July 3 – Flying Out to Mereworth

I was a little nervous about my upcoming trip but luckily I had two months of experience from the previous year to go by. I imagine if you were starting from scratch from here it would be a tad more intimidating.

The nice homey check-in counter. I just walked across the weigh scale into the back to talk to the pilot and go over maps. You don’t usually do that at most airports. And he trusted that I wasn’t going to blow the plane up so I didn’t go through airport security either! The benefits of small town…

All my stuff, 11 pieces and 180 lbs

Looking westwards to Vancouver Island. First we were heading southeast to Port McNeil to pick up some other passengers, then north across to the mainland on the “Sched” run, the regular flights they take all over this country to pick up / drop people off, kind of like a really expensive personal bus service.

Looking up Kingcome Inlet, where I had that awesome huge paddling day the year before (the halibut fishermen).

We crossed Queen Charlotte Strait and moved over the mainland. There are many lakes and inlets here and it is easy to lose track of where you are in the labyrinth below.

As we were preparing to land we passed by Huaskin Lake.

We dropped off a forestry worker at a logging camp way up the end of an inlet. He was going to be in for a few weeks, working on road building. The landing was quite interesting, as we circled the site and then banked hard to come in through the narrow inlet opening. One mistake, and we’re in the trees.

We took off the same way we landed and circled around to get height to cross the mountains as we headed northwards towards my destination. The other passenger was a sailboat cruiser on vacation from the UK, coming along for the sightseeing ride. Luckily for him we were going through some beautiful country to get me to my dropoff point.

We soon got to Seymour Inlet and then crossed up north to Belize Inlet. I was hoping to go for a quick tour of Long Lake but the weather up there wouldn’t allow us to safely make the pass over to the lake, so we just followed the dead straight Belize Inlet to the west, passing the raging tidal waters of Alison Sound as they swirled through the narrows.

The scenery was so ruggedly dramatic. I imagined a kayak down there. It would be totally insignificant. That’s what I would be for the next few weeks. This truly is an amazing place. I bet our sightseeing passenger was thinking I might be crazy flying into here alone with a kayak, and I was wondering that myself.

One of the many hundredds of raging waterfalls gushing into the ocean after all the rain. I don’t think water availability is going to be an issue for me this year!

I wanted to fly into that decrepit little dock I had lunch on in Mereworth, but that had disappeared, either by a storm or they took it away. So we landed at my desired destination anyways, the floating green forestry camp. I hoped they wouldn’t object to me just barging in like that.

There goes my ride. No turning back now.

There is something special about Mereworth. It has the feel of an unspoiled wilderness, even though there is logging around. The logging that goes on doesn’t overly spoil it, at least in my opinion.

I put my stuff on that dock in case the forestry workers didn’t take too kindly to me showing up. The land and road is publicly owned so I am allowed to go there, but the camp is private.

After getting my stuff organized a little bit, I noticed that my maps case was missing. I left it on the plane ! I had it with me in the seat so I could see where I was but when landing I put it on the floor, and in all the excitement I forgot it. Not a major problem as I had a new GPS with loaded maps, as well as Google Earth on my computer. Plus I knew the terrain well from studying it intensely beforehand.

The weather wasn’t too bad but it was threatening to rain with a bit of light drizzle, intermittent with sunny patches — typical unsettled weather. I knew someone was out in the bush because there were fresh tire tracks in the mud since the last big rain yesterday. So I sat on the dock and waited, with bugs flying around.

I watched a bumblebee on some clover in a crack of the dock and had another philosophical moment with nature. I mused about how the nature we see in cities is the same nature you get out in wilderness. Same bees, same clovers, same hummingbirds and dragonflies. There’s just more of it out here, and more variety. We are all part of the same thing, this amazing biosphere, the result of 4 billion years of progression of life on earth, the miracle that life is. Call it God, evolution, Bodh, whatever you will; it’s amazing. At heart I’m a scientist and far from taking away my wonder towards the world, analyzing things scientifically only strengthens the wonder. When you learn about how complex even the simplest bacteria or pond algae is, it’s hard to thereafter look down upon pond scum! The more questions science answers, the more questions it raises. There is ample room for spirituality within science. In fact science in no way precludes spirituality; believe it or not, the scientific method was actually founded upon it! Many people equate science with reductionism, determinism. And while that is part of the scientific approach, that’s not really what makes science science, and therefore people shouldn’t be turned away from it because some scientists are hardcore reductionists. I’ll write an essay about that someday when I can get my thoughts well organized enough.

I decided to grab my camera to take a photo of the bee, but then it flew off… and then the truck arrived. Two guys came down the ramp — Kevin, a long time local forester, and George, a forestry exchange student from South Africa, on his second day in the bush. Kevin noted how just that day he was telling George that soon the tourists would be arriving (presumably in their sailboats). They didn’t expect a kayaker to fly into their dock!

They invited me to stay inside their house which was very gracious. They fed me, gave me free internet and TV, and power! In return I gave George the video I took from my flight over because he hadn’t taken any video of that but he wanted to show people what it was like. They also let me use the sat phone to call Pacific Coastal and let them know I would be okay without my maps.

I also got the story on the forestry worker that was attacked by a grizzly two years before. They were working in a cutblock above the entrance to Wyclese Lagoon, and a bear had been hanging around for a few days. They ignored the warning signs and continued to come back, one day with tuna sandwiches. And for some reason they had no bear spray. Then I guess the bear decided it had had enough, and wanted their sandwiches. So it was definitely not an unprovoked or random surprise attack. That made me feel better.

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