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Highway 101: The Sunshine Coast, parT Two

The Caren Range
Over the last two decades there have been several war of the woods between environmentalists and loggers. While the loggers, who grew up here and need those jobs to have a decent income, deserve some sympathy, there have been so many underhanded manoerves by logging companies and some of the smaller logging outfits that what they have done is ecocide - that is, they have desecrated wildlife habitat areas beyond repair, and have taken away a shrine of nature. The Caren Range, which is the backbone of the peninsular, was one of the most unique eco-systems in the province, with its ancient trees - some Yellow Cedars were 2,000 years-old - and closed-canopy forests.


However, from the late 1970s until a group of residents launched a campaign to end the destruction in 1991, logging companies reduced much of nature's beauty to 'heaps of debris'. ( Only a small fragment of the old growth forest was saved. It is still a wonderful place to visit, there are still a few ancient yellow cedars, still a few Marbled Murrelets, and other rare species of birds. The Bay lynx, a large wildcat found only in the Caren and the Tetrahedron areas, still hunts in these woods, but like most wild cats is rarely seen.


The protected area is known as Spipyus Provincial Park. In the forest there are black bear, Roosevelt elk, cougar, bobcat, black tailed deer, otters. Besides the marbled murrelets bird-watchers can find eagles, ospreys, and belted Kingfishers, around the upland lakes. These beautiful areas need your help to be protected not just from logging interests, but from mining companies who have been trying to mine this unique ecosystem with its many lakes.


Pender Harbour
There's always been either intense rivalry or often just plain animosity between communities on the Coast. The referendum over having a decent recreational centre took over 30 years to resolve, for example. One reason being that many people from Vancouver had summer cottages on the Coast and were reluctant to see their property taxes go up for facilities for the long-term residents. At any rate Pender Harbour is quite different from their neighbours to the south. And actually it is comprised of four former villages and 'landings'. It was always easier to get around by boat, and still is a fun way of travel today.


The whole area, made up of coves, and islands, bays and lakes is superb for kayaking, boating and scuba diving, and there are a lot of lovely B&Bs and old hotels in the area. Ruby Lake, with its clear blue waters is ideal for canoeing, as is Sakinaw Lake, which isn't bad for fishing either. There is a canoe route which stretches over four lakes, with easy portages, that would be perfect for families, or novice canoeists.


There's a good hiking and bike trail that crosses parts of the Caren range. It starts at Klein Lake, an old forest service campground, and crosses over forest and over mountain to Ruby Lake. It's about 4 km in length.


At the top of the peninsular (northwest on Highway 101) is the ferry terminal at Earl's Cove to the west, if you want to go to Powell River, and the delightful village of Egmont to the east. Egmont is the place to go for wilderness travels up the various inlets, and has various facilities including two marinas, kayak rentals and tours, fishing equipment and expeditions, rural accommodations, and very laid-back and friendly people. (Of course, that could be said for most of the Coast, only more so here.)

This is also the stop-over for trips to Princess Louisa Inlet, and the closest village to Skookumchuck Narrows, one of the natural wonders of British Columbia where the waters from Sechelt Inlet and those of the Jervis Inlet meet. At times the difference in water levels is 9 feet making for spectacular sights and great conditions for daredevil adventurers. Kayakers from all over the world take advantage of the white-water rapids, whirlpools, tides and currents which reach 17 knots in spring and summer.

Skookumchuck Provincial Park is on the way to Egmont and a relatively easy hike down through second growth forest to the rapids. Warning: keep children and dogs away from the water, as it obviously dangerous waters. Only experienced kayakers should attempt some of the tricks you see performed when the rapids are at their height.

We’ll be featuring Powell River soon, which is an ideal destination for week-long canoe adventures, fishing, nature watching, and the Sunshine Coast Trail stretches 180 km from the Saltery Bay ferry terminal in the south to Sarah Point in the world-famous Desolation Sound Marine Park in the north.


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