K2inCanada's Blog

September 30, 2013

My Happy Place – Brooks Peninsula Kayak Trip Aug 29 – Sep 8, 2013

Filed under: Animals, Canada, Kayak, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 11:07 PM

It took a rainy weekend for me to get back to blogging – and the posts will still be out of order in dates. But there will be many more rainy days for me to catch up… ūüôā

I am starting with our almost most recent adventure – the best time of summer where Jeff and I went for a sea kayak trip to Brooks Peninsula – my most favourite place to be.

If you don’t want to read through all the stuff below or want to see more picture (LOTS of them – be warned) go to this link: A full picture account of the trip

No kayak trip goes without preparing the food you eat. Took us a whole week of drying vegetables, fruits and meats to prep 8 meals. We carried 20L of water with us and collected another 20L along the way. Here is our meal list:

– Peach or apple hot cereal mix with home-dried blueberries and strawberries.
– Dark bread with salami and cheese.
– Multivitamins
– Iced tea and lemon drinking powder

– lots of cereal bars!!!
– nuts, raisins and smarties mix
– seeds, cranberry and raisin mix
– home-dried apples
– dried apricots

1) Spinach-lemon flavoured couscous with ham and home-dried carrots and zucchini
2) Sweet-sour pineapple sauce on brown minute rice in chicken broth with home-dried carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers
3) Broccoli-Cheese Soup with pasta and ham
4) Tomato soup with white minute rice, smoked Ukrainian sausage and home-dried carrots and zucchini
5) Home-dried fajita ground beef with brown minute rice in beef broth and home-dried zucchini, mushrooms and peppers
6) Creamy vegetable soup with brown minute rice, smoked Ukrainian sausage and home-dried peas and carrots.
7) Home-dried Italian-spiced ground beef with brown minute rice (last-minute sub for pasta due to stove problems) in tomatoes pasta sauce mix and home-dried mushrooms and peas
8) German split pea soup mix with garlic mashed potatoes and home-dried peas and carrots

Day 1
We actually caught the 6:30AM ferry rather than just missing it and having breakfast in Horseshoe Bay. We stopped in Sayward¬†instead for a late brekkie¬†or early lunch or one last non-minute rice meal for a while. Shortly after we hit the dirt road – another almost 75km to our launch site. And off course we had to have a flat tire not even half way down. Changing the tire wasn’t too much of an ordeal after we figured out how to get the spare lowered from underneath the truck. Now I know why I don’t usually read manuals – they are useless. They describe the obvious BUT leave out the most important portion! Eventually we made it to Fair Harbour – the drive is really scenic and the weather was nice. Nevertheless by the time we packed up our boats it was already 3:30PM and we had a 3-4hr paddle still ahead of us. I was surprised how easy it was to load all the gear into the kayaks. I was convinced we forgot something – but turned out we didn’t.
It felt great being in our sea kayaks again to escape the civilized world for a whole week. The paddle out of the inlet was nice. A steady breeze and the current were pushing us out towards Checleset¬†Bay, the open ocean. But paddling continuously for 3+hrs¬†was something I hadn’t done in a while – I actually started to feel tired and was glad when we finally reached Spring Island. I was surprised when the GPS said it was 24kms. Not bad in a sea kayak!! We always camp in the same spot, if it isn’t busy. A small island just off the main island. And lucky for us nobody was there – except for a deer looking to cross over from Spring. But it saw Jeff landing on the gravel beach and just watched. Never saw me inching closer and closer till the very end. The campsite is fairly developed. A bench, a table, a whole “kitchen cabinet” were built out¬†of driftwood. And someone put in a HUGE fireplace since we last camped there. It is still a nice spot. And just before the sun set we had a couple of sea otters visit the channel separating our island from Spring Island. A good start to our trip.

This is the 4th time we do a trip in this area. Why, you may ask, do we always come back here? There are plenty of beautiful places to paddle on BC’s coast. Well you will have to read on but one reason are the sea otters. A small lecture: Sea otters¬†used to be common along the west coast all the way from Baja California to Alaska, but overhunting in the late 1800s almost brought them to extinction. In 1911 there were no more sea otters to be found along Vancouver Island. In 1969 the BC government tried to re-introduce the animal by transplanting 89 otters from Alaska to Checleset¬†Bay – the area south of Brooks Peninsula. It took a few more transplants and almost 15 years until the numbers seem to increase. In 1981 the area around the Checleset Bay has been made into an Ecological Reserve. The last data¬†I could find said that by 2007 the numbers of sea otters in Checleset¬†Bay had grown to 3500. We will see how many we can find and take pictures of.

Day 2
The day started with a mix of sun and clouds. The sun mostly won with a few foggy exceptions. For the most part the fog stayed out on the open ocean. We worked our way along the coast. But we didn’t get far – still in the mission group – until we saw the first sea otter raft with 5-6 animals in it. Of course I had to stop and take pictures until they dove away. Soon after we came across a raft that must have been 50 sea otters strong. And they just slowly moved away from us – felt more secure in numbers I guess. The little bit of swell though made picture-taking pretty tough. What a pleasure though to watch those animals. Continuing on around McLean Island we saw the first bear foraging on the beach… I was in heaven! Most bears seem to not care about people in kayaks and you get a great chance to watch them go about their business of finding food. Once he moved into the bushes we paddled on along the foot of Mt Paxton – which is famous for one of the worst visible clear cuts¬†along this coastal area. But that was many years ago and the bare walls are filling up with trees again. We stopped for lunch in the Bunsby¬†Islands at the start of Gay Passage. Got quite close to another sea otter when paddling through the passage on our way to Battle Bay. Battle Bay has one of the most extensive sand beaches and a river flowing into it. Apparently it really was the battle ground for the natives in centuries past. Here we saw our 2nd bear. The water was even calmer so I got even closer. Sooo¬†cool! Next up was the Cuttle¬†Island group – quite a few sea otters to watch before we crossed Nasparti Inlet to the foot of Brooks Peninsula¬†with its rugged mountains. Apparently this part was missed by the last ice age and unique plants exist in the area. Hence it is now a provincial park. There are not trails crossing the peninsula and no¬†developed camp sites. Only access is by boat. Most people stay at Jacobson Beach but the surf can be pretty big there so we prefer to stay a kilometer or so further up – a beach we call Lone Tree Beach. It is protected by some rocky outcroppings. Last time we camped here, a lonely tree was growing on one of those rocks, hence the name. This time it looked like two more started to gain size – but we are not changing the name. Again we had the beach all to ourselves. Actually we hadn’t seen¬†anyone all day. It’s quite a big beach. You can walk along it to where a creek comes out – wonderful fresh water – and beyond onto another beach which is more exposed to the open ocean. Good for stretching your legs after todays 37.5km / 6+hrs¬†paddle. But there were enough signs of people spending considerable time here – a big table with benches, a cooking area, a hammock and a volleyball court were built out of whatever washed up onto the beach before. We put our tent up away from all that right on the beach overlooking the ocean. An osprey was catching fish in the bay while the raven was complaining in the trees above our heads and the sky turned purple to the southwest. Now how is that for a bedroom location.

Day 3
I could hear it – light rain on and off on our tent. Today we were planning to paddle around the tip of Brooks. When we finally got up it was more like mist or fog than rain. Weather forecast was calling for wind out of the southeast starting to build towards noon – which is okay since it would push us around the peninsula. Our oh so calm bay was also a bit rougher this morning as we were facing southeast. But we managed to launch alright – well I always get the push from Jeff while he is on his own timing the surf :-). There was a 1-2m¬†swell coming in while we paddled up the peninsula towards the first “corner”, Clerke¬†Point. The wind wasn’t too strong yet and the rain had stopped shortly after we launched. Rounding the point is tricky though as there are breaking waves all over and far out into the ocean due to the shallow reefs surrounding the point. I am always a bit anxious about those huge breakers out there. Larger sets or rogue waves can transform an area that looked all calm into a huge crashing monster unexpectedly. So far we’d been lucky – knock on wood (which you can’t do out in a plastic or fibre glass kayak!). The wind started to really pick up halfway down the south tip of the Brooks – about 25knots¬†– and we had 3-4 foot¬†wind waves¬†on top of 1-2m¬†swell, nice waves the size of big trucks or small houses. Usually I hate waves but I felt sooo¬†comfortable in my sea kayak that I really enjoyed it – or almost did as I had a bad headache and felt nauseous. Jeff caught one ride after the other. Even I caught a few and we felt we were flying (at all of 10km/hr ūüôā – not quite like a surfski). And the best part, the sun came out as soon as we rounded the other “corner”, Cape Cook and entered Brooks Bay. The wind was gusting now and almost ripped the paddles out of our hands – so we decided against going out to Solander¬†Island and instead landed on a small little beach just in behind Cape Cook. I needed to close my eyes for a bit and try to settle my stomach (damn migraines!!). This little gem of a beach revived me enough to keep going. But some day we have to spend a night here. It has running fresh water (we actually stocked up here) and lots of bear tracks :-). Only thing we don’t know is how it would look at low tide. What looks like a perfectly fine beach at high tide can easily turn into this rocky boulder nightmare at low tide. We continued on¬†an almost flat calm ocean with just a slight breeze. It was probably still blowing out at the tip but the mountainous peninsula protected us from it. And the views were stunning…rocky cliffs, waterfalls, long white sandy beaches with steep mountains in the background and blue skies – that’s North Brooks for you. Sure it is also very exposed and if you have a northwesterly blow in the tranquil beaches and rocks can turn into monsters. Not today! It was just one of those perfect days out there. Jeff and I always stay away from the most exposed beaches – just in case – and made our way all the way down into Brooks Lagoon or what we call Paradise Beach –¬†34kms from where we started that day. Depending on where the wind blows from you can camp on the lagoon side of the beach or towards the open ocean. Today it was the open ocean. We saw dark clouds moving in from the southeast over the mountains as well as from the northeast from up island but our spot stayed in the sun till it dropped behind the horizon. Jeff used the last few rays to try to catch one of the salmon we saw jumping out in the surf. PARADISE

Day 4
Sunshine over the open ocean, clouds high above the mountains. Since it was high tide in the morning we decided to paddle into the lagoon first and up the river. I was hoping for a bear or deer but all we scared away was a bald eagle. But it is just a lovely place to paddle into. Back out on the open ocean we worked our way further north following the shoreline. The sea was flat calm. Saw quite a few sea otters in Klaskish¬†Inlet. We always hope they start to spread out more than just Checleset¬†Bay. I also saw a sea lion¬†swim right underneath Jeff’s boat. The water is so clear up there. There are a lot of hidden bays and channels to explore and we paddled a lot through the rocks along the shore¬†– can only do that on calm days – to practice edging the boats. We hardly ever use the rudder on these trips – only when we were riding the waves out at the tip of Brooks the day before. We even paddled past our destination for today (were planning on a shorter recovery day) Heater Point a little bit into Klaskino¬†Inlet. Quite a few beaches in there that look like possible camp spots away from the open ocean. And more sea otters :-). We considered for a second to cross the inlet and camp at a new spot on the other side but we both remembered Heater Point as a great spot to camp. And we were tired. So we paddled back out and around the point to the first beach which looked like the one we camped at before. But I remembered that there was a huge cave just one beach over. Also a great¬†camping beach but not as good of a launch beach at every tide. So we landed on this tiny small pocket beach in front of the cave – there was actually quite a bit of shore break. The cave was just a cool as I remembered. But we decided to head back to the first beach for the night. Heater Point Beach is a small gravel beach which is just PERFECT for camping – better than sand as sand always sticks to everything. The small gravel doesn’t stick and still feels good to walk on barefoot. Except you sink in even deeper so every walk down the relatively steep beach to the ocean was a leg workout. We also found these weird-looking¬†clear jelly half tubes on the beach which just perfectly fit over your finger. Never seen those anywhere else. This was also the only beach that was facing straight west and after exploring some tide pools and cooking dinner we watched the sun¬†drop into the ocean lighting up the sky in all shades of yellow, orange and red. Awesome!

Day 5:
Waking up to sunshine and flat calm seas. But the Marine Forecast on our VHF was talking about a gale warning for the following day out of the northwest (35-45knots). Wind was supposed to start building this afternoon to 25-30knots. We had originally planned to stay another day or two north of the Brooks BUT with a gale approaching we needed to reconsider our options. We could have afforded one day but you never know how long the gale would last and if it turns into calmer winds again or even builds more into a storm. So we did the sensible thing and decided to go back south around the tip of Brooks. Instead of hugging the shore we did a b-line to Solander¬†Island. For the first couple of¬†hours¬†it was flat calm which turned into a small ripple cause by a light headwind enough to keep us cool!! It was a nice open water paddle with nice views to the east – Brooks Peninsula. We saw lots of birds and a couple of otters¬†floating around. We even spotted a group of two whales¬†off in the distance closer to shore but they were traveling and disappeared on us quite quickly. I think we made it to Solander¬†Island in 3hrs (my GPS ran out of charge). Solander Island¬†is another ecological reserve and most known for its Puffin¬†colony. Many times the weather was too rough out there for us to explore the island which is about 1 mile of Cape Cook. Not today – the ocean could not have been calmer. Even the swell was down – probably due to the southeasterly changing to a southwesterly based on the prevailing winds. Before we even made it to the island proper we had to stop at the first rock to enjoy the sea lions. Some were sleeping on the rocks – rocks to some, pillows to others. More were floating in the ocean to cool off, only fins or back or noses showing, snoring and burping. While back on the rock one big bull was noisily staking his claim for a piece of rock chasing away the intruder…it was so cool to watch. The “floaters” floated by less than¬†5m away from my bow. These are HUGE animals, way bigger than my boat and I got a bit nervous when the biggest guy all sudden opened his eyes, looked at me and dove into my direction. But nothing happened. He just popped up with his fin sticking out. We left those guys be and went around Solander¬†in search of Puffins. Didn’t see ANY. But we had seen a couple when we rounded the Brooks a couple of days¬†back just flying across the ocean. So they were somewhere… Once we left Solander¬†behind us the wind started picking up out of the northwest – behind us – and we were able to catch some easy rides. With no swell, the combined wind wave and swell was maybe 1m. I have never seen it this calm out here. No breakers at all in front of Amos Creek or Clerke¬†Point. I got really close to shore and I think I had landing at Amos Creek on my mind but Jeff wanted to have none of that. With a gale approaching this is no place to hang around. So we made it around Clerke¬†Point with no trouble. And started down¬†Brooks towards Lone Tree Beach again. But halfway down it hit me – all sudden I got tired and sore. We had been continuously paddling for 5+hrs¬†by now. I was using my small wing while Jeff was using his regular flat touring blade. So usually on the flat or into the wind I was out-pacing him; he only got me when riding waves. I used that to build in frequent rests on this last stretch to Lone Tree Beach. It did not seem to get any closer!!! Even the odd otter view could not cheer me up. But when we finally had the beach in sight¬†the mood improved. But then – what the hell – there is a tent in our spot!!!! No kayak or boat in sight though. So we went to the other end of the beach to stay out of each others way and set up camp near the hammock. Since the day was still young we went for another walk along the beach and a dip in the river to wash off the salt. We sure took our time and when we returned to the camp we were in for another surprise. A motor boat had pulled into OUR bay and was unloading tons of gear onto the beach right below our tent. WTF. There were 7 people and a dog running around and at least 5 cartons of beer within the gear stack. That’s not what we are looking for on a remote kayaking trip. But we tried to be nice and offered to move our tent even further north so that the group could use the drift wood camp as they were staying for a week. All we asked in return was for a quiet night and they agreed. So we moved the tent closer to the river which was fine. While we were doing that, a double kayak had pulled into the spot at the¬†other end. Obviously the owners of that lonely tent. They walked by us to get some water. We looked at the couple and thought, gosh the guy looks like someone we knew from the TNR. But what are the chances that the first living souls¬†we have seen in 4 days would be people we know. Well, the chances were actually good. When the couple came back from the river they came into our¬†camp to say Hi. And¬†sure enough it was¬†Rob who is one of the fastest paddlers out on the Tuesday Night Race Scene. He was showing his girlfriend Anja¬†who was visiting from South Africa why he loves it out here so much. We had a good laugh. After dinner we joined them at their¬†camp which was further away from the big group than us. Despite us looking for solitude on our kayak trips we had a fun evening exchanging stories till almost midnight. Turns out Anja¬†was born in Germany like me, not too far from my home town (Wilhelmshaven) and had moved to SA about 12 years ago. Like me she got stuck after visiting the place to extend her studies. I have never been to SA but it is high on my list.¬†The big group was in their tents before us ūüôā

Day 6
Another day in paradise. The sun was smiling down on us from an almost cloudless blue sky and the wind was up a bit but not much. Our planned travel distance for today was relatively short and we took our time in the morning. When we finally got going we hugged the western shore into Nasparti¬†Inlet all the way to Johnson Lagoon. We discovered a new river we could paddled up scaring a big flock of mergansers, a few new caves and arches to paddle into and the entrance to Johnson Lagoon. Johnson Lagoon would be the end of Nasparti¬†inlet but it is also connected to the inlet by a Very narrow opening. The tide was coming in and the water was rushing through the narrows. One could see the white water and the water in the lagoon did look lower than where we were. Slack tide would have been another 3hrs¬†away so we opted for not paddling into the lagoon (have been trapped in lagoons on kayak trips many times before :-)). We rode the northwesterly wind waves out of the inlet towards Acous¬†Peninsula and the Cuttle¬†Islands. On the way we saw more sea otters of course. We beached on a small island in the Cuttle¬†group. The wind was blowing right into the beach and even though it was sunny, it wasn’t really warm. Nevertheless, despite it being a short day on the water we didn’t really want to go that much further. As it happened during my walk around the island looking for sea otters from shore (so that I can take proper pictures without bobbing up and down) I discovered another beach on the other end of the island facing southeast out of the wind. So we¬†launched the boats again and paddled around to the other beach – seeing 2 or 3 more sea otter on the paddle. This 2nd beach had less room for tents¬†but enough for us, even though our tunnel tent has a relative large foot print compared to the more popular 2-3 person dome tents. After setting up the tent I again¬† walked around and climbed up all the rocks now exposed at low tide to get a good view of a sea otter. But somehow those little buggers must have known – none came close or disappeared by the time I climbed up the rugged rocks through slippery sea weed trying to not break my neck.

Since we were facing southeast there wasn’t really a sunset to watch during dinner but we saw the whole ocean turn pink for all of 2 minutes.
We just got into the tent and settled for the night when we heard this noise outside. It sounded too light for a bear – they do swim from island to island – and too heavy for a mouse or otter. We couldn’t figure out what it was and before any of us could get outside to check the noise stopped.

Day 7
Woke up to more sunshine – actually it was quite hot. Way out in the distance to the southeast we saw fog creeping out of the inlet Fair Harbour is part of but the wind was still blowing out of the southeast where we were. We figured the wind will keep the fog away. I did my usual search for otters near shore before breakfast and just returned to the campsite when we all sudden spotted 3 deer on the same rock I just came from. Where the hell did they come from – there is only water full of kelp on the other side of that rock and then¬†another small island. The deer, mama and 2 fawns were dripping wet. They must have swam across. Mama deer walked off and left her two kids with us!? They came down the cliff and walked within 5m of us to chew on some seaweed. They were eying us a bit but that was it. Mom came up behind us again and walked right past our tent – now we know who walked by the night before. The youngsters slowly followed. None of them in a rush. They were with us for at least 15min. We felt really special being so close to the animals by their choice. I guess these animals are so used to kayak campers and actually feel safe around us. The little ones checked out our stuff at the tent closely. Eventually they walked off into the bush. We finally started on breakfast only to be “disturbed” by another or the same doe with a faun in her tow. Again they weren’t afraid – maybe it was the same doe and she left one of the little ones in the bush. Who knows. Without any hurry they crossed the beach behind us and disappeared again into the bush. While sitting in the hot sun, sweating, eating breakfast, I happened to look out over the ocean and asked Jeff “Why does the fog seem to get closer with the wind blowing towards it?” Spring Island which we were able to see just a few minutes ago was gone. Weird. We watched the fog come closer and closer for the next 10min¬†or so. All sudden a strong southeasterly wind whipped up and turned the ocean into a mess of breaking waves with tops being blown off by the wind. Another 5 min and the rocks in front of us disappeared in the fog. Thick fog was blowing over us. It actually got a bit chilly. We decided to wait it out a bit. With that wind it should blow off pretty quick. Jeff had a quick nap while I took the opportunity to look for sea otters again – only to run into¬†another or the same¬†doe again. I was within 2 m of her.. incredible. I saw the two little guys on the other beach – the one facing northwest. No otters though. Those little furry bastards :-). By the time I got back to camp the fog had lifted enough so that we could get going. The sky was still overcast and the sea rough but not to an extent that we couldn’t paddle on it. Only picture-taking¬†would be impossible. We worked our way along the shoreline again. Hiding from the wind for a bit by paddling up the river in battle bay – tide was high again. We scared away the same flock of mergansers¬†as the day before in the other river. We crossed over to the Bunsby¬†Island sand took the route between the main land and the biggest of the islands. It was mostly¬†out of the wind and even got to see the¬†sun. Lots of signs of native habitation in the channel. Most of it is indian reserve so we did not land to explore any of it. I am sure there are some wooden treasures in form of old totem poles hidden in the thimble berry bushes now growing along the once developed shoreline. The trees in here were also taller than most we had seen so far. More protected from the wind. I was hoping to see another bear cruising though here but all we saw was another deer dwarfed by those humongous trees. By the time we came out of the channel on the east side of the Bunsby¬†Islands the wind had changed directions again from southeast to northwest. So now we were protected by the islands. We worked our way up through the Bunsby¬†Islands seeing quite a few sea otters up to the out Bunsbys¬†that looked like they were still covered in fog. But by the time we got there – maybe 20min, the fog was gone. We paddled through this big cove protected by the outer islands and saw another small sea otter raft of what looked like females with young. The young weren’t really that small anymore but the moms were still holding on to them tightly. Very cute. We had expected to see other people in the Bunsbys¬†as this is one of the most popular destinations in the area but there was nobody. So we camped on this tiny island across from our usual camp spot which was already in the shade. This new campsite had a better view over the cove with all the otters as well as a beach facing south with still a little sunshine left on it. I scrambled out onto the rocks to watched a sea otter searching for food in the cove for a while but he never got into good camera range. Cooking dinner this night was also interesting. We had a hard time keeping our stove running. Something wrong with the fuel line most likely. So we had to change the menu on short notice from pasta – which needs to cook a while – to minute rice which can just stand for a while. It worked. Still it leaves a bit of an uneasy feeling behind having a not fully operational stove.

Day 8
Our 2nd to last day started out overcast. Actually everything outside was really wet from the moisture in the air. It wasn’t really raining…just wet. We again watched the otter in the cove catch his breakfast. This time he scored big time catching a big crab.¬†We could hear him cracking the shell. After we had a cold breakfast (no stove) and packed up our soaking wet tent we headed back out into the gloomy day passing by sea otter mom and her baby once more. The little one didn’t want to wake up while mom tried to get away from us. So cute. Eventually they re-united with some other families and everyone settled down again. The ocean was pretty calm again as we paddled back along Mount Paxton to Spring Island. So calm¬†in fact¬†that we could explore the caves along that stretch. Turned out the cave was actually an arch and we could paddle right through. Scared¬†4 river otters doing just that. One was even out of the water on a rocky ledge. Unfortunately no pictures – they were gone too fast :-). On we went to Spring Island hugging the shore in hope of more bears. Nothing. At Spring we went around the outside of it which is also the more windswept side. Lots of cool rock formations, caves and arches to play in. We managed to get through¬†an arch without a problem. Then we saw this other cave and watched the water for a bit to see if we could get in. There were a few waves coming in but they all petered out without any foam or spray. So up to the cave we went. I just had stuck my bow into it when my stern lifted up and I could see the water disappear in front of me. All sudden the cave was filled with white water. I quickly back paddled out of it. Jeff had been watching it from the outside and smiled at me. I was just glad to have made it out of the cave in one piece when all sudden another wave hit me from the left and soaked me head to toe. But I stayed up! Jeff had seen it coming – hence the smile – but opted to not warn me about it. Probably for the better :-). A bit shaken up we quickly paddled out of the rocks but by then the ocean was back to the normal low swell. Rouge waves can come in unexpectedly at any time. We paddle up to the south end of the island which is where people usually camp – again it was deserted. Still we continued on through the rocks and reefs back to our special island. Tomorrow we had to paddle back to the car and drive home so we wanted to be on familiar territory. We didn’t know it yet but that was one of the best decisions we ever made. Our special island was empty as well. But just as we got started on setting up camp we saw¬†15-20 sea kayaks in the distance heading towards Spring Island and then¬†disappeared to the south. Ah we thought – those will camp up top. Good thing we didn’t stay there. But they all came back 30min¬†later and paddled towards our island. Oh-oh we thought but lucky for us they turned into the big bay on the north side off Spring where some kayak outfitter has its permanent camp. Never saw them again. The last camp fire of the trip was almost a sad thing. I wasn’t ready yet to go home. Except, we had eaten most of our food by now – perfect planning :-). Even got the stove working again for one more night but it was far from working perfect. PS: I now have a new camping stove!!!

Day 9
We woke up to fog. Heavy fog. Could barely see Spring Island which was only 10-20m¬†away from us and could definitely not see the island to the north of us which was less than 100m away and in the direction we had to paddle to get back to Fair Harbour. That meant navigating by chart and compass only. But before we got off the island we first had a deer cross our beach to swim over to Spring. And shortly after a bear was swimming towards our island coming from Spring. He got out on the rocks half way in-between and must have smelled us or something as he turned around – so we did get to see a third bear :-). Now it was time to hit the water. Conditions had NOT improve from when we got up and we could not wait for the fog to lift since we had to get back home today. That is a 3.5hrs paddle at best – probably more in the fog. Plus a 4-5hrs¬†drive, more if we had another flat tire – for sure we would have to go slow on the gravel. Plus a 2hrs¬†ferry and another 45min¬†drive – you do the math. So off we went into nothingness. We found the first island okay – well it was only 100m or less away and worked our way along it. But then we had a crossing of about 500m to do and there were all sorts of deep inlets we could paddle into if we are off the mark. The sun tried to poke through the gloom which made for some awesome pictures. But I could not stop for long or I would lose¬†Jeff in the fog. He had the chart!! We were bang on with our navigation and when we hit the mainland the fog lifted a bit. The ocean was flat calm. Once we hit the big inlet towards Fair Harbour the fog lifted completely and we hammered for about 2hrs¬†to get to the take out by noon. That was hard work… but we made it and it took only 15min more than on day one. Was I happy to be back at the truck? Not really ūüôā This trip was all I had hoped for and some. We saw many more otters than on previous trips. I lost count but it wasn’t even close to 3500. We’ll be back for a fifth time that’s for sure.
Drive back on the logging road was slow but uneventful. Ferries were busy when we got to Nanaimo by 5:30PM. We got the 8:15 out of Duke Point and were home by 11PM.



  1. Glad you enjoyed the hammock. I’ve been making them in that location for over 15 years and that was the best one. Your photos are amazing. It looks like you had an awesome time. Brooks is the best!

    Comment by Sandy Wood — July 29, 2014 @ 8:20 PM

    • We were also beneficiaries of Sandy and Glens assistance at Brooks. They saved me hours of hiking and my friends hours of paddling to move my stuff. I will always think of them helping us out and making an enjoyable experience, even more so!

      Comment by Vic OConnor — August 2, 2015 @ 12:18 PM

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