My boyfriend, Curtis Blackburn, and I love to be in the mountains. Although we spend most of our time in Strathcona Park, we decided to try something new in June. When we learned that 49 North Helicopters partners with Discovery StandUp Expeditions to provide people with the opportunity to paddle board in the alpine of coastal mountains, we couldn’t pass up the experience. Plus, neither of us had flown in a helicopter before.
We flew over Campbell River, through Bute Inlet, and up the coastal mountain range to arrive at a remote glacial lake accessible by helicopter only. Its water was like nothing we’d ever seen—so clear and blue.
There were four of us: me and Curtis, our pilot Bastion, and our paddle board guide James. As we walked down to the edge of the water to see how much melt there was to paddle, I took notice of how rare it is to be outdoors and be certain that other people won’t show up around you.
We didn’t waste any time getting off the ground and onto our paddle boards to explore the area from the water’s surface. However, being somewhat amateur paddlers, James made sure to answer our questions and give us plenty of direction beforehand.
At this time of year, the snow and ice remained thick and the lake was mostly covered. This made the tour that much better, since we got to paddle our way through mini icebergs. Off the boards, we were able to walk close to the glacier and take photos of the ice while enjoying the warm sun. It was balmy enough to be dressed in summer clothes, and for some of the cornices hanging high above to be melting. As hardened snow and rocks crashed down the steep slopes, there was echoing all around us.
When we came off the water, Bastion offered the option to explore another lake or take an extended heli ride back to Campbell River. We chose the extended ride. During our return flight, we saw multiple glacial lakes and touched down on Mt. Doogie Dowler—a mountain that would have taken a great deal of time and effort to climb. We were lucky for the opportunity to witness such an aerial view of the area.
Flying with 49 North Helicopters and doing a guided paddle board tour with Discovery StandUp Expeditions was an experience of a lifetime for us. It offered a new perspective of where we live, and the thrill of paddling among glaciers we normally gaze at from below.