The Journey to Bella Bella and the Passing Cloud
Monday, May 29, 2017
There is a crow flying above me as I write this, perched upon the rigging of Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud.
It’s actually kind of unnerving – the crow – which is just staring at me with its black, beady little eyes. But, here in the Heiltsuk First Nation community of Bella Bella, British Columbia, nature is everywhere – even up in the rigging of the elegant Passing Cloud.
Located west of the similarly-named town of Bella Coola and just north of Port Hardy, at the northern end of Vancouver Island, Bella Bella is located on Campbell Island and is home to roughly 1450 residents, 90 percent of which are Heiltsuk.
I’ve come here to join Outer Shores Expeditions’ on a journey through British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest; a spectacular part of the West Coast of Canada that recently moved from conflict to collaboration with an agreement that protected some 3.1 million hectares of the forest (about eighty-five percent) from industrial logging. It was a hard-won battle that involved the First Nations and British Columbia governments, corporations, and environmental stakeholders. Now, this crown jewel is protected for future generations to enjoy.
Famed for its natural beauty and rich First Nations heritage, the Great Bear Rainforest is also known as one of the only places in the world to view the Kermode, or Spirit Bear; an all-white subspecies of the American Black Bear that inhabits this region.
So how do you get to Bella Bella? You can take a BC Ferry here, or you can fly.
I chose the latter, flying here with Pacific Coastal Airlines from Vancouver International Airport’s (YVR)’s South Terminal. Yes, YVR has a South terminal that handles regional departures on smaller aircraft – and despite having called British Columbia home for nearly 14 years before relocating to Alberta, I’d never had the opportunity to fly out of the South Terminal – until now.
A complimentary shuttle service runs from the Domestic and International Arrivals section of YVR over to the South Terminal, which is about a five minute drive away. Check-in was a breeze; almost a throwback to the old days of air travel, when you could roll up 30 minutes before your flight and still make it onboard with time to spare. I turned up an hour before my 8:40am departure and spent a decent amount of time reading the newspaper, drinking coffee and twiddling my fingers.
My flight, Pacific Coastal 801, departed from Vancouver’s South Terminal at 8:40am aboard a 30-seater Saab 340A turboprop. It’s a touch smaller than a Dash-8 300, but similarly sized. The flight involved a short stop at Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island, before continuing on to Bella Bella, where we touched down at 10:51am.
Bella Bella “airport” consists of a single building that most closely resembles a house. It’s charming in its simplicity. So too is the baggage system: a wooden ledge in the parking lot where checked baggage from arriving flights is placed for passengers to collect. It’s perfectly safe; unlike the big city, your baggage could sit here all day and no one would take it. The community is honest, friendly and welcoming.
The post Sailing the Great Bear Rainforest with Outer Shores – Day 1 appeared first on From The Deck Chair.