great opportunity to chat a bit more with our fleet and the diverse crew, learning about our differences and sharing laughs about our commonalities.

Our time ashore was one of self-reflection too, thinking about how far we’ve come in just a few short days. In both the literal and figurative sense as our learning curves aboard new vessels and living new experiences have made each day afloat a milestone. Once we wrapped up our time in the forest, dinner was prepped, and both families and friends gathered to share their stories for the day. Day 4 was a complete success and it’s exciting to feel the anticipation rising for what the rest of this stunning piece of the world has in store for us to explore.

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