ENCHANTED BY THE EXCHAMSIKS
Terrace BC has a certain allure to it. Its rugged beauty and friendly folks keep me coming back multiple times a year for any kind of adventure. Jaret Bull and I headed North from our home of Squamish BC only to be greeted with torental summer rain. The raising water levels made for perfect jet boating conditions and an excellent excuse to connect with an old friend and Terrace local Rob Bryce for a soggy saturday saturated in adventure.
I was told the Exchamsiks River means "Valley of the Waterfalls" which is completely accurate. And, modest; only a few kilometers up the river we had already counted over 200 waterfalls.
One of only three completely untouched estuaries of the Skeena River, the Exchamsiks River feels raw and alive - very alive.
Moody coastal clouds shape-shifted exposing one treasure after another in the lush valley. Rich forests and smooth towering cliffs filled our vision with glimpses of glaciers hanging overhead. Onshore there was evidence of bears but no trace of humans. The provincial park at the river’s access keeps industry out and respectful adventure seekers coming back for tranquillity.
No souls insight, we absorbed every ounce of history from the remote region that Rob Bryce, jet boat operator and friend offered.
Rob Bryce co-owns Northern BC Jet Boat Tours based out of Terrace BC, but his exploration offerings span the majority of the northern part of the province, including both ocean and river accessed waterways. Twenty-something years ago Rob became infatuated with the idea of exploring somewhere new every day and his purists remain pure as he continues to research and find untouched areas while sharing some of his explorations with visitors and locals alike.
“I love learning about the local history of the region and sharing it with my guests. In my spare time, I still like to go out and explore new areas and share these adventures with guests who have the same passion for visiting unique and "off the beaten path" locations. I am always looking for new and exciting tour ideas that can be delivered in a safe and informative way.”
Despite our inability to see them, there are pictographs on the water’s edge that elude to an active First Nations history in the area.
It is believed that the Tsimshian Nations used the Exchamsiks River for hunting and fishing. Probably the Kitsumkalum First Nations and Lakwalams First Nations as well. Rob told us “I have heard stories that when the Haida paddled up the Skeena River to wage war with the Tsimshian, that any Haida that were captured were hiked up the cliffs at the mouth of the Exchamsiks and thrown off as a warning to any future Haida raids.”
With an active history in these parts, nowadays it is rare to spot another person on the river. But if you do, they’ll most likely share a friendly wave and move on to find their own sanctuary of solitude to explore, fish, or soak in the spectacular views.
Mist from the river kissed our cheeks as we gracefully held throttle at the impassible choke in the river to relish in all that we had seen, heard, felt, and learned - knowing that much more was just beyond the cascading falls at the bow of the boat.
Content and fulfilled from the experience, Rob turned us around and the jetboat propelled breeze made our hair dance exposing our nature induced smiles to each other.
Hard to fathom that this is just another gem in the bountiful offerings surrounding Terrace BC.
Follow more of Abby's adventures @abbydells