Great North Co. & Tourism Prince Rupert
The trip started off with landing on the rain-slicked runways of Terrace BC, which is about a fifteen-hour drive or hour and a half flight from Vancouver. In terms of travel time, it’s a ways up there. But after exploring the area, it seems you wouldn’t know it. Both Terrace and Prince Rupert share the same biogeoclimatic classification as Vancouver - all highly populated with ancient cedars and temperate hemlock rainforests that guard the Pacific coastline, but much more remote than the lower mainland; the perfect mix for outdoor exploration.
Our first day began with a quick tour around the Terrace township, a pitstop at the tackle shop to get our fishing tags and away we went getting introduced to the many winding secondary roads and salmon-inhabited waters of the region. The area is extremely well known for it's salmon and steelhead fishing and we were lucky enough to experience it first hand. We’d been in the area for less than three hours and were already waist deep in the waters of the Gitnadoiks - one of the many smaller tributaries to the Skeena River. We traveled by jet boat with a seasoned operator who knew the waters well. Apparently getting to and fishing the Gitnadoiks is a rare and valuable occasion even for the district’s locals. Fishing underneath a net of low-hanging clouds and surrounded by an ambient mist, we sensed this and felt lucky to have the chance to do so.
Heavy morning fog was the norm each day, which was nothing to complain about. We wedged through the thick of it on another Skeena feeding river, the Exchamsiks. If there was an official model of 'wild' in the flesh, this might have been it. Barely skirting by sandbars and driftwood, what we saw appeared with short notice. The area was marked with braided falls offshore and female black bears feeding with their cubs. We anchored and followed a creek up to Rooster Tail falls where we tested the integrity of our waders and rain gear again. There’s something existentially powerful about being at the base of a waterfall - it doesn’t get much better, or wetter, than that.
A lot of our time was spent on the water, mostly by jet boat and some by paddle. In an area where waterways seemed more prevalent than highways, it made sense that many of the best spots were better accessible by boat. Riding and reading a tidal river is completely unique in the sense that it not only flows directionally but fills and drains vertically too, on time with the tides. This is something we couldn’t quite get over as we cruised from the salty inlet at Port Edward to the mouth of the Skeena. We kept analyzing our surroundings at that point - was this ocean or river? The answer was both, and the evidence was substantial. The area is known for it’s high fluctuating tides. Up and down over 22 feet daily. A four hour round trip on the Skeena yielded an almost unrecognizable return trip, as exposed boardwalks and old ruins were then nearly submerged.
At the butt of our river ride we pulled ashore a bed of eelgrass and slogged our way to the banks where there was a supposed cemetery built by early inhabitants. There were headstones and rusty gates littered under piles of moss and under fallen trees. Stone, marble and rotten cedar plaques dated back to the 1800’s.
These banks were saturated in history. A couple of the most noteworthy settlements along the shore were Port Essington and the North Pacific Cannery, which is no longer operational but still open to visitors. We spent an entire afternoon filtering through the old workstations and living quarters that still contained all of the original equipment and artifacts.
Hiking above Prince Rupert offers full views of the area’s lakes and riverways across to Chatham Sound, where we had met a family of humpbacks earlier. After spending a decent chunk of time at sea we were drawn to check out some of the forested trails and catch some viewpoints from above. Many locals recommended the Tall Trees trail, a path that had just reopened it's gates after a few years of closure and improvements. The views did not disappoint. There are some experiences that feel uniquely privileged, our time in the Northwest was one of them, we are hoping to return soon.
Places visited: Fishing on the Skeena Tributaries outside of Terrace BC. + Explored by boat the Exchamsiks River. + Rooster Tail falls, and Lower Skeena region outside of Port Edward. + North Pacific Cannery and Cassiar Cannery. + Canoeing in Wainwright Basin. + Whale Watching in Chatham Sound. + Tall Trees hiking trail, Prince Rupert. + Cow Bay Harbour, Prince Rupert.