Here on the Pacific Coast, the ocean is rarely distant. Well, sure, in the Similkameen or Cariboo Grasslands, or in the antelope brush prairie of the Columbia Basin, it sure seems distant. It isn’t. There’s the shore, of course, that line where the tide meets the beach, and there’s the sand of the beach itself, in the canary grass and wild crabapples and alders. The Coast, though, goes hundreds of miles inland here, on this one breaking wave: tideline, intertidal zone, foreshore, fog zone, rainforest, subalpine rainforest, rainshadow, and then, miraculously, the rainforest again, breaking against the Cariboo Mountains and the Selkirks, at the head of the Thompson and Columbia Rivers. The one constant is the salmon, that swim up these rivers to spawn, and the forests that are built out of their bones, and the cultures that have sprang up in response to them. Recently, I travelled from the mouth of the Columbia in Astoria, Oregon, up through the Columbia Gorge and the Columbia basin, up through drowned Kettle Falls, to Robson, B.C.
Here is the guide I met up with at Beacon Rock.
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I saw this guy — or his cousin — on the highway near us yesterday. He was actually waiting for traffic to pass before he crossed the road. I slowed down and had a nice little moment with him, looking him in the eye. He didn’t look away but was obviously only interested in making sure it was safe to cross. (Their coats are very lustrous this time of year. Must be all the fruit.)