Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Saturday, 10 January 2015
Darcy Wardrop-taking a break- note the large raindrops. Didn't even notice that at the time.
The question arises, "Why are we going away from a perfectly good pub?" There is no adequate explanation. We are venturing into silliness. In search of the kind of experience we can immerse our whole beings into- like cold water on a B.C. west-coast winter day.
I can only imagine what the people having a leisurely Sunday brunch in the pub were thinking looking out at us through the windows from inside the pub over their eggs bennie.
Big breakers. Lots of fast moving white-water
Well, from the van into full-on. Brr! Looks cold. No slow transition time for any kind of warm-up. It's plunge in and go. It's normalcy to intensity just like that. I promptly fall off my board in waist deep water then hop quickly back on. Focus, focus, focus! And then all is good- I'm connected. We manage to get through the break and start heading offshore to get far enough out that we can then turn and run straight downwind all the way to Storey's beach- about 6 km's away.
You can see the next huge swell slowly rising behind him. Some of these would became steep enough that we all got at least one really good ride in. But they were so fast moving and without a much longer board or a surf-ski almost impossible to catch.
The wind was still blowing hard at this point-so the resulting cross chop on top of the swell made for tricky balancing and any momentary lapse in attention would put us in the water. But then that is one of the things I love most about such paddling- that the conditions demand my full attention- my full presence. Anything less and I'm swimming. And we all did some of that anyway.
Gary and Darcy absolutely at home out there. Atop what looks like a couple of ironing boards- riding these huge fast moving hills of water - just having so much fun in conditions that would keep most boats tied up at the dock.
I sneak glances at them try to snap some pictures with my Cool-Pix, trying to remain upright at the same time- thinking this is so fantastic to be doing such a thing. To be in such a place on a stormy January day- I want to remember what this feels like- always.
Darcy and Gary taking a break- give the legs a rest. What a workout! Bobbing around out there while the big swells roll under us. Don't want it to be over too soon.
As we neared Storey's Beach the wind began to drop right off and we arrived to find perfect conditions for surfing. So we just kept right on going- shifting into surf mode. Wave after wave. And then after about an hour, these big clearly defined sets of waves began rolling in and it became even better. We could go further out and just wait for an approaching set of the larger waves. I could see them coming from far enough away to get perfectly positioned by the time they arrived and away I'd go. Just about as good a conditions as we've ever had at Storey's. Darcy and I keep surfing until we can hardly stand up any more.
These ARE the good old days! What could taste better than a 'Big Surf' beer.
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
Rest stop on Mitlenatch Island 11km's from start
( This post is way overdue due for reporting on such a worthy venture. Darcy Wardrop's solo crossing from Salmon Point on the east side of Vancouver Island to Mitlenatch Island-then on to Savary Island and ending in the little village of Lund north of Powell River.
It is a long a committing crossing- and I love his faith in the universe that he simply planned to hitchhike back. Darcy was not only my persistent mentor at getting me to try stand-up paddling, and sea kayaking before that- but has also been a very good friend for decades. His account below-and all photos are DW too.)
Darcy W. out on the perfect day for it.
The water was rippled with a low wind and the odd whitecap, and the mainland some 25km away in fog. Nothing to do but launch and paddle for an hour and see what happens. About 20 minutes in I was feeling pretty comfortable once I got my balance in sync with a loaded board and the wind coming from NW. Savary Island beckoned in a straight SE line rather than a dogleg north up to Mitlenatch and over, but it seemed disappointing not to go to that wonderful place, and soon I found the tide pushing me north despite the wind and I was actually north and making my way SE to Mitlenatch. Two hours later I was greeted by 3 orange beaked Oyster-Catchers as I pulled in on the gorgeous beach on the north end. Last year my camera died after one picture out there so I wandered a bit to stretch my legs and take some pictures ( there is indeed cactus growing out there as well as a nice apple tree). Chatted with the caretakers and then washed down a Cliff bar and some rye crisp with water and ate my banana and took a swim enjoying the cool analgesic effects of the water. It was a sign that there were standing waves about a foot high in the current that creates a back-eddy off Mitlenatch, it would take me all most 3 hour to paddle the next shorter leg of the distance 10km to Savary island. The wind shifted to the south and blew ever so softly against me and kept me at a perfect temperature as I worked the paddle against it ( the Stroke-Hammer, my hand carved paddle-blade attached to a Nimbus whitewater paddle shaft performed wonderfully , with each stroke the shaft loads under compression and gives a little extra drive at the end when it releases the energy,,,,,I know paddle geek stuff). I made my way by Hernando Island and to Savary and was a bit surprised when the sunbathers that greeted me on Indian Point told me it was 245 pm, it hadn't seemed that long but I suppose I was just paddling in the zone and time had released me of its grip. Savary is one of our most beautiful islands, almost tropical with its white beaches. Though populated it has no real infrastructure , dirt roads, a few beater cars, no ferry but close to Lund that water taxis ferry people back and forth to the many luxury cabins and shacks.Washed down another Cliff Bar and taking another swim I noted that the tide was strong enough that I could barely swim against it. The water finally glassed off for the final 8km paddle to Lund and I was making nice time though I though I might not make it on time to the famous bakery there. About half way across I was feeling a bit dry so I sat down on the board for a while and dug out my other liter of water most of which I downed and fiddled with my shoes to get the sand out that was grinding a bit. Feeling very refreshed I made my way the final hour to Lund basked in the afternoon Sun that they are so famous for over there. I arrived in the nick of time just before Nancy's Bakery closed to have a salad and gluten free lasagna and a Glut free date bar washed down with delicious Beachcomber Ale
( I don't remember them tasting quite that good last I had one).I wanted to linger in the tropical garden and have another of those fine beer but they were closed now and I needed to get to Powell River. I talked with a few people around the busy little marina and store and put the word out that I was looking for a ride down to Powell River and would be willing to pay for gas. I had only arrived a half hour before and a guy offered me a ride up to the Malaspina cross road, where said you won't have to wait long.
Sure enough 3 cars and about 5 minutes later I had a ride right to the ferry terminal. The ferry staff allowed him to drive my board right down to the loading dock, and he would not take any of my offer for gas money. I was home by 11-oclock after Dar picked me up on the Comox side. Darcy (Salmon Point------Mitlenatch 12km --2hrs Mitlenatch--------Savary 10km --3 hrs hours Savary ---------Lund 8km --2 hrs 2 liters water, 3 pieces of rye crisp with peanut butter, a banana 2 cliff bars Trips like these, 7 hrs of paddling , the physical effort is relatively minor, fun really, but unlike a marathon or triathlon or organized event , there is no support, no hydration stations, no quick out if your injured. You're in it for the duration. Some people ask why? Adventure, fun ,exploration, lots of reasons- or as Mallory said "because its there." Several crossings of the Salish Sea have been made from the south, this might have been the first northern crossing on a SUP, its a fun fact but certainly not a reason for going,,,,,,,, the utility of the Stand-Up-Paddleboards has been remarkable, and I'm looking forward to trips in the future with friends."
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
The water is much deeper than it appears in the photo above. The water is so exceptionally clear that the boulders appear to be just beneath the surface when in fact they are several feet down.
|Getting ready for the next section on this perfect late summer day (Darcy Wardrop photo)|
It was good to have had our first stand-up river paddling experience on the slower moving waters, big pools and easy riffle rapids of the Salmon River before we tried the Puntledge River in Courtenay- about 40 minutes south of our hometown of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. The Puntledge, while rated easy for kayaks, rafts, canoes and is a popular summer float for inner tubes and air mattresses, it was a little more challenging while trying to stay standing upright on the equivalent of a long ironing board- especially for us river running novices.
Although a shorter run than the section of the Salmon River that we'd done, the Puntledge was flowing much faster and had more 'technical' paddling than our previous outing.
Darcy Wardrop, running one of the more demanding sections- good balance required. (pk photo)
|Darcy W. contemplating the best line for the next section- note the leash ...|
We were new enough to paddleboarding rivers in 2012 that that we both wore our leashes and only afterwards found out that this can be a real danger on a river. People have died finding that one out. The danger occurs when the tailing leash loop catches on some under or above water fixed obstruction in the river because of a capsize or simple bad luck.
You'd be suddenly stopped with the full force of the river current piling up against you- likely being forced underwater with only the time you can hold your breath to free yourself before it was too late. So, we are a little smarter about that one now. On the other hand, one doesn't want to lose one's board either- so perhaps a quick release leash or one with a weaker link that would break with a good yank. Knee pads would be a good idea and helmets too, if the water had been faster or we had started further up.
We plunked in at Puntledge Park in Courtenay and then pulled out at the little marina and kayak shop on the right further down towards the ocean. It can be run from further up- just down from the Puntledge salmon hatchery at about the same grade of water, so maybe next time we'll do that.
A beautiful paddle and superb warm-water swimming on a perfect late summer day. And it was just a short enjoyable mountain bike ride back to get my truck at the park.
Friday, 23 August 2013
Mohun Lake-early morning. A perfect beginning to my day.
|The 48km Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit|
The channel leading from the end of the first portage- leads into Twin Lakes
After about a kilometer, I began to hear the sound of loons coming from somewhere up ahead. That classic, iconic call that is so unmistakable, so inseparable from our ideas, our memories of wilderness places. And Amor Lake has that feeling of being a place of wilderness. It's the only major lake on the circuit that does not have any easy road access, so there were no power boats, jet-skis or clusters of campers and RV's along the shoreline like there is near the end of Brewster Lake and along part of the shorelines of Fry and Campbell Lakes.
Amor Lake still has the feel and look of an untouched and unspoiled place. The water was still calm and the sun was beginning to warm me up. There was no one else in sight and no other sounds other than those made by my paddle moving through the water and the calling of the loons not far ahead.
And there wasn't just one or two, there were over a dozen of them all in some kind of mysterious loon gathering which I'd never seen or heard before. And they were all calling out at once. Both together and with as many different calls as there were birds in this amazing and highly complex acapella collage of wild sound. I needed to stop and hear this. I felt the urging, the pushing of my agenda for the day. But as I began really take in the sounds of this amazing chorus of loons, my paddle hesitated and then stopped and came to rest. I knew I was witnessing something quite remarkable.
For the next few minutes, I just stood still on my board and simply listened. Drifting at rest after the physical efforting to get to that place, I felt very present, very absorbent. I closed my eyes and just surrendered to this exquisite experience. The sound of the loons seemed like it was being somehow woven into the very fabric of this special place. Into the silence, the stillness. Into the waters, into the surrounding evergreen forest.
Perhaps when I return to that place again, I will still be able to hear the songs of those loons- whether they are actually there or not. 'I will remember this place.'
Turning the corner and reluctantly leaving the loons behind, I began paddling south down the last 2 km of Amor Lake. I was now exposed to the NW wind which had just begun to build. Luckily, it was going with me and I made really good time down to the end of the lake and then again on Surprise, Brewster and Gray Lakes with my body acting as a kind of sail.
Only needing to do the 2.2 km portage between Surprise and Brewster lakes once was really nice. And this time I carefully avoided the really deep quicksand like mudtrap at the end of Brewster Lake where in 2012 I'd had what I referred to in my post as, "The great mud Battle." I had stepped off my board a little further out than canoeists would- due to the fin on the back of my board, and promptly plunged in up to my waist in deep mud. It had not been easy getting out. If I hadn't grabbed onto my board so quickly, I would have been up to my neck in it. So beware! Land a little to the right of the obvious canoe stop and test the ground before putting your weight on it.
|At the end of the 2.2km portage; start of the channel leading to Brewster Lake. Note the carrying sling for my board.|
Time for a break. Terry had offered to meet me there in case I decided to bail due to strong winds or some other reason- but all was looking good so far. I very regretfully declined the offer of a cold beer knowing that my motivation and momentum would likely fizzle to a halt. I still had a long way to go. Instead I chugged down the Bolthouse chocolate protein drink he'd brought for me. I now believed I was going to make it all the way around before nightfall, so I gave Terry most of my bivi gear but kept my headlamp and extra food just in case. I still had plenty of daylight and energy left and I was past the halfway mark.
Unfortunately, the NW wind which had been such a help up to that point now started blowing directly against me from just past C3 on the Guide Map for the remaining ~4.5 kms to Gosling Bay on Campbell Lake. I took another break there and went for a quick cooling off swim as Terry packed his boat up.
Lucky for me it wasn't blowing anything like the forecast 20 knots there, but it still made for much harder paddling for most of the remaining trip. Especially on Gosling Lake and most of all, for the final 5km of Mohun Lake back to my starting point.
There was just nothing for it but dig deep and paddle hard at a steady pace. Other than in the stronger gusts, I kept making slow but steady progress and I used every headland and every shoreline indentation I could find to reduce my exposure to the full brunt of the wind. It was hard work but manageable.
The steeper hill portage from Gosling Bay up to Gosling Lake was the last of the longer carries as there was only a few hundred meters each separating each of the the four remaining lakes; Gosling, Higgins, Lawrier and Mohun.
Lawier Lake; last one before the short portage to Mohun
The wind was the strongest on Mohun as it had a good long fetch to build before it reached the south end where I put in for the last stretch. But it was only 5km more to go at that point and I still felt really strong so I just started paddling and except for one quick stretch break on a lovely little whitesand beach about 3/4 of the way, I didn't stop until my board nosed into the same beach I had left from that same morning- and what a great feeling that was!
It had taken me 11 hours and 16 minutes, so faster than the 12-14 hours I had been prepared for.
So I hope this blog posting will get out there and inspire someone else to pick up their board and paddle this very accessible circuit of lakes. Whether taking a day or a week, it is great paddling country to be out in.
Cheers, Paul Kendrick
Sunday, 7 April 2013
|The Ace-Tech Wing; all ready for overnight wilderness touring (pk photo)|
After about ten shorter outings in all kinds of weather from flatwater to a couple of big southeasters, I was more than ready to test my new board on it's first overnight trip- a circumnavigation of Read Island. Although I still really liked my 10' 6" Surf-Tech board, I knew that I was going to have to get a longer board with more flotation and more purpose designed for touring longer distances if I wanted to be able to do the kind of multi-day wilderness paddling trips I had been envisioning.
I surfed the net checking out all the SUP sites, articles, videos, forums etc and finally settled on the 12' 6" 'Ace-Tech Wing' made by BIC. 'Great, now I just have to go buy one,' which should be easy- or so I thought. As it turns out, there isn't (yet!) any retail distributor for the BIC stand-up boards here on the west-coast of Canada, and so I couldn't buy one- at least not unless I wanted to get one on E-Bay or drive to REI in Seattle. I couldn't believe it, I wanted to support one of the local businesses by buying one close to home but that just wasn't possible. Well, there had to be a way- so I decided to go to the top with my plight. A long story and many e-mails later, I was off to Nanaimo to catch the ferry over to Vancouver to pick up the board I wanted in Vancouver. Many thanks to Jason Hilton, Steve Hare and Chris Decerbo from BIC who made it happen. And the 'Wing' is everything I hoped it would be- perfect for Vancouver Island based adventure paddle board touring.
I caught the first ferry over to Quadra Island from Campbell River on March 29/13- 'Good Friday' and set off from Heriot Bay heading north up Hoskyn Channel after having decided to go clockwise around Read Island. I was concerned about the NW wind which was forecast to blow up to to 30 knots- but by going north first early in the morning, I hoped for lighter winds and then have it behind me in the afternoon if it did really get that strong. Fortunately, it didn't.
Heriot Bay starting point at bottom leftI was sheltered from the wind for the first 45 minutes or so which was nice. Still on the east side of Quadra, I saw some eagles on the shore in the distance- obviously feeding on something, and decided to have a closer look.
I was unpleasantly surprised to find the eagles feeding on the remains of not one but three seals there- so not sure what the story behind that is but obviously not a happy one for the seals. The eagles were sure dining in style though- nothing was going to waste.
As I neared Conville Point, the northwesterly wind really began to make itself felt and paddling became harder work. I was really happy though with the way the pointed bow of the Wing cut through the waves and with how stable the board felt with the added weight of my overnight gear. Stable enough that I felt no concerns about falling in as I crossed the roughest stretch from Conville Point to Sheer Point on the west side of Read Island. This was a narrow spot so the wind was funnelled through there and kicked up the only real whitecaps I encountered on the whole trip.
To get a better plan future trips I was wearing wearing the Garmin 305 GPS watch that I used for running and this was a great little aid to have along. Even with the wind, I was still making about 5.3km an hour and that actually stayed quite constant for the whole trip- including water and snack stops, so I was pleased with that as it meant I should be able to make it all the way around with just one overnight stop.
After 2.5 hours of steady paddling, I decided to take a short water and Snickers bar break in the little cove tucked behind the south end of Surge Point as I knew the next stretch would be more exposed to the wind.
Snickers stop behind Surge PointRe-energized, I rounded the point and crossed the open stretch on the opposite side of Surge Narrows and enjoyed a brief respite from the wind at the entrance to Whiterock Passage.
Entrance to |Whiterock Passage- dividing Read and Maurelle IslandsThe tide was getting quite low by the time I was entering the passage and so I was able to just go slowly along through this short windless stretch and enjoy seeing some of the bottom flora and fauna through the clear water.
Big sunstar- Whiterock PassageI could really relax and enjoy the day now because I was now turning east and once I was at the end of Whiterock Passage, I would then have the wind behind me. For March on the B.C. coast, it was developing into a really warm day and I was sweating in my farmer john wetsuit. Fortunately, there was still lots of water of water running in all the little seasonal creeks and runnels coming off the rock walls so I was able to keep well hydrated without going into the 2 litres of extra water I was carrying.
I turned the corner at the end of the passage and decided to take full advantage of the NW wind that was now behind me and paddle on to what I knew was a great campsite at the end of Whale Passage across from Frederic Point. It was still early afternoon by the time I got there but after 34.6km in 6 1/2 hours of paddling, I was more than ready to stop- have something to eat, put my gear out to dry and soak up some sun. Amazing it was so warm and I was just in shorts and sunglasses. Just a week earlier I had been wearing a wool toque and full wetsuit paddling out of Kelsey Bay and it was so cold that I could only stay warm as long as I kept moving.
I had a small fire that night and enjoyed 'a wee dram' of single malt- the Bowmore Doublewood, ahh.
I was packed and off by 7:30 the next morning wanting to take advanatge of the still flooding tide and the NW wind for the long run down the east side of Read Island to Viner Point.
East side of Quadra and Vancouver Island mountains - seen from the crossing just north of Viner Point to the Breton Islands to Heriot Bay
I could now see Heriot Bay in the distance and with it came thoughts of a big breakfast and COFFEE to look forward to. I was fortunate on this stretch also that the NW winds nver got anywhere near what had been forecast the day before. If they had, I would have had to beat my way much further up the west side of Read Island before crossing and that would have taken a great deal more time and energy.
I'd been going just over 3 hours and had done 16.5 km by the time I landed on the beach in front of the Heriot Bay Inn. So total distance was 50.96m km and total paddling time was 9 hours 35 minutes. No, I don't always keep such tabs on times and distances- but it's useful information for planning more ambitious adventures. And yes, Read Island could be done in a day- but I wouldn't find it as enjoyable. It was a great outing and I hope the first of many such trips now that spring has arrived. Hey, who knows- next time,I may even be able to find someone else who wants to do these kind of trips.
No, I didn't find any Easter eggs.