Outdoor Explorer Magazine

Nanook of the North

A gem of a lodge on Stuart Island is an ideal base for exploring British Columbia’s natural wonders.

We’d barely shaken hands when Larry Anderson told me I had half an hour to get ready to leave for the Phillips River, where we were going to meet a dozen other volunteers helping to corral and pen spawning chinook. The Anderson’s, owners of Nanook Lodge, may run a fishing inn, but they makes sure that guests don’t have to cast a line to enjoy the wonders of British Columbia’s Stuart Island.

Anderson is one of 20 or so volunteers who operate a community hatchery on Stuart Island that’s working to restore salmon runs. Most days, his guests also pitch in, hauling in nets dragged along the river bottom to catch the project’s unsuspecting egg and sperm donors.

Not that my time there was all work. In just two too-short days at the lodge, I filled a bucket with littleneck and Manila clams I scraped from the rocks. I hunted for chanterelles in a silent, dark-green forest. After making our way white-knuck- led through whirlpools as big as our boat and threading among whole trees knocked out of the woods and into the sea at HoIe-in-the-Wall, I helped pull up two crab traps whose treasure included six dinner-plate-sized Dungeness crabs.

Accompanied by Anderson’s son, Sam-and, he said, the island’s unseen but still-plentiful cougars, timber wolves and black bears-1 hiked through temperate rainforest to a deserted pebble beach with views across Bute Bay to coastal mountains. As Larry and I drove a ’78 Suburban on a logging road snaking into the Phillips Arm River valley, I counted 12 fresh piles of grizzly scat.

September-October 2000, Page 54. By Catherine Buni