British Columbia Coast: a Fantastic Wilderness Retreat

The North Coast of British Columbia wilderness is a nature lover's retreat, filled with dense forests, rushing streams, snow capped mountains, and deep fjords.

| September/October 1970

For wilderness retreats or summer anchorages, an especially attractive area is the North Coast of British Columbia—a land of snow capped mountains, dense forests, rushing streams and deep fjords. Its potential advantages include:

Ocean access: Myrian channels, arms and inlets—many extending over 50 miles inland-provide more sea coast than all of continental U.S. Among the almost endless inlets, bays and islands are places a small boat could hide indefinitely.

Geographical isolation: Rugged mountain ranges limit transportation to water, which is slow, and air, which is expensive. Only two roads and one railroad penetrate the region.

Sparse population: The whole North Coast region (roughly from Queen Charlotte Strait to the Alaska panhandle and inland to the coastal divide)-larger than Ohio-has a population of less than 40,000. Most of these people are concentrated around the few cities. Arable land and commercial timber exist only in small pockets in river valleys and deltas, precluding large scale settlement.

In July and August of 1967, I explored some of the land and waterways of this region. My route of travel was by automobile to Bella Coola, then by kayak to Nascall Bay on Dean Channel.

Although Bella Coola lies less than 300 miles from Vancouver, the highway distance is 650 miles. I first drove inland and north to Williams Lake, then northwest on a fair-to-middling graded dirt road across the Fraser Plateau. Separated from the ocean by mountains, this 3,000 foot highland has a climate quite different from the coast. It's more like the higher plateaus of Colorado and Wyoming with mild summers, cold winters and little precipitation. The road to Bella Coola crosses gently rolling land, open forests of lodgepole pine with some Douglas fir, spruce and aspen and an occasional creek or lake. Cattle ranching is the main industry. The few small settlements have a "frontier" look: Log cabins, unpretentious yards and pole fences.

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