Desolation Sound was named by Captain Vancouver in 1792 because of its gloomy appearance, an awful silence pervaded the gloomy forests, whilst animated nature seemed to have deserted the neighbouring country(1). Maybe not the kind of country designed for enterprise(2) and Captain Vancouver certainly was an enterprising kind of guy but Desolation is not desolate, merely complete unto itself. Everywhere you cruise, down endless gunkholes, you are confronted with one minimalist Japanese Garden setting after another.(3)
Perhaps it is aptly named but desolation comes easily to those who are seeking more than enough.
Almost every anchorage offers a short dinghy ride to a fabulous tramp in the primeval rainforest. Tripping through towering trees, strange fungus and mushrooms dotting the path, gigantic fir trees uneasily allowing passage, it's easy to imagine Alice in Wonderland bumping into the White Rabbit or small Hobbits scampering in the upper bush.
Introduced to cruising originally in Desolation in the winter, that place in time remains my favourite. In the summer however, Desolation merely provides excellent restaurants an easy passage away offering gourmet food and local jazz groups. Interesting shopping abounds displaying hand crafted gifts made by the Desolation Faeries as well as connoisseur coffee and teas, stylish clothes and essential marine parts. Fresh salmon caught by yourself or purchased from a friendly fishermen or First Nations are still to be found - don't be greedy! The countless crystal lakes just a short hike away are great for swimming(4) and charming Bed & Breakfasts run by retired Cordon Bleu chefs or fascinating 100-year-history locals dot the shore if you're seeking a night off the boat.
Desolation has renewed me several times. It's my ace in the hole, the place I crawl to, to lick my wounds. It's hard for me not to be afraid for the things I love and I fear for Desolation. Pyramids, life, the cosmos, eternity; it's easy to feel like an integral part of the universe there.
Under the big sky, dangling on a hook, floating on the water of life in Desolation; there's not too many places in time when you are sure about the centre of the universe. Go to Desolation and worship what you will but, leave no footprint(5). What's there is enough(5). Don't forget! Those Indian faces in the cliffs are watching, make 'em smile!
(1) British Columbia Coast Names; Their Origin and History; Captain John T. Walbran; A treasury of Biography, History and Anecdote; Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. 2323 Quebec Street, Suite 201, Vancouver, British Columbia V5T 4S7
(2) Captain Vancouver should see it now! Brooding wet coast scenery has caught on with The Money. Around one corner monolithic cliffs and moonscape twisted trees, around the next small Kingdoms and Fiefdoms, every tile, brick, pipe and stone brought at great expense via boat. Fortunately there's still a lot of corners in Desolation!
(3) Were the Japanese interred in Desolation during World Word II?(6)
(4) Hopefully those old Indian faces in the cliffs, together with legislation, education and the difficulty of access will continue to protect the water in those lakes and Desolation as a whole.
(5) Or at the very least, stay away in winter. Please!
(6) No they merely fell in love all over again with a landscape so much like home. I've since met a Japanese woman who was interred. She was close to retirement and worked in a Government mailroom. She told me her Mama told her never to have children. When I asked her why she thought her Mama might have told her that (?) she told me she didn't know. When I asked her if she remembered anything about being interred, she told me she was just a baby but that she remembered her Mama cried. "I bet she did", I replied. They were interred in Ottawa. Later again, a Fisherman told me his family was interred in the Interior of BC. He talked about baseball games with the locals. Later still I read a book called Obasan by Joy Kogawa © 1961 There is a silence that cannot speak.