So when Betsy, who loves to fish, wanted to do an article about women fishing for the magazine, I thought, "I'll just go along and watch, take photos." Well, that's not exactly how it happened! We were hosted by Steep Island Lodge, up near the Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The overnight stay included a 2-hour eco-tour and a 4-hour fishing trip out into the Discovery Passage. Because we were flying in on the seaplane, we couldn't take much with us but we are experts at packing light and the lodge provided all the gear, including jackets to keep all the fish guts off us.
Tuesday morning we were up early and on the 7:05 ferry and at 9 we met out pilot at the Kenmore Air base, loaded up the other passengers going to a different island (supposedly very swanky) and off we went.
Weather is always an issue here and we had checked and it looked like it would most likely rain. But hey, we were going fishing!
We lucked out - although it wasn't a cloudless sky, the sun was out and it was crystal clear. After stopping in Nanaimo to clear customs, we floated into Steep Island Lodge's dock. It's called Steep Island because the high bluffs and is a privately owned, long, skinny island, somewhere between 17-23 acres (depending who you ask) and the Lodge and cabins are the only structures on it.
[singlepic id=133 w=320 h=240 float=right]We were greeted by Chantal Krantz who manages the place and Sarah, her assistant. And the dogs, Splash a chocolate lab and Max, a very old black lab with severe hip displasia, who Chantal inherited from a friend who passed away recently. And above all the noise, two of the resident bald eagles, Frannie and Leo, welcomed us with their cries from the top of the snags along the shoreline.
An enormous totem pole, flanked by the Canadian flag loomed above the dock and we made our way up a couple of flights of stairs and then a couple more flights to our cabins. We had adjoining rooms, high on the bluff, with decks off each side which face out onto the main channel and the still-snow-capped mountains of Vancouver Island. This passage is the main marine highway to Alaska and it was fascinating to see the huge variety of boats passing by - from enormous cruise ships to tiny tugs towing acres of log booms. Mix in ferries and kayaks and fishing boats and it's an endless, interesting parade.
The rooms are all cedar so smelled lovely - simple, with enormous beds and big, fat duvets. Fireplaces too, although we really lucked out and it was warm! Lunch in the main lodge was salmon wraps - and cheesecake! I mean really, how spoiled could we be?
Splash was our tour guide for a hike around the island. Chantal said, "Take Splash. She knows the way." So we did, with the pooch in the lead. We actually thought we were going for a walk but it turned into a hike, but it was so beautiful, with the eagles calling above us, the salal in bloom and everything covered in moss and ferns. It definitely rains a lot there! We went around the entire island, scrambling over logs and stepping up natural stairs of rock. And working up a sweat!
[singlepic id=148 w=320 h=240 float=left]Around 4, we met up with our eco-tour guide called Morne VanZyl and yes, not quite South African, but from Swaziland! But he left 35 years ago so has no accent or anything. The tour was on a 28-foot boat and he took us out into the Discovery Passage and north through the narrows where they are testing tidal energy. It was absolutely spectacular and I felt like I had a silly grin on my face - all the time! The air was so fresh and clean and the water sparkled and swirled in the currents. This area, well most of the Northwest, is known for having horrendous currents and here is no exception. It swirls and folds onto itself and creates whirlpools that can get big enough to swallow small boats. So taking a sailboat around there is not advisable if you aren't familiar with the strong tides.
I thought that where I live was remote but there are houses out on these fjords and inlets that are so far off the grid, they make my place look like city living! The only way in and out is either by boat or float plane. No local grocery store for emergency wine - or anything else. Very hardy folk!
We did see some white sided dolphins playing but they were shy and didn't come close enough for decent pix, but it was fun to see them in such a wild setting.
When we got back to the Lodge, Chantal had wine and hors d'ouvres waiting for us. She insisted that we enjoy them up on the helipad that overlooks the shipping channel, the mountains and the sunset! And I am so glad she did. What a magic place it is!
Although we didn't stay up there til the sun went down (at 10 pm) we stayed long enough to see the colors change and polish off a couple of bottles of wine - with Chantal!
Dinner was delightful - shrimp and fish and asparagus - delicious! And a good night's sleep followed.