Category Archives: Inspirations and Reflections

The Essence of Adventure: Revised Summer Plans

Today is two weeks from the date we were supposed to start our kayaking journey circumnavigating Vancouver Island by kayak. Instead, we went to the hospital this morning to get an x-ray for Bryan’s broken hand. Bryan is a survivor and a quick-healer and though his hand is still a little swollen, he’s doing much better. Not kayaking level of better yet but the healing process seems well on track.

Change is an opportunity so check out this teaser of what’s coming up this summer of good wholesome BC adventure!

Maps are interactive so click on the Satellite map setting (lower left hand corner of the map) and zoom right in to see the bays and beaches we’re going to stay at. Don’t forget to also click on the points to read the info about them!! For the Nootka Island trail, I have compiled all the info on the trail from various sites on the internet into one map! 

Sunshine Coast Trail – July 10 -12 – Saltery Bay Loop 

The Sunshine Coast Trail is an 180km long meander through the beautiful northern Sunshine Coast from Saltery Bay all the way to the tip of Malaspina Peninsula in Desolation Sound north of Lund. It is free, easily accessible with multiple entry and exit points and features hut-to-hut hiking. Amazingly dedicated volunteers have constructed huts for hikers to sleep in (though bringing a tent is recommended in the summer in case there are other hikers without tents!). We will be hiking the Saltery Loop in the south end, one of the newest parts of the trail. The 18km loop goes from Saltery Bay to Fairview Bay up to Rainy Day Lake and then back down to Saltery Bay past some viewpoints and waterfalls. This is going to be a practice run for the remote Nootka Island trail the following week. We have independently trekked in the Himalayas up to Everest Base Camp and summited Mt Kilimonjaro in Africa but hiking around with everything that we need for days with only our backpacks is something new*. On this hike, we hope to work out the kinks of packing while still relatively close to civilization.  Of course, anyone whose in the Lower Mainland right now living in the haze of smoke cannot ignore the wildfires rampaging across the province right now. This trip may be cancelled if the wildfire conditions worsen. Currently, the Sunshine Coast Trail is currently away from both of the fires in the region. The Sechelt fire is to the south on the other side of a ferry ride, with winds blowing the smoke south to the city of Vancouver. The Pemberton fire is separated from the southern Sunshine Coast trail by numerous ocean inlets and mountain ranges. I am in contact with the Sunshine Coast trail and getting updates from them.

Nootka Island Trail – July 17-26

The Nootka Island trail is a 35km long backpacker paradise in the gorgeous remote wilderness on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Set in the lush temperate rainforest along the abundant coastline, the Nootka Island trail has spectacular long sand beaches, tumbling waterfalls cascading onto the sand and stunning sunsets out onto the Pacific Ocean. The wildlife possibilities are endless from sea otters, sea lions and even the possibility of seeing whales in the waves to eagles, wolves and bears in the forest. The trail starts with a drop off by a float plane in a remote bay and then it works its way along the outside coastline of Nootka Island to historical Yuquot/Friendly Cove where the Spanish and British met in the colonial era to discuss the future of the west coast. The trail is pristine and undeveloped and it’s been compared to how the popular West Coast trail was 20 years ago. There is no long wait-list or many people at all; it is just the awesome wilderness and the hiker walking in the footsteps of the rich First Nations culture that continues to flourish today in remote Nootka Island.

A West Coast Meander – Aug 5-Sept 10

A month long kayak from Tofino to Port Alberni and everything around and in-between

Prequel – Family Mini Vacation in Tofino

Depart Vancouver on Wednesday Aug 5 to head over to Tofino where we have rented a studio apartment on the waterfront in downtown Tofino for three nights.  We will spend time together, explore Tofino and its beaches and make a day trip down to Ucluelet. On Saturday Aug 8, Bryan and I will paddle off and Pat and Bill will return back to Ladner.

Part 1 – Clayoquot Sound

Our 14 day paddling route in Clayoquot Sound- tentatively from Aug 8 to Aug 21- from Tofino up to Hotsprings Cove and then back down the outside of Flores and Vargas Islands. This paddle is leisurely and explorative, with lots of beach and hiking days and short paddles to the next gorgeous beach campsite. This leisurely paddle is designed to get us back into paddle touring, especially for Bryan’s freshly healed hands.

Part 2 – Barkley Sound

The second half of our paddle from Tofino to Ucluelet for the Broken Islands and Deer Group and ending with a paddle up to Port Alberni. This half features the challenging paddle from Tofino to Ucluelet along a long stretch of exposed west coast, which we will attempt in the early morning hopefully when it is still calm, then a leisurely paddle through the Broken Island group, which one of National Geographic’s Bucket List 20 Adventures to do in the world. From the Broken Island group, we will cross to the Deer Group, which is still very beautiful and excellent to explore with tropical like crushed white shell beaches,  sea caves and other awesome things. I have built in 5 flex days into our schedule for this trip in addition to lots of rest and exploration days. The flex days are for weather and beach-is-so-beautiful-I-need-to-stay-longer delays, which may be used for optional West Coast Trail detour if 4 or more days are left at the end.

A couple final words on adventure: 

Life is full of unexpected surprises and even the best, most detailed, researched plans can all go out the window in a split second. One reaction to change is frustration and disappointment …and maybe a bit of anger to the world for screwing us out of something we were really looking forward to. However, a more productive reaction to change is to view it as an opportunity to explore a different aspect of something. If you think about it, that is the beauty of travelling, exploring and discovering – experiencing more than what is currently in your world right now. It is the unexpected twists and turns that brings you to new heights that you might not have even imagined was an option. So embrace this essence of adventure!

*Kilimonjaro requires that you go with an outfit and it is possible to hike from little Sherpa village to the next on the Everest Base Camp trek


Trip Delayed….

Well, we just got home from a long day at the hospital. While many people worry about the dangers of travelling,  accidents at home are actually much more common. We were preparing ourselves for the rough and challenging Cape Scott at the northern tip of Vancouver Island and the wave and wind pounded exposed western coast but what ended up being the most dangerous was a rotten inner-tube in a neighbour’s dolly cart.

Bryan was helping out a neighbour move a new fridge. First, he was inflating the tires on an old dolly with the air compressor. The wheel said it was good until 90 psi but not even at 50, the tire exploded. The metal rims struck both of his hands, cutting deep until white was exposed.

Luckily, we live only minutes drive from the local hospital and Bryan was on a bed in the emergency room within 10 minutes of the event. The nurses and doctor at Ladner Hosptial were wonderful, skilled and to be commended but it was still a very, very long and painful afternoon. Both of his hands needed stitches, a tendon was nicked in one hand and severed in the other. He also fractured bones in the hand with the severed tendon.

Needless to say, hand injuries do not bode well for kayaking. Bryan will be ok but it will take time to heal and plans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island by kayak are postponed. However, I’d like to emphasize that plans have been delayed rather than ended. We will probably still have a month or so at the end of summer and while it won’t be enough to go around the whole island, we will still be able to do an awesome trip… in practice for attempting to complete a circumnavigation next summer! The big bag of dehydrated chili will go into the deep freeze, where it will keep longer since there’s meat in it, and we will continue to dream of the blue.

How to stay sane planning for a long expedition

At some point, between our kayaking trip from Vancouver up to Ketchikan, Alaska in 2010 and now, sea kayaking in BC has really exploded.

This is amazing that there is such a vibrant community out there doing such amazing things like the BC Marine Trails map, which shows campsites dotting across the whole BC coastline. This has taken so much work of dedicated individuals who have collected campsite data, organized a verification process and developed an information rich online platform. If you love kayaking, you need to check out the site –  There are now lots of books, many by the knowledgeable Mr. John Kimantas, an editor at Coast & Kayak Magazine.

I have spent the last two weeks pouring over all the details, checking each campsite listed on the BC Marine Trails website and last night, I couldn’t fall asleep with all the information swirling around my head. I just couldn’t make it all fit in one plan!

In my folly, I had planned out each day of this massive expedition. I cross referenced the books and the website and used this little piece of scrap paper folded to the maps scales to measure out distance. I now have a 13 page single spaced document charting out campsite to campsite, each with GPS coordinates and an approximate (very approximate considering my extremely “accurate” measuring system) distance between them.

This research will be handy but I realized it’s a mistake to make such defined a schedule on an expedition that celebrates flexibility and exploration. Creating a list of campsite to campsite, a number of set paddling days and a number of set rest days, becomes a checklist where the journey quickly becomes a chore rather than a journey of discovery. Instead of goals to reach for, we put out expectations on the world and that only serves to disappoint. Expectations are a dangerous thing because if you achieve it, it’s not a joyous event because that’s what you expected to happen. If you don’t achieve it, then you’re disappointed. It’s a trap where there’s a glass-ceiling on happiness.

Goals instead represent a passion to accomplish something. It is an alignment of fierce determination, the desire to achieve something and creativity and background planning to get there. It is a striving for something bigger and personal growth.  Having goals is having dreams.

Instead of a day-by-day schedule, our aim is simply going to paddle about 20-25km a day and see if there’s a campsite around or we’ll make our own. Like the water itself rushing onto one of Vancouver Island’s beautiful beaches or swirling around with the currents and the tides, we will go with the flow and see where it takes us.

The next post will detail some of the places we will visit and more info on our departure and returning dates 🙂


Dreaming of the blue

Cycling in the high mountains in Northern Chile
Cycling in the high mountains in Northern Chile

We have just returned from 19 month cycling trip from Vancouver to Buenos Aires, Argentina were we rode over 16, 200km. The past couple months has been a time to reconnect with family and friends and reflect on the amazing journey it had been. People sometimes tell us, “Oh what a trip of a lifetime!” and we agree. It was one amazing trip but we continue to plan for others. For example, we now plan on circumnavigating Vancouver Island by kayak over this summer 2015!

Map of Vancouver Island. We plan on kayaking all around it
Map of Vancouver Island. We plan on kayaking all around it

It will be about 1100km of paddling from Victoria north along the east inner side of Vancouver Island up to the end of the Strait of Georgia into the Discovery Islands where Vancouver Island and the mainland blur in a myriad of islands. We will  round Cape Scott at the north end of the island then head south along the western outside edge of Vancouver Island. We will be paddling through, from north to south, Quatsino Sound, Kyuquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot Sound and then finally Barkley Sound. We will continue south all the way to Victoria at the south end of the island, making it a full ring around the island.

Paddling from Vancouver to Alaska
Paddling from Vancouver to Alaska in 2010

We have a lot of experience with expedition kayaking in the wilderness as we paddled from Vancouver north to Ketchikan, Alaska in the summer of 2010. We really enjoyed all of the spectacular nature and scenery, fresh fish to eat almost every night and meeting challenges together with each other. It is exciting to embark on another voyage to explore all of the little channels, islands and beaches this time on Vancouver Island. When the means of travel is slower, I feel like you really get in touch with the local environments.

We tend to go an average of 20km per day and plan 10-12 weeks for this epic circumnavigating adventure!

For more information about us, read the “Our Story” page by clicking here

For more information about our plans, read the “Our Plan” page by clicking here

Last of all, if you’re curious on why we have chosen Vancouver Island as our paddling playground, click here 


Our Vision for the Journey

This trip is about the journey of kayaking.

Circumnavigating Vancouver Island is the setting for our story of adventure and fun but it will be the journey that writes the story.

A focus on the journey rather than merely the destination
A focus on the journey rather than merely the destination

Our vision of this trip is one of exploration – the growth and development of our relationship as the two of us paddle off into the sunset, the ups and downs of facing challenges and unexpected joys and how we work through difficult times, the amazing places that we’ll experience, the majestic animals we’ll encounter, the wonderful people we’ll get to meet and the fascinating histories we’ll learn.

This kayaking journey is a celebration of Vancouver Island and adventure. We hope that this website will become a resource for future paddlers and travellers, both on short adventures and long, on Vancouver Island.

See “Our Vision” page for more details by clicking here