This is the first update from the Broughton Archipelago by Jodi Stark, winner of Living Oceans Society's Way I See It contest.
It’s only the 3rd day of our sailing trip on the Maple Leaf through the Broughton Archipelago and already there are so many stories, photos and videos that I’d like to share that I’m practically bursting at the seams.
For today, I’ll share just one from a very special place called the Ahta River Valley.
Yesterday, under a towering Sitka spruce we witnessed hundreds of coho, chum and pink salmon huddled together at the base of 40-foot cascading waterfalls. There are few things I’ve experience that are as impressive, moving and awe-inspiring as salmon on their spawning ground.
It’s a truly incredible feat for each one of those salmon to make it there. Each one of them made it past numerous fish farms (risking sea-lice infections while out-migrating to the open ocean as juveniles) and later migrating as adults up the river against rushing water, over rocky uphill terrain and past hungry grizzlies (we saw lots of evidence of them around) to make it back to the very site they themselves hatched in up to 4 years ago.
Because of this, salmon symbolize determination to me. They also embody a spirit of giving and teamwork because after spawning they die and their nutrient-rich flesh feeds many animals and fertilizes our west coast temperate rainforest. Salmon are a linchpin in this ecosystem and it’s hard (and terrifying) to imagine what things would be like without them.
I have been equally moved and inspired by the amazing girls and women on this trip from 8 years old to over 80. We hiked together through rough terrain, rolled up our pants and crossed a frigid river to go admire the salmon and pay our respects to their generous feat of determination. How many 8 and 80 year olds do you know that would be game for such an adventure?
The crew of the Maple Leaf have been fostering this spirit of adventure and helping us feel at home on this incredible ship. I had no idea when I was embarking on this journey that it was all happening on a 104 year old luxury sailboat with so much history that it deserves a whole blog post on its own (and very well might get one at a later date).
Everyone has come with a keen spirit of adventure, desire to experience BC ocean wilderness and an openness to step outside their norm into something different. This has inspired me as much as magical scenery and wildlife that we’ve seen so far.
I have many more stories to come including a swimming black bear and a breaching humpback. This place is magical and I feel so fortunate to be here.