An epic canoe journey lasting over two months made its final shoring in Prince Rupert at Rushbrook Harbour on Thursday afternoon.
The Spirit of the Coast canoe expedition, consisting of a 25-foot canoe and rowers from all over Canada, the U.S. and five international locations, was pulled ashore after some harrowing weather-related close-calls, one of which sidelined its chief organizer and operations and project manager, Chris Cooper, in June.
“We thought it would be really important to bring awareness to [Canada’s Pacific] coastline and bring education to its culture and environment, so the whole thing started blossoming and we ended up organizing five teams from around the world to paddle the coast,” said Cooper on Monday.
The team launched from the Kwantlen Nation departing for the Fraser River and heading for Kwiquitlem Nation.
One highlight of the trip included the team building an eight-by-10 foot wooden cabin out of nothing but driftwood found on the beach at Burnett Bay.
“It took us eight days and we left it there for fellow travellers coming by kayak or rowboat … [we only used] driftwood on the beach and the only thing we brought in were nails and a few bolts for the foundation of it,” said Cooper.
Forty-foot waves met the travellers in mid-July at Slingsby Narrows and high winds delayed the team even further throughout the journey.
An accompanying sailboat has made sure the squad has remained safe during the trip.
The final leg saw the paddlers leave Hartley Bay Monday morning and arrive in Prince Rupert Thursday afternoon.
The international teams, made up of 26 paddlers, joined partway through the journey.
More information can be found at the organization’s website, www.spiritdancercanoejourneys.ca.