I paddle away from the dock in a soft drizzle, sheets of pale-grey mist hanging low on the green mountains that flank a long tendril of ocean. The precipitation is to be expected – we’re in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, so named for good reason – and the propulsion is no problem. Sufficiently attired in activewear, my wingman and I are on stand-up paddleboards, not cramped and damp in kayaks or canoe. And even though the guy gliding beside me has a pair of Olympic medals and knows a few things about racing, this afternoon’s journey is proceeding at a relaxed pace. Our destination, moored in a cove two kilometres away, is a floating cedar sauna where a stoked wood stove and cooler of beer await.
An obsession with stand-up paddleboarding, a.k.a. SUP, has brought me to the B.C. coast. When my lifelong passion for walking and exploring dry land morphed into curiosity about water, SUP struck me as an easy way to get closer to aquatic environments. The Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, whose dock we just departed from, is the perfect place to deepen that relationship. Over the past four decades, the family-run, off-grid lodge has evolved from luxury fishing camp into Edenic outdoor playground. Owner/operator Fraser Murray – whose parents towed a refurbished float home across Queen Charlotte Strait from the northern tip of Vancouver Island in 1981, tapped a waterfall for electricity and opened for business a month later – has embraced their mantra that “nothing is impossible” at Nimmo. Which is why, beyond today’s low-octane outing, my paddling itinerary includes helicopter drops beside high-alpine lakes and speedboat shuttles to tidal rapids. And why Murray asked his pal Simon Whitfield – who won a come-from-behind gold in triathlon for Canada at the 2000 Olympics, took a silver eight years later and is now a Vancouver Island-based SUP guide – to helm bespoke paddleboard sessions with guests.