wasnt part of the plan, but so glad we chose it!
Once we got close to the mainland the ferry asked anyone driving to report to the pursers office. The forests fires had gotten even worse than when we left and several fires were actually along both sides of the only highway connecting Prince Rupert back to the rest of BC.
We were really excited to explore some glaciers, drive the remaining miles of the alaska highway (we skipped by turning off to the NWT toward the arctic) and more chances at wildlife, but the dense smoke clearly meant reduced views/visibility in the area and even the possibility of being stuck somewhere along the way in the middle of a forest fire had us considering other options.We also had heard amazing things about the remainder of the inside passage ferry south from here to vancouver island, so we checked in to see if any spots were available (walk-ons are always pretty easy on these ferries but a tall vehicle can be more difficult) and we lucked out with availability and booked a ferry the next day.
While we’ll have to go back for the glaciers and possibly to complete the alaska highway at some point in the future we couldn’t be more excited about our choice. While we kept hearing of the horrible smoke, lack of visibility and even health problems from the mainland we were greeted with only some mist/rain among otherwise clear skies, perfect for the impossibly beautiful landscapes along this route.
Unlike the last ferries, which seemed very much suited to moving vehicles or at least with a very outdated aesthetic, this ferry was both newer and absolutely well appointed. We ended up in a gorgeous area at the front of the boat which provided for panoramic views of the passage and a really fun group of travelers to boot.
While the entire route was amazing, the most fascinated part of this journey was the 70km along the Grenville channel. We hod grown very used to plush and untouched mountains rising up from both sides of the boat when passing between islands on our right and the mainland on our left… but the channel is a feat of nature, that feels even more impressive when aboard a boat that seems to make even large landscapes seem less impressive.
The waters of our passage quickly closed in on each side as the channel narrows down to 1/4mile and at the same time mountains fly upwards 1500-3500’ high on both sides of the boat. It just seemed precarious and unsafe to be taking such a large boat through such a narrow passage, but apparently the landscape plummets even steeper beneath the surface of the water, immediately falling to impressive depth of of 270fathoms. You could almost feel everyone onboard grow quiet and take in a deep breath as the boat passed the narrowest of the channel. Very impressive, and while it wasn’t on our list before- this one is definitely a not-to-miss!!
We eventually left the boat on the northern end of vancouver island and for the first time in weeks returned to familiar territory. Sadly, with it can the smoke and fires we have been hearing about for the last few weeks. Luckily the rains were coming and the fires would begin to lessen, but it kept us swiftly continuing south and within days we would be back at our home base in Portland.