(click on photos to enlarge)
(click on photos to enlarge)
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.
Thanks to Vic, Valerie and Norris for the photos.
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In order to encourage more participants and because of the dates of the club’s kayak trip, this trip’s goal was changed, to focus on the Malaspina Peninsula, and was delayed by one week. Being well into September there was some concern about the good weather holding. Although we did leave with this year’s southern fire smoke in the air, the timing regarding weather was perfect, as the first daytime rain followed immediately after reaching the end of our trek. It turned out to also be auspicious timing regarding dates, as we only encountered 4 other back packers, and only shared a campsite on the first night.
Day 1 – Tuesday: Leaving the ferry behind at 10:15, we left one vehicle at a friend’s house near Mowat Bay, near the end of our walk, and drove on to Lund with our other vehicle, catching the Lund water taxi at 2 pm, destination: Sarah Point. The taxi dropped us off in hazy conditions on a dry rock shelf, from which, after the “before” photos, we donned our lightweight backpacks and started the walk through arbutus and manzanita groves to Feather Cove, our first campsite. We shared this site, looking east towards Malaspina Inlet, with a young kayaking couple, and were visited frequently by a curious sea lion as we set up camp. At this point, one is in Malaspina Provincial Park, and the campsite is outfitted with an outhouse, food cache and picnic table. This was truly roughing it. This is where one of our group revealed their secret weapon, a backpacking chair, and quest for seating began!
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Day 2 – Wednesday: Wanting to gradually add to each day’s mileage considering the placement of campsites along the route, we rose around 7 am, stretched as all conscientious aged packers do, and were on the trail by 9. Our goal was a 9.2 km hike to Wednesday Lake. At Hinder Lake outflow we were able to fill up with water.
The route took us through a green mossy forested landscape, with the first two thirds including some pleasant forested walking trail. This disappeared the last kilometer and a half before Wednesday Lake, as we had 2 successive uphill grunts up root filled inclines, until finally gaining site of Wednesday Lake. The old, non-parks standard outhouse was in stark contrast to our cushy appointment at Feather Cove, and the first camp clearing was rudimentary and a poor prospect for clean drinking water. Luckily, a short distance around the lake shore brought us to the real campsite, with adequate flat space for our 3 tents on a rock bluff, and good access to water and a swim! We walked about 6 hours that day, and being our first day of real backpacking, we were very ready to lose our loads here. We were humbled later in the early evening when a young speed backpacker dropped in, after leaving Sarah Point only 3½ hours earlier that day. Her plan was to hike the entire Sunshine Coast Trail, some 150 km, in 4½ days. We gave her all the experienced hiking tips we could offer in about 10 seconds, and bid her good evening.
Entertainment that evening was shared between stealing a backpacking chair, and watching three seasoned backpackers comically hone their technique of launching a rock-weighted line over a tree limb, to provide a food cache; entitled: Quest for Rocks. Nominations for the Darwin Awards have been submitted!
Day 3 – Thursday: Again we were back on our route by 9 am. We had to climb out of Wednesday Lake but the trail had some pleasant forested walking before our accent to the Gwendoline Hills. The walk along this ridge was fairly flat, but again we climbed as we neared McPherson Hill, after leaving Malaspina Park behind. After a walk through lovely old growth, we reached Manzanita Bluff, where a beautiful mountain hut awaited, and an expansive view of the Salish Sea would have been our reward, if it hadn’t been obscured by alternating smoke and fog. Unfortunately, we could barely see the darker mass of Hernando Island in the distance. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful lunch spot with picnic tales. We now descended through commercial forest lands, containing some lovely old trees, where the forest companies have allowed a right of way for the trail. Later, we came to Emil’s Bench, dedicated to Emil Kormpocker, a veteran logging contractor who had the foresight to save a stand of old growth trees in this area. Unfortunately, the younger forest around us obscured views of the saved old growth. Here you also have a view of Okeover Inlet below. Eventually, through some older forest, we crossed over Malaspina Road, and continued on to our next campsite, Fern Gully Creek. Here we had one of our darkest campsites, thanks to some old growth giants, There was adequate space for tents here and a rustic table. Although we had water, the pools may be drier at the end of a hotter summer. And we could find no outhouse.
Day 4 – Friday: We were back on the trial this day around 9 am knowing that we would add the first real increase to our daily distance, covering 13 km. The first part of this day had us climbing up the Thunder Ridge Trail.. After the Plummer Creek Road we were treated to an old forested rail grade, which lead us to a rest spot at Plummer Creek Bridge. Below, a 5 minute walk leads to the Plummer Creek campsite, near the bottom of Toquenatch Creek. After our break, about an hour later, we arrived at Toquenatch Falls, where water still cascaded over rocks, although nowhere the force that would exist after a rainy fall. The trail continued up the creek valley, sometimes using old rail grade, and eventually comes to a newer logging area where we had another reminder that we were out of the park, as we could hear a logging truck close by, lumbering up a grade. Eventually, the trail took us to a road system, and the Homestead Forest Recreation site. This was accessible by vehicle, and after a quick lunch held no real interest for us. Here, we met, Nick, a young fellow from Victoria, who had passed us the previous evening at Fern Gully, but was now lying on the ground, in some obvious discomfort, nursing a nerve injury from long bouts of car driving. We could only offer ibuprofen and encouragement, but Nick seemed to be familiar with the condition and was weighing his options. The afternoon then brought us up a climb to Rievely Pond with its lovely hut in an open spot above the pond. Water was not the best here, but we enjoyed a rest and continued to our intended goal, the Appleton Creek Bridge Campsite, a lovely open site amongst several old growth giants, next to a very good running water source. Above the campsite is a trail leading up to a bathing pool in the creek. We had benches at camp for cooking and sitting, and an outhouse, although its location was hidden to us until the next morning.
Because of the weather forecast, we set up two tarps to be prepared for the next morning. Two trail walker/runners passed by, who were doing the peninsula trail in one day, They were only carrying fanny packs and intended to continue through to Powell River with just 2 hours left. We did celebrate our last camp on this Friday evening by sharing some extra food and having a small campfire.
Day 5 – Saturday: This morning, the darkness of the forest and the night’s rain had us up a little later, but we were on the trail a little after 9. We had another 15 km to reach the end of our route. The descent down Appleton Creek was a mossy forest trail with several stops for small cascades and the larger Gorge Falls. Further along we entered lands given by the Sliammon people to allow the trail to continue to Sliammon Lake and Little Sliammon Lake, with its picnic pavilion, boat wharf and road access. The trail around the lakes is an up and down workout around bluffs and roots, but only for a portion of the days hike. From Little Sliammon we mostly followed old forest roads down to Sunset Park, and increasingly saw bear scat, and many friendly day hikers as we approached the suburb of Wildwood. At Sunset Park, we dropped our packs and congratulated ourselves. Two of us continued along streets to the bridge at Powell Lake outlet, and then again picked up the Sunshine Coast Trail to Mowat Bay, just down the road from where we had left our parked car. The timing was perfect, as we encountered our first daytime rain just before we reached Mowat Bay.
This trail is obviously not a walk in the park, carrying loaded packs for 5 days. But, after our plan to gradually build up each days distance, we not only found it manageable, but enjoyable and well worth the effort. It offered a great deal of variety within the coastal forest setting, including views, water courses, a variety of forests, and some excellent camping. This part of September proved to be a good choice, as there was little traffic on the trail, and offered many opportunities for solitude. The group turned to have excellent dynamics and the common love of the outdoors, plus an ample dose of good humour, allowed us to get beyond familiarity. A very positive journey!
Thanks to Brent, Norris, and Diana for the photos
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….
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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.
A couple of useful links for trip planning:
Thanks to Norris and Val for the photos!
Five of us visited the Kellerhal clan farm, Chauntaluf, on a beautiful, warm late summer day. As three of the group had never been to the property, we first explored some of the farm and the land leading down to Hyacinthe Bay. Then we headed up Open Bay Road and onto the narrow trail leading to Raven Crag. The views of Hyacinthe Bay and the valley below Chinese Mountains were great. We continued along bluffs, through coastal forest, undulating out to Hyacinthe Point. Here we stopped for lunch and the wonderful views of Rebecca Spit and the Strait of Georgia. After a leisurely break, we backtracked and then followed trails to the Coast Mountain Lookout, which offered still different views looking east toward the mainland mountains. We circled round to Nighthawk trail and Big Pond Road before arriving at the pond. There was lots of small wildlife at the pond: a swimming garter snake, numerous dragon flies, damsel flies and many, many rough-skinned newts swimming in the pond. The damsel flies were all busy mating. After another leisurely rest we went back to Open Bay Rd and returned to the vehicles. 6.9 km, 4½ hours.
Thanks so much to Heather Kellerhals for graciously allowing the Outdoor Club to visit her family property.
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Six hikers enjoyed a perfect, late summer day for our hike up to Nugedzi Lake. We opted for the second, slightly higher viewpoint as our first rest stop, much appreciated after the usual slog up the eroded logging road. The views, though somewhat hazy, extended to the Coast Mountains and south to Texada Island. The Old Growth Forest was a welcome respite from the increasing heat. We were surprised to find how eroded the trail here was in some spots, tree roots fully exposed in many places, possibly the result of increased traffic (we actually saw 9 other people on the trail at various times) and the heavy rains of early summer and recent days. (We learned later that one of the 9 was a local trail runner, who was on his way back from having run the entire trail up from the Nugedzi trailhead parking lot, down to the Mt Seymour parking lot on Granite Bay Road and back over, after having biked to the trailhead from Heriot Bay. And we thought we were putting in an effort just to do the Nugedzi hike. )
As this trail was new to one of the group, we did the “Cook’s Tour”, going southeast out to the Lilyponds and the Lookout for views to Georgia Strait and beyond, before heading to Nugedzi Lake for lunch and a refreshing and very welcome swim. After lunch, we hiked up to the next viewpoint from which we could clearly see the mountains of Vancouver Island, and, once again, wondered about the history and purpose of the “Flagpole Cairn” at this site. A pleasant walk around Little Nugedzi Lake completed the tour before we headed back down. 10.8 km; 6 hours.
Valerie van Veen
Thanks to Norris, Valerie Vic for the photos
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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.
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Seven of us and one dog hiked to Plumper Bay. The day was clear and sunny. We hiked through the forest, with just the right amount of shade. In the first part of the route follows the Maud Island Trail, where the forest ground cover is beautiful moss. The second part of the route is an old road, possibly built for the Seymour Narrows blasting in 1958, as well as for logging. The road bed is still in great condition, although littered with dead branches. The lunch stop is where that road comes out in Plumper Bay, on the north shore. We sat by the water in the shade with a gentle breeze. After picking up some garbage, we headed back. The group was up for a little adventure, so we took an old logging road which had reverted to wonderful deep moss. We made our way through the forest back to the Maud Island Trail and the cars. 7.0 km, 3¼ hours.
Thanks to Norris and Les for the photos
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Day 1. Six paddlers launched from the end of Valdes Road on a fairly high tide, leaving the beach about 10:45 toward the Penn Islets. The weather was sunny with some overcast and the occasional rain squall, winds light. With a favourable current, we made excellent time, arriving at the campsite on North Penn Islet in just under 3 1/2 hours paddling time. A lovely classic cruiser was anchored in the nook south of the campsite, but very few other boats seen. The campsite is beautiful, with great views from the bluff, and some good forest sites also. Distance covered – 16.6 km in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Day 2. As the day was sunny with light winds forecast, we made a side trip to the entrance of Von Donop Inlet and stopped for a break at the campsite in Robertson Cove. While the location has several tent sites, and a trail to Robertson Lake, it seemed dark and is exposed to the west. Easy landing. We then paddled toward South Rendezvous Island, our planned stop for the night. Unlike other years, this large and very attractive site was empty. The summer has been disastrous for local outfitters, but it has meant that more camping options are available than usual. Easy access from the north, several tent sites, and a small creek. One or two tent sites also available on the tidal island in front of the main site. Hot afternoon. Distance covered 16.2 km in 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Day 3. We launched about 9:45 to be in good time for slack at Surge Narrows. Paddling up the west side of the Rendezvous Islands to the south tip of North Rendezvous, we crossed to Mayes Point at the entrance to White Rock Passage against a fairly lively adverse current. After a short stop on the south shore of the Passage (just before the campsite noted on the Marine Trails website), we paddled through the Settlers Group in good time. As the weather was very calm, we paddled a straight course up Okisollo Channel to the Octopus Islands to benefit from the favourable ebb tide. Several other parties of kayakers spotted, and the usual population of pleasure boats in the park. We camped on the shore of a very “clammy” cove on the south shore of Waiatt Bay. There is a good creek draining an unnamed lake. The grassy site is good for 2 and possibly 3 tents; others uncomfortably close to the high tide line. Another hot day. Distance covered 21 km in 5 hours 10 minutes.
Day 4. Heading home, we made a short stop at the ‘museum cabin’ on the more southerly of the private islands adjacent to the park. Many boaters (often for successive years) have left mementoes of their visits in the cabin. We then took a short swing through the islets and headed to Yeatman Bay for lunch and to wait for slack in Surge Narrows. We slipped easily through the rocks between Quadra and Peck Island on the last of the flood, and with increasing following winds and a fair current, landed in Open Bay less than half an hour after high tide, for an easy landing and a short carry. Distance covered 23.9 km in 5 hours and 23 minutes.
The weather throughout the trip was great and the first two campsites excellent. We didn’t see much wildlife apart from a few harbour porpoise, some seals, and sea birds, apart from one fledgling eagle that we hoped would be rescued by a parent as it looked very forlorn on its rock. Total trip distance – 77.7 kilometres for an average speed of 4.3 km per hour.
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