Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hesquiat 2016 (Part 2)

July 14th - Tofino

Our group arrived in the Tofino area throughout the day and after checking into various motels we met up at Jack’s Pub for dinner. Overlooking Duffin Passage we were able to watch the activities of the busy little harbor as charter fishing boats brought their catches of the day in to be weighed and kayaks were returning from day trips in the area. The weather forecast was looking pretty good to start our trip and it wasn’t hard to get excited looking at the beautiful scenery.

Heading Out - Friday July 15th (Day #1)

We were up early to be on the water for 0800 after staying at the Meares Vista Inn. We have stayed here a few times before and the hospitality is amazing. Mandy and her husband own the Inn and she kindly allowed us to park our vehicles in their lot while we were gone saving us the new implemented parking fees ($25 for 7 days, $5 for 24 hours) in Tofino municipal lot. She even shuttled our drivers from the Inn back to our put in at the foot of the government dock!

Once again ... how does all this stuff fit inside our kayaks?

Right on schedule we launched with overcast skies from the overnight marine layer with no wind and we headed towards the exposed outside of Vargas Island to meet up with Reale and Jeff who had stayed overnight on Medallion beach. Our original plan was to maybe head directly to Cow Bay on Flores Island but as we paddled past Ahous Bay the offshore swells became much larger and the thought of making a beach landing there for lunch was impossible. It was however nice to see three sea otters plus a number Surf Scoters in the area as we searched for a place to land.

There are actually 5 paddlers in this photo but with the swells some just disappear. :-)

Nearing noon we decided to head to Dick and Jane's Beach for a lunch stop and it was then decided that we would stay the night there since we were starting to notice a slowly rising brisk NW wind. The beach was fairly protected from the swells so landing wasn’t a big issue but unfortunately the tide was a fair way out and we had to haul our gear and kayaks in multiple stages up to the area that we would setup camp. Note to self … take a set of kayak wheels next time :-)

Heading towards Dick & Jane's Beach

The tide was waaaay out when we landed. Time to haul gear!

Other than a few people located at the north end of the beach we pretty well had the whole little bay to ourselves so space wasn’t an issue. Robyn and I went to work setting up our brand new, never used Marmot Tungsten 3P tent. Normally we don’t like to use new gear on a trip like this without testing it on a weekend excursion first but we had researched and read many positive reviews about the tent. One thing for sure, it was easier to set up than our old tent and has a bit more usable space due to it’s side wall configuration.

Our trusty rides and our new home away from home Marmot Tungsten 3P tent

As we all went about setting up our little areas Tony found a bear / wolf food cache close by and Robyn discovered a nice green throne in the woods just behind our camp. There also was signage to keep an eye open for the wolves that have become famous on Vargas Island.

After camp was established Tony headed out to do a little fishing (none on this attempt) while the rest of us just chilled around camp. Beverely had told us that there was lots of fish where we would be paddling so we were excited about the possibility of supplementing our dehydrated meals with fish.

The steady wind allowed me to do a little kite flying. Robyn and I were really happy I brought it along. As the afternoon passed we watched an Osprey come and go from somewhere in trees behind the beach. Searching the surf, it would dive into the water to catch its prey before launching back into the air, shudder to shake off the water and head back over the trees.

Robyn and I explored the north end of the beach and found another established kitchen area with a bear food cache and a green throne tucked into the woods. It was nice to see that such a popular camping location had these amenities. Thanks BC Parks!!

As the sun was starting to set Robyn, Beverely and I prepared a fire as the others went for a walk to find a trail to the bay to the south of us. Upon returning they told us of meeting young man who lives in one of the nearby cabins and he warned them of a lone wolf that had been causing damage to kayak hatches during the night. Recently there have been videos posted on You Tube of the wolf causing the damage and it so happens that it was at our location. He recommended putting all of our food into the bear cache which we did and leaving our hatches empty and open or even turning the kayaks over on the sand which we also opted to do. It was just before 11:00pm after a great first day that we headed into our tents and as I was writing my blog entry for the day I wondered if we might get a visit by the lone wolf tonight??

Our first Clayoquot Sound sunset ... pretty nice!

2016 Paddle #27 - Tofino to Dick & Jane's Beach
Distance: 8.65 nm (16.01 km)
Trip: 8.65 nm (16.01 km)
YTD: 247.56 nm (458.48 km)

Exploring Blunden Island - Saturday July 16th (Day #2)

And …. the wolf never came. I actually woke up in the middle of the night with the moonlight and wondered what it would be like to see a wolf’s shadow cast upon our tent. Quickly I had second thoughts about that and closed my eyes. LOL

So other than the wolf in the back of our minds, the first night in the new tent was great as we finally woke up at around 07:30 to a misty marine layer of overcast skies. With the tide out I decided to find a spot of hard sand and do some yoga and stretch out some tender spots in my back. Breakfast was a lazy affair as the group decided what they wanted to do for the day. The evening before we decided that we would spend another night at this location before heading towards Cow Bay so today we would explore around the area a bit.

The plan was to paddle to nearby Blunden Island and check out some of the surge channels and possible camp site locations. The swells were considerably less than the day before and along the way Reale, Jeff, Beverely and Tony spent some time fishing. Jeff managed to catch a Black Sea Bass on his hand line and so it looked like maybe the fishing would be promising on this trip after all.

Just big rolling swells to contend with on the way to Blunden Island.

A great lunch stop / camping location on the north end of Blunden Island

And another location on the little island (44 on chart) east of Blunden Island

After arriving back at camp Robyn and I found the trail to the bay south of us where I harvested some nice fresh mussels which were so good as an appetizer before dinner. Throughout the afternoon we watched a number of kayak groups pass by the beach with a group of 7 finally stopping to set up camp north of us.

Hey! I know that guy! Yves Aquin of Go Kayak way out here. LOL

After dinner Robyn, Katelyn and I went for a walk to see what they were up to and it wasn’t long before I recognized a certain black beanie cap and body language. It turned out to be Yves and Patti of Go Kayak who were just returning from the Hot Springs Cove area with a small group of family and friends. Small world huh?? LOL They told us the camping area at Hot Springs Cove included an outhouse and cooking shelter and that they had had the whole place to themselves. Definitely something we would need to check out when we go there.

Another nice sunset but with a marine layer starting to form

Reale gathered the group for the evening talk about the plans for the next day.
She would be the group leader on our way to Cow Bay

We were treated to a wonderful sunset and we made plans to be on the water by 08:00 which meant it would be an early rising to dismantle camp and haul our gear down to the water at low tide. Once again we took precautions in case the wolf decided to pay us a visit during the night.

2016 Paddle #27 - Blunden Island
Distance:4.52 nm (8.37 km)
Trip: 13.17 nm (24.39 km)
YTD: 252.08 nm (466.85 km)

A special thanks to Heather Jones and Tony Playfair for letting me use some of their pictures in the writing of this blog.

For more pictures of the Hesquiat trip you can check them out HERE 

Or more taken by Heather and Tony HERE

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hesquiat 2016 (Part 1)


Welcome to the blog post(s) of our recent 2016 Hesquiat trip. As a blogger I have been trying to juggle the time to write posts of our multi-day trips upon returning and think I may have come up with a workable solution. Believe me, blogging takes a considerable amount of precious time and on a few occasions after returning home from trips or paddles I have seriously thought about stopping writing altogether. But then I look at the blog page view counts which is now at over 84,000 visits and I find myself torn about shutting the blog down. 

In the past I would write notes and then hopefully sometime in the future start sorting through the thousands of photos that Robyn and I take and try to piece together the story line from memory. It was simply becoming ….. Arrrrggggh!

However, for this trip I decided to actually write the daily posts (without editing) in MS Word on my iPad each night while the events of the day were fresh in my mind. Robyn helped out tremendously by putting together a Goggle album of a few hundred of the several thousand pictures that we took when we arrived home and posted them via Facebook to give our followers a little visual of our trip. And so, as I open my Word document from the trip I am so pleased to see that the most of the work has already been done. All I need to do is a little bit of editing, update some items and add a few photos. 

So with all that said … Welcome to Hesquiat 2016!!


Earlier this year Robyn and I were invited by Beverely Hipolito to join a trip that she was planning from Tofino to Hesquiat Peninsula during the summer. So we gladly accepted and the planning process began with a paddle / planning session that was held in April at the Genoa Bay Cafe. 

Beverely describing the route that she would like the group to take on the trip.

On this trip there would be a total of eight paddlers including Heather Jones, Tony Playfair, Reale Emond, Jeff Follis. Our eighth paddler Katelyn Porter would join the group at a later date.

The plan was pretty simple. We would be departing Tofino on  Friday July 15th and be returning on Sunday August 1st. For 16 days we would head north on the exposed outside of Vargas and Flores Islands and make our way towards Hesquiat Peninsula and maybe make it around Estevan Point if the condition’s were right. Visiting Cougar Annie’s Garden was definitely on the bucket list and up to the planning session I had only heard the name before and knew nothing about her. 

Hesquiat 2016 paddlers from L to R: Reale, Beverely, Heather, Tony, Robyn, Jeff and Mark (me).
Katelyn would be joining the group closer to the departure date.

Along the way we would by spending multiple nights at locations to explore on foot, fish, do day paddles or basically just spend the time relaxing. Of course it would all be weather dependent and on the West Coast of Vancouver Island that means you can pretty well get a little or a lot or everything thrown at you. 

Now .... time to start dehydrating food and research Cougar Annie's Garden

A short paddle from the kayak dock in Cowichan Bay to Genoa Bay for the planning session in April

Friday, September 2, 2016

Glamping At Pedder Bay

After a busy summer of tripping and volunteering with a couple of organizations that mean a lot to us we decided to unwind a bit by spending a weekend in the RV at Pedder Bay. With the recent heat wave, it was kinda nice to crank up the air conditioning when we arrived on Thursday afternoon and spoil ourselves with good food, drink and catch the latest episode of Big Brother on the TV. Ahhhh … Glamping!

Friday morning, we decided to head out in our play boats and spend some time in the water doing rescues and to see how our rolling was after using out touring boats for the past couple of months. We went through a number of self, assisted and finally a few rolls before heading out to circumnavigate Bentinck Island. It’s not often that we get conditions so perfect like on this day and seeing Race Rocks so close was tempting even with the ebb starting to build. No problem … we’ll head there tomorrow.

Race Rocks less than 1 nm away. No wind, hot, and the sound of sea lions barking. :-)

No we won’t! Later that afternoon the first indication of a change in our summer weather pattern arrived with increasing westerly winds arriving from the Sooke Basin and through the RV park during the night. The next morning it was pretty obvious that we wouldn’t be making a run out to Race Rocks as it was blowing 35+ kts out there.

Race Rocks from the RPBO site. Quite a difference from the day before.
Photo courtesy of Rocky Point Bird Observatory on Facebook. 

Instead we grabbed our camera gear and went for a hike (birding) around Pearson College UWC via the Galloping Goose Trail and finally back to Pedder Bay via the road leading to the RV park. As we were walking along the road we noticed a number of small traffic cones at trailheads and decided to follow one in hopes of maybe spotting a few birds. To our surprise we came across a very fine netting strung up between two poles and immediately we knew what it was. It had been placed there by the Rocky Point Bird Observatory (RPBO) and sure enough further along the trail we came across a number of their volunteers collecting migrating data and banding birds that happened to find their way into the nets.

Yellow Warbler about to be released

Intrigued by what was going on we were welcomed to stay and watch the process and it wasn’t long before a couple of stunning yellow birds were brought to the station to be processed. It was really interesting to watch how the handlers took care of the birds while carefully weighing, determining the age, sex and applying a band before releasing them. The following morning, we stopped by for another visit and we had the opportunity accompany the Bander in Charge to check the nets and I positively identified one as a Fox Sparrow. Pat myself on the back!!

Long story short …. After arriving home, we checked out the RPBO website, joined their organization and will be volunteering some of our time in the near future. It actually works out well since they are located Pedder Bay and Rocky Point and we stay at the RV park several times a year so it’s a good way to experience birding on a different level.

Fore more about the Rocky Point Bird Observatory check these links out

2016 Paddle #36 - Pedder Bay
Distance: 6.36 nm (11.77 km)
YTD: 318.49 nm (589.84 km)