By Liam Ogle, a guide and naturalist in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Forgotten and wild, in the land where time stands still. Silence echoes loud amongst the sleeping giants. A ghostly mist rolls in from atop the skyscrapers of natures design, clinging to the sitkas along the cliffs and across the mountain elites, creating a feeling of calm throughout the air. I awake in the morning stillness, with the sound of water hitting the roof and trickling down to the edges, soothing the ear and warming the soul.
Drops of rain collect along the brim of my hat as I stand on shore, thinking of nothing and feeling everything. They drop one by one, without a sound, without effort, and without any desires of something more. Fully embracing its roll in reuniting back in among the mossy alder roots.
I stand on this spot of earth every day. A day no different than the next, but everyday different completely. The world is alive here. You can see it breathe in the rising and falling of the seas, pristine rivers flowing like vital arteries and you can feel it’s heartbeat on the valley floor, constant in the stone. As I stand here alone, I feel myself falling into the rhythm of mother nature.
My little perch. South facing. Littered with violet asters and brilliantly red columbines. I stand at a point where sea meets river. A confluence of power and mystical energy. A combination of two worlds colliding with one another and working together in perfect chaos and beauty. To my back stand a towering mix of ancient cedars, Sitka spruce, hemlock and the odd crab apple tree. As I stand along the river’s edge, I think of wise men before me throughout history, life leading them to a rivers edge, just like mine, finding a spiritual element to those in search of something greater.
I have begun to notice our first signs of seasonal change here on this remote coast. Bonaparte Gulls have lost their summer plumage, losing their white feathers of previous months. The forest floor is now completely overgrown with salmon berries, blueberries, and huckleberries along with an array of other delicious edibles, perfect for the berry lover to collect and perhaps make a local treat of huckleberry jam. This is a dramatic and intoxicating time of year to witness, as the wilderness comes to life and the animals feast to their hearts content while embracing the beginning of one’s journey of a new season.
My seat on the forests edge, along my river bed, I have seen change. Now amongst tall sedge about waist high, lay a maze of trails intertwined throughout the estuaries far reaches. Bear highways to a morning’s breakfast. Heavily worn pathways to their favorite feasting grounds, a 400 pound beast tramples through the grass, hungry for a mouthful of salmon but stopping to walk around a lone flower. A grizzly stopping for a flower? I laugh to myself, as I watch this feared so called man eater of the wild carefully watching his step as he walks around this small piece of perfection.
Up until now, this estuary has been relatively quiet. Only the sound of the creek as it falls through the stones and howls of wind far up above my reach. Now, overnight it transforms. Reshaping within hours an empty stream is full of thousands of colorful spawning chums. Returning to their birthplace, fighting the gauntlet of life’s struggles to lay their eggs and lay for their final resting place as their organs begin to shut down, leaving the bodies behind. Ravens line the wall of the forest. Loudly gossiping to each other, overwhelming the entire valley with chatter. I notice a change in their speech. A new sound. Almost like a child’s “hellllllooo”, maybe this is their word for fish? “There is fish in the river!” they say to one other overcrowding the waters edge.
In a place so untouched by man, alone I stand in an alien world. Distant from what I think is a modern society, I see remnants of past memories lost in time. How did we drift so far from a place from once in which we came? A rugged pile of stone, spotted in barnacles crosses the river. Almost now unnoticeable, unrecognizable. A tshimishin fish trap from a time long ago, peoples living on the bounty that is the sea and from what the forest provided.
To forget ones roots, it’s to forget one’s self. In a place so distant in your memory, lies a world full of wonder and purity. A place alive in its madness cripples a man from his inner strength, leaving him detached from what is real. A fleeing moment of something insignificant and small may not be noticed to the naked urban eye. To stop and listen to nothing can clear all confusion of your mind, and leave you at peace within yourself.
You can learn more about Liam’s work in the Great Bear by watching MTV News Impact Presents: Pipeline Wars. Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, MTV News Host & Producer, investigates the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Pipeline Wars airs on MTV on Sunday, Sept 9th, 6pm & 11pm ET.