The Wild

 Ride of a Valkyrie to Nimmo Bay

"The best fishing lodge in the world" per William Shatner aka Captain Kirk aka Denny Crane so it has to be true.

British Columbia is relentlessly beautiful and wild and much of the province is inaccessible. Until recently, a visitor had to work hard at the Canadian wilderness, lugging backpacks, tents, depressing rations of dried food and cans of bear and bug spray. Over the past few years, the reserved, modest Canadians have been working quietly to create some of the most luxurious resorts in the world and take most of the misery out of communing with nature. The Nimmo Bay Resort is a favourite of George Bush Senior, Richard Branson and CEOs of some of the biggest American and European companies. The lodge consists of a half dozen luxurious log cabins on stilts nestled around that waterfall on an inlet of the Pacific just across from Port Hardy. The food is fantastic, there are hot-tubs at the base of the waterfall and a masseur is on call day and night but at Nimmo Bay, the helicopter is the thing. Throughout their stay, guests have a helicopter and pilot, available to whisk them off to lunch on a glacier, salmon fish in remote rivers or beach-comb on one of the Canadian West Coast's immense, empty white sand beaches.

Like so many Canadian resorts, Nimmo Bay takes care to nurture the nature that surrounds it so fishing here is of the catch and release variety. Fishing is the big attraction but there are other adventures that only a helicopter can provide and on the first day, we let the salmon wait and head out to Alert Bay to visit the local First Nation community. This tiny village is home to the highest totem pole in the world. Members of the band – as tribes are called in this part of the world – take us out for a paddle on one of their canoes and invite us to lunch of local specialities in their Long House. The morning is rainy and grey – this is rain forest country after all - but after we leave Alert Bay, the sun comes out and Gregg, our pilot, takes the helicopter soaring over the snow-capped summits just across from the village. Like Wagner’s Valkyries, we soar vertically in the air just yards from the peak, then swoop down the other side to one of the hundreds of turquoise lakes that are hidden among the mountains.

On the second day, we fish. Gregg takes us hovering above a salmon river. He knows that the shadow of the helicopter will scare the salmon so he hovers with care like a giant eagle until he sees the the fish, scores of them coming through a narrow bend of the river near a sand bank. Within minutes we have landed on the sand bank and are casting our lines. Within a few more minutes, one of our group of four has caught a salmon. Like me, she is a city journalist and first-time fisherman. She is astonished at the size of her catch, and of the extraordinary adrenaline rush of thatfirst-ever tug on a line. We celebrate with lunch on a glacier. Gregg takes us soaring through pristine blue ice crevasses up to a small rocky peak where he sets up a table complete with linen tablecloth, award-winning Canadian wines, even an ice sculpture.

After an afternoon of whitewater rafting, a dinner of fresh crab is waiting on the deck back at the lodge. Nimmo Bay’s food is fabulous. The emphasis is on fresh local foods but the desserts are decadent and wonderful. The chocolate mousse beats anything I have ever tasted in Paris. The day ends with a soak in the outdoorhot-tub which sits at the base of that waterfall, nestling in the stillness of the surrounding cedars.

No comments: