K2inCanada's Blog

September 26, 2016

In the Heart of the Rainforest

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 6:59 AM

…is the name of a book I found on the ferry home from our 2016 kayak camping trip. We were out for 8 nights / 9 days, covering about 250km in roughly 47.5hrs of paddling. We picked a place between Northern Vancouver Island and the Mainland this year rather than going for the open coast to switch things up – Broughton Archipelago.  It is best known for the killer whales, Orcas, that make this place their home in the summer months. Hence, it is popular with sea kayakers, seasoned and beginners, and many tour operators frequent the area. To avoid the biggest crowds we do our trips in September. Even though we picked a route that would hopefully take us away from the most popular areas as it involved a lot more paddling. Our route plan was to circumnavigate Gilford as well as the Broughton Islands. Even when we did our research before the trip, campsites along this route were far and few and didn’t always sound that promising. But it would be all new to us so I was really excited to go.

Another thing new to us this trip, we had company. Our good friend and paddling buddy John came with us. We decided to both pack independently as we always do for kayak trips so Jeff and I had our usual dinner and breakfast stuff with us. Minute rice/soup one pot dinners with smoked ham, sausage or dried ground beef to spice it up a bit. A different flavour each night -pretty tasty on kayak camping trips🙂. Bread, salami, cheese, jam and hot cereals for breakfast. Not really the most bear friendly food but we have always been lucky so far (we got our secret to keep the bears away from the boats weapon :-)). So I was somewhat curious what John would eat on the trip. He brought NO fresh stuff. Lipton Noodle and/or spaghetti with canned salmon every night. Definitely more bear safe but also more garbage. I never ever considered taking cans with me but apparently that’s what the SKABC (Sea Kayak Association BC) does on their trips. Cans get burned in the camp fire and then dumped in the ocean. There was no more dumping of cans in the ocean when I found out – you pack in what you pack out. John was agreeable enough to that and hung up his garbage every night far, far away from the tents and boats. While we had all the ham and cheese and sausages sitting in our boats each night. Kinda funny come to think of it. And no, we had no bear troubles yet again this trip even though we did camp in bear country. But John made sure to always camp in a way that our tent was closer to the boats than his🙂.

We both brought our own tents. Jeff and I had just fixed our beloved kayak camping tunnel tent which collapsed on us in last year’s trip. Two of the three poles had cracked and were fixed with duct tape many times over to an extent that at least one of them was no longer repairable. There were no more replacement parts to be found for this tent. The original manufacturer had by now discontinued the tent and never even responded to my inquiries about spare poles. Probably because they do not sell their products here in Canada. The tent is imported from Germany. There is nobody in Canada that offers tunnel tents which is a shame. They are perfect for our wet conditions since you can set up the outer shell first. Oh well. We checked with MEC if they have spare poles that would kinda match the length of ours. And were they ever helpful. First they suggested we can get the bits and pieces to build our own pole. Then the woman who helped us found a pole that was close in length and easy to cut to the right length. For $20 we had our tent back!!! Rather than spending $1000 importing a tunnel tent from overseas. The tent performed well during the trip and no more broken poles!! John had a small tent for himself but many nights he spent just under a large tarp that he put up every night. Him putting up the tarp took at least 5 times as long than us pitching the tent. But we both found reasonable campsites even in the least likely of places.

We both packed our own boats. Jeff and I store EVERYTHING in dry bags before they go into the kayak hatches even though those hatches do stay fairly dry. But it does not take much to get stuff wet. John was using his new touring kayak for the first time which was supposed to have “watertight” hatches. Well, don’t always believe what the manufacturer claims. His Therm-a-Rest and sleeping bag went into the hatch without any dry bags. And off course they got a little wet – or maybe they got wet from sleeping outside just under a tarp along the coast where it is always damp at night even after a sunny day. And we had our share of liquid sunshine days and nights. Even our stuff didn’t stay bone dry but definitely drier. Lucky for us we had just about enough sun to get things dried out enough to finish the trip. Well, almost finish the trip. We skipped the last night after being rained on heavily even though the forecast called for dry conditions. 9 days is a long time on the water and we covered a lot of ground and we are not as kayak fit anymore as we were back when we did 10-16 day trips. So even the sun coming out paddling back to the launch site on day nine did not change our mind about going back home a day early. The only regret, we did not get to see any Orcas. But we did get to see a lot of cool things…..

So here we go with the actual trip report. Starting off with a map of the trip:

overviewmap-medium

Day 1 (Sep 2): We were up before 5AM to make it to the 6:20AM ferry out of Horseshoe Bay. We had packed our car the evening before. It looked really tiny underneath 3 sea kayaks strapped to the roof which is quite a bit of weight. And as we were driving onto the ferry we heard this loud clonk!!! Once. Didn’t see anything hanging lower than it should, didn’t hear the noise again until we took the boats off the roof after the ~4hr drive to Alder Bay Resort (on the road to Telegraph Cove). Driving the now empty car to the long term parking lot it made a few clonking sounds. Oh well. Not to worry about for the next 8-10 days🙂. Turned out later, when we got back, that one of the back springs broke. Maybe it was a bit too much weight.

We launched from Alder Bay at around 2PM. Mix of sun and clouds and calm seas – a perfect start.  In Weynton Passage between Pearse Island and Hanson Island we encountered some rip currents. But those were fun to play in in our stable sea kayaks. When we got to the Plummer Islands just off Hanson we saw the first wild life, about an hour into the trip – sea lions. They were in the water all around us but not hanging around for pictures. Soon after we saw our first whale, a humpback. Not very close but when he breeched and more than half the animal was out of the water one did not have to be close for that – so cool. We saw another whale as well as porpoises while paddling along the north side of Hanson but all far in the distance. And it became sunnier as the afternoon went on. Originally we had planned to camp on Hanson Island but the two campsite that were marked on our map didn’t really look that inviting (we did not know that it would get worse…guess we were too spoiled from all the nice beach camping along the west coast). So we decided to cross over to Flower Island just off Sampson. We were in for a big surprise. We expected the area to be busy but not to see two large groups of about 10 people each already camping in the area. But lucky for us we found another rocky beach somewhat away from the crowds with good camping in the forest in behind. We had dinner on the beach (Squash soup w minute rice , dried zucchini, carrots, pepper and ham) and were watching humpback whales in Blackfish Sound in the distance thanks to the new binoculars Jeff bought. Very cool!!!

Day 2 (Sep 3): We slept for more than 10hrs – every night🙂. Only woke up twice to the noise of a blow in the bay – whales, dolphins? Skies were overcast but the forecast promised some sun for later and winds out of the Northwest – the right direction for both – more reliable good weather and tailwind on the paddle. We took our sweet time to get going and didn’t hit the water till 10:30AM. We spent some time in Blackfish Sound to see if we can get a closer glimpse at some whales – no such luck – before we started going east towards Knight Inlet past Compton and Mound Island (good beach/campsite) and through the Carey and Indian Group of Islands. The old abandoned Indian village at Mamalilliculla on Village Island looked deserted. But the sun finally started to make an appearance. It was kind of cool without it and I almost put on a coat. We did not get out of our boats but continued on along the north shore of Village Island into Knight Inlet. Knight is I think the longest inlet on the coast although we were only going to paddle a fraction of it. We were lucky and the current was going the right way. We crossed the inlet towards Gilford Island once we reached the end of Village Island which took a lot longer than I had thought. We saw a few whales and porpoises in the distance. Later on the wind also kicked up a bit more – nothing close to the forecasted 20-25knots but good for a little push. We had hoped to make it up into Tribune Channel but I was getting tired and so were the boys hanging back somewhat. So when we saw Lord & Lady Islands getting closer we were ready to call it a day. We scarred a whole bunch of seals off a rock looking for one of the two marked campsites from our map. Both locations did not look like campsites. Due to the new moon, tides were really big and we hit Lord & Lady Island around high tide. No hint of a beach to land on. The boys finally landed along one of the rocks just of Lord which looked like having some potential flat areas while I checked out Lord Island itself on the opposite site of the rock to see if there was at least camping in the forest. Our map called it an established scenic site. It sure was scenic but I saw NOTHING that looked like a campsite on Lord. The boys did find some possible campsites on the little rock and there was sun. So we decided to pull out onto the rock as the next possible campsite would be at least a 2hr paddle away. We unloaded the boats while still in the water and then carried them up onto the rock. As the tide dropped we could see a beach area between the rock and Lord. At the end it turned out to be a pretty good spot to camp but I would not call it an established site. As I mentioned before, we were spoiled from West-coast camping. Hence, we were somewhat worried about the campsites marked as “undeveloped” that were coming up next along our planned route around Gilford and if we should rather turn around. We left the decision for the morning to see whichever way the wind would blow us. For now we were happy – we had sun for most of the afternoon and early evening and even found wood to have a fire. John found the most idyllic camp spot on top of the rock which was great once the wind calmed down a bit. We rounded out the evening with dinner (German split pea soup mix with mashed potatoes and home-dried peas and carrots and ham ) and sunset sky watching.

Day 3 (Sep 4): Woke up to fairly heavy fog and the tide being way out. We had to carry the boats all the way around the rock through sand and rocks to get to the water, an amazing change. Despite not having a wind to tell us which way to go we decided to continue on with our planned route to go around Gilford. May never try this again and the tide was going to continue to push us that direction. As the fog lifted, we saw a few more whales in the distance in Knight Inlet before we cut up north in behind Viscount Island paddling up Sargeaunt Passage. Neat little piece of water and good potential for camping on grassy shoal (but ~3hrs from Lady). Once we hit Tribune Channel we finally got a glimpse of what I wanted to see on this trip, snow-capped mountains rising out of the water at the end of Thompson Inlet. By now the sun had worked its way through the clouds. Another hour paddle and we found the first of the undeveloped sites on Gilford behind Kumlah Island. Tide was again  very high and the beach was almost non-existent but the camping in the forest in behind looked quite good. It was still early in the day though and ideally I would have liked to cover more ground but who knows what the next camp looks like. So we decided we would stay the night but head out for another paddle to explore Thompson Sound and hopefully see some Minke whales who supposedly use the area as their summer feeding ground. We did not unload the boats though as we headed off to cross Tribune Channel. We made it to the entrance of Thompson Sound but could not see any signs of whales – guess September is no longer considered summer if you are a Minke whale or more likely they did not read our chart and didn’t know they have to be here:-). The weather was nice though, sunny and a light breeze and by now we were quite a bit further north already than the Kumlah Island campsite. So we decided to continue on to the next undeveloped site on Gilford rather than backtracking. It was a nice paddle up to Brown Point despite having a bit of a headwind. Nothing special to see, just enjoying the sun and the waves. As we neared the spot where the campsite should be the boys found some possible small beaches, nothing that made me feel like this could be it, hence I wanted to check around the corner. In hindsight, reading up on the site on the BC Marine Trail website, I think the guys might have been correct. Nevertheless, there was a big creek around the corner and a fairly flat but rocky area along it. Just enough room to kinda put up a tent – after clearing some/quite a lot of the rocks out of the way. Tides were getting lesser each day so we were sure the site would be staying dry – mostly sure that is. Not the best camp ever but at least it got some sun for another 30min or so. And it turned out we did a great job clearing the campsite of rocks. We had a good sleep right next to the creek. Having fresh water to rinse stuff off was also a nice bonus and we could fill up our water tanks. Water colouration was a bit on the brown side – John called it tea water, but definitely good enough for cooking. Since there was only limited room we had to store the boats right next to our tent. Usually we like to have a bit more separation between us and the smelly food. Gilford is a BIG island and would definitely have a healthy bear population. But then there was John just sleeping underneath a tarp with no tent. Not sure what would be more attractive to a bear🙂.

Day 4 (Sep 5): No visitors all night as far as I know. And nobody got during the late night high tide. All slept well and we woke up to heavy clouds but with the sun visibly trying to poke through. Hence, we did get to enjoy the odd sun ray during breakfast. I actually liked the view from our camp in the morning with the clouds hanging low around the peaks and the sun trying to show itself. Since we had put in the hard effort the day before we had an easy paddle up Tribune Channel to our next campsite today, other than that we were paddling against a light current. Shortly after we left our place for the night, we saw a bear looking for crabs in one of the small pocket beaches. He took off when he saw me. After we passed Irvine Point where the channel turns west, the shoreline got much less accessible. Huge cliffs marked the northern shores of Gilford Island. We were paddling really close and were able to study the tidal zone and underwater world as the day was really calm and overcast – very little reflection off the water. Barnacles, mussels, limpets, whelks and possibly hornmouth on the rocks exposed at low tide (inter tidal zone). Under water (sub tidal) we saw lots of green, purple and some giant red sea urchins, tons of Plumose Anemones, some leather star fish and what we think were Creeping Pedal Sea Cucumbers. Unfortunately, it was hard to take pictures of the sub tidal life but it was awesome to watch. I don’t think John saw any of this as he tends to paddle farther away from shore trying not to get his new boat scratched up. But he did have to stop at a big log floating in the channel to take a leak. There would have been some spots on shore to get out. In fact Jeff had just taken a leak 5min earlier. Anyhow, John climbed onto this big floating tree and for some unknown reason it did not roll on him. It did though change course and started crashing into the shoreline. Lots of loud splintering noises…but John got back into his boat safely, no problem. Now I would have never tried anything like that. Talking about noises. There was frequent blasting going on in the area – the only noise disturbing our mostly quiet paddles. At least 2 times a day – still don’t know what those were for. Only other hint of civilization were the odd cabin cruisers / sail boats (more than I would have expected) and a helicopter that greeted us at least once a day for 5 of the 9 days.We checked out one more possible campsite on the north side of Gilford. Definitely not a place I would want to camp, much worse than our spot the night before. Shortly after we left Tribune Channel and entered the Burdwood Group. This is when the rain started, lightly at first but it sure got heavier pretty quick and we all put on our rain gear. Got to be prepared for that! Lucky for us, we were close to our camp for the night and even luckier the site was AWESOME and there was nobody there. Nice shell beach, steep enough to not have to carry boats far. Very flat camping and plenty of room. There even was a small brand new hut we could have used and a heavy tarp already setup as a lean-to near the fire pit. This place sure deserved to be called “great established campsite” on our map. Pure luxury – except for the rain. But before we landed at the site we half-heartedly checked out the other islands in the group, but didn’t see anything better. The rain kept falling steadily and we decided to call it an early day (around 2:45PM) to not have someone else show up and claim the luxury campsite. It was great to have the tarp already setup and we quickly changed into our shore clothes – it sure was not warm! But once in dry clothes we were fine. The rained lessened for a bit and I found a little trail that led across the island which was pretty cool. Nice to stretch the legs a bit after sitting for days. Jeff even found a piece of relatively dry wood that we chopped up for later. But it did not stay dry long and we spent the majority of the afternoon and early evening under the tarp – eating (Leek soup w minute rice, dried mushrooms, peas and Ukrainian sausage). We could have used the little hut but somehow that felt wrong. It wasn’t really that bad. Just before it got dark the rain almost stopped and we were able to get the camp fire going, a good end to the day.

Day 5 (Sep 6): We woke up to another foggy day and I believe it started raining again just before we got up after a dry night. Obviously everything was still soaking wet from the day before anyways but I hate packing up when it is actually raining. Mind you packing goes much quicker🙂. The original plan for the day had been to explore Kingcome Inlet to see more snow capped mountains and then camp at a forest service site on Broughton Island. But with the fog and low clouds there wasn’t much to see. We could hardly see Broughton or the mainland from the Burdwood Group it was so foggy. Always made sure we had a compass bearing even for the shortest crossings. We paddled across to Broughton and worked our way up the shoreline north into Penphrase Passage hoping that maybe the fog would lift as we got closer to the start of Kingcome Inlet. But no such luck even though we stopped in Cypress Harbour for some shore time to stretch the legs. Have to come back! But at least the rain stopped and we were able to take off the rain gear before continuing on along Broughton into Sutlej Channel. Here we had to make a decision if we would still stay in Greenway Sound on Broughton or push on to Watson Point. The later sounded like the better campsite and we decided to push on. The weather actually improved and we even got a bit of sun break through the clouds. It was a LONG way though. Probably the longest paddle of the trip with well over 40kms, and we didn’t see much in regards of wild life either, not in the channel or Grappler Sound. Grappler Sound was supposed to be a wild life watching mecca! All we saw were seagulls and a few seals and a vulture and an eagle and ducks and motor boats. John wanted to stop in at Sullivan Bay Marina, a fully serviced marina, for beers and fries but I was going for the straightest line to Watson Point. The last bit along Watson seem to take forever even though we had made very good progress after leaving Cypress Harbour. I guess I was feeling the 6+hrs in the boat. At least the campsite was easy to spot marked by an old dock part of a long ago abandoned logging mill. Again there was nobody but us. The camping was up the banks in a clearing behind that old dock. Nice soft ground and plenty of room and almost level, easy to find a spot for the tent. But we had to walk past the bear poop to get from beach to camp🙂. At least here our kayaks were far away from the tents. We had dinner (Pasta with tomatoes sauce, sun-dried tomatoes mix, dried mushrooms, zucchini and home-dried Italian-spiced ground beef) on the rocks in the sun – yep, it almost cleared up completely – hoping to do some whale watching but we only saw one far, far away. On top of that, there was no dry fire wood to be found and we spent the evening without a fire. Luckily it was somewhat sunny. It got cool after the sun set but it also got much more interesting. We heard a pod of something, likely dolphins, chasing something near our camp. That was pretty cool to listen to in the dark. We called it an early night though. At some point in the middle of the night I woke up to hearing something walking past the tent. There is the bear I thought before going back to sleep as the noise moved away. Turned out the next morning that it was Johnny bear who got up and checked the boats! I told him NOT to do that again, walk by our tent in the pitch dark🙂

Day 6 (Sep 7): There was no more blue sky when we got up the next morning and it looked like rain. The forecast called for rain all day combined with some 15-20km/hr winds later in the day. We packed away the tent and set up a tarp before breakfast and that was a good thing. The rain started pretty much right away. But we stayed dry through our breakfast underneath the tarp. AND we saw a sea otter swim by our point – didn’t think we would see any in this area. John was hinting at maybe spending the rainy day in camp but there is nothing to do in camp when it rains. So why not hop into the boats and explore more of Grappler Sound and since we are in the boats why not move on. So we continued on traveling north and east towards Kenneth Passage before heading south to find a new campsite. It was sogged in and rainy – heavy at times – but still, the area north of Watson Point was very cool. We checked out Roaringhole Rapids. The water was really flowing – whitewater! Jeff and John played in it for a while ferrying the kayaks across. I stayed safe to the side taking water-stained pictures. Hard to keep the lens dry even though the camera is waterproof. We checked out Turnbull Cove as well as Overflow Basin – the latter actually was blocked by a real waterfall, very neat. We did not see much in regards of wild life though😦. The mood was somewhat subdued. As we left Grappler Sound behind and headed into Wells Passage the rain lessened a bit. We discussed where we would spend the night. The original plan was to stay on Polkinghorne Island but even on our map the site was marked as marginal and potentially exposed to the wind which was slowly starting to build. There was one more site along the way in Tracey Harbour on Broughton – Cane Point/ Mauve It – which was much closer but still would put us close enough to the next days goal of getting back into the Broughton Archipelago. We thought we’ll check it out. But along the way I spotted some seagulls that looked like they were targeting a bait ball. Usually those only last a few minutes so it never makes sense to chase them down to see what was hunting in the water underneath. But these seagulls seemed to continue hitting the water and move around quite a bit. So I diverted course to check it out. The boys reluctantly followed. And then I saw them, dolphins – Pacific White-sided Dolphins to be specific -lots of them chasing after something in the water. I stopped to get my good camera ready – despite the light drizzle – and the whole pod turned towards me and they actually went right through me. I could see a couple dolphins swim by right underneath my boat. It was awesome. We watched them move down the passage for a hundred meters and all sudden they started jumping out of water 3-5m high into the air for a while. I was in awe!! Then they turned around again and rushed past us for a second time. Not quite as close as the first time but still. Again, 100m down the passage they stopped and started jumping. They repeated that circle at least 4 times always around us. There must have been about 50 dolphins in the pod. It was INCREDIBLE! Even as I write this I have tears of joy in my eyes. A once in a lifetime experience and for sure the highlight of the trip. All the rain and wet and sore muscles were forgotten for about 45min as we watched these amazing animals around us. And they kept going even as we left them to check out Cane Point/Mauve It. The rain was back and the wind now started gusting quite a bit more and we were cold from sitting still watching the dolphins. There was no way any of us wanted to go much further. Well, I am not sure who marked this campsite but Cane Point is not recommended. Maybe it was worse because it was so wet. The beach is either mud at high tide or barnacle encrusted rocks at low tide. There is room for a couple tents, maybe more if you don’t have a large tunnel like us but a freestanding dome. The ground was covered in long grass and it was sloped a bit. And wherever we stepped the water started puddling around our feet. That’s not good for camping on! But we did not have a choice. Jeff by now was shivering violently and we needed to get into some dry clothes quickly. We left on the wet shoes though since we were walking “in water” most of the time anyways. With dry clothes on wet felt much better. Tarp went up next and we had a hot chocolate spiked with Southern Comfort that John brought along before we set up the tent. Since it was still raining, we set up the tent the outer shell first, then put the ground sheet inside followed by the inner tent last. We needed to make sure we would be sleeping over the ground sheet since the tent floor would soak through if we would put pressure on it without the ground sheet beneath. The spot wasn’t all that flat either but fairly soft with the grass. The wind and rain let up in the early evening and we were a bit less miserable. In the cold, dinner tasted twice as good as usual (Alfredo sauce with rice, home dried peas and mushrooms and Ukrainian sausage). We saw the dolphins still hunting in the far distance across Wells Passage. We watched a porpoise head up the harbour and a seal catch a salmon right in front of the camp. Not bad for entertainment but there was no dry firewood to be found again and we turned in really early that night.

Day 7 (Sep 8): We did not get wet inside the tent. It was sill overcast when we got up but at least the rain had stopped. The forecast called for sun but we saw none while eating breakfast. Everything was packed up soaking wet once more. But we did have visitors during the night though. We found deer prints, mama and calf, in the mud below our tent. Guess that’s who had been pooping all over the site. Launching the boats was a pain. The tide was way out again and the mud bay turned into rock with lots of sharp barnacles and slippery seaweed. We actually carried the empty boats all the way into the water and loaded the already floating boats. At least it was very protected and calm in the small bay. First up we headed deeper into Tracy Harbour to fill up on fresh water again before we would leave the big island and mainland behind. Much less chance of finding good accessible water on the smaller islands in the Broughton Archipelago. The chart showed a cove called Freshwater Cove and we figured there gotta be a decent stream. There sure was a good running little creek but the water was even darker than the last one. Oh well, it’s just tannin from the trees and won’t kill us. We had hoped to see the dolphins again in Wells Passage but they were gone. We saw a whale though which could have been a Minke whale. We paddled along the southwest end of North Broughton and checked out the narrow channel between North Broughton and Broughton Island. It was almost slack ebb tide and we were able to paddle up it a bit into the current. Some day we may explore this but one needs a high tide to get though all the way into Greenway Sound. The weather steadily improved and we the sun came out. Polkinghorne Island was still in the fog and we kinda missed our chance to at least check out the “marginal” campsite. Not sure it could be much worse from where we spent the last night. With the sun also came the wind. Lucky for us it was a tailwind pushing us east along the south side of Broughton Island. The boys were catching some of the runs but my boat felt too heavy today so I just enjoyed the sun. We explored Cullen Harbour to check out another site marked as “marginal” on Olden Island. There was NOTHING! Sure at low tide there was a beach on which we stretched out our legs but there was no place to pitch our tent anywhere. As we entered Fife Sound the wind was even stronger and here the waves were good size. Right off the bat I caught a nice wave! Yipeee! We we decided to slowly cross toward the end of Eden Island making good use of the tailwind and runners. I caught a few. Not as many as I was trying for and it was real hard work. But I also enjoyed this a lot. These were much better waves than earlier, good size, and awesome in a stable boat. It was also really sunny! Today’s camp destination was Insect Island which we knew as a good campsite from previous trips but it also can get busy. If we needed it, there were a couple close enough backup sites in the area. The first thing we saw as we closed in on the shell beach at Insect Island was another kayak. That did not bode well we thought. But it turned out there were only 3 people that were camped on the rock ledge to the right of the beach while we had the upper campsite and the actual beach all to ourselves. Jeff and I sat on the beach for a while enjoying the sun and eating snacks while John was busy spreading out his wet gear all over the beach – sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest, tent, tarp etc. Well I guess we did set up our outer tent as well to dry and pulled out the tarps and inner tent. The rest was still fine though. It was bliss to soak in the sun for a bit doing nothing. I did not sit still for long though and went for a little walk through the forest to see if I could find any wood that would burn but it was either too wet or too rotten. So we had a third night without a fire but it was a much more pleasurable evening. And tonight dinner was one of my favourites (Home-dried fajita ground beef with brown minute rice in beef broth and home-dried zucchini, mushrooms, carrots and pepper). We had a bit of a scare when one of the water taxis pulled up in front of the island. Lucky for us they just looked at the beach and left and did not drop off 10 people and their gear. Puh!

Day 8 (Sep 9): This was the only night I did not sleep well as I had some root underneath my hip and could not get comfortable. The area looked perfectly flat when we set up the tent. It was overcast again in the morning and kinda cool. The forecast called for 20-25knot winds out of the southeast again – meaning more wet to come. But when we left Insect it was still calm and dry. We worked our way to the outer islands making use of the calm conditions. Some neat channels in there but we were also fighting the current for the most part. It was slow going. We checked out the campsite on the White Cliff Islands which looked like would be overlooking Queen Charlotte Straight. But the site was located in quite a deep bay and it was a long carry on a low tide. Not too impressive on a gloomy day like this. Well protected mind you. As we were heading back towards Bonwick Island the wind kicked up in earnest and it was hard work to get back. We worked our way south across Spring Passage along the east side of Midsummer Island. It was not fun to paddle into the strong headwind under rain-threatening skies. We crossed Knight Inlet toward Crease Island to travel along the north side of Crease and get a bit of a tailwind. Also, there was supposed to be a nice beach to camp on. The beach itself was pretty nice but the camping didn’t look the greatest. Jeff was in a foul mood as well – he was tired and ready to go home. Like all the way home but I was too tired myself to push back all the way to Alder Bay. We still had two days left but decided there and then that we would head back the next day. The original plan was to camp at Red Point on Harbledown Island – another unknown, marked as undeveloped small site – to watch whales in Blackfish Sound and then spend the last night at Little Kaikash in Johnstone Straight to maybe finally see some Orcas. But instead we went back to where we knew we would find reasonably good camping, Flower Island, hoping it would be less busy. Lucky for us, the site was deserted. Just before we beached our boats on the small island the rain kicked in. It could have waited just one more hour. The wind also was blowing onto the beach but luckily there was enough shelter to get out of it. Good campsites as well in behind. Overall a really nice site if not for the rain. We set up tarps which afforded just enough shelter from wind and rain to not get soaked. As the rain lessened a bit for a little while I went to the point to look for whales in Blackfish Sound. I spotted some across the sound – 2 or 3 animals. That sure improved my mood🙂. In the meantime, Jeff even found semi dry wood to get a fire going while cooking dinner (Potatoes soup with mashed potatoes, peas, mushrooms, Ukrainian sausage). The rain came back with a vengeance again as we had dinner and it was my turn to do dishes as I had a rain coat. Just before it got dark, the rain stopped and we saw a glow in the low clouds that promised a sunset somewhere to the west of us. We didn’t see any sun or blue sky just low clouds but we took the opportunity to watch for whales and porpoises some more. It was supposed to be a better day tomorrow – maybe there was hope.

Day 9 (Sep 10): The rain started back up again at 5:30AM. It was completely sogged in as we got up. The forecast said it was supposed to be dry!!! Now I was ready to head home too. Mind you rain turned in a a very light mist as we launched the boats. We had just paddled around Flower Island when a humpback whale surfaced right in front of us – no more than 10m away. Off course I did not have the camera ready for it. We sat and waited for a bit but when the whale surfaced the next time he was hundreds of meters away already. We paddled across Blackfish Sound and along Hanson. There is always a chance to see the Orcas go around Hanson. But all we saw where more humpbacks in the distance. We paddled through the Plummer Group to see if we can find the sea lion beach we missed on our first day. We could hear them bark for some time and finally found a rock where a small group of them was hanging out on. Finally I got some sea lion pictures. The sun also started to poke through the clouds. From here we paddled into Weynton Passage which was much less turbulent today than on day 1. And we got to see many more humpback whales. One of them surface a few times just ahead of us – maybe 50m away. Cool. Too bad we had to move on. We crossed Johnstone Straight and had a look at Telegraph Cove – John wanted to see it. Orca Whale Watching Tours leave from there but it is a tourist trap if you ever saw one. They charge through the nose for parking and launching your kayak. Alder Bay Resort is MUCH more reasonable and a much better location to launch from. But it is another 2hr or so paddle. A nice paddle mind you. The sun came out and melted all the clouds away. It was gorgeous – of course it was since we were heading back. As a good bye we saw a Minke whale surface 100m or so away from us. I am sure we will be back some day.

We were back at Alder Bay around 2PM and leisurely packed everything up in the sun. The drive home was uneventful. We stopped at the Old Cable Cookhouse in Sayward for an early dinner and made it in good time for the 9:20PM ferry. We even had time for a beer and Patchos at the Irish Pub in Nanaimo before leaving the island.

September 24, 2016

Fall/Winter Ski Challenge

Filed under: Canada — K2 in Canada @ 5:44 PM

… nothing to do with skiing. Although we will be skiing as well. Jeff has been training hard for it all summer🙂. But we also set ourselves a long distance paddling goal for this fall/winter. The Round Croker Island Challenge starting at the end of the dock in Deep Cove in our double surfski. Today was baseline setting to see how long it will take without any training. Well, I am sure our 9 day kayak touring trip helped paddling every day for 4-6hrs albeit slow (working on a blog coming soon!).

Today’s time was 2:59:32. Total distance 31.43km. We had to work really hard for the last 30min to stay under 3hrs. Jeff picked up the stroke rate to race pace and I was struggling to keep up. But we made it and pretty happy about it too🙂. Sky were overcast with the odd sunny break. Water was mostly calm going up with a bit of an incoming tide pushing us. As we turned around we had some headwind which seemed to slow us down more than I would have expected. Hence the push at the end. We paddled non stop without a break for water or snacks. Body is pretty tired and sore but brain is pretty happy about it nonetheless. The beer and food at the Narrows Pub afterwords was well deserved. Not sure we worked hard enough though to deserve all the chips and chocolates I am eating while I write this🙂.

 

August 30, 2016

Top score for destination

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 7:01 AM

Still catching up…Sunday Aug 14. A colleague of mine had told me about a hike he did up to Watersprite Lake. That’s not a hike in any of our hiking books but I found it easy enough on the Club Tread website. Since it was supposed to be a sunny, warm day I figured having a lake at the end of our hike would make sense. But first we had to find the starting point. We missed the turn-off onto Mamquam Main the first time but once we got onto it following the description on the Club Tread website was easy. The drive is about 30-40min up into the Mountains gaining quite a bit of elevation. The road was in pretty good shape although I would not have taken those cars up there we saw. I expected there to be a few cars but when we got to the decent size parking area it was packed. At least 20 trucks/cars. Guess this is not a secret hike, just I had never heard of it before. The view from the starting point was promising. The first part of the hike follows an old logging road and apparently the place the trail leaves it is hard to find. We did find it no problem but it took over an hour of no views, mostly exposed to sun, boring logging road walking with a couple hundred meters elevation gain. Once the trail leaves the road and leads down into the meadows it does get really pretty. A couple scrambles up some rocky and muddy sections and another wasp nest later (which we avoided since people told us about it) you get to the lake. A very pretty lake – turquoise coloured water, sprinkled with tiny islands and surrounded by rock slides and interesting peaks. Stunning. The only negative, besides the long walk up a road was the amount of squealing people. Many had camped over night – which would be nice to do if not for the crowds. Jeff and I walked around the lake a bit to find a place away from the noisy people. It wasn’t warm either despite a mostly sunny day. The wind was darn cold.So no swim for us. Just a snack and a search for pikas in the rocks. Didn’t see any. We hiked around the lake across the large boulder fields. Not difficult but slow as you had to pick your route and go up and down to find the best next rock. Definitely top score on the “Scenic Scale”!  But apparently I am easy to please. Jeff didn’t like the hike at all. Usually he makes up with my slow pace back down. Not that day🙂. We have done quite a few hikes this summer and it is hard to top it up every weekend. But we both agreed that the beer and food at the Shady Tree watching more Olympics afterwards was worth it🙂.

August 21, 2016

I enjoyed waves in my surfski again!

Filed under: Canada, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 8:36 PM

Aug 13. I wanted to paddle somewhere different this weekend since we got bounced around in motorboat wash the previous Saturday in Deep Cove. So I suggested to take the surfskis to Harrison Lake since I had never been on it before. It’s a big lake and it can get windy as well but the forecast was for calm and sunshine and hot. The only problem, it’s about a 90min drive east of us. I had slept in for too long and when we finally got going it seemed like all of Vancouver was heading east at the same time. Mass exodus and traffic was crawling all the way into Chilliwack. I got an earful of complaints on the drive. When we finally arrived at Harrison Hot Springs, the small town on the south end of the lake, it was packed with people and cars (not really a surprise) and no parking was to be found. Luckily a colleague of mine had told me about Sasquatch Provincial Park, a few kilometers up the east side of the lake, and there we found plenty of parking and easy access to the water. Score! From here on the trip turned from mild disaster into quite a bit of fun. We paddled up the lake in very calm conditions. Few boat wakes to deal with but nothing too bad. Since we didn’t know the lake very well we ended up paddling into a big bay rather than up the lake. And that’s when the wind came up from the south and kicked up some waves. So we had to paddle back into a headwind. The waves were nothing huge but normally they would have been big enough to bother me in my Legend but I felt good. Even when the waves came a bit more from the side. The only time I got a bit worried was when this big dinner cruise ship went by as we paddled along some steep cliff. That made for some very chaotic and huge rebounding waves. Jeff accelerated to catch the waves. I tried but wasn’t quick enough and got jostled around big time. But I stay up and kept paddling. I actually started to enjoy this. So when we got back to the launch point we decided to continue past it for a bit to take advantage of riding some of those waves back. And was that ever fun. Once you got up on a wave it was easy to link them together and I hardly had to paddle at all. Great fun. Save fun since we were never far from shore. Maybe I need to practice here a bit more. Next time we will paddle south though🙂

The drive back home wasn’t nearly as bad as the drive out. And we stopped at the Gilnetter  Pub for $10 ribs and beers. Yeah!

 

Stopped by Clouds

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 8:01 PM

Aug 9. We should have hiked Saturday but that’s my day to sleep in. The Sunday was pretty cloudy although it was mostly dry and relatively warm still. We drove up towards Whistler hoping the clouds would magically disappear as we drive away from the coast. It actually did clear up a little bit but our destination – Brandywine Mountain was hidden in clouds. But we did not really know that when we started the hike. This time we took the truck to get to the original trail head to avoid the 3-4km long walk up a boring logging road (see older post here). There were lots of cars/trucks parked at the lot. And this was only one of two access points. The other trail head is even more driving on a really rough road covering most of the elevation gain to the meadows. From where we started we still had to work our way up through the forest into the open meadows. There was one other nasty surprise on that early part of the trail. I stepped on a root that had a wasp nest underneath and those guys went into attack mode right away. Poor Jeff, who was behind me got stuck twice, once into each knee. I almost made it away free but one of the wasps still found me and hit me just above my ankle. I totally forgot how much those stings hurt. Well not enough to stop hiking. When we got to the meadows we could see that our destination was yet again un-achievable, the clouds were even lower than last time. We couldn’t even see the glacier. Lots more flowers around though than last time. We worked our way up the slope as much as we could but eventually visibility got too bad. The trail isn’t marked well enough to find it in dense fog. And so we turned around again. It never cleared up. But we managed to avoid the wasps on the way down.

Stopped in Squamish at our favourite pub, The Shady Tree, to watch the highlights of the Olympics, such as the men’s 100m race and women’s gymnastics individual finals, on a big screen TV.

August 18, 2016

I love our Mountains

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 10:49 PM

Aug 6. We only did an easy paddle in Deep Cove that Saturday so Jeff was still restless in the late afternoon and decided to roller ski up Seymour. I tagged along as the shuttle car taking the opportunity for a quick 90min early evening hike up to Brockton Point. Not as many people around as during the day and more importantly less black flies. Still enough to make for a fast walking pace. It was somewhat overcast so no sunset pictures but the lighting was just about right. Unfortunately the pictures don’t really do it justice but I am still sharing them.

 

Blueberry Season is Here

Filed under: Canada, Hike — K2 in Canada @ 10:38 PM

BC Day Monday, Aug 1. I got to sleep in so we started our outdoors adventure fairly late. We wanted to make it up Coliseum Mountain coming in from the Mt Seymour Demonstration Forest side. The regular trail from Lynn Valley is VERY long. The Mt Seymour trail is much shorter but you have to get onto your bike to get to the start of it. If you park at the start of the Mt Seymour Demonstration Forest trail it’s an easy 10km bike ride on a wide surfaced road – no cars allowed. But of course since we were late getting started we parked at least another 3km away and it seems below it as well. We took our mountain bikes and for someone who only commutes 5km every day on the flat this was like climbing a mountain🙂. Took about 45min to get to the trail head turnoff and we rode up an old logging road for a couple hundred meters before giving up on the bikes – too steep for me. The trail only stays on that old road for a little bit longer before it turns into a real hiking trail. We only saw 4 other bikes. The trail works its way steeply up the mountain side through forest with not much of a view for ~3-4km until you get to a big open area at Paton’s Lookout with excellent views over Lake Seymour below and Coliseum Mountain to the south. We only ran into 2 groups of 2 people coming down as we worked our way up. Pretty quiet trail for a sunny, hot and beautiful BC Day holiday in Metro Vancouver. We could have pushed on to Coliseum but both of us felt tired and we decided to make this lookout our destination for the day. Have to come back though some day and finish it.

August 16, 2016

First ever …

Filed under: Canada, Hike, Paddle — K2 in Canada @ 7:28 AM

BC Day Long Weekend Jul 30-Aug 1. Despite the traffic disaster last year (see here) we went on a road trip again but only for two of the three days. We packed up the new tent Saturday morning and headed into the interior to do our first ever whitewater canoe trip on the Sunday. On the way we stopped at the Coquihalla summit along Hwy #5 for our first ever hike in that beautiful area. For many, many years we wanted to do Yak Peak but after reading up on the hikes in the area we decided on Needle Peak instead. We were not the only ones. I was surprised about the amount of cars parked at the trail head. The stats for this hike aren’t nearly as daunting as Outram and it seems more people like to show themselves hiking along here. We passed a few groups going up through the forest. It was reasonably steep. Once in the open on the ridge the crowd thinned out a bit and it’s an easy ridge walk with great views over Yak and the surrounding mountains until you reach the start of the scramble. Here people started to bunch up again. We saw people in sandals up there for crying out loud. It might only be a 880m elevation gain but by the time you reach the top your are at just above 2o00M elevation! We saw a plane flying BELOW us from the top. And there definitely is some scrambling involved in 2 sections getting to the top. It was fun though. We got lucky at the top with a big group just leaving when we got there. So it was relatively quiet. Only got bothered by a type of squirrel – a ground squirrel size chipmunk. The little critter already had its cheeks full of stuff but had to still take a bite out of my camera as well. And it was windy on the top – all the way up actually – and almost cold despite endless sunshine and blue skies. We huddled in behind a rock as much out of the wind as we could with our feet dangling over the drop-off to have our snack and to enjoy the great views. I was worried that the way down would be trickier than up but it was fine. Only the wind got even stronger and it really felt like it was trying to blow us of the mountain in sections. Hands were used a lot – I should have brought work cloves to protect them from the sharp rocks. We made it back to the ridge safe and sound. Since it had taken us only less than 2hrs to the top we decided to do a little detour to an alpine lake on the other side of the ridge. What a neat little lake – great for camping if you want to lug your gear up here. That detour added about 45min to the trip and we were back at the car 5hrs later.

Next up – finding a campsite on BC Day Long Weekend. Actually first we dropped into Merritt for an early dinner at the Pub. We, make that Jeff, had two options scouted out for the night. Either a small provincial park in Savona, the place where we were to meet the people that were going to take us whitewater canoeing. Or Leigthon Lake, one of our back in the days spring fly fishing destinations before they made it into a provincial park. We definitely were looking for provincial park to avoid any noisy crowds. We decided on Leighton, thinking it would be higher in elevation and therefore cooler at night. Well, we did not have to worry about being too hot that night. As we left Merritt heading north towards Logan Lake we could see big dark black clouds ahead of us. As we got to near Logan Lake their was lightning as well and the first rain drops started falling. It rained when we arrived at Leighton and it was cold. Lucky for us the rain stopped long enough to set up camp and for me to go for a short walk. But most of the evening we spent sitting in our camping chairs in our nice big vestibule reading – tent fulfilled its purpose🙂. We were in bed by 9PM I think. But our tent did well in its first ever BC drizzle.

Sunday – Canoe Day! We were going to canoe the Thompson River from Savona to Ashcroft. The Thompson is a big river. We had done organized whitewater rafting trips in big inflatable rafts in the lower Thompson before and those rapids are massive (Class 3+ and 4). It was a blast but I could not see myself going through those in anything less than a big inflatable raft. Definitely not in an open canoe! Apparently our stretch had only up to class 2+ rapids. Classified on Wikipedia as “Novice” = “Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily avoided by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated Class II+”. But off course I did not look that up till after we got back. They were classified by Darryl, our experienced leader of the day as “Open canoes may take on water and we will likely have to rescue a boat”. I was a bit nervous not being the most comfortable around waves and was prepared, somewhat, to go swimming.

Lucky for us, it had stopped raining when we got up. But the sky was still grey and everything got packed up wet. As we dropped down into Savona the sun broke through the clouds and we had breakfast at the spot where we thought we would meet the other – Steelhead Provincial Park – overlooking Kamloops Lake. The lake looked calm and beautiful and I was thinking this is going to be easy. It almost felt warm in the sun. The time to meet the others came and went. We were wondering if they maybe canceled last minute and we didn’t hear about it since we had been on the road. But a quick call to the organizer’s wife confirm that the trip was still on. So where are they or where were we supposed to be if not where we were sitting? As those thoughts crossed our minds Darryl drove into the parking lot, spun around right away telling us to follow. Of course the launch spot was nowhere near the actual provincial park but on the other side of the highway. Here the lake turned into a river again and I was much less feeling like this is going to be easy. Darryl quickly helped us to set up our canoe – mostly filled with flotation bags and just enough room for us and the bailing buckets. Yep, I was now SURE we would go swimming. We meet the other 3 paddlers. Darryl’s paddling buddy Christina – who had brought a bike helmet, why did I not think of that. And Scott and his young son Jonas. The guys left us girls behind to watch the boats while they were doing the car shuttle to Ashcroft. As we waited and chatted dark clouds started to move in and a pretty steady wind was blowing out of the west up the river. It was not warm. About 45min into the wait is started raining. And not just a little drizzle but a nice heavy downpour with strong winds. Of course I had left my rain coat in the car. It’s supposed to be 25-30C and sunny in the interior this time of the year, not 10-15C and rainy! Within minutes Christina and I were soak to the bone and cold. We huddled in behind some bushes to at least get out of the wind. No trees around to stay out of the rain. Anyways, the rain only lasted 15min or so and as it stopped so did the wind. Much better. The guys drove in shortly after. Time to finally do some canoeing!!! But first I changed into a dry shirt and put my rain coat since I could see more black clouds where we were heading.

I was in the front, Jeff in the back. He at least knows how to steer a canoe. First off we practiced some eddy turns in calm water. The front person has to post their paddle and lean right into it … or the current could push the canoe over. Worked like a charm. Canoe also felt more stable than I thought and was gliding easily over the moving water to wherever we wanted it to go. We were ready! Off we go down the mighty Thompson River in an open canoe. It didn’t take long to the first rapid. We got out and walked up the steep bank to scout it out. There were a few lines through, some easier, some harder. To me they all looked hard – breaking waves and fast moving water. Do I really want to do this? Oh well, sure didn’t want to walk to Ashcroft so back into the canoe we went. Darryl and Christina were going for the bigger water while Scott and Jonas went for the saver water. Guess whom we followed…yep, right into the big stuff. And we actually made it through without tipping. It was actually fun and the canoe handled the rapid very nicely. We took on a little bit of water but not much. Oh yeah, we can do this. Let’s do some eddy turns in actually moving water. We were a bit off on the timing but made it. Next 1 or 2 rapids, no problem. We missed an eddy turn and almost got stuck in some really shallow water. But we stayed up. Then there was the big one: Train Bridge Rapid. We pulled out again to look at it. This one looked MUCH bigger, water stacking up high against the bridge pillars. Darryl and Christina went for the biggest water. This time I voted against following them and go for the somewhat less scary looking side. To get there though we had to ferry across the river. It looked like we would have plenty of room to make it across but the bridge came flying towards us. I paddled as hard as I could but we never made it all the way to the safe side. Last minute we pulled the canoe around to not crash sideways into one of the pillars and just went heads first for this big wave between two pillars just off the centre. A bit dicey for a second but we made it. I looked ahead for Darryl and Christina but could not see them right away – they had capsized! Scott and Jonas flew by us on our left to go for the rescue. We just hung back as we were told and watched it. In no time they had the canoe back up and were paddling again. I was watching so intently I forgot to take pictures of the rescue. I think this was for sure the biggest rapid. A couple more smaller rapids and we stopped for lunch at Juniper Beach. Till then we had some strong winds and some light rain showers on and off but during our lunch the sun came out and it calmed right down. Nice to warm up in the sun, especially for the two most adventurous canoeists that got wet.

Lunch was at about the half way point – couple of hrs of canoeing. The second half saw more rapids, none as scary big as Train Bridge but some pretty big standing waves to get through nonetheless. We also tried more eddy turns in bigger water – we sucked. Almost tipped the canoe twice. One time I could have sworn we would go in. I tried to post my paddle but I think I was to early and there was no back pressure on my paddle, so I sat back up when all sudden the current pushed the canoe around. Jeff said we almost took on water we were leaning so far over to the WRONG side. No idea how we stayed up. The tireder I got the worst our eddy turns. I think that’s were it would have been better  to have a more experience person in the boat who can read water and call the moves. We seem to never start the turns at the right time. It got so bad that we got stuck in one eddy and the only saving grace was to go ahead into the following rapids. Until then we always followed Darryl or Scott to make sure we took the correct line. This time, they were still behind us, in the eddy to check the rapid out before going down it. Oh well, there was no checking it out on our part, we just went for it. Right in between two huge waves. We took on quite a bit of water but we stayed up. Yeah!! Then one of the last rapids… “don’t tip here since a rescue would be difficult in this spot”… I did not need to hear that. We took the easier line but again flunked the eddy turn after it and ended up spinning around a couple times and going downriver backwards. Experienced canoers do that all the time, no sweat. But to me that was one of the scariest moments. I hate going backwards! Again, we managed somehow, not very gracefully but we made it. And shortly after we were at the pull out in Ashcroft. A small beach area and not to be missed since after this the canyon would start and the difficulty rating goes up quite a notch. We did not miss the turnout🙂. Never mentioned it yet but stunning scenery all the way! It took about 5hrs. I am amazed we did not capsize! Thanks to Darryl for getting us into a canoe and taking newbies on a trip like this! Jeff is already scouting the canoe races we could do next year …🙂

We loaded the canoes and drove back to Savona to pick up our car. Now the long drive home. But traffic was light since it was only Sunday and Monday would still be off.

August 7, 2016

Awesome, fun, epic, spectacular, stunning … weekend

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 9:51 PM

Falling behind again with my blog – this post is from the last weekend in July, July 23-24. Summer in Vancouver is just awesome. Not too hot this year either. Saturday was supposed to be the better wind day and we went for our third downwind paddle in a row. The wind never picked up huge but it was decent and definitely better conditions than the CSC the weekend before. Too bad it was only us and John G out there. Good fun!

On Sunday we did an epic hike. With just over 2400m Mount Outram is one of the highest peaks in the area just outside of Manning Park – the hike actually starts right at the west entrance to the park. The weather was spectacular with blue skies and just over 20C ideal for hiking. The stats for this hike are a bit daunting with 1800m elevation gain over 9kms. That’s an average gain of almost 20% and the steepest part is near the end. Mind you it is a constant up the whole way. Switchbacks through the forest for the first ~2hrs until you reach the open meadows full of flowers and providing excellent views over the mountains. Despite one gaining near 1500m elevation by now the trail is easy, providing even and excellent footing. One could just stop in the meadows at a small pond but we pushed it all the way to the peak. It’s a bit of a scramble over loose rock to the top which you can’t actually see until you get almost to it. It was hard going for the last bit and if Jeff would not have charged ahead I might have quick. And we made it and it was so worth it. Stunning views from the peak! The way down is long though. Still near the top we saw a family of Ptarmigan. The lower part of the trail was full of huckleberry bushes as well as some wild raspberries – very refreshing! Nevertheless, I was exhausted when we reached the car again 7hrs later.

We saw very few people on this hike! A group of 4 and then 2 people on their bikes. No way I would take my bike up there – or down for that matter! Below a few pictures to enjoy the hike from your sofa🙂.

July 23, 2016

CSC Weekend July 16-17

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Hike, Kayak — K2 in Canada @ 11:12 PM

This past weekend was the Canadian Surfski Championship. 3rd time it was held and about 120 boats raced from Porteau Cove to Squamish. Paddlers from all over the world show up to this event hoping for the afternoon thermals to kick up big waves. World class paddlers such as the Rice brother, Sean and Kenny,  and Mocke brothers, Dawid and Jasper, from South Africa, paddlers from Australia, Tahiti, Spain, Switzerland, etc. One of our Australian buddies from when we went to the World Masters Games in 2009, John and his wive Wendy, also showed up. Very cool to see them again! Jeff and I didn’t race – again, but we volunteered – again. As the last 2 previous years we helped out at the boat staging area. You meet all the paddlers but don’t have the stress of having to race. It’s great. It wasn’t as hot and sunny as last year but no rain or thundershowers as predicted. Wind was rather low that day too although there were some waves to be found. As always, we watch the start of the race sitting in our double at the hot spot buoy to see Sean Rice get there first. We waited till all the paddlers but one went by taking pictures and then followed the racers down the course. We caught up to about half the field finding some bumps to ride even in the double. And as volunteers we were also invited to the post race event to watch the awards and have some beers and great food. A fun day with great people!

The Sunday we went for a hike. Originally we had planned to camp in Squamish to hike up in the Squamish-Whistler area but they had the Pemberton Music Festival going on the same weekend and we predicted traffic will be a mess getting home Sunday early evening. So we decided to do a local hike instead which also allowed me to sleep in  yeah!! It was an overcast but 20C warm day. We hiked up Grouse Mountain to visit the grizzly bears, Coola and Grinder, and continued on to Goat Mountain. The first part of the hike was pretty busy, despite not taking The Grind up but the parallel BCMC trail. I was sweating buckets on the way up even though we hiked through the clouds for most of it. It is a pretty steep hike. The second part, once you are past the top of Grouse with all its tourist attractions that can be reached by Gondola as well as hiking, the crowds thin out pretty quickly. And the sun came out as well while the valleys below were still in clouds! We were both tired and only had energy enough to make it up Goat Mtn rather than the even steeper and longer Crown Mtn hike. Turned out to be a great idea as we had the top of the mountain all to ourselves – other than sharing it with a raven. Great views from up there. And as we were sitting there the clouds started to disappear all around out until we could finally see Vancouver and English Bay way below us. We also saw a lake below us I never noticed or even heard of before. On the way back we tried to find a trail down to it, even extending the hike to go along Thunderbird Ridge, but no such luck. Turns out the lake is called Kennedy Lake and part of the watershed for Grouse – no public access. We were on our feet for almost 7hrs, hiking down Grouse all the way rather than taking the Gondola like most. Pretty tired legs by the end but pretty nice for a local hike. The Guinness and food at the Two Lions Pub was more than welcome.

 

 

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