Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bunsby's 2014 (Part 3 July 18th - 21st)

Welcome back to the last installment of our Bunsby 2014 blog! There's lots to tell you about so let's get started.

Friday July 18th

So far on the trip we've been very lucky with the weather and have experienced only one morning of fog. Well, all good things must come to an end and today we woke up to a misty morning on Spring Island. The forecast for the day wasn't looking very good either with rain beginning around noon but at least it was still warm. 

A dramatic change in the weather from the day before. Looks like rain is coming.

Our day trip paddle plans were to head to Kyuquot and the change in weather didn't bother us one bit but first we had a little camp-keeping chores to do, like set up some tarps to keep our tents and gear dry. When we arrived at Spring Island we decided to pitch our tents in the open which meant this morning I had to figure out how to put up a tarp without trees to use for the ridgeline. After scavenging the beach for a while I found several long pieces of driftwood that would serve the purpose to build a free standing tarp and with the help of my spare Greenland paddle, presto it was completed and it even had a veranda to sit under.

This should keep us dry and there's plenty of space for the group to huddle together. 

Perfect timing as the rain started to fall just as we were getting ready to head to Kyuquot for the day. It was quite a stunning change in contrast from the last several days but at least it was warm enough not to put on the thermal gear.

Somewhere in the distance is the village of Kyuquot. Navigating would be done 'old school' today

Once again our charts would be our primary navigation tool with the GPS for a backup as we headed out into the misty fog. I found the chart navigating tips that Dave Nichols of Cowichan Bay Kayaks passed onto us very helpful. Before leaving on the trip I drew magnetic north lines on my charts at 1 nm intervals and by using these along with my cockpit plotter #1 it made the ability to determine course and distance really simple.

Arriving at Kyuquot - the First Nations village came into view through the fog.

It was great to see the settlements of Kyuquot (located in Walters Cove) with better visibility but it felt kind of odd to paddle back into civilization. I think that over the past several days our senses were gradually being readjusted to living with minimal interference from the other humans. It makes me wonder what it would be like to leave everything behind and live a minimalist lifestyle?

The First Nations village is located on the north side of Walters Cove while Kyuquot village is located across the cove on Walters Island and is a beehive of activity with several fishing charter operations.

Looking for a place to land near the Government Dock

The trail to Java The Hutt goes past every building on the waterfront.
Gary and Lynn had mentioned that there was a coffee shop called "Java The Hutt" close by so we paddled up to the Government Dock and went on a little shore excursion in the steady drizzle. A hot cup of coffee would really hit the spot before we had to head back to camp however it seemed that the original "Java The Hutt" had been relocated 1 km along a trail that seems to connect all the fishing lodges and residences on the island. I'm not sure but there may not even be a road on the island.

Sure enough, at the end of the trail we came across what is now known as the Kyuquot Inn / Java The Hutt and the Old Schoolhouse Restaurant. We were all pretty quick on the draw to order burgers and fries (LOL) while the rain started to really pour outside.

Now if we could only figure out how to dehydrate this for our trip!

While we were having lunch it was interesting to watch the fishing charter boats arrive at the dock with huge halibut and lots of giant Chinook salmon. Some pretty big smiles on the fishermen too!

Lynn, Jane and myself get the 'tourist' picture at the government dock.

After lunch we headed back to the Kyuquot General Store located at the top of the government dock which was now open for business. The thing that I really appreciated was how time and technology hasn't effected the small west coast communities. The general store is only open 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Tuesdays they are closed. Remember when the stores back home had odd hours like that?

The General Store is the center of action in many communities and this was true here in Kyuquot which is home to about 350 year round residents. Kayakers could easily use this location as a restocking point as they have a good assortment of fresh vegetables and other staples that would be required on extended trips. There is even a post office in the general store so resupply packages could be sent there in advance. Internet access? Yeah .... no. There were no Shaw WiFi hot spot signals to be found anywhere. How dare they keep their minimalist lifestyle secret! LOL

The Kyuquot Inn / Java The Hutt / Old Schoolhouse Restaurant and the fishing dock from the water.

Paddling out of the cove we passed the Kyuquot Inn and headed back to camp in the misty fog as the rain started to let up just a bit. Step by step we paddled across Nicolaye Channel to Kamils Island (IR) and spotted island #41 (elevation on the chart) in the fog just as the wind started to kick up a pretty good chop for the last .75 nm to camp. And then we heard it coming long before we saw it as a red Bell 412 Canadian Coast Guard helicopter buzzed over our heads at about 75' altitude slowing down when they spotted us. They must have been out searching for someone to be flying in these conditions because the visibility wasn't the greatest.

Back at camp Morley & Lynn and Gary & Jane did some final tarp set-up as it looked like the rain was with us for the rest of the evening. Our little veranda was the perfect place to hunker down and just watch life go by. :-)

As Gary says about this picture ..... "The four meerkats"

Saturday July 19th

Moving day! After a night of steady rain it was time to pack up our wet gear and head to Rugged Point. So once again the vacation alarm clock went off at 5:00 am so that we could be on the water by 7:30 am at the latest. The forecast wasn't looking the greatest as we would have a low ceiling, fog, wind and offshore rollers for our transit. We need to get moving!

Ever notice how many slugs make their appearance when it rains? I'm not talking about those little escargot size creatures but those monster banana slugs that come in all colors and could very, very slowly carry away little kids if you weren't looking! Well they were everywhere and it was hard not to step on the critters while dismantling camp. Where do they hide when the weather is sunny??

Off we go in search of Rugged Point

Passing the tombolo between Kamis and Sobry Islands before heading across Nicolaye Channel to Amos Island.

With the limited visibility that we had to paddle through to start the morning we decided to navigate between Aktis and Kamils Islands and head back across Nicolaye Channel to Amos Island and then hug the shoreline all the way to Rugged Point. As we would be in shallower water it meant the offshore swells would get bigger as they came ashore. Paddling down the backbone of Nicolaye Channel in open water in the fog wasn't a desirable route since we would have to make a run between Union Island and Kate Rocks.

The only picture that I took of us during a crossing. Still pictures really don't show the swells very well.

As predicted the wind kicked up to 10 kts and the seas gradually built up to between 2 and 3 meters. Passing a reef close to shore the boomers were crashing around us pretty good but we pressed on towards Kyuquot Bay where we ducked inside to take a break from the conditions.

We stayed away from the boomers crashing on the islets and reefs. Not a good place to be.

Kyuquot Bay, a safe haven in lumpy conditions.
Entering the little bay of Kyuquot we were protected from the conditions that were on the outside and found a little beach on a chain of islands that had the remains of what could have been a pull-out for First Nations many years ago. It was also a good location to take a closer look at our charts and plot the last 2 nm paddle to Rugged Point in the challenging conditions.

Back on the water we headed towards White Cliff Head and could just make out Rugged Point through the fog. We were also in more protected waters between Munsie Rocks and the head so the rest of the paddle was looking to be a bit more enjoyable for our group.

Aaahh ... Rugged Point Provincial Marine Park minutes away.
Crossing Kyuquot Channel we made our way into the little bay on the north side of Rugged Point where the established Provincial Marine Park campsites are located. The tide was out a fair bit when we landed at 11:30 am and it looked like we would have our pick of the campground tent sites.

To our surprise we found that someone had taken over the whole cook shelter and even set up their 4 person tent under the shelter.  By the looks of things it was a group of fishermen because there were huge coolers everywhere.

It really wasn't an issue as the rain had stopped just as we landed but if it hadn't we would have liked to use the shelter too. Just sayin .... I think there needs to be some signage indicating no camping IN the cook shelter.

We went to work establishing our camp and scoped out the tent pads that were located a bit into the trees. Surveying the rest of the park it looked like there hadn't been any maintenance on the trails or around the tent pads this year as everything is starting to get overgrown. I guess it is another example of cutbacks that have been affecting all the parks in Canada.

The Rugged Point kayak gear gear grab! No, just us trying to dry our stuff out.

Our home away from home. Comfy and dry!
The first thing we did was get our tents up so they could dry out and then all the rest of our gear was laid out to start drying in the increasing sunshine. Robyn and I commented that in the two years that we have been kayak camping this was the first time that we have been rained on. One thing for sure, when it rains everything starts to get wet and gradually even your dry gear will  get damp over time.

A view of our kitchen and dining room

Robyn on the long and winding trail to the outside
We established our kitchen area on the beach above the high water line and had a late lunch before we all did our own thing for the rest of the day. Robyn and I decided to head across the point on the trail to the outside beach. The trail is less than .25 nm but cuts through the forest with a series of overgrown boardwalks. Making a little bit of noise as we walked we made sure we would scare any critters like bears or wolves which we kind of expected would be around.

The trail ended at another small bay on the south side of the point and our very first impression was the geology reminded us of the Oregon coast in some respects. We even got to see a couple of humpback whales blowing close in the bay. We decided that tomorrow we would come back to this side of the park and walk the beach to Gross Point.

Me trying to feed the group fresh fish for dinner.
When we returned back to camp the 3 fisherman arrived in their Grady White boat from their morning trip. I was watching them anchor when I saw fish jumping just beyond their boat about 300 yards offshore so off I went to try and catch dinner. On the entire trip to this point the winds had blown really hard in the afternoons which hasn't allowed me to head onto the water and try to catch a salmon but today, in our little bay, it was dead calm.

OK, now for the fish story..... I paddled out on my own past the fishing boat and started jigging with a buzz bomb. I also noted that the fishermen were heading back out to their boat so I just went about my business when all of a sudden I got a really big strike! Sure enough, I had a big fish on my rod and it started to spin me around as it spooled off line. By this time the fishermen had trolled up close to me to watch what was going on and for the first time I got to see what I had on my line.  Now, I have caught some big salmon before and this one was nothing to laugh at as it was BIG! I managed to get the fish up to my kayak a few times before it really ran and then all of a sudden ..... it was gone! :-(

The fishermen behind me commented that it was a really big fish and by my estimate it was in the mid 20 pound range. I paddled back to camp a little dejected as I really wanted to provide salmon for dinner on the trip but I would have to settle on telling my fish story to the group. Later on the fishermen confirmed my story to our paddlers so at least it was nice to know that I almost did catch the big one.

A great group dynamic is being able to laugh around the campfire.... we were good at that!

After an exhausting day we had dinner and sat around the fire that Morley got going. It was a good time to dry out shoes and anything else that needed to get the dampness out. Tomorrow was shaping up to be a fine looking day with a better forecast and the possibility of maybe paddling around the point to the outside beaches.

Our first sunset at Rugged Point. At least the sun was trying to show us what was coming tomorrow.

In the meantime we sat back and watched the sun go down for the rest of the evening before heading into our tents. And then it happened .... as Robyn and I were just starting to doze off were heard a commotion in the Jacek tent next to us and then Jane yelling out "Oh my god, there's a slug in our tent!" I seems that one of the Spring Island banana slugs had stowed away in their gear and migrated to Rugged Point. We couldn't help but laugh in our slugless tent! LOL!!

Sunday July 20th

OMG ..... it started about 2:00 am. I had a booming headache and for the rest of the night I didn't sleep much at all. I stumbled out of the tent just after 6:00 am.  I didn't feel good at all and in fact I knew that I had felt this way once before back in April of 2013. Dehydration! Sure enough I realized that with all the activities that we did the day before I didn't take in enough water and now I was paying the price big time.

All I could do is try and re-hydrate myself as fast as possible but the damage was done because when I checked my pulse it wasn't right which meant that I was back in atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) again. Crap! The good news was that I was still on my medication from my last treatment and although I started to feel better as the day progressed there was no cause for alarm as we would be home in a couple of days.

After breakfast Gary & Jane headed off to walk the outside beach while Robyn, myself, Lynn and Morley went in search of a water source by kayak a sort distance away in McLean Cove.

McLean Cove emerging in the sunshine on our search for a water source.

Robyn filling a dromedary.
Although Lynn could hear what sounded like a water source it wasn't clearly visible so we decided to check Volcanic Cove just around the corner and sure enough there was a babbling brook emerging from the forest close to the high water line.

Morley and Robyn went to work filling our dromedary's and the shower bag before we headed back out to Kyuquot Channel. By this time I was feeling a little rough so Robyn and I decided to head back to camp while Morley and Lynn continued on their own to do a little exploring.

Morley and the snag full of eagles
When we arrived at Rugged Point we noticed a pretty good population of bald eagles in the area. Paddling deep into the cove we saw in the distance an old snag decorated with 4 mature eagles while just across the cove a number of juvenile eagles were perched in the fir trees watching us closely.

See .... eagles do grow on trees!

When we arrived just off shore of our camp I decided to try fishing again while Robyn started to explore the shoreline. All of a sudden we noticed a good sized black bear emerging from the forest making tracks for our campsite. We paddled to shore making as much noise as we could trying to get the bear's attention and just as I was about to get out of my kayak and chase it away it noticed us and took off back into the forest. So here we were standing on the beach looking for the bear and do you think either of us could have taken a picture of it? Heck no! LOL

Just to make things interesting .... ladders!
After lunch and with all that excitement of the morning we headed out to hike the outside beach to do a little beachcombing. We were still looking for one of those elusive glass floats and were determined to find one somewhere on the sandy beaches. But first we would have to get there via the make shift network of ladders and ropes to traverse the headlands.

Emerging from the trail network we found ourselves on the sandy beach that looked like it went on for miles and miles. As I mentioned before it reminded us very much of the Oregon coast except that there was nobody (tourists) here except ourselves.

An amazing view of the long beach starting at Rugged Point.

Surprisingly on this trip I noticed the lack of seagulls like we see at home but we came across this one that followed us along like a little dog hoping that we would have some sort of treat. Maybe he has figured out that people mean free hand outs? Sorry buddy ... nothing for you today.

One of our favorite pictures of the trip ... our beach selfie!

We came across a few unusual things on our hike and this one was a first for both of us. Dinosaur tracks!!
Maybe a few million years ago perhaps but today they were made by a bald eagle walking in the soft sand.

The geology of the area is quite fascinating and we came across this outcrop made up of distinct layers of sandstone embedded in what looks like volcanic deposits.  This was the turn around point for our hike but we noticed in the distance near all the trees at the next point some sort of development happening there. Could it be a lodge of some sort? Whatever it is, it sure is going to be big which is kind of sad to see in this natural environment.

Layer upon layer of sandstone mixed with what looks to be volcanic deposits.

Heading back to camp, the picture below is of Rugged Point Provincial Marine Park and you can see how a stormy day landing at this beach would be a challenge. Still a great location to visit either by kayak or on foot.

Not much surf today but still enough to make landing a challenge.

As with most of the exposed beaches on this trip there was lots of plastic debris above the high water line but not a single glass float to be found. However, I did find a plastic float and for the first time this one had oriental writing on it of some sort. Could this be from the tsunami debris that we know exists out in the Pacific?

Just as we were about to reenter the trail to head back to our campsite I thought "I should have picked up that float to take it home". Back I went on my quest to find it again amid all the other similar looking floats on the beach but in the end I did find a unique float even though it wasn't made of glass.

The long walk back with my treasure to take home as a memento.

Here is a close up of the float that I brought home as a keepsake. I think it's better off in my back garden rather than floating around the Pacific somewhere.  I have a few friends that might be able to tell me what it says so that I can figure out where it came from.

It probably says "I'm a 16 inch float"

Hard to believe the beach is that way!
Making our way back through the headlands the trail was sometimes difficult to follow even to the point of being totally overgrown. Notice the bear bells on Robyn's wrist? After our bear encounter earlier in the day we were making lots of noise and I had the bear spray just in case.

We arrived back at camp and the fishermen were back as well for an early dinner before heading out for the evening bite. I decided to head back out on the water and try my luck fishing again.  I had a couple of bites but no fish to bring back to camp. I really wanted to catch a fish to feed our group but I guess that will have to wait for another trip. Just as I was about to paddle back in I went to put together my Werner paddle and heard the unusual "Snap" of the ferrule breaking. I managed to paddle back to camp and went to work duct taping it together so that I could use it for the last couple of days. Now you know why it is so important to have a spare paddle even if it is for a short day trip.

The end to a magical day as we sat around the fire and watched the sun go down.

Tomorrow would be our last off day before heading back to Fair Harbour on Tuesday. Depending on the winds we might even paddle around the point to the outside beaches or just spend a lazy day doing what ever.

There goes the sun and what a sunset!

Monday July 21st

A bit of a lazy morning wake up and after listening to the marine forecast we needed to make a decision. A front was moving in and it was going to get windy with rain developing in the afternoon. Do we stay another night and ride it out or pack up and cut the trip short by one day. After polling the group we decided to bug out and were on the water by 10:30 am for the paddle back to Fair Harbour.

On the way out of our beach we came across a sea otter that we had seen the last couple of days just off shore. As we approached it this one actually came closer to us and for the first time we got to see an otter up close without it disappearing under the water. Yes they sure are cute!

Paddling up Kyuquot Channel the predicted winds started to rise but luckily for us they were at our back assisting us as we made our way to Whiteley Island in a pretty good chop. Here is where luck in the draw comes into play. Do we go around the right side of Whiteley Island or the left? We chose left because of the wind that was pushing us along quite nicely but if we had taken the right side we would have paddled straight into the path of a couple of humpback whales that were near Balcom Point. Although from a distance we did manage to get a couple of pictures of them as they surfaced.

A humpback surfaces and 'blows' not far from us. We were lucky to catch this glimpse on the camera.

Continuing on our way we paddled up Pinnace Channel towards Markale Peninsula where we found the water was a brilliant turquoise color much like you would see from glacier run off. We all figured that it must be some sort of algae bloom and our thoughts were confirmed by Lynn just a few days ago when we met up for our paddle debrief.

Entering Fair Harbour there was the anticipation of heading to the comforts of home but at the same time there was a great sadness that we were leaving such a magical place behind and that it will only reside in our memories until we return again.

Our journey completed landing back at Fair Harbour! All safe and sound and a good time had by all of us.

The Bunsby 2014 Expedition is complete! We made it back to our starting location in Fair Harbour and our minds were already busy as to where and when do we go next? Robyn and I were the rookies on this trip and I think that we performed well on and off the water and at the same time learned a lot of things too. One thing for sure, we are hooked on doing big multi day trips.

Gary, Jane, Lynn and Morley were great to be with and I think our group dynamics worked very well which is very important if your are going to be with each other for a long period of time. Now go away you guys! Just kidding!

L to R: The 2014 Bunsby Team -  Myself, Robyn, Jane, Gary. Lynn and Morley.

Oh yeah .... we did finally get to see a black bear up close as we were leaving Fair Harbour. We came across this fellow on the side of the road only about 10 yards away from us and he didn't care one bit that we stopped to take his picture. See ya next time Boo Boo!

The complete Bunsby 2014 track log. The grey track is the water taxi route to Brooks Peninsula

2014 Paddles # 24 - 32
Distance: 69.89 nm (129.43 km)
YTD: 192.97 nm (357.46 km)