Sal­ish Sea joins Canada’s Great Trail

Pad­dling route used for thou­sands of years could be­come an in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tion

Times Colonist - - The Capital / Island - LOUISE DICKSON ldick­son@times­

A pad­dling route used for thou­sands of years be­tween Van­cou­ver Is­land and the main­land has of­fi­cially be­come part of the Great Trail.

In Nanaimo Satur­day, a colour­ful flotilla of 150 kayaks and ca­noes cel­e­brated the open­ing of the Sal­ish Sea Marine Trail, pad­dling from Nanaimo Har­bour to New­cas­tle Is­land. There, Snuney­muxw elder Lor­raine White wel­comed the pad­dlers to their tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory.

John Ki­man­tas, project man­ager of the B.C. Marine Trails Net­work As­so­ci­a­tion, said the flotilla was fun and light­hearted.

“It was all about get­ting out on a beau­ti­ful day and en­joy­ing the scenery and the ca­ma­raderie.”

The route is part of the Great Trail, also known as the Tran­sCanada Trail, a 24,000-kilo­me­tre cross-Canada net­work of mul­tiuse land and marine trails.

“This is the day the Sal­ish Sea be­came part of the Trans-Canada Trail,” Ki­man­tas said. “We want to an­nounce it to the world so it gets the use and recog­ni­tion it de­serves.”

The 257-kilo­me­tre pad­dling route starts at Jeri­cho Beach in Van­cou­ver, crosses Howe Sound, then up the Sun­shine Coast to is­land-hop across the Strait of Ge­or­gia on Tex­ada, Jede­diah and Las­queti is­lands and the Bal­lenas-Winchelsea ar­chi­pel­ago. It stretches down the Van­cou­ver Is­land coast­line from Nanaimo and the Gulf Is­lands to Clover Point, Mile Zero and the In­ner Har­bour in Vic­to­ria.

Although com­plet­ing the en­tire trail would be gru­elling, the marine trail is not just for ex­pert pad­dlers, Ki­man­tas said.

“You don’t have to do the whole trail. It’s like hik­ing Par­adise Mead­ows in Strath­cona Park — you can go and en­joy the trails, but not every­body is go­ing to climb Mount Ed­ward Al­bert,” Ki­man­tas said. “This is the same with the Sal­ish Sea Marine Trail. There are por­tions ac­ces­si­ble to every­body.”

He pre­dicted the ma­jor­ity of pad­dlers will be day trip­pers and peo­ple on overnight trips.

“We’re look­ing at how we can por­tion bits of the trail that peo­ple can use and en­joy. For ex­am­ple, when peo­ple kayak out of Nanaimo they can do a Sal­ish Sea tour, like pad­dling around New­cas­tle Is­land and take part in the spirit of it,” he said.

One of the beau­ti­ful things about the Sal­ish Sea Marine Trail is its prox­im­ity to trans­porta­tion and ser­vices, Ki­man­tas said.

“If you’re a pad­dler com­ing form Ger­many, it’s go­ing to be a par­tic­u­lar at­trac­tion. You start off in an ur­ban cen­tre, then quickly go­ing across Howe Sound, there’s the fjord-like na­ture of Bri­tish Columbia, then the com­plete wilder­ness ar­eas of Jede­diah Is­land and South Tex­ada Is­land. It’s a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to mar­ket south­ern B.C. as a des­ti­na­tion.”

Un­like the Bro­ken Group and John­stone Strait, the Sal­ish Sea has more be­nign weather and more ser­vices, he said.

“Ba­si­cally, you can pad­dle up to pubs along this trail.”

The trail ties to­gether a net­work­ing of camp­ing sites that are within a day’s pad­dle from each other.

In the com­ing years, the as­so­ci­a­tion will be im­prov­ing the routes, im­prov­ing ac­cess and adding more sites.

“I do be­lieve it has in­ter­na­tional po­ten­tial. It’s go­ing to raise south­ern B.C. as a pad­dling des­ti­na­tion in its own right,” Ki­man­tas said.

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