Friday, July 31, 2015

God's Pocket - 7 Days plus 1 (Part 2)

Day 2 - July 12, 2015

Uuuugh! The 5:00am headache woke me up with a bit of a jolt..... just great! I should have known better to read on my iPad late into the night when I was tired after a long day on the water / establishing camp. Thrashing around in my sleeping bag for the next hour I finally convinced myself to get up and try coax the throbbing above my eyes to subside. By the sound of the water dripping on the tent it sounded like it was going to be a wet start to the day as well ..... just great!

Robyn and I pulled on our rain gear and neoprene boots (must have) and headed to the kitchen to fire up the Jetboil to make coffee. The plan for the day was to head out on a circumnavigation of Balaclava Island later this morning but after trying to force down coffee and granola for breakfast followed by a couple of Tylenol chasers it was time for me to head back into the tent for a couple of hours of sleep.

Wake up #2 was much better although I still had the residual pounding that just didn't want to go away. Maybe just getting onto the water would help so our group geared up and headed out north into Browning Passage. The forecast was for rain developing later in the day but that wasn't going to bother us one bit as the temperature was still fairly warm.

Gearing up ready to explore Balaclava Island

Heading north into Browning Passage as the flood was just beginning. 

Passing Lucan Island I heard the blow and then spotted the dorsal fin of a humpback whale no more than 100 feet from me. I managed to get my camera out in time to capture it's last few breathes before it vanished beneath the surface. About five minutes later it surfaced again several hundred feet north of us and I realized that it was feeding in the eddy line next to the current running south. This humpback made its way to the islets across from the old log boom area and then headed back towards Lucan Island staying in the eddy line all the time.

So close ..... close enough for me. My first encounter with a humpback whale. 

Darkness envelops me as I explore the cave
After our encounter with the humpback we followed the shoreline exploring some of the sea caves that could be seen at low tide. A few of them were big enough for a kayak to back into, briefly disappearing from those who waited outside.

Robyn still has plenty of water behind her in the darkness

Many of the sea caves were only several feet deep but the contrast between the rock, under water life and the flora was stunning. The thing that was really evident was how natural these features are being virtually untouched by mankind.

Absolutely beautiful colors

We arrived at the old log boom site which is now being used as a campground by kayakers visiting the area. The gently sloped beach consisted of small smooth pebbles and we needed to make sure that our kayaks were firmly secured before exploring the area. With the rising tide the kayaks easily slid back into the water with the assistance of the currents if we weren't paying close attention to them.

Arriving at the old log boom site.

Actually a very nice beach to land on. We must visit this site again on a future trip.

The nice thing about this site is that it can accommodate a large group of kayakers with places to set up your tent in the meadow, under the boughs of the giant cedars or if you prefer above the high water line. There was also an established small kitchen area and firepit with a supply of firewood that had been left by previous visitors.

Makeshift kitchen and firepit area

Surveying the meadow
The huge meadow is slowly being reclaimed by nature and is now home to many wild flowers including hundreds of foxgloves (digitalis purpurea) . Stan mentioned that when you see the fox glove in full bloom it usually indicates that summer is coming to an end. Ha!!

I also spotted evidence of deer in the area which surprised me since the island is known to be home to a number of wolves.

Purple foxglove
The contrast of the foxglove's purple color against the green spectrum of the surrounding forest was very vivid. The foxgloves are biennial plant and folklore has it to be a favourite lurking-place of fairies. We didn't see any fairies in this magical place although I'm sure there were creatures in the forest whom might have been watching us. :-)

After our rest stop we continued on towards Raglan Point at the north end of Balaclava Island. From our vantage point we could see across Gordon Channel and the islands of the Walker Group 3.5 nm in the distance. Rounding the point we paddled through huge kelp beds and we all kept our eyes open for our first sea otter sighting. Unfortunately the only aquatic creator we saw were a few curious seals.

Exposed to the storms that shape the seascape, the north end of the island is very rugged with limited landing opportunities. However, as I paddled along I kept my eye open for open camping areas (which I didn't see) but saw many places that in a pinch one could haul out and establish a hammock camp above the high water line. Robyn and I should try that one day!

The contrasting yellow of Robyn and Jane's Delta Kayaks against the darkening skies and forest.

Exploring the rugged north coast of Balaclava Island

After exploring the nooks and crannies we arrived at the Scarlett Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was first established in 1908 and the history of this station is a good read at Lighthouse Friends. Robyn and I have had the pleasure to visit a number of lighthouses this year and were excited at the opportunity of setting foot on this one. Unfortunately there really isn't any easy landing areas around the lighthouse other than the sky bucket system that they use to access coast guard vessels when they arrive.

Scarlett Point Lighthouse

Our group was about ready for lunch so we headed south into Christie Passage and found a small bay with an abandoned shack sitting deep in the woods. Respectfully we stayed close to the high water line and settled down to enjoy a few snacks and then it started to rain .... really rain! At this point I really should have taken some pictures of the area but I was too traumatised by finding a raw egg (the hard way) in our hard boiled eggs container. LOL

Letting the flood currents carry us back towards our camp we saw a very large gathering of eagles closer to Nolan Point. Every tree that you looked at seemed to have a mature or immature eagle sitting in it. It was quite something to see and over the next few days we would get to see this large group of eagles in a few locations around the island.

Just a couple of the many eagles we found on the trip.
Arriving back at camp I was feeling pretty ugh again so I headed straight to the tent for an afternoon nap ... I mean sleep. :-) While I was ZZZzzzz, Robyn spotted another humpback close to camp and she saw its flukes rise high out of the water before it dove into the depths. Sweet!!!

Stan and Paula were the chefs for the night and they served up a great appetizer of cream cheese stuffed pear fruit leather. The main course was a couscous curry which we enjoyed huddled under the tarps while we captured the rain runoff for use later washing the dishes.

The rain finally subsided enough that we were able to spend the evening on the beach reading or just simply enjoying the beautiful scenery that came into view every once and a while. I soothed my head and thoughts by doing what else ..... creating art. :-)  

Paula enjoys her book as the rain clouds slowly start to drift away.

Our first full day complete, it's time to unwind on our beach after dinner.

This one served another purpose other than showing how magical the area is. 

No glue, just letting go when it feels right.

The tide has risen and my mosaic still stands even with the ever increasing water. Don't ask how it does it ... enjoy!

2015 Paddle #25 - Balaclava Island Circumnavigation
Distance: 8.00 nm (14.81 km)
YTD: 207.37 nm (‪384.04 km)

1 comment:

  1. can you shoot a video? or a time-lapse of how you do the balancing rock thing? because I really can't fathom how you do it! PO