“Your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying…”
Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” reverberates through my headset as our soundtrack-equipped helicopter soars over the bluest lake I've ever seen. At that moment, the lips in question belong to the awestruck passenger next to me. But it’s easy to see what she’s saying: “Wow!”
Her mic isn't working, but no matter. All six passengers in the West Coast Helicopters chopper are clearly dumbfounded by the Coast Mountain scenery assaulting their senses.
An hour earlier, our mid-morning lift-off from Nimmo Bay Resort shattered the misty serenity of the luxurious eco-lodge. Here on the southwestern edge of B.C.’s remote and rugged Great Bear Rainforest, exploration is only possible by sea or air. We would soon discover why helicopters are so well-suited for the latter.
If the tiered waterfall powering the resort, the bronze grizzly bear statues in its effluence, and our towering breakfast skillets had seemed like aspects of a wonderful dream, then the next seven hours push the experience into died-and-gone-to-heaven territory. Indeed, I expect “Stairway to Heaven” to continue the classic-rock theme as our chopper veers away from Corsan Peak and its impossibly blue kettle lake, and returns to a wide river valley where larch trees mottle the banks with their autumnal yellows.
We’ve touched down just once so far: On a parking space-sized boulder near the base of a gushing waterfall, where Dave Wigard, our good-natured pilot, demonstrates the chopper’s remarkable versatility.
His point is driven home emphatically as we approach Silverthrone Glacier. As its jagged expanse unfolds below us and its namesake peak looms ahead, I half expect to see Superman emerge from what looks like his Fortress of Solitude. I also realize just how lucky we are to admire scenery that would otherwise require some serious mountaineering skills to reach.
Wigard skilfully lands the chopper on a moraine flanking the glacier, where we rendez-vous with the tour’s other two birds. Within minutes our guides cover a flat-topped boulder with a decadent lunch spread, which tastes that much better 8,000 feet up.
After cramming our memory cards with “I’m King of the World!” snapshots, we climb back into the choppers and leave the glacier in dramatic fashion. We fly low over the ice, past sinewy waterfalls and towering cliffs, then suddenly swoop upward. Within seconds, we’re looking down on Silverthrone Mountain, its snowy peak punctured by dark pillars of volcanic rock that resemble giant claws bursting from an icy lair. Forget Superman: This is more like something out of Lord of the Rings.
Read the rest of the story in the Globe and Mail
WHERE TO STAY
Most Nimmo Bay guests arrive via YVR, where the nearby Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel provides free shuttle service, elegant accommodations, and 24-hour room service.