Trip Report – Strathcona Park-Ralph River – 15-18 June 2021

When the kayak trip to Bligh Island unraveled, the remnants of that trip booked into the Ralph River campground at the last minute.  This was not a carefully scripted trip; we mostly made it up as we went along.

Day 1 – After a late start and a ferry overload wait, we arrived at 3:00 at the campground, set up the tent amongst the amazing old growth trees in the Ralph River campground, and left to begin hiking at 4:00.  Given the time available, we explored some of the trailheads in that area: the Auger Point Traverse (steep), Shepherd Creek route (impressive canyon), Flower Ridge, and Price Creek (river views, then follows an old level road for a while).

(click to enlarge photos)

Day 2 – We hiked up the Buttle Bluffs and Park Main logging roads from the Western Mine road.  These are steep, gated roads surrounded by clear-cuts, but they provide excellent views and a rapid approach to higher elevation destinations.  The spring flowers were still quite good, the geology was fascinating, and there is an excellent water falls at 5 km.  The views of the Buttle Lake valley are really exceptional.  We continued about 7.5 km and 840 meters elevation gain, until we crossed a high point in the road and could see into the next valley surrounded by high mountains.

Day 3 –  We planned to kayak on Jim Mitchell Lake, but that didn’t work out because the condition of the Jim Mitchell Road changes from 2-wheel drive to 4-wheel drive at the Bedwell trailhead.  We didn’t have the right vehicles, so we walked up the road to see the Lake.  We returned part way down the road and then followed the Bedwell Trail out through a beautiful old forest to Thelwood Creek and the suspension bridge for lunch.  After lunch we drove just a bit further and walked the short approach to Lower Myra Falls.  This is always a beautiful falls, with great rock ledges and pools.  There was lots of water coming through the falls with the spring run-off.  The final short hike of the day was the Shepherd Creek loop, which leaves from the Ralph River bridge.  This short trail has a lot of variety with the river, some big trees, a mossy bluff, a wetland, and interesting saprophytes and fungus.  We still had time to explore the campground which is nestled in a beautiful forest between the Ralph River and Buttle Lake with lots of shoreline and views.  There were other folks from Quadra so the evenings were very social.

Day 4 –  We packed up the camping gear and drove to the Buttle Lake boat launch to kayak on the Lake.  We crossed to Rainbow Island in a freshening breeze.  At the moment it’s not an island because the water level in Buttle Lake is quite low.  We paddled to the south, sheltered side, explored a bit and had lunch.  There was a racing shell boat practicing in the lake.  After lunch we poked around some cliffs and an island to the south before returning to the boat launch.  Further exploration would be great, but more water and less wind would have been ideal.

This is an exceptionally beautiful area with access to amazing hiking at the Lake level or in the surrounding mountains.  The combination of the fjord-like lakes, the mature forests and the numerous mountains makes this a wonderful base for hiking and boating.

Debbie

Trip Report – Cortes Island – May 2021

Day 1 – With Dr. Bonnie Henry’s encouragement to go camping locally, we stayed three nights and four days on Cortes Island, using the Smelt Bay campground as our base. After taking the ferry on Monday to Cortes, setting up camp and after having a sunny, relaxed lunch on the beach at Smelt Bay, we went to Manson’s Lagoon at a very low tide so that we could walk to the little island and explore the intertidal zone. (1.5 km; 1 hour)  After that we hiked to Easter Bluff, a short walk rewarded with excellent views to the south and east. (2.3 km; 2 hours)

(click to enlarge photos)

Day 2 – The night was quite cold, but we warmed up hiking up to the summit of Green Mountain, the highest point on Cortes Island, but still a very accessible trip. The loop around the top provided great views in most directions. (4.3 km; 2 hours)  In the afternoon, one couple kayaked on Hague and Gunflint Lakes, while the rest of us kayaked from the Whaletown government dock out to Shark Spit, once again at a very low tide. The launch down the steep ramp was quite extreme.  We walked around the Spit before portaging the boats over the spit and exploring the islets and coast around Uganda Passage.  (9 km; 2.5 hours)

Day 3 –  Rain was forecast overnight and into Wednesday, but we really only had drizzle overnight and it was dry by morning. Still, for breakfast we took advantage of the beautiful picnic shelter at the Smelt Bay campsite, with its timber-framed structure, wood stove and picnic tables. We then set out for the long loops at Kw’as Regional Park. Starting near the Cortes Motel, we hiked the eastern side Millennium Trail out to the Swim Rock for lunch. We followed along the Rock Face trail on the Hague Lake shore and visited the amazing Survivor Fir before crossing the narrows and hiking the loop out to the bench on the Pierre de Trail. Returning by the Cedar Ridge, we re-crossed the narrows and followed the Gunflint Lake shoreline stopping at the old steam donkey and then back to the cars. (12.4 km; 5.75 hours)

Day 4 –  Wednesday night was cool and windy, but Thursday turned into a lovely day. A few headed back on an early ferry (which it turned out didn’t run until 3:50), while the rest of us hiked in the morning at Hank’s beach, catching the low tide, sunny facing shore and great views. We rambled over the rocky bluffs and explored some tidal pools.  (3.2 km; 1.25 hours)  We then headed over to Squirrel Cove for lunch on the beach. We carried the kayaks a long way to the water and paddled into the protected anchorage, through the islands, enjoying the intertidal life. We were happy to see that the purple sea stars are returning very well. We stopped at the creek into the Squirrel Cove lagoon and walked across to the lagoon. In addition to the excellent intertidal life, there were duck and chicks in the lagoon. (7.7 km; 2.25 hours)  After ice cream from the Squirrel Cove store, most of us took the last ferry home.

There is so much to see and do on Cortes and we packed a lot into four days. The weather was kind to us, the low tides fascinating, and the spring growth lovely. We are so fortunate to have this nearby.

Debbie

Thanks to Norris and Bonnie for the photos

Kayaking – Maud Island – 25 Nov 2020

This trip has been suspended due to additional COVID restrictions

Activity Kayaking
Destination Maud Island
Date 25 Nov, Wednesday
Trip Coordinator Vic Gladish
Contact Info 250-285-2111; cell 250-287-0459
Description We will put in at 1000 at the Leishman Road shore access just north of Copper Cliffs. There is parking for a few cars and a rocky beach. Staying close to shore, the plan is to paddle north to Maude Island and/or the Saltwater Lagoon. The trip is about 8 km each way (16 km round trip). The lagoon entrance is passable at certain tide levels so will be an on the spot decision whether to explore or not.
Meeting Place Shore Access Copper Cliffs – Leishman Road
Departure Time 1000 on the water
Difficulty
Moderate – distance, currents, weather
Costs None
Trip limits 6
Dogs? no
Notes: The tide will be against us but it is a time of neap tides so currents shouldn’t be so strong. Participants should be open to trip revision once the forecast for that week is more relevant – i.e. lets be open to a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday with better weather.
All participants must be equipped for ocean paddling in November – required equipment as per club guidelines (https://qioutdoorclub.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/paddling-guidelines-aug2018.pdf) and appropriate clothing.
Bring lunch, hot drinks, extra warm layers and something to sit on.

Trip Report – Kanish Bay – 30 Sept 2020

We put in at low tide in Granite Bay and were ready to go by 10:00. Our group of five paddlers headed west, at a very leisurely pace, into a flat calm Kanish Bay and to the Chained Islands. As rest stop was in order by the time we reached the campsite on the next to last island of the group we had a chance to assess the site for future overnighting. As we approached the island we met up with a group of 5 kayakers from Vancouver Island who had crossed from Browns Bay on a large Zodiac for a day of paddling.

We headed north east to the north shore of the bay and worked our way east to Orchard Bay (finally!). As we approached OB a couple in a double kayak came straight for us out of Small Inlet – it was Debbie and Norris who had come out from Small Inlet and their anchored sailboat to visit. At this point we also observed 2-3 harbour porpoise circling about in the bay. Also observed while crossing Kanish Bay were a number of salmon jumping and a flock of about 30 loons that took flight as a very noisy, very fast speedboat roared down to Granite Bay and back out to Discovery Passage.

We then enjoyed a long lunch break in the sun at Orchard Bay and scouted out the area for camping potential. It was about this time that we noticed that the air was becoming somewhat smoky.

From this point we headed towards Small Inlet – decided it was taking on too much to venture in – and explored the shallows around the islands (a bit too shallow!) as we headed back to Granite Bay and the takeout at high tide.  6 NM (approx. 12km) over 5¾ hours.

Vic

Thanks to Vic, Valerie and Norris for the photos.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Kayaking – Kanish Bay – 30 Sept 2020

Kayaking – Kanish Bay – 30 Sept 2020

Activity Kayaking
Destination Kanish Bay (Granite/Small)
Date 30 Sept, Wednesday
Trip Coordinator Vic Gladish
Contact Info 250-285-2111; cell 250-287-0459
Description Plan A – Kanish Bay – Chained Islets to Ashlar Creek to Orchard Bay
Plan B – Orchard Bay to Small Inlet and short hike to Waiatt Bay.
Meeting Place Granite Bay boat launch
Departure Time 10:00 on the water
Difficulty
Moderate to difficult depending on weather, tides, winds, distance.
Costs Use of ramp $ 5.00
Trip limits 8 kayaks
Dogs? no
Notes: Meet at 0930 for a 1000 departure. Must have a sea kayak and equipment that meets club and coast guard regulations.
Bring lunch and be prepared for fall weather.

 

Trip Report – Desolation Sound – 8-13 Sept 2020

This trip was rescheduled from August in hopes that Desolation Sound would be less busy in September. It probably is, but still busy enough in this exceptional pandemic summer, especially at the Curme Islets campsites. Compared with our usual paddling destinations, there were a large number of young people (well, young being anyone under 40…), many of them in rental kayaks, and some in more unusual craft. Notable sightings (of creatures human and otherwise) are described below.

Day 1 – Tuesday:   Four of us launched from Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island about 11 a.m. on Sunday, having lined up around 8 a.m. to catch the 9:05 ferry from Heriot Bay. The weather was calm and sunny for our crossing to the Martin Islands where we stopped for lunch. From the Martins, we headed to the north end of Mink Island and around the top to the Curmes. We had a little wind and chop on the crossing. We were somewhat taken aback to find two of the three campsite locations full by early afternoon. Fortunately, we were able to nab three of four remaining tent pads on East Curme. All the sites in Desolation Sound Marine Park have designated tent pads, an outhouse, picnic tables and/or benches, and (on the mainland sites, bear caches). Access in the Curmes is awkward in most spots on most tides. After setting up camp, some of us went swimming in the warm – slightly soupy – water, and all made an early night. One of the consequences of the younger demographic was a certain amount of partying, although with darkness by 8:30 and no campfires, things settled down about 9:30 or 10 (which is quite late on kayaking days!). The stars were absolutely dazzling.  13.7 km; 4 hours.
Notable sighting: A group consisting of two senior lady paddlers and two couples in doubles came looking for a tentpad about 5 p.m. and spent some time paddling about before the two singles took the last site on East Curme and the others disappeared to seek their fortune elsewhere. Like us, they hadn’t expected the crowds….

(click to enlarge photos)

Day 2 – Wednesday:   We headed out about 9:30 for a day trip to Prideaux Haven and beyond. Exceptionally calm, almost glassy conditions, and hot (although not the hottest yet). Very pleasant paddling through the islets, with a break at Laura Cove (where we were serenaded by a boat owner playing his violin). Then on to a rocky outcropping just beyond Price Point for lunch, and back home (taking the route outside Eveleigh Island and back though the gap between Otter Island and the mainland). More swimming, dinner, and planning for the next few days. By this point we had decided to order a water taxi to return us from the north tip of Malaspina Peninsula to Squirrel Cove, as three of us needed to be back fairly early, and it looked like a longish slog through open water. This later proved to be an inspired decision.  20.0 km; 6 hours.
Notable sighting: Half an hour before dark, a young couple paddled up in an inflatable double (about as wide as it was long), accompanied by their cat. Fortunately, some parties had moved off West Curme, and they were able to find a tent pad.

Day 3 – Thursday:  Off about 9:00 a.m. to Hare Point on the northeast shore of Malaspina Inlet, about 2 kilometres from Zephine Head. Another hot still day. Quite a bit of room at the campsite, with a fairly decent beach, although the canoe/kayak run is only wide enough for one boat at low tide. The tent pads are located on either side of the cove, with outhouse/bear cache/picnic table for each group. The westerly, more scenic area is up a fairly steep trail – we defaulted to the lower group of tent pads – still a bit of a scramble up the rocks. The afternoon was very hot – we spent much of it looking for shade.  Two of us practised self-rescue (and have the bruises to show for it). This activity generated quite a bit of amusement for other kayakers: “Oh gosh, there she goes, right over the other side.”  Much quieter location than the Curmes. Early night.  9.6 km; 2 hours.
Notable sighting: Ultra light aircraft on pontoons flew over us en route to Hare Point. Took a while to figure out what it was.

Day 4 – Friday:  Off about 9:30 toward Grace Harbour for a day trip. Not such a warm day, with the smoke beginning to move in. Grace Harbour is a popular anchorage, although not very busy when we were there. Only 2 or 3 tent pads; probably not too much privacy in summer with boaters marching through toward Black Lake. There is a creek at the head of the bay, east of the campsite. We walked up to the lake through a pleasant cedar forest, with the remnants of logging operations in a few places. About 15 minutes walk each way. There is a small cleared area for swimming access but slippery on the rocks. After lunch, we paddled back to the campsite and passed on the way a colony of Steller (and possibly also California) sea lions. We had seen Stellers fishing in the cove, and occasionally popping up rather close to our kayaks. Back about 4 p.m. More rescue practice – more bruises….  16.0 km; 5¼ hours.

Notable sighting: A young couple on standup paddleboards with gear strapped fore and aft arrived at the campsite about 5:30. The operation looked slow and a bit hazardous, but they apparently like it.

Day 5 – Saturday:  Away at 9 a.m. In order to have time to visit the Copeland Islands and still be picked up Sunday morning by the water taxi, we upped stakes at Hare Point, and nabbed tent platforms at Feather Cove (about 45 minutes paddle). Feather Cove has a decent landing beach, although exposed to waves and wash. Another 2-part campsite, with tent pads on the hill, and back among the trees down by the beach. This site is on the Sunshine Coast trail, so is used by both hikers and paddlers. In very thick smoke, we paddled to Sarah Point, down the peninsula toward Bliss Landing, and across to the most northerly of the Copeland Islands. For the first time on the trip, we had some significant wind (in our face, of course). There are at least two and possibly three campsites in the Islands. We entered North Copeland Island through a small gap into a shallow bay with easy landing. At this large site, there are three sets of tent pads; the most westerly grouping is very scenic but with what looks like trickier access. Quite a few empty pads. After lunch, we paddled by the next island with tent pads, and around a larger island with several small notches and coves for anchorage. After darting across Thulin Passage between cruising and fishing boats, we headed north again, with a stop at a lovely sandy beach just north of Bliss Landing. An old homestead with some remnants of buildings, the site has a very productive collection of old fruit trees. Some of the apple trees were about 40 feet high. Unfortunately, it was very obvious that this is a place beloved by bears, whose reach is about the same as ours. Back to camp about 5:30, having enjoyed the following wind and a bit of a favourable current.  22.9 km ; 7¼ hours.
Notable sighting: A young couple in rented kayaks showed up about 6 p.m. with an astonishing amount of gear tied to the decks of their boats, including a five gallon water container (full). As they were leaving to find a campsite at Hare Point, one of us was unable to resist suggesting to them that the location of the water container was not the best of ideas…. Not sure how this advice was received, but one has to try. Notable non-sighting: About 2 o’clock in the morning, distant shouting and banging were followed by splashing and loud snorting. The bear (as we assume it was…) did not arrive in our locale. Judging by the trail of water leading from the beach up the hill behind our tents, we concluded that the bear had been chased off the hillside tent area, ran down to the water, splashed across, and took off heading south.

Day 6 – Sunday:   Up early to be ready for the water taxi to arrive at 9. Very, very smoky. We were relieved not to have to make a 3+ hour trip in near zero visibility. Duncan Pollen from Lund delivered us safely to Squirrel Cove, and helped carry the kayaks up a very steep ramp. We reached Whaletown shortly after 11, and one of us was lucky enough to be shoehorned aboard the 11:50 ferry. The others left on the 1:50 sailing. Everyone home by mid-afternoon. Notable sighting: While we were waiting on the beach, a Steller sea lion showed us how to catch fish. Grab the salmon, shake it violently, and gulp it down head first. Worked for him (or her).

As mentioned above, this trip was quite different from our more usual paddles to less accessible and popular locations. It was mostly more relaxed, with shorter distances.  The scenery is lovely, of course, the water is warm and having some basic services at the campsites is convenient. Almost certainly, COVID is responsible for the large number of paddlers, some of whom appeared to be out for the first time. Fortunately, the weather was very calm, and presumably there were no problems with overloaded boats or less-than-seaworthy conveyances encountering challenging conditions. We did hear from the skipper of the water taxi that there had been more than the usual number of kayakers in trouble this summer. We enjoyed our time together as always.

Darcy

A couple of useful links for trip planning:
http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/desolation/camping.html
https://www.bcmarinetrails.org

Thanks to Norris and Val for the photos!

Multi-day kayaking – Desolation Sound – 8-13 Sept 2020

Trip Report – Sandy Island Marine Park – 3 Sept 2020

Five club members were joined by three paddlers from Campbell River for a pleasant trip on a calm, sunny day. Leaving from the Union Bay boat launch about 10:00 a.m., we crossed to Sandy Island and stopped for lunch, before paddling to the end of the sandspit. We enjoyed the sight of many seals and their pups on the beach and in the water. It was a hot afternoon when we returned to Union Bay, just after low tide.  15.3 km; 4¾ hours.

Darcy

(click on photos to enlarge)

Kayaking – Sandy Island Marine Park – 3 Sept 2020

Kayaking – Sandy Island Marine Park – 3 Sept 2020

Activity Kayaking
Destination Sandy Island Marine Park
Date 3 Sept 2020, Thursday
Trip Coordinator Darcy Mitchell
Contact Info 250 923 5540; mitchelldarcy51@gmail.com
Description Day paddle to Sandy Bay Marine Park (Tree Island) at northern tip of Denman Island.
Meeting Place Union Bay boat launch
Departure Time About 10:00
Difficulty
Easy to moderate depending on conditions
Costs Ferry, transportation costs, and $5 boat launch fee
Trip limits 8 paddlers
Dogs? no
Notes: You will need to follow the QIOC paddling guidelines. This trip requires a sea kayak with spray skirt and floatation and all required equipment. The deadline for registering for the trip is Aug 31st.

Check last year’s trip report for this outing:
https://qioutdoorclub.org/2019/08/01/trip-report-sandy-island-marine-park-31-july-2019/

 

Multi-day Kayaking – Desolation Sound – 8-13 Sept 2020

Activity Multi-day kayaking
Destination Desolation Sound
Date 8 to 13 Sept 2020; Tuesday to Saturday
Trip Coordinator Darcy Mitchell
Contact Info mitchelldarcy51@gmail.com; 250 923 5540
Description Multi-day paddle to Desolation Sound, launching from Squirrel Cove. Itinerary dependent on participant interests and weather.  Here is the link to kayak campsite information: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/desolation/camping.html
Meeting Place Cortes ferry line-up, Heriot Bay
Departure Time 8:00 to catch 9:05 Cortes Ferry
Difficulty
Moderate to challenging
Cost Ferry costs and nightly costs for camping within the Desolation Sound Marine Park
Trip limits Minimum 4 – maximum 6 to 8 depending on number of tents
Dogs? No
Notes: All participants must observe club paddling guidelines including demonstrated ability to perform assisted and self-rescue.  If you are interested in this trip, please contact the coordinator no later than September 1. Pandemic protocols will be observed.

Trip Report – Kayak training – 12 Aug 2020

There were a total of 5 participants on a cool morning for August. With the boats on the ground, just up form the launch site, we went over outfitting, particularly in regards to rescues.

After a short period, we paddled north on Main Lake to a small shallow bay near an island, opposite and a little past the twin private islands. The water was shallower here and there was a place to pull out for drying off and changing clothes.

Participants tried solo rescues, and group rescues for the couple involved. One brave soul even made a game attempt at a roll.   After a couple of hours and a quick lunch, we headed back.

Although there were plenty of users on the lake, we had this practice area to ourselves. We had only a gentle breeze on the return trip. A cool August morning turned into a pleasant warm day, and no one got too cold, despite getting wet. About 4 hours went by quickly.

Brent Henry

(click on photo to view larger)

Kayaking Training – Mine Lake – 12 Aug 2020