Category Archives: Kayak and Canoe

Bowron Lakes 23/07/11

John K. paddling the Bowron Lakes:
“July 23 to 29 a group of 6 canoeists completed the Bowron Lakes. Moose and mosquitos were the main wildlife. Though there were stories of many Germans on the circuit, these were unfounded. Three fishing rods and 100 hours of fishing produced a 1-pound trout. We almost caught two very large fish (they were this big…) but they both got away. We met a pair of Americans that had pictures of 60-cm trout. The trip was very quiet and we only encountered a handful of other canoes. Two nights we shared a site with another couple otherwise we were alone the entire time. The weather was weird and changed every 10 minutes. Only once was there a real rain storm (and it was nasty – complete with hail) but we were lucky enough to have checked into a cabin an hour before the storm. To watch a storm roll in through the mountains was one of the many highlights of the trip. Average day was leaving camp around 9:00 am and checking into our nightly tent pad at around 5 pm. Fun ensued nightly.”

Widgeon Lake 19/06/11

Steve at Widgeon Lake:
“Amazingly, there was still 5-10 ft of snow at the top of this trail (but only at the very top strangely). The journey was far tougher than we expected. Painful boat logistics. An almost not seaworthy inflatable boat for 2 people. A steep slippery root climb for last 2 km. Rain for 70% of it including the chilly snow camping. Even then Widgeon lake is worth a revisit. Though we could barely make out a view, I suspect that the lake islands and granite backdrop would be spectacular. As it was the ice was very interesting (very arctic like). Do this one at the end of the summer when it is dry and make sure to stop by the scenic falls too. This trail could be one of the greats but given how tough it was for me, and how bad the rain and visibility were, my particular experience was only a marginal thumbs up and that was mainly because of the great company and good attitude in adversity (Jamie, Janice, Steve and Kevin).”

Broken Group Islands 28/05/11

Sandra kayaking the Broken Group islands:
“Am I really going to do an 8 day kayaking trip with total strangers?” The cursor hovered hesitantly on the ‘send’ button on the Wanderung callout email I had just written. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I thought, and with one click of a finger I eradicated my indecision and sent it hurtling out into cyberspace.

Day 1: Captain’s Log Star Date: May 28. Travel from Toquart Bay to Hand Island. We are standing at the launch site in Toquart Bay. John is determined to pack what seemed like half a grocery store into his kayak and is using his entire body weight to get his rear hatch cover to close over his frying pan. Dennis, the other paddling partner is compact and has extra space which John happily fills.

Confident that we won’t starve, we launch on a bluebird day and head for Hand Island not more than a few hours away. We land on a sandy west-facing beach and bask in the evening sun. There are purple flowers that line the entire pathway to the solar composting toilet, and if you keep going the path takes you to another secret beach on the other side. Dennis catches a rock crab and John cooks it over a fire while we marvel at being able to see the stars. We fall asleep to the sound of the tide creeping closer and the magic of these islands begins to permeate into a place in ourselves that we hadn’t accessed in a long time.

Day 2: Hand Island to Turret Island (stop to see giant tree) then paddle to Clarke Island. As he approaches shore on Clarke Island, John vaults his paddle like a javelin onto the sand and jumps out of his kayak like the snake in a can of nuts that has just been opened. I sigh and stare at my $400 Werner paddle and vow never to let John touch it. Before his boat is even pulled up and life jacket is off, John is fiddling with the bungees on his boat to free his fishing gear.

“Let’s get these crab traps out!” he yells excitedly as his paddle begins to float away with the tide.

“What have I gotten myself into?” is a thought that would linger in my mind for the better part of the afternoon and evening until I was sitting down with my first ever fresh crab presented on a plate in front of me. “Now tell us what you think of your providers now? Did the men do good or what?”

I think about this between mouthfuls of fresh crab. Even if I was barefoot and pregnant in a time when the First Nations roamed this island, I had to admit I would have still been impressed with their manly abilities to harvest what the ocean had to provide.

Day 3: Paddle around and hiking on Benson Island. I have ambitious plans of a long day of paddling around the exposed outer islands. When I tell this to the boys they stare at me with the eyes that a six year old would give you if you had just asked him to turn the Saturday morning cartoons off to go outside and play.
“But we’re tired and we want to go fishing”. We strike a compromise. Benson Island was close by, we could paddle around it and then land and do a hike to the ‘blowhole’ which was a hole in the rocks that sprayed water up like a fountain when the waves crashed into it.

This pleases them and John plops his fishing hook in the water to troll for salmon on the way over. Benson Island was originally open to camping in, but has been recently restricted to day visits only due to archeological surveying that is currently taking place. The Tseshaht First Nations in the area believe that Benson was the place where their version of the Adam and Eve story took place for their people. Anyone landing on Benson can see why. With rugged shorelines, beautiful sandy beaches and lush old growth rain forest, if life was going to start anywhere, it would make sense that it would be on this paradise island.

Did you catch anything? “No,” says John dejectedly before pulling up his line with some difficulty before realizing that he had caught a fish and just had been unwittingly dragging it around the entire paddle. His eyes light up like Christmas, “A fish! I caught a fish!” We take it to shore and John pummels it with a frying pan, a most fitting object of death for a tasty fish.

Just before we land back on Clarke we notice blows from a whale. We watch mesmerized by this underwater leviathan gently rolling to the surface to breath. Scanning the surface for krill with it’s impressive baleen, it swims further away until its blows disappear into the setting sun.

Day 4: Paddle around Wower Island to Dicebox Island around the backside of Effingham, round Gilbert and back to Clarke. Clarke Island, we were told by the fee collectors, is the best campsite in the Broken Group. We believe them immediately. There was a large sandy beach, the kind your feet loved sinking into, and directly behind was a grassy field that was consistently being mowed by fearless deer who would let you get so close you could almost touch them.

In the morning Dennis and I leave John to bask in the morning sun and we set off to explore the outer islands. As we approached the outside of Wower the waves became more hectic and confused and we bob around on the increasingly larger swell like rubber ducks in a tub filled with rambunctious children. We take shelter between Wower and Bately and watch a group of 30 sea lions on a rocky outcropping try to out-bark each other in a cacophony of sound.

We have lunch on Dicebox Island and try to image what it would have been like to land there 500 years ago and know no other life than this. In these heavily windblown, salty isolated islands life still abounds in lush green canopies and in the boundaries between the tide and far deeper than we can ever see and travel.

Paddling around the exposed east side of Effingham Island we can see what the ravages of wind and waves have done to the spectacular rocky shore. Sea caves and sea arches line the shoreline and we resist the urge to paddle inside as these are sacred burial sites for the Tseshaht people.

Small droplets of rain began plunking and making rings all around us with increasing intensity. The surface of the water started to resonate and shake as if there was an angry neighbour below us banging on his ceiling and yelling at us to stop making all that racket. We unwittingly obey as we silently and soggily paddled back to Clarke.

Day 5: Paddle from Clark to Gibraltar. Little islets and rocks jut up from the surface like flowers that manage to break through cement sidewalks. I try to imagine the tectonic plates underneath us causing the whole bottom of the ocean to fold and bend like peanut brittle. The pressure and friction release exploding underwater volcanoes and whole mountain ranges appear with their apexes peeking out above the surface of the water allowing us to camp on a zenith at sea level.

The site on Gibraltar is gorgeous and even though the beach is gravelly, we are glad to not be in the sand any more. The boys went fishing and I got to the task of setting up a large camp tarp when I noticed an eagle fly closer than I’ve ever seen. Dennis comes back and begins searching for a filleted fish he left on a log. After an extended search we noticed the eagle perched smugly in a tree that towered over our campsite. The mystery of the missing fish was solved: Eagle 1… Dennis 0.

Day 6: “I’ve eaten a lot of dirt on this trip,” says Dennis as he casually brushes off a piece of food that had fallen on the ground. “Well, I’d rather eat dirt than sand,” was my statement that I was about to follow up with seemingly logical reasoning. “Dirt is done and over with, sand lingers in your mouth for a while and grinds down your teeth.” “Yeah, I wouldn’t say it grinds your teeth, maybe it even polishes them, and besides…”

Dennis stops abruptly. “Wait a minute… are we seriously debating over whether we would rather eat dirt or sand?” I think that’s how you know when it’s day 6 of a trip.

Earlier that morning we paddle to the Jacques Jarvis lagoon to catch a 1 foot low tide. Diverse colours of bat stars line the bottom of the lagoon and many tiny fish dart in an out of the eel grass. John and Dennis try to catch scurrying crabs on the sandy bottom with their paddles.

We paddle into a natural fish trap and the entire channel is packed with huge red California Stickapus sea cucumbers. Measuring about a foot long, slimy and with a diameter a bit larger than an actual cucumber, these creatures have soft spikes and look like something they would make you eat on the show Fear Factor.

On the way back the sky opens up with rain and chills me to the bone. Feeling monstrously ill upon my return back to camp I fall asleep in my tent to wake up in the evening to the boys tending to a fire. “The crab curry is ready and we pre-cracked all the claws for you because we know they are your favourite.” Afterwards they cleaned up the dishes and packed away the food while I sat by the fire. I was mercifully grateful that I wasn’t alone on this trip.

Day 7: We leave the gravelly beach of Gibraltar and head to the north side of Nettle Island, cross Coaster channel, through the Pinkerton islands and back to Hand Island. I am packing up some food and tarps, Dennis is tearing down our tent and John is lying on a log in the sun wishing he was dead. That’s the funny thing about alcohol, it’s like an exhilarating roller coaster that always makes you throw up in the end. And no matter how many times it ends badly, you always line up for more.

The passages between the Pinkerton Islands take John’s mind off his unsettled stomach. They are sandy and shallow which gives the water a beautiful tropical look and we feel as though we are floating over a glowing green road to the Emerald City. If we could speak to the Wizard of Oz at that moment, I would wish for a new bladder as I had to pee, Dennis would ask for a new stomach since he was hungry, and John would probably ask for a new brain that wasn’t throbbing. We settled for lunch on a mud flat and then paddled back to Hand Island and John cast out the crab traps for the last time on our trip.

I fall asleep that evening feeling sad that tomorrow would be our last day, but exhilarated at the prospect of soon being able to shower.

Day 8: Hand Island to Toquart Bay. Hand Island gets smaller as we paddle away from it. I take a picture but it comes out looking like a small blob on my camera screen. Pictures never capture the true beauty of what you’re seeing and I try to burn it into my memory. The day is so hot the tops of my hands start to burn and when we arrive to Toquart Bay we don our wetsuits and take our kayaks for a swim and do some rescue practice.

Finally after packing up our boats we walk smelly and salt incrusted into a pub in Port Alberni and watch the Canucks win game 2 of the final series. After a well earned beer, a lingering goodbye we part ways so I can start writing this rather lengthy trip report and prepare for our next trip.

Bowron Lakes 25/07/10

Cam paddling the Bowron Lakes solo:
“An unforeseen situation and my paddle partner for the trip had to back out. Not one to back out of challenge or an adventure I went solo with words of encouragement. I think those words where you’re crazy, nuts or you’re going to get eaten by a bear.

My GPS recorded 130 km round trip and 4 days 6 hours and hardest section was the last dock, ramp going to the campground. Shake my fist in the air at BC parks engineering department!

Forecast was for a sun all week long!! YES! Orientation was a 9 AM then the portage to Kibbee Lake a large group of people 24-26 but only 7 where ready to go. Was first out of the gate and that was the last I saw of the crowds. The next 4.5 days of blazing sunshine 😉 was pure tranquilly. The many warnings about full campgrounds by early evening where never found.”

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Manning Park 24/07/10

Heather in Manning Park:
“Seven enthusiastic people set out on Friday afternoon, bound for a weekend in Manning Park. We all rode up in Chris’s amazing transformer van – everything from hot water to cook stoves to coolers to a bed was in there (although passengers slept in tents.) We camped just east of Manning Park, in a free and beautiful spot on the edge of the Similkameen River. Saturday had one person off fishing for the day, one person solo canoeing, and five of us heading up Skyline trail to Snow Camp mountain, in beautiful sunshine and completely blue skies. We had a few bizarre encounters with zombie-like people that were doing an ultra-marathon (100 km or 100 miles, depending on who you talked to!), including helping one woman down the trail to meet up with her companions. These people had run and walked for 30 hours or so, across the mountains and all night long, and we all agreed that it was pretty sad to see them so zoned out in such a beautiful environment. The vistas opened up to stunning alpine meadows, dramatic drops way down to the lakes, beautiful distant mountains, and an incredible variety of wildflowers. We took a total of 6.5 hours to hike this trail – hot but very rewarding, and the swim in Lightning Lake after was very refreshing. That evening five people drove back to the lake for a full-moon paddle, while two of us slept well! Sunday involved a lazy morning, and then canoeing and swimming in Lightning Lake again – enjoying the refreshing water and relaxing atmosphere. The evening was topped off by a good supper at the Manning Park Pub, and then a drive back to Vancouver in the evening sun. And enjoyable weekend had by all… Thanks to Chris for organizing, driving, and supplying the amazing extra equipment and comfort of the van.”

group on the summit

Galiano Island cycling 24/07/09

Dana on Galiano Island:
“Five of us caught the morning ferry on a Friday to Galiano. The weather was overcast but the sun came out once we arrived and it quickly became very warm. Though the ride to the campground is only 10 km, the roads are windy and hilly, and with weighed-down bikes and the hot sun it felt much longer. On Saturday, two of us rented kayaks and explored Montague Harbour and the other three biked about 10 km up-island to hike Bodega Ridge. Highlights of this easy hike with desert-like terrain were watching eagles soar beneath (and above) us, and the views of Salt Spring Island and beyond. We also enjoyed the thunder and lightning storm that night (after a quick swim), though instead of huddling in tents we took advantage of the free Hummingbird Pub shuttle bus to indulge in drinks and some incredible pie. Sunday’s ride back to the ferry took in a different route, encompassing the cemetary (which has a nice view of Active Pass and sunning sea lions). To sum: Biking Galiano is not for the faint of heart. There are many hills (both short and steep and long and gradual) and the pavement is cracked and broken in many spots. Still, it is rewarding and a beautiful place to explore over a weekend.”

Polar Bear kayak 01/01/09

Steve kayaking at the English Bay Polar Bear swim:
“This was my second annual call-out to kayak to English Bay to partake in the festivities of the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim. Bart from kayrak.ca (check it out!), the only other Wanderung member that ended up coming, made a last minute decision to register and go for a swim!

We were in good company despite rough conditions (wavy and windy), and our small numbers because we joined forces with the West Coast Paddlers, and other local kayak personalities such as one of the owners of Delta Kayaks. It was great to see other Wanderung members on the beach, but a bit problematic pushing our boats through the crowds to launch again. In our yellow and orange safety gear, people continually asked for help and directions, they assumed we were lifeguards or something.”

Other paddlers.

Johnstone Strait Kayak Tour 16/08/08

Sandra kayaking the Johnstone Strait / Broughton Archipelago:
“Our group of 8 headed out for a great 6-days on the water around both the Johnstone Strait south of Telegraph Cove and north through the Broughton Archipelago (as far north as Insect Island and Echo Bay). We got a little of everything… Half the time there was beautiful sunshine but we also had a day of rain. The winds picked up for sections of our days (including one “exciting” crossing with waves from both current/wind, and also from the wake of a cruise ship!) but we also had wonderfully calm days. Campsites ranged from amazing island set ups with wooden structure outlines ready for tarps & tree swings to simple clearings in the woods. We had lazy easy days and a couple long paddle days.

Highlights from the trip included seeing porpoises everyday, orcas half the days, visiting First Nation reserves / abandoned communities, campfires every night, amazing food, freezing dips in the ocean (did I mention the WARM campfires?!?!), navigation practice during early morning fogged-in paddles & hunting down camping areas amongst the islands and the distance we got from the crowds of Johnstone Strait. Good times on and off the water!”

Pre-breakfast paddle, navigating only by compass through the fog

Johnstone Strait 09/08/08

Sandra kayaking in the Johnstone Strait and Broughton archipelago:
“Our group of 8 headed out for a great 6-days on the water around both the Johnstone Strait south of Telegraph Cove and north through the Broughton Archipelago (as far north as Insect Island and Echo Bay). We got a little of everything… Half the time there was beautiful sunshine but we also had a day of rain. The winds picked up for sections of our days (including one “exciting” crossing with waves from both current/wind, and also from the wake of a cruise ship!) but we also had wonderfully calm days. Campsites ranged from amazing island set ups with wooden structure outlines ready for tarps & tree swings to simple clearings in the woods. We had lazy easy days and a couple long paddle days.

Highlights from the trip included seeing porpoises everyday, orcas half the days, visiting First Nation reserves/abandoned communities, campfires every night, amazing food, freezing dips in the ocean (did I mention the WARM campfires?!?!), navigation practice during early morning fogged-in paddles & hunting down camping areas amongst the islands and the distance we got from the crowds of Johnstone Strait. Good times on and off the water!

Widgeon Falls 12/07/08

Nancy at Widgeon Falls:
“Nine of us enjoyed a fabulously wonderful day canoeing and hiking to Widgeon Falls. A huge lineup for the rentals resulted in all of the kayaks being taken, so everyone climbed into canoes. First-time paddler Neil was a trooper, trying out 3 different positions in the canoe. Brave Stephani went for a dip in the cold Widgeon Creek, exclaiming that she felt like a million dollars afterwards. On the way home, we stopped at a blueberry farm, buying some of the very first harvested crop, and we ended the day with a nice sushi dinner. A great outing with an excellent group of people!”

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