OpenRoad Driver Volume 15 Issue 1 - Page 82

82 » OpenRoad Driver O N E TA N K W O N D E R EXCEPTIONAL EGMONT THE SUNSHINE COAST Words and photos by Lauren Kramer » There are places where lipstick and stylish shoes are requisite luggage, but Egmont is not one of them. The unincorporated town at the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast is a come-as-you- are destination. There’s no pretension here, just rustic beauty, massive swaths of wild, untamed nature and all the peace and solitude you need for an escape from city life. We were lured by the reverence we heard in the voices of people who had seen the Princess Louisa Inlet and the Chatterbox Falls, sites most easily accessed from Egmont. A provincial marine park 90 minutes by boat northwest of town, Princess Louisa Inlet is a place of mysterious, surreal beauty. Thick-waisted, old-growth trees sit drenched in mist, their branches heavy with moss. The chattering waterfalls thunder over jagged rocks, and in the spring and summer, limber black bears make their way up the sheer granite cliffs that line either side of the inlet. We caught a ride up with Sunshine Coast Tours’ guide Cliff Silvey, wending our way from Egmont up the Sechelt Inlet on the flat, calm water. Days earlier a pod of orca whales had passed through, feasting on sea lions that basked on rocky outcroppings. On our journey the silvery grey heads of seals punctured the smooth ocean, and we passed waterfalls, steep granite walls with trees clinging in precarious defiance, and 5,000-year-old pictographs. Silvey’s ancestors settled Old Egmont in the 1800s, and our young guide knew the channels and contours of the water like the back of his hand. Along the way he pointed out logging camps, 2,400- foot inlet depths used as practice grounds by the Canadian navy, and salmon-rich waters long closed to commercial fishing. As we pulled into the Princess Louisa dock, schools of herring flitted near the surface and jellyfish hung translucent in the water like floating specters.