In Dear Liza we tried to capture the feeling of paddling the British Columbia coast and how it can have a transformative effect of some people.
As a filmmaker, I’m inspired by new places and experiences but I keep coming back to the coastal waters of British Columbia. In the rush for new places, I really appreciate projects that force me to sit still and get to know a place more intimately. I had been doing some work filming for Spirit of the West Adventures on some of their sea kayak trips and spent many days in the landscape, much of it waiting and watching as the world around me was in constant flux.
Most of my time was spent in the Broughton Archipelago which is in the northern reaches of Vancouver Island’s Inside Passage. It was almost a bit overwhelming the first time I visited because there really aren’t that many similarly dramatic landscapes so teeming with life and activity. The cold Pacific waters and strong currents in the area create ideal feeding grounds for all kinds of wildlife and it can feel pretty special to watch so many creatures come together in one place with a common purpose. I’ve been lucky over the years to experience some amazing encounters with orca and humpback whales, but have also been really impressed with all the smaller forms of life and how the ecosystem works as a whole. I think the sheer abundance of species in the area – from the sea stars to the birds and the dolphins and the little jumping salmon – far outweigh the excitement of any one animal.
As you travel north up the coast to the Great Bear Rainforest, the landscape changes and you really start to feel more isolated. We paddled along this beautiful and rugged coastline in the outer island of the Hakai Protected Area and it was really memorable for me to feel so exposed to these coastal elements. I’ve always been a big fan of wolves so it was exciting to be in an area that is known for its sea wolf population. I think it’s pretty special to see how the open North Pacific Ocean has helped shape the world’s longest remaining stretch of coastal temperate rainforest in the world. The steep cliffs of these outer islands are covered in trees that look to have weathered more wind and rain than I can even imagine. But then dotted between all this rough rock are incredible white sand beaches perfectly suited to sea kayakers or anyone looking to take a rest.
I’m back in the area once again working on a project about humpback whales. Many thanks for Spirit of the West Adventures for their collaboration on this project.
Find David Hartman on Instagram at @haystac_hartman. See Dear Liza touring in the 2019 Paddling Film Festival and find a screening near you by clicking here.