Thursday, May 15, 2014

Have Kayak... Will Paddle On A Lake

I'll be honest ... I'm not a fan of paddling on lakes due to the slimy algae that starts to grow around this time of year. It also could be that we are spoiled with our selection of ocean venues around Victoria so why would I want to paddle on a lake? Sometimes it's just to do something different or paddle with another gear head like me which is exactly what I did on Thursday evening with Gary Jacek.

I received a message from Gary earlier in the day asking if I wanted to paddle on Elk Lake and at first I thought 'LAKE??' but once I talked to him I found out that he wanted to test out his Feathercraft with the rolling rib so it made sense to me. Besides ... no need to fully wash down the gear after so there is actually a good side of lake paddling. :-)

Looks like kayak, plays like kayak. Feathercraft .... Nice!

Although Robyn and I have seen Feathercraft doubles on our paddling adventures before I realized that this was the first time that I have ever seen a single in action. My immediate first thought was that it actually looks like a composite or plastic kayak and not like a rubber dinghy which for some reason I had stuck in my mind.

After Gary did some sculling braces to test out the installed rolling rib we headed out to paddle the shoreline of the lake(s) keeping an eye out for turtles and other wildlife that inhabit the area. Every once and a while I noticed something big moving beneath my kayak in the slimy green algae. I was amazed to see what I suspected were some of the bass type fish that inhabit the lake. I never knew that they existed in the lake system.

Who's watching who?

We came across a Great Blue Heron that was fishing and we waited patiently for it to show us how it was done but it seemed that it had no luck while we waited. Paddling back towards our put in location in the warm sunshine I kinda wished that I didn't have my dry suit on as I was starting to overheat a bit. Solution ... just roll your kayak which felt amazing!

Thanks Gary for the paddle and showing me that your Feathercraft is really a kayak!

2014 Paddle #14  Elk Lake
Distance: No idea ... I forgot the GPS at home
YTD: 70.43 nm (131.36 km)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Solo Discovery

Was this a calling or just something that had to be done? I really don't know what the reason was but I continued to diligently prepare for my first solo paddle during the week by double checking my current calculations and paying close attention to the marine forecasts. Even on Friday night I wasn't 100% sure that the conditions would be right for the paddle to happen at all but the revised forecast on Saturday morning opened a window of opportunity.

Ready to launch 08:45 on a solo overnight to Discovery Island

I as paddled out of Cadboro Bay to 10 Mile Point I expected to feel something more than the loneliness that had come over me. There was no magical peaceful euphoria or a sense of being at ease that I had heard about from other paddlers experiences. For me it was quite the opposite and something was missing. My paddling buddy Robyn wasn't there with me and as I paddled alone for the first time I felt lost.

Entering Baynes Channel for the crossing to the islands I knew my paddling skills were more than a match for the conditions but being alone in the channel as the current was just starting to flood brought a feeling of unease to me. I knew that I had to press on to accomplish my solo goal this weekend but still the familiar paddling area seemed so alien to me. It wasn't until the sea became choppy half way across did I manage to come out of my funk and get down to the business at hand. 

Paddling between the Chatham's with a view of the Olympic Mountains in the distance across Juan de Fuca Straight 

Paddling through the Chatham Islands toward Discovery I was hoping that I just might have the camping area to myself to absorb the isolation that I might find there. That thought was soon erased from my mind when I passed a kayak and SUP who were on their way to the lighthouse at Sea Bird Point. Arriving at Sea Bird Point the westerly winds had increased a fair bit making the last part of my paddle into Rudlin Bay a bit of a slog with a fully loaded kayak. 

Discovery Island Marine Park ... a popular kayak camping destination

Arriving at the marine park I was surprised to see a  family of three and another paddler already camping at the park. With the mixed weather the past several days I expected to have the whole campground to myself and talking with them they mentioned that they heard the wolf night before towards the lighthouse. Seeing or even hearing the wolf would be a highlight of this paddle and I was really looking forward to some indication of its presence on the islands.

My room with a view for the night. Pretty nice for the paltry sum of $5.00

Go figure... I usually set up a tarp just in case it rains but today I decided not to since it was sunny when I arrived at camp. Just after I set up and had lunch the rain showers started so I climbed into the tent to ride them out while reading a bit on my iPad. Even being so close to Victoria (3 nm) the internet coverage is really spotty at the park and when connected it is on AT&T in the US which means roaming charges. I did manage to sneak out a few messages just to let everyone know that I had arrived safely.

By mid afternoon the sun finally pushed away the rain clouds and I spent the rest of the afternoon hiking along the shoreline looking for signs of the wolf. I did manage to find some wolf scat not far from camp but the wolf was nowhere in sight.

The view of the park from the shoreline near the lighthouse

The trail starts through that there .... could the wolf be there to??
The trails leading into the forest interior were a little spooky and I kept my eyes keenly open for the wolf. Although it would have been cool to come across it I don't know what I would have done if we came eye to eye.

Interior trail .. Ware (get it?) are you Mr. Wolf?? :-)

A family of river otters didn't seem to mind that I was nearby.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading on my rocky knoll next to camp and was entertained by a family of river otters who were busily feeding themselves around the rocky islets. A couple more paddlers arrived later in the day including Paulo Ouellet a local Greenland Paddle Instructor with Go Kayak. As the sun started to set the cool westerly winds meant that it was time to head into the tent and do a little more reading. I think the last time I noticed it was 9:00pm and that was the last thing I remembered until 5:15am this morning. As for hearing the wolf ..... ear plugs! LOL

5:30am ..... The Olympic Mountains

Sunrise in camp

One of the things I was looking forward to was my Sunday morning breakfast of bacon and eggs and boy did they smell and taste amazing at 6:00am this morning. No better way to start the day!

Close your eyes and imagine the aroma of coffee, bacon and eggs with just a hint of sea air.

The 4:00am Environment Canada report on the VHF radio was right on the money for the paddle home. Calm seas and beautiful sunshine.

Clear paddling home

As for the peaceful euphoria or a sense of being at ease ..... yeah I got that feeling heading home but I still missed Robyn paddling by my side.

2014 Paddle #13  Discovery Island Solo
Distance: 8.11 nm (15.01 km)
YTD: 70.43 nm (131.36 km)