Part 3

In which I take my friends to the end of the land
and we have some glorious good weather.

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7/28, Wednesday, Day 13

Rain all day
Paddle 8 NM

Rain in AM. We set up the tarp near our tents and have an excellent hot rye cereal which Marie brought.

This is the sort of day I'd spend in camp. But I don't want to stay a full day here at the ferry landing and neither does anyone else. We pack and load our kayaks then paddle to Bella Bella where we stop briefly.

We continue toward Dryad Pt, now paddling directly in to the wind and a small chop. Visibility obscured by fog and rain. Past Dryad Pt we turn into a narrow, shallow, and protected channel. In the reprieve from the wind, Marie, Paul, and Wendy find this very beautiful and are excited to be here. We continue through protected Ormidale Harbor, and along the windward shore, passing my camp of the previous night. I suggest a break, thinking that on the first day people would find it difficult to stay in the boat long. To my surprise, everyone is fine.

We cross Raymond Passage to Horse Pt. Here we are exposed to the south wind which has been blowing up the passage all day. Waves are 2 ft and choppy. Marie is exceptionally tired on this first day so our progress is slow and we have to paddle at a considerable ferry angle to make consistent progress toward the far shore.

Once in the shelter of Horse Point conditions ease off and a little while latter we are at the camp. I get out and scout the forest for dry camp sites. The rain has eased off, though not stopped. In the trees it is still dripping. I'm wet, the world is web, everything is wet. Wet, wet, wet. First order of business is to set up the tarp . Marie and I change under the tarp, then assemble our tent under it before moving it to our site in the rain. Then we crawl into the tent and are able to set up a nice, dry nest. Paul set's their tent up in the rain and suffer from it being wetter.

Latter we gather under the tarp and Paul cooks steak fahitas, with home dried beef and vegetables. It is an excellent meal. Though the whole world is quite wet, we are comfortable and enjoy dinner.

Paul and Wendy cooking.

Marie drying out.

The crazy Frenchmen who came past my camp a couple days ago are now camped near us. Latter I go talk to them and find they are actually from Checislovacia. The leader of their group writes outdoor travel stories. This is his third trip to the BC coast. He and a friend started with some climbing in the Mt. Wadding area. Then their families joined them in Bella Bella where they took to the boats and are making their way up the coast. They have a large tarp, under which they have set a nice dinner table with a fire near by. They are definitely better equipped to deal with the rain, but also have a much larger impact. Signs of their passing will last much longer than signs of mine. Now they seem less crazy.

The evening forecast is encouraging..

7/29, Thursday, Day 14

Clouds AM - Clearing around 10 AM - Sun all afternoon
Paddle Rait Narrows and Louis Channel

We take our time getting up, but the forecast continues to be good. At 10 am, as we are packing our boats, the clouds begin to break. The tide has gone out and we must carry our boats a couple hundred yards to the water's edge. New to packing kayaks, we are not out of camp till 11:30.

We paddle back through Rait Narrows. This time, to my surprise, the current is with us and progress is quick. In the afternoon we take a break on some small rocks in the channel near where I camped 3 nights ago. From here we paddle down Louise Channel to the camp I scouted. This channel is narrow and feels very protected. It gives no hint of what is at the other end. Then the channel widens. I can feel the slightest lift and fall of the sea swell. An opening appears on the right and I lead people through a channel in the kelp to the protected lagoon. Now, in the sun, the white sand at the lagoons bottom turns the water crystal green. We land on the beach, now larger at the mid tide. Walking up the beach and looking out to the west shows where we have come: to the edge of the land. Beyond are a few sparkling islands and then the open pacific.

We unpack the boats, spread gear all over the place, and explore the camp. Everyone is excited to be here.

Our gear drying out.

The nice kitchen.

Near sunset we walk around looking at the tide pools. In one I see a struggle of life and death. A larger purple shore crab has got caught somehow. Small fish and other crabs have taken off all it's legs and two claws. It now floats helpless in a small puddle while fish and other crabs dart out to peck at it's body. I can see the stumps of legs and eyes moving around - it is completely helpless but still very alive. Soon the scavengers will crack open it's shell. Its unpleasant fate is clear and unavoidable. This is the eat or be eaten (beaten) world of the tide pool.

7/30, Friday, Day 15

Sunny and warm all day
Day Paddle

Eggs for breakfast. We take a day paddle to practice in open water and see if we are interested in paddling to some of the outer islands. Outside the protected lagoon we are back in the gentle swell. We paddle south a short distance and come into an area of larger waves. Either shallows or just a larger wave train running. Marie and Wendy decide that this is beyond their comfort level and we head into shelter then return to our lagoon through protected waters.

Back in the lagoon we play around in the boats. I try out the different kayaks and do some rolls.

Latter, Paul and I go for a paddle out in the ocean and end up going most of the way to the McMullin group. We paddle through some rocks, then enter a small lagoon on small island. The sun is low in the sky and the light beautiful. I feel the purity of the air.

The west beach of this small island is piled with drift wood. Deep in the drift wood is a HUGE old tire. The amount of human refuse that washes up on these beaches impresses me. Most common are the milled boards which aren't particularly offensive because they are just wood, and come in handy in camp. Next is fishing gear. Mostly floats, rope, and bits of net. Fortunately very little small rubbish that I would identify as litter.

At dinner we decide to start early and cross to the McMullin group.

Tent sites in the woods.

Kayaks set high on beach.

7/31, Saturday, Day 16

Sunny - Fog - High Clouds - Cooler
2 NM Crossing

Loading the kayaks for crossing.

Marie and Wendy in the open water.

Up at 6:30, on water @ 9:00. Takes about and hour and a half for crossing. Very beautiful out on water. Generally calm with a 2-3 ft. swell. As we approach north McMullin from the north a fog bank approaches from the south. I watch islands disappear. As a precaution I take a bearing on the likely landing site. But the visibility is always adequate and the bearing turns out to be unnecessary.

Paul with North McMullen ahead.

We land at low tide in a bay with huge sandy beaches. We scout camp sites for perhaps an hour, then decide to camp at the obvious site on the large beach. There's one forest site and space for several tents on the beach.

Paul carries gear up low tide beach.

McMullen camp site.

Lagoon at high tide.

We then paddle around the protected inlets for a while. I peer over the sides of my boat at the sea floor life, and spot several large crabs. What foreign life forms crabs are.

I try some rolls in my fully loaded boat and have no problem. About the same as an empty boat, though with more momentum.

High clouds develop then move south. I build a kitchen table from some driftwood plywood and bake pizzas for dinner. After dinner we go for an evening light paddle around the protected islets. After dark we build a fire on the beach. All signs of it are washed away by the night's high tide.

Evening paddle.

Evening landing.

8/1, Sunday, Day 17

Clear - Clouds and for by 10 am - Overcast p.m. - Clearing evening
3 NM crossing

Paul naps on the beach.

We have a leisurely breakfast of pancakes. After, we spread out charts and plan the rest of the trip - more or less. Mostly to make sure that we will not dawdle too much and have to rush at the end. As beautiful as this place is, we don't feel like spending two nights here. As a compromise we'll spend the day, then cross and camp on Iroquoise this evening.

This afternoon for the first time I am able to sit down and read. I've been doing a lot of the cooking and it has been the sort that required attention. When I'm not cooking I usually manage to find something to keep me busy. Busy, busy, busy. At home or on vacation it is the same. Busyness is my mindset which I may bring with me where ever I go, or choose to discard, even in my busy city life.

A party of 4 kayakers arrive from Goose island. They are from Seattle as well and up here for 10 days. I hesitate to ask them about were they might be going in case it is the same place as our selves. If they say the name first then they will some how have first rights to it. I could come out and tell them were we plan to go, but that would feel preemptory. Then they ask Wendy where we plan to go so we get to say the name first. They move on, heading for a further camp.

Another group of 5 appear, coming from the east. They say they were unable to find the camp site on Iroquoise, spent hours paddling along the shore, then had to cut a site out of the vegetation on an island just north of Iroquoise. They report that campsites have been generally hard to find. As they set up camp on McMullin I see they have some very large tents. This coast does not favor large parties, as we are about to find.

We eat dinner at 2 p.m., pack, and are paddling by 3:30 p.m.. The crossing goes well with moderate swell from the south. We find the constructed camp site and I mark it with a handy fishing float so now that it exists others might find and use it. But the landing is difficult and the camp generally bland. If this region is going to accommodate many more paddlers it will need more sites.

We also find the marked Iroquoise camp site. They other group was here because they clearly described how this little bay looks. From the water I saw a faint trail near a creek and that intrigued me. The creek is at the bottom of a small ravine. On one side of the ravine are several moss covered ledges. One is a great tent site, another a small, slanted tent site, and the other untenable.

The bugs, while not bad, are very present. We decide to get out the bug tent and all sleep in it. Gear is handed up to the ledge in a brigade. Kayaks placed above the water, then the tent erected. We eat lunch for dinner then settle down for the night. Open air, perched on a ledge in the forest. This is one of our most interesting camps.

Passing gear up.

And into tent.

Tent on ledge.

Floating in the forest

Settling in.


8/2, Monday, Day 17

Clear, distant clouds - Clouds overhead at 5 p.m. - Clear evening
Paddle 10 NM.

Granola in tent for breakfast.

I hike up stream to the lake. The sores are choked with vegetation and a freshwater swim not as appealing as I imagined.

When we load the boats the tide is out and we must carry our kayaks down to the water. The rocks are very slimy and treacherous to walk on. This is one of the least pleasant aspects of kayaking.

Easy paddle south through islands, covering 10 NM or so with 2 breaks. Wendy and I swap kayaks. I find the QCC 400 easy to paddle, but too wide for my taste.

In the evening we take our chances looking for an unmarked camp site and discover a beautiful sandy beach in a small cove. The tides have moderated so we have plenty of room this evening. Marie makes a wonderful Indian dinner with papadams, rice, potatoes,and vegetables.

Marie cooks.

Our kitchen.

The difficulty of finding a camp site goes up with the square of the number of tents you have to site. This is a good place for small parties with small tents. More than the four of us would be a challenge. In time the sites will be more developed and better known. But concentrating people in a few camp sites can lead to problems with human waste. I hope someone is foresighted enough, and funded to do something about that.

Evening brings a beautiful sunset

And a flurry of photography.

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Page last modified:  Jul 09 08:57 2010  by  Tom Unger