Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bunsby's 2014 (Part 2 July 16th & 17th)

Welcome back! I'm glad you returned to read more about our trip to the Bunsby's so here we go ......

Wednesday - July 16th

We started the day without setting the alarm clock but we were up by around 6:30 am anyway. OK .. we slept in! LOL The evening before we decided that we would spend the day touring the Bunsby Island group and locate a water source to top up our drinking water and shower bag. It was another OMG moment as the sun rose over the mountains of Vancouver Island and bathed our little islet in its warmth.

I wake up and look out my side of the tent .... Oh darn! Another beautiful day! :-)

Nobody was moving fast this morning and there didn't seem to be any urgency of getting on the water. There was a bit of a wind warning for later in the afternoon (what's new) but we would be back at camp by the time it would show itself in our neighborhood. I think we were more interested in watching the tour group across from us head out on the water by 7:00 am. Some people are such keeners! LOL

The view from the low water line at the beach looking east towards Spring Island (our next destination)

Raring to go ... looks like it huh? Stay on the beach or go paddling? We went paddling

Some would consider this a late start but we managed to get on the water by 8:30 am and headed along the west side of the Bunsby Island group towards a little passage known locally as Little Hollywood. Apparently there was a Hollywood movie filmed on location a while back and the nickname of "Little Hollywood" has stuck since then.  Out first point of interest was a sea stack known as Green Head. It was pretty obvious why it was named as such because of it's thick foliage covering the top. It's kind of like a natural Chia Pet :-)

Green Head located just off Checkaklis Island (IR)

Morley with Green Head in the background
We continued on our way around Mahope Point and headed north towards Vancouver Island that can be seen in the picture above. This is were I found using my charts very helpful as the elevation is marked on all of the land masses including the islands and islets. Even now I can look at the picture above and tell you that the peak on the ridge above Green Head is on the west side of Ououkinsh Inlet and the highest point is 2660 feet. So not only do you need to be able to read what is under the water in terms of reefs or potential hazards but identifying what is above the water is just as important.

As we crossed Gay Passage we heard a boat getting closer and as expected it was Leo of Voyager Water Taxi taking another group of kayakers west. In a way it was nice to know that Leo was in the area just in case the weather turned bad and we would need his services to get back to Fair Harbour. Thankfully on this trip that wouldn't be the case.

Leo of Voyager Water Taxi taking kayakers out on their adventure.

Entering "Little Hollywood" the view of the islets in the passage with the mountains of Vancouver Island in the background was spectacular. As much as the pictures only give you a little bit of what we were experiencing, you really needed to be there in person to see, hear and smell what nature was giving us at that particular moment. Looking back now, the thing that I appreciated the most was how quiet it was. The sounds of insects and birds became magnified because there wasn't any unnatural background noise. Even the slight breeze could be heard as it flowed through the islets towards us. Think about it for a moment ...when was the last time your senses were cleansed like this?

Entering "Little Hollywood" we go searching for stars of a different type.

Gary had told us that there were hundreds of Bat Stars in the shallow end of Little Hollywood and sure enough they were there in every color imaginable.

There were other sea stars in the area as well including one of my favorites known as the Leather Star.

After our visit to Little Hollywood it was time to start thinking about finding a water source and head back to camp as we were always conscious of the afternoon wind warnings. Crossing Malksope Inlet we headed towards a beach that looked to be at the base of a ravine running from the top of a nearby mountain ridge. Checking our map it indicated a creek or river with a gravel beach at that location so maybe we would be lucky at this site.

Looking north up Malksope Inlet as we cross in search of fresh water.

Arriving at the beach we found a babbling brook flowing into the ocean but it would be a little trek across the barnacle covered rocks to the tree line to find where the water was coming from. Sure enough we found a good flow of water coming from a higher elevation that made filling our (2) 10 liter Dromedary's and the 20 liter shower bag full of water. It's a good thing that our (my) Delta can haul so much since it became a water tanker for the paddle back to camp :-)

Trekking across the barnacles in search of the source of the fresh water.

After our chores were completed it was time to head back across Malksope Inlet and follow the east shoreline of the Bunsby Island group to camp. The nice thing about our day paddles on the trip was that the low tides were generally around mid day which meant that we got to see a lot of the inter-tidal life of the area.

Back to the Bunsby Islands after filling up with water.

The bad thing about low tide was the huge kelp beds that we had to navigate through from time to time. They seemed to go on as far as the eye could see and when our kayaks were fully loaded it made the paddling a bit of a slog.

Kelp .... and more kelp as we come around Upsowis Point.

On the way back to camp we explored Gay Passage a bit and some of the small islets on the east side of the central Bunsby Island. Every once and a while we would come across white shell beaches with lagoons full of turquoise water that was very tropical.

Leaving the protected waters of the islets we started paddling back to camp facing a rapidly rising NW wind that was right on schedule. It was a long day (10.38 nm) on the water when we finally reached camp just around 2:00 pm. I went to work rigging the shower which allowed all of us to have a quick refreshing rinse before we settled in for happy hour.

Arriving back at our little islet Robyn, Jane and Lynn are loving the west coast life!

Another amazing sunset looking east towards Spring Island. Photo courtesy of Morley Eldridge

Tomorrow would be moving day so while we relaxed around camp we put our paddle plan together for our second big crossing of the trip. That meant that the alarm clocks would be set for 5:00 am ..... again :-)

Thursday - July 17th

It sure does get light early on west coast in the middle of July and as usual we were awake before the 5:00 am alarm went off. After a quick breakfast we checked the VHF radio for the marine report which called for SW winds gradually increasing later in the morning to 10-15 kts. Our paddle plan for the day was to be on the water by 7:30 am and head towards Spring Island 8.5 nm east of our location with a stop at Thomas Island.

Another great start to the day

Thankfully the fog didn't materialize this morning as we launched on time and confirmed our course to Thomas Island. This would be our first off shore open water crossing of the trip and even though we had three GPS's operating the thought of paddling in the fog 1.5 nm from land was something that we all didn't want to do. We were surprised how fast that we reached Thomas Island considering that there was an ebb flow happening which we thought would work against us.

Robyn passes the smaller of the two connected islands that make up Thomas Island

Thomas Island is actually comprised of two islands joined by a tombolo which could be used as a refuge area in case of bad weather. Whether or not you could actually land and find a camp area is another matter as most of the shoreline is very rocky.  

After a brief stop on the sheltered side of the islands we plotted our next course to Spring Island 4.5 nm in the distance. Just as we were getting underway the wind started to increase from the NW and not as predicted from the SW. At about the same time we noticed that the off shore swells starting to increase and white caps were starting to show themselves further off shore. One thing for sure was that it wasn't going to be a flat water paddle the rest of the way. On the positive side though, the wind and waves were coming from the same direction although they were quartering us from behind pushing us along nicely.

Although the Barrier Islands provided some protection from the swells we still needed to make our way between Cole Rock and McLean Island to reach Spring Island. Paddling closer to the shore was out of the question as the 2 meter waves were crashing on the rocky islets all around us so we just pressed on straight through the gap towards Trapp Bluff on Spring Island.  Looking back on this particular crossing I wish that I had my GoPro mounted on the kayak and not in the kayak. Note to self for next time ;-)

Aktis Island (IR) on the left, Spring Island on the right

I did manage to get the picture above just as we were entering the passage between Aktis and Spring Islands. Compared to what we had just paddled through I would consider the sea state in the above picture to be flat calm. :-) Looking at my watch it was pretty clear that not only did we have the wind and waves at our back but we also had the ebb current pushing us along too. We had just completed the 7.5 nm crossing, in fully loaded kayaks in just under 2.5 hours which was amazing considering the conditions we had to paddle in.

Actually why got my camera out was that I saw something in the distance bobbing up and down on the rolling swells. Any guesses??

If you guessed a sea otter raft you are absolutely right! How many? Maybe 50 or 60 in total! 

Now that we were in the safe confined waters of the Mission Group it was time to find our next base camp. Our goal was to see if we could make camp on the south end of Spring Island even though it might be more exposed to the wind. As we made our way through the islets we spotted a few kayak camps on the inside of Spring Island including the West Coast Expeditions base camp.

Almost at our destination with one last shallow passage to go through and then turn right to see ..........

Our Spring Island base camp

This would be our base camp for the next couple of days. The picture above is actually composed of three that I took from the top of a rocky outcrop across the bay after we set up camp. Our tents are situated on a protected bench of sand and shells high above the water line. If you look very closely you can see them nestled in between the two groups of trees that sheltered us from the off shore winds.

A nice high campsite with a kitchen area inside the trees just beyond our kayaks

And our view from the camp at low tide. The village of Kyuquot is left of the mountain 3 nm north of here.

The camp at high tide. Photo courtesy of Gary Jacek

Velella velella. Photo courtesy of Morley Eldridge
After lunch we decided to go on a hike to look for a Geocache that was on the trail that runs through the middle of the island to the West Coast Expeditions base camp. As we started walking along the shoreline behind our camp to the start of the trail we came across thousands of strange but beautiful blue creatures at the high water tide line.

It turns out that these little creatures are known as Velella velella that have been washing up on the exposed beaches all over the west coast. They are also commonly known by the names sea raft, by-the-wind sailor, purple sail, little sail because they have a sail like membrane that catches the wind while they ride on the surface of the ocean.

Jane at the basketball court. Photo courtesy of Gary Jacek
Our quest was a cache known as Brooks or Bust (GC1YV68) that was placed on the island in 2009 and which has only been found once (2011) since then. After doing the projection from the basketball court which was the site of the equipment building for the LORAN A Station "V", we went in search for the cache.

As it turns out a couple other Geocachers located the cache earlier in the month but still it was cool to find it and by kayak too!

BINGO! Once again Brooks or Bust is found

We continued on our hike through the middle of the island finding old relics that were left behind by the inhabitants of the LORAN station. The forest over time is gradually reclaiming any trace of human activity and we were surprised to see this Foxglove plant all alone in the forest reaching high up towards the sun through the canopy of evergreen trees.

It wasn't long before we reached the base camp of  West Coast Expeditions and were greeted by Jane who is one of the staff there. I think we were all very impressed by the attention to detail that the camp has to offer to their clients. If I didn't kayak I would go here to experience what we were doing.

Morley checks out the main cook shack and supply house 

And the accommodations were so enticing. Like a hotel room in the forest! 

As were we checking out some of the kayaks that the company uses I recognized one P&H Cetus in particular that belongs to Michael Pardy. As soon as I said his name a young fellow climbed out of his tent nearby and it turned out to be Rowan Jones-Pardy who is Michael's son. We had a little chat with him and it turns out that he was leading the tour of kayaks that we saw while we at the Bunsby Islands.

Before leaving the camp Jane recommended that we take the Big Tree Trail back to our side of the island and we sure are glad that we did. Although the trail was a maze through the forest, the giants that we found there were stunning. We have seen some really big old growth trees before but some of these have to be the largest that we have ever seen. The amazing thing is that they are on this tiny little island and they can't be seen from the water and have been here for hundreds of years!

Robyn checks out the base of one of the trees.

Words can't describe the sight of these giants on Spring Island

The Big Tree Tail exited onto the west side of Spring Island about a 1/4 nm from our camp so we just followed the high water line beach-combing in search for the elusive glass floats that can be found on the exposed beaches. We never did see any but found a few more plastic ones like we saw at Paradise Beach.

Lookout Island about 1 nm off shore

Just as we came out of the forest we came across this very fresh wolf track in the sand. This confirmed our suspicion that there was a wolf in the area because we found wolf scat on the Big Tree Trail. We never did see or hear the wolf but I have no doubt that it knew we were in the area.

Arriving back at camp we noticed that there was a change in the weather coming. The hot temperatures that we had been blessed with over the past couple of days quickly changed to a cool and overcast evening.

Sitting around camp after dinner it was time to get out the warm jackets and pants for the first time as I went to work preparing desert. Now what is Robyn chuckling at?

Yes! I did my homework before coming out on the trip. I figured out how to bake a chocolate chip cake in a non stick fry pan complete with cream cheese frosting. I think it was a hit and Morley enjoyed finishing off the leftover cream cheese frosting too!

Tomorrow would be our day paddle to the village of Kyuquot but the weather forecast was for possible showers developing later in the day. We would worry about that later but for now it was time to relax around the fire and roast marshmallows. LOL

Jane and Gary roasting the biggest marshmallows that I have ever seen.  Boy everything is big on the west coast!

Thanks for taking the time to read Part 2 of our Bunsby 2014 trip blog. There's more to come in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. Those ARE big marshmallows!! And Robyn might be chuckling at you because you were making a desert, and not a dessert. :-P