Just One Little Question....

So where is your heaven on earth?

After Mexico in February, I was pretty sure that if my heaven wasn’t there, it was at least somewhere tropical, with warm ocean breezes and cold drinks and awe inspiring fish.

Maybe that’s my paradise, but I don’t think its heaven. Heaven is closer to home, and every time I leave it a piece of me stays behind.

The Upper Pitt River is a hidden gem within an hour of the sprawling metropolis of Vancouver. Accessible only by chopper ($$$$!!!!) or boat, the river is unpopulated and unspoiled. Glacier fed, it begins in the Garibaldi Range and flows south into Pitt Lake, one of two tidally influenced freshwater lakes in the world. The Lower Pitt River, wide, and turbid flows into the Fraser River about 40km from the ocean. While logging has occurred in the lower valley for over a century, the upper elevations of the Upper Pitt River Valley are protected within three provincial parks - Pinecone-Burke, Garibaldi and Golden Ears on the west, north and east, respectively.

Situated in the heart of Katzie First Nation territory, the Upper Pitt Valley is remarkably rich in its wild salmon and wilderness-dependent species. It supports the largest remaining wild coho population in the lower Fraser and has a unique race of sockeye that take up to 6 years to mature. It provides valuable habitat for all five species of Pacific salmon plus steelhead, cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden and the largest population of bull trout remaining in the lower mainland. The Upper Pitt River Valley attracts grizzly bears, black bears, deer, wolves, marbled murrelets, wolverine and mountain goats. Because of its remoteness and habitat values, the Upper Pitt Valley was selected for re-introduction of elk in 2004. The elk are now thriving.

After the river freshets, usually in May, the sea-run bull trout start returning to its glacial waters. Healthy, fat and chrome, these are not your typical bull trout. The bigger fish enter the river first, and they take hard and fight hard. While averaging a few pounds, fish up to 10 or more pounds are not uncommon. Incredibly aggressive, we fish giant streamer patterns up to 7 inches for them. As the summer progresses, the Chinook and sockeye start their runs. You are not allowed to target the Chinook, but every once in a while you get an incidental catch on your bull trout patterns. The sockeye are some of the largest of their species, and will actually eat flies. Once late September rolls around the coho return and as the river is typically extremely low and clear there are usually sight fishing opportunities for them. Over the winter resident trout populations provide great opportunities, and a small run of winter steelhead return in March – April.

Besides the fishing, there are numerous other reasons to visit the Pitt. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, with snow capped mountains, blue-green waters and lush forests surrounding you. You very often see wildlife, especially bears during late summer and fall as the salmon are spawning. About 25 km up the river lays the second canyon on the Pitt. Nestled in its rock walls are two small pools, fed with bubbling hot spring water that flows out of the rock face. You can literally drop your hand over the edge of the pool and into the river itself.

The best way to experience the Pitt is by jet boat. The river is runnable by only the most experienced drivers, as it is filled with braids, log jams and gravel bars, and changes with every high water event. Every year boats are beached and sunk, and injuries and even deaths occur. I’m not trying to scare people into not going, but the dangers are a reality that many people take too lightly. With a competent and capable guide, you can be assured of a safe and incredibly thrilling ride.

So this, ladies and gentlemen, is my heaven on earth. Where I can breathe clean, fresh air and feel the wind in my hair. Where I can cast my little spey rod with my own flies to some of the most beautiful fish ever. Where I can soak my sore muscles in a steaming hot spring, listening to the rush of the river. Where I feel the excitement and adrenaline rush (as a passenger) as the boat takes hair pin turns and slides over gravel in inches of water. Where the scenery is familiar evergreen forests and rugged mountain peaks, and the glacial tint to the water fascinates me every time.

Where I feel at home.



Wow... It's a heaven! Gorgeous place!
I agree, heaven is the place close to home and has the special smell sealed with it. Great article! I am jealous and always intriguing about the temperate rain forest...

I guess I am in the opposite direction, my heaven is in the warm, breezing tropical ocean, Dorado, GT and flying fish patrol the water. Lot's of pineapple and rice too! Hmmm.... the smell of heaven... here is a photo http://s161.photobucket.com/albums/t215/markyuhina/?action=view&current=island.jpg

Steelie Mike said...

Looks like fun!

mia said...

Hi girl, Hope to visit your home someday. Heaven is the river,water, and the mountains. Have Fun!