Friday, September 9, 2011

One WOW Day

As I begin each day I wonder; "what is going to happen today? Is this going to be a Wow day? Can I make it into a Wow day for my guests?"

A Wow day that just occurred last week began as I prepared for a marine tour from Knight Inlet Lodge. I packed the lunch and drinks then my personal gear such as my "oh crap, we're sinking bag" rubber boots, sunglasses and camera bag. I made sure my 7 guests had all the stuff they needed to make their day comfortable and that we all had a final pee.

I had in hand a picture of a native pictograph that I wanted to try to find and thought that Billy Proctor would be able to help me.

The day was bright and clear with no wind. The inlet water was a mirror, reflecting high clouds, snow capped mountains and forests. The first highlight was the sighting of a monstrous eagle nest, perched high above the forest canopy in the dead top of a cedar tree. It must have been used for decades, rather than years. We wondered how many trips it took for the eagles to build this mansion on the hill?

After about an hour we arrived at Lagoon Cove, a marina with a permanent population of 4. Boats and yachts plying the waters of the inside passage often stop here for fuel, safe anchorage and news. It is a scenic setting in the sheltered waters of East Cracroft Island where you can set out your crab and prawn traps for a taste of delicious west coast sea food. Pat gave our guests a lesson on the life cycle of prawns and dungeness crabs. Off we headed after a pee and chocolate bar refill, down Clio channel, pausing for a chat at the Bennett Point fish farm.

I accidentally found the pictograph that I was searching for on the point of land just outside the abandoned native village of Karlekwees. Interesting what you can see when you pause for a look once in a while instead of rushing, willy nilly, here and there. After passing through Wilson Pass into Baronette passage we paused tor tea at Cracroft Point. We were monitoring the radio, listening to professional whale watching companies for any news of elusive orcas. They are big animals, but the ocean is bigger. There were no orca reports but there were humpbacks in Blackfish Sound. The waters of Johnstone Strait were flat, there were commercial fishing boats moving about and plenty of sea birds to watch. We paused for a few seals hauled out on some partially exposed rocks, then a postcard photo of a trawler coming toward us. We spent a few minutes marvelling at a seiner as it was bringing in it's net full of salmon, only 1 scoop, so not too productive. We had lunch with a pair of humpback whales who were feeding nearby, making sure that Rose got her cup of tea.

We observed at least 8 different whales in the vicinity so after lunch was packed away I began following a pair, any pair would do. All of a sudden, from out of nowhere, a humpback breached, right beside the boat. I saw the splash and heard the exclamations of surprise from my guests and stopped the boat to let the whales move off a bit. In the next minute and 35 seconds, according to Frank's video, we saw them breech 7 times. Unbelievable power and strength, mighty splashes accompanied by great grunts and whistles from the whales too. Other boats began to crowd around us as we watched, in awe of Mother Nature's power. What was happening here? Are they mating or just enjoying life? We looked at one another in wonder, filled with emotions, bubbling over with enthusiasm and excitement. After a few more minutes, we all knew that nothing more could be better than this so we headed for Billy Proctor's Museum, near Echo Bay.

Rose wanted to buy a book. She has become enamoured by Billy and his story. We enjoyed Billy's philosophical and humorous stories as he toured us through his junk and his newly built hand loggers or trappers shack. His shack was made from one cedar log, hand split and sawn with about 20 pounds of nails."It ain't much, but it's a damn sight better than sleeping under an overturned rowboat or leaky tarp on the beach!" he exclaims, knowing from personal experience, all three shelters. He described to me where there are 3 more sets of pictographs to be found along our route home.

With Rose's books in hand, we bid our goodbyes and left on that search.

True to his description, we found 2 of them, right where he said they would be, "on the bluff just before the gravel beach about a mile and a half beyond that new log dump. Look behind you and up a bit." We did not have time for the others, so they will be for another trip.

By the time supper was served, my guests were the envy of all the guests at the lodge. This was their Wow day and they felt like stars, which is my job to make them feel!

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