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

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