It’s been 10 days since we left Shearwater and it was a long stretch up indescribable channels of fiords, rivers and waterfall after waterfall! We decided to head up the Mathesion Channel instead of the more heavily traveled Finalyson Channel because we wanted to avoid boat traffic and we just heard it was more beautiful and oh man was it ever! The forecast called for sunny skies the next 4 days and it almost seemed tropical in northern B.C. One of our first stops before paddling into fiord land was a native built cabin on lady Douglas island. It was in awesome shape and it meant we didn’t have to hang our food from bears. The next day we made our way into Mathesion Channel with amazing fiords running down both sides. Unfortunately the huge waterfalls were on the east side but we could hear their roars and see a little bit of the water running down the mountain. In a motor boat it would be easy to check out all the inlets and waterfalls but traveling at 3 knots it would take most of our day just to see one area. Next it was up through the Meyers Narrows and into Sheep Passage. We hit strong winds and current against us here, but made it to Carter Bay on the mainland side. We were told to be wary of grizzles here plus we were camped next to a big river and lots of berries! We set off our newly received bear banger to test it out and celebrate the 4th of July. This place ended up being ridiculously buggy! We had to walk around while we ate dinner and ate breakfast the next morning in the tent! No amount of bug spray or even dryer sheets help with noseeums! It’s brutal and they love me more than Kelly haha! Butedale was next and it was a treat! It used to be a cannery that started in 1909, but now most of the buildings and docks have fallen down or been burned down. There is a caretaker, Lou, who has lived there 12 years and charges small moorage fees to boaters to dock and resupply water and even shower! Plenty of fresh water there from a giant waterfall. He uses the water to light his house and run electronics! Met an awesome family there from Tampa, Florida on their boat, Catchin’ Moments. Had an amazing dinner with Greg, Susan, Presley, Garren, and Captain Tim! Thanks again guys for everything Next campsite was awesome because Kelly caught a coho in the Frazer Reach after only 10 minutes of trolling so we had our first experience of catching our own dinner. It wasn’t an easy paddle after the catch because it was crazy windy, but we eventually made it to Kingcome point on the north side of Princess Royal Island. We also saw a wolf at this site. Just sitting there having the usual oatmeal on a log for breakfast when I looked up and saw the wolf walking by. I whispered to Kelly to look up. He stopped and we all just stared each other down! Eventually he just kept walking. Definitely a cool experience! Hartley Bay was the next stop. We were told there was a store for resupplying but there was not! We were able however to set up the tent under a pavilion thank goodness since it was rainy and cold. Turned out a store wasn’t needed because we met several generous fisherman who shared smoked salmon, bread, and canned goods with us. Finally it was time to enter the Grenville Channel which we were dreading a bit because it has strong currents and is over 40 miles long. Oh boy it did end up causing us some trouble haha. First day started off great but ended in misery. We were told there was a cabin in Lowe Inlet which is about 3 miles deep and we decided why not because it was rainy. We spent 2 hours in there circling and crossing the inlet in the pouring rain and found nothing. Not even a spot for a tent. The boats anchored in there probably thought we were nuts paddling around. So we paddled 3 miles back out and ended up on a rocky ledge 2 miles or so down. Terrible spot for unloading and loading boats but it was getting dark and we just wanted out of our boats!! Grenville channel was one of those places that was amazing and terrible at the same time. I think we passed 25 waterfalls through there but it was windy and we were always against the current. We just wanted OUT! Finally 2 days after the Lowe inlet incident and 2 more rocky ledge campsites we made it to Prince Rupert for some much needed rest and relaxation. Going to spend 3 nights here at the Pioneer Backpackers Inn and then head out for Ketchikan on Wednesday! Can’t believe we are only 26 miles from U.S. border. We are more than halfway finished. Pretty exciting
Alright so technically left Shearwater yesterday, but the service was awful there and the Internet terrible too! Took us 7 days to get there from port hardy, but it was awesome paddling as always and even more wildlife sitings. Our biggest concern on this leg was the dreaded Cape Caution where we had read and been told stories about 20 foot peaking waves and shallow rocks, but we had great weather and virtually no wind so I’m not sure we deserve the badge of honor folks say you get for paddling it haha! We caught our first fish from the kayaks. It was a descent size rock fish but we were unprepared and had to throw it back. Kelly almost got taken down while battling what we assume was a lingcod. It got away back into its hole! Right after we rounded the cape we were greeted by a gray whale. It was pretty close to us and just around us feeding while we paddled. Probably the coolest thing we have encountered and also a little spooky were wolf tracks circling our tent one morning. We never heard or saw it unfortunately! Stopped in Namu which used to be a booming fishing area and cannery in the 1940s up to the 1970s. Now it’s looked after by these retired logging people, Rene and Pete. It’s was an interesting place that’s hard to describe. Most of the buildings were collapsing, but there was a floating dock area with a kitchen and bathroom. We got two awesome fish dinners from two different fishing groups! From there we were two days out from Shearwater. Paddled up the Fitzhugh Sound into Llama Passage! Our fishing buddies, Shane and Tony came up to us as were crossing the sound and gave us a massive crab to boil up! Stopped in Bella Bella on the way into shearwater to resupply food. Had a blast in Shearwater and was able to do laundry and shower! Met up with Shane and tony again for another amazing fish and crab dinner! Thanks Guys Now we are headed for Prince Rupert. The last stop before Alaska, woo!!
We woke up at 4am to listen to the weather forecast. Gale in the queen Charlotte strait. Bummer. We have been sitting around waiting for a break in the wind. So far it’s only picked up so we might get another night here in port hardy before attempting the crossing. Our neighbors tent is faring much worse than ours…
We arrived in Port Hardy yesterday afternoon after 24 days and checked in at the Scotia Bay Rv Resort! We have put in a lot of mileage since leaving Powell River. Made a quick stop in Lund at Nancy’s Bakery after a sailor recommended it. Definitely worth it. First blackberry cinnamon bun we have ever had and it was ridiculously good! Our next big obstacles were the array of rapids we had to hit over the next few days. The Yuculta, Dent, and Green rapids can have currents over 10 knots, whirlpools (one called Devils Hole), and over falls but are safe to travel if you go through at slack which we managed to do at all of them, woo! After the Yuculta rapids we stopped in Big Bay on Stuart Island and met a wonderful couple, Joanne and Dave who invited us up on their boat, L’Esprit, for dinner and drinks. The lentil soup was awesome and we really enjoyed the COLD fresh apples Next we made our way up the Cordero channel where we stopped at the Cordero Lodge. The plan was just to stop there for a cold beverage, but we ended up camping on their helicopter pad at the end of the docks! The owner, Laury, and caretaker Jefferey invited us to stay around to eat fresh crab and oysters! It was a blast hanging out with those guys and their friends. They even gave us a dozen fresh oysters and another small fishing pole on our way out. The weather took a bit of a turn at this point. It rained a good bit off and on and the wind picks up a bit in the afternoon on the Johnstone Strait. We did have our first bear sighting!! He caused us to have a very long paddle day. We pulled up on the beach to camp and while searching for a good tent spot l hear Kelly say “theres a bear”! Totally freaked me out at first because i imagined it standing behind me but it was at least 200 yds away and he could have cared less about us but we left of course. Ended up paddling 22 Miles that day to the Broken Islands and decided to have a rest day the next day! The rest day was nice! Decided to explore the island and we totally have Bearanioa so we put on our bear bells and set off into the woods. Not too far in the forest after seeing these ginormous tree stumps, Kelly spots all these old animal bones in this cave looking spot so we hightailed it out of the woods and back to the beach. It’s amazing (especially at night) how every sound is a bear! Definitely a Bear, haha. The best part of this last stretch has been the beautiful scenery of the Desolation Sounds and the amazing and generous folks we have met along the way! Headed out for Bella Bella tomorrow morning!
Landed in Powell River this afternoon. We have had some longer mileage days since leaving Nanaimo even with strong headwinds out of the northwest and the current against us! We found an awesome little campsite called sunshine cove on Jedediah island, thank goodness, because it was a long 7 mile open water crossing in 15 to 20k wind! Had a nice treat at Harwood point campsite. There was a food truck there and we ate a giant burger and fries but no beer! There was ice cream which Kelly was happy about. Yesterday was a super fun water day. Got a late start because we only planned to paddle around 8 miles to this one site, but we finally had a tailwind of around 20k and even with an ebb for most of the day we got a huge push and some really fun 3 to 4 foot rollers to surf. Ended up paddling 16 miles around to the northeast tip of Texada island which made for a short paddle into Powell River today. Looking forward to paddling in Desolation Sound over the next few days
We arrived in Nanaimo yesterday afternoon. Paddled to the water-access only pub off Protection Island before heading over to set up camp on Newcastle Island. The tide was low so we took some time hauling gear and boats up to the giant group campsite we were told to use. Brooke was disappointed to find that the shower required “loonies” (one Canadian dollar coins), and ended up filling the shower bag with cold water and holding it over her head in the shower stall…Nancy eventually came in and pointed out that she could have at least used the warm water from the faucet in the bathroom. After getting things sorted and an hour of nap time we took the pedestrian ferry to town and had dinner at a wonderful Greek restaurant.
Today we slept in, then had our regular oatmeal breakfast before heading back to town for resupply, coffee, and internet access. We seemed to have timed our town day pretty well since there is a strong wind warning in effect for the Nanaimo area today, and it is supposed to calm down by tomorrow morning when we hope to get back on the water! We are excited to start the next leg of the trip, crossing over to Texada Island and eventually make it to Powell River on the mainland. We will, however, miss our wonderful paddling companions, Eileen and Nancy. It has been so much fun having the two of them with us this first week. Aside from just being great people to be around, we have been able to absorb some of their extensive outdoor savvyness. Thank you ladies! (:
We spent a day in Portland at Next Adventure, Alder Creek, and PKC gathering a few more supplies. Two nights in Seattle at a friend’s house (thank you Hynes-Hoffmanns!!) gave us a day to use some REI gift cards, and pick up a vest at Feathered Friends next door. Now that we are on San Juan Island our departure date has finally sunk in and we’re looking forward to the paddle north that we’ve been talking about for the past two years! Having been completely absorbed in my final semester of school, Brooke has shouldered much more of the planning and preparation work of this expedition. We considered waiting until next summer…but decided in the end neither one of us felt like waiting another year.
This morning we drove out to Reuben Tarte Park and spent several hours enjoying being back in our boats again (it was Brooke’s first time in her new Explorer). We practiced a few rolls, which admittedly neither one of us was interested in trying first off given the water temperature. But after a considerable amount of making fun of eachother and laughing at how sacrilegious it would be for us to take out without rolling at least once we got over it with no trouble. The next few days will be dedicated to last-minute purchases, waiting for our escort crew to arrive (my mom and my aunt will be joining us from San Juan Island to Nanaimo), and desperate attempts to enjoy and appreciate things like beds, roofs, climate control, other people, and a variety of food.