In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau
The long trip to Toba Valley
It is 4am and somehow the journey into the distance and the expanse of the Canadian wilderness begins here. We packed all of the important things we will need for the expedition in four bags, one bin and one duffel.
This year, the team comprises of Kai Andersch, Hans Dierstein (both from the Managing Board of WI), Jürgen Thiele (Co-founder of the Foundation), Niklas Drude (Cameraman) and Florian Reza (Environmental Ambassador).
The drive and flight go as planned, and after 15 hours of travel we land in Vancouver and get on the ferry to Nanaimo. There, David (Director of WI Canada) greets us, and shortly thereafter, exhausted, we drop into bed. The next day will be rough.
5:30am. And once again the alarm clock rings in the early morning. Two bags are tied on top of the car and the rest is loaded into it as best as possible, because before we get on the Zodiac that will take us down the Campbell River to the Toba Valley, we still have some things to take care of. Food and more inventory also need to go on the Zodiac.
At the dock we meet the last two members of our expedition: Charlotte, who studied Natural Resource Conservation and Gudrun Pflüger (Wolf expert, you can watch her ZDF documentary here) complete the team. But after a couple of minutes it occurs to us that the Zodiac might just be a little too heavy. Josh, our Skipper, a Dutch dentist who decided to try his luck in Canadian tourism a few years ago, also raises concerns that it could be somewhat heavier than we thought. So we have our first problems on the seaway between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Josh decides to get a second boat, and to transport us and our luggage separately.
In Knight Inlet, the strait that leads to Toba Valley, we see the first clear cuts and signs of logging. We are witnesses to a helicopter-felling near the ocean. When we arrive at Toba River, the next problem surprises us: The Zodiac cannot navigate up the shallow river. We only have one choice: Unload everything and use the small accompanying vessel to travel the 12 kilometers up the river to the conservation area of Wilderness International. And since we don’t all fit into the boat with all of our belongings, we have to make two trips. All of this would be no problem, except for the fact that it is getting late and we wouldn’t really make it all that far, so we decide to camp on a sand bank, about 3 kilometers up the river. How we get to the land of the Grizzlies the next day, and if we will even see any Grizzlies – you can read that tomorrow on the Wildblog.