Eyes Rubbed Raw by Beauty

Snowy peak

13-16 June 2012 Wednesday-Saturday Princess Louisa Inlet

What a place!

Chatterbox Falls

We smelled cool fresh water as soon as we turned the corner into the foot of the inlet, though we’d already begun to hear the rush of the falls even above the noise of the engine. It was afternoon and already darkening in the inlet, for the stony mile-high sides of the canyon are so steep that they block out the sun. Snow still sits on the mountaintops and on ledges; we consider that the sudden sensation of arctic coldness might be more imaginary than real as we dock, make fast the lines, step off the boat.

Water water everywhere

Big burst of spray

Unbelievable roar of the waterfall called “Chatterbox Falls”; its sound fills the entire cove. Spray flies in every direction.  The force of the falls sets up its own wind.  A little blast near the falls is enough to knock you back.  The gulls settle on a rock some distance from the cascade, at the edge of the spot where freshwater eddies and current join the sea.  There they preen as a fine mist settles over them.  Curtains of mist fill the air; every tree in the vicinity is completely covered in cushions of moss.  Mist rains down on us, even hundreds of feet from the falls, and the roar of so much water is deafening.

Water tumbles over everything

Mossy slippery stones

Gulls bathing and preening at the base of the falls

In fact, there are dozens of waterfalls; water tumbles from every cliff face.  Some of the falls gather as they drop; their conjoined force makes up the volume of Chatterbox Falls.  We wonder at this name, for the falls doesn’t chatter; it roars.

another cascade

The Princess Louisa Society maintains, with BC Parks, a long dock anchored in 300 feet of water so that visiting boats can rest and sailors disembark, walk about, and take on water, which is gravity fed from a mountain stream.  Four boats are here when we arrive; people jump out to take our lines and help us dock, but the conversation is quiet.  Full of awe.

Boats at the Princess Louisa dock

We’ve all come 40-odd miles up the Jervis Inlet, which winds more and more deeply into the mountains, past snow covered peaks; we’ve been visited by eagles and pods of killer whales, our eyes rubbed raw by so much beauty.  It is like sailing through the Grand Canyon, but in blues and greens—a wild mix of sea, mountains, snow, rainforest and sunshine the day we make our trip up.

Killer whales in Jervis Inlet

Radio signals, telephone signals, and the trappings of civilization drop away.  After the conjunction of the Jervis Inlet, Agamemnon Channel, Hotham Sound and the entry to the Skookumchuck Rapids (Sechelt Inlet), there are no more ferries, no more power lines.  Clearcuts, quarries and fish farms gradually give way to the wilderness, and then to more clearcuts and wilderness.  The landscape is so magnificent, so vast, it appears to overcome even these ravages, although we wonder, does it?  Really?  We wonder too at the wisdom of a nation or a province that would encourage the scarring of its natural treasures thus.

Strip mine and clearcut in the wilderness

Words fail the place and so do pictures.  Nothing but being here can do it justice; everything else just miniaturizes and tames for our use a space that, in its own terms, renders us insignificant. The moisture and moss creep over everything; the water continues to thunder down and the mountains to rise up.  We are like the mist, evanescent, nothing but spray before such stolid vastness.  And yet, and yet, we hack away.  We persist in trying to make and remake whatever we find in our own image….Here as everywhere….Another sort of clearcutting—or as close to glory as we “rationalist” humans think we can get?

About Karin Cope

Karin Cope lives on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. She is a poet, sailor, photographer, scholar, rural activist, blogger and an Associate Professor at NSCAD University. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein, a poetry collection entitled What we're doing to stay afloat, and, since 2009, a photo/poetry blog entitled Visible Poetry: Aesthetic Acts in Progress. Over the course of the last decade, with her partner and collaborator Marike Finlay, Cope has sailed to and conducted fieldwork in a number of remote or marginal coastal communities in British Columbia and Mexico. Their joint writings range from activist journalism and travel and policy documents, to an illustrated popular material history of the Lunenburg Foundry entitled Casting a Legend, as well as their ongoing west coast travel blog, West By East.
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2 Responses to Eyes Rubbed Raw by Beauty

  1. Phil Zloman says:

    Hi Marike and Karin
    We met you both and Elizabeth at Chatterbox in 2012. We were on the Hunter 39 “GROOVEDERCI” , at the end of the dock, and had the misfortune of a mechanical issue which was corrected by a mechanic being flown in. We have followed your blog and were really saddened by the events at Canoe Cove.
    What is the status of Quoddys Run at this time?
    Take care and good luck,
    Phil & Denise Zloman

    • Karin Cope says:

      Thanks Phil and Denise We remember you and your boat well–here’s hoping that you’ve had no further troubles. After being written off–we had to buy her back in salvage–QR was rescued and beautifully upgraded and repaired by Blair and Sharon Fraser and their son Simon. (Blair and Sharon operate BFEx Marine–you can check out their services here: http://www.bfexmarine.com/). We wrote about “the big fix” they pulled off here here: https://quoddysrunrepaired.wordpress.com/
      Quoddy’s Run is now in better shape than ever; we’ve continued to sail her all over BC and SE Alaska. Last summer, we circumnavigated Vancouver Island–loved the wild west coast! And we’re planning to head to Haida Gwaii this summer. Sooner or later, some of those adventures will appear here.

      Karin and Marike

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