Turning our little tender toward the narrows, Casey Brant steers us into a moody mix of sun, cloud, fog and rain. Up ahead, the waterway wrapped in a shroud, it looks like we might be headed for the edge of the world – but instead, we’re only going back in time. Following some local advice that up there, further along, near an unnamed creek, we will soon find ourselves surrounded by some of the most pristine forest in the world – never cut, thousands of years old – we make our way slowly along the increasingly tapered passage.
Emerging into a broader bay, Brant carefully lands our craft, cranking down the bow to make a ramp onto the rocks for our little group of passengers to disembark. As all of us are led ashore by Wade Davis, an anthropologist and ethnobotanist at the University of British Columbia, he makes it clear that we’re in a special place. “This is the forest of the dinosaurs,” he says, looking up and around, a little in awe himself. Davis gestures at the surrounding hemlocks, Sitka spruce and towering western red cedars as all of us walk below the boughs of the trees in this Jurassic place, bouncing along the unbelievably spongy forest floor. “Botany is the history of the world – these cedars, plus salmon, equals civilization.”