Words by Tamo Campos
Rolling out from Vancouver was almost more relief than excitement. After having worked on the bus through rain and shine for over two months it’s finally ready to take on the 5000 km trip north.
Our First stop was Salt Spring to pick up Jasper Snow Rosen, a good friend of ours, who decided to come on this trip only a month or two ago. Jasper’s been a high level surfer for years, makes locally made & printed hemp T-shirts and plays in an epic rock band called the Barefoot Thieves. His property is picturesque and we dialed up and fixed our sketchy bus door with Jasper’s screen prints on driftwood panels.
Before heading out from Salt Spring we stopped in to pay a visit to Jack Rosen, Jasper’s Dad. He’s kayaked from Salty all the way Alaska twice and gave us great insight into what is at stake with the Northern Gateway Pipeline. He showed us charts of where the proposed Supertankers would enter into the water channels up to Kitimat. Jack said the channels were dangerous and sketchy due to high winds in a Kayak during his summer trip; our Government plans on putting tankers the size of three football fields through them during winter storms. Looking at the depth charts you start to really understand why people say “It’s not IF it spills it’s WHEN”.
Jack then went into a story that really stuck with me hard. He told us about how not even 300 years ago our Coast Flourished with Sea Otters. The fur trade began and from demand of Fur hats and coats over 98% of Sea Otters were killed on our coast. Jack explained it’s not only the death of the otter population but also the consequences of putting an ecosystem out of balance, which had the biggest effect. With no sea otters, sea urchins flourished and ate the roots of kelp, destroying the kelp beds lining the Pacific West Coast. These kelp beds acted as a safety spot for migrating fish and mammals such as whales, rockfish and seals. Not only that, if you’ve ever surfed on the west coast you notice how kelp beds swallow and mellow out the swell. Without these kelp beds our coast became rugged and more prone to erosion. These kelp beds that used to stretch for miles out to sea now are few and far between because we were blind about the consequences of putting an ecosystem out of balance.
This story has me thinking about the future consequences of projects such as Northern Gateway, The Tar Sands or LNG plants. Although demand (profits) may be high right now, what are the long-term consequences of these extraction processes? Is shipping oil and natural gas to Asia really more valuable then our last Salmon stocks or our fresh drinking water?
From Salt Spring we cruised into Cumberland. A week that’s been a combination of headaches of visa bills at local mechanic shops (new tires, transmission sensors, pumps & suspension) evened out by the good times in the backcountry of Mount Washington and Strathcona Park with our local Cumberland guide/bro Brady. Our first tour of the trip included a 10 hour split-board/blister/shin rashing tour into Strathcona Park to visit a cabin that was built in the 1970’s(coming out at 11 at night). Splitboarding is using snowboards that turn into skies to climb uphill then coming together to ride down. This is us actively lowering our carbon footprint on this trip while still getting rad; “two feet and a heart beat brah”
We then followed it up with some rad riding around the East side of Washington where we found a couple pillow zones and steeps. Even in the backcountry at Washington, we heard stories of boomtowns and environmental degradation in the area. As John’s been calling it “short term gain, long term pain in the…” The area we were touring in had a copper mine put in during the late 60’s. Since then the river that runs down from Washington has not had Salmon. When the company went under due to lack of Copper returns they simply laid down meshing on the tailing pond and let the town clean up the rest. To this day you can see a glowing orange nuclear blob of the tailing pond from space. Hard to imagine the consequences of the loss of Salmon to the Sacred Headwaters if the proposed Red Chris Mine goes through. An area that still depends on the Salmon runs as their food source and where we will be stopping in on in April. As for now it’s off to Northern Vancouver Island where we’ll be talking to workers behind the Knob Hill wind turbines project that will create 99MW of energy without the loss of Salmon or sea otters. Oh and we’ll be harvesting our own meals in Quadra, surfing Cape Scott and shredding Cain on the way..till the next time