Category Archives: Preparation and Plans

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

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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.

Dehydrating 101

Dehydrator city!
Dehydrator city!

In these last two weeks before heading out, I have been dehydrating up a storm. On the downstairs counter is four dehydrators lined up in a row pumping out dehydrated food for us to take with us on our expedition. We try to have about one week of dehydrated meals as back-up in case we’re not able to forage for food (bad weather, surf beach, provincial and/or national park are just some of the reasons). However, in the DIY spirit, we dehydrate our own meals instead of buying camping freeze-dried meals…and it’s easy!

Dehydrating food makes it light, pack so much smaller and lasts a lot longer. Last week, I was dehydrating a lot of fruit (so tasty to munch on as a snack or to flavour porridge!) , fruit leather (ground up fruit and dried like a fruit roll-up from when you were a kid!), and veggies (broccoli, peppers and corn OH MY!). We also made our own beef jerky and it dehydrates so easy that you’ll never buy expensive store bought jerky again! This week, I am simply making dinner and dehydrating the left-overs. I currently have a big pot of chili simmering in a slow-cooker, which is a favorite back-up camping meal for us.

The secret’s out: YOU CAN DEHYDRATE (ALMOST) EVERYTHING!

A few simple rules:

  1. Fat does not dehydrate so try to minimize it. Yogurt can dehydrate but it never re-hydrates the same.
  2. Big chunks take longer to re-hydrate so chopping things really small or shredding is great, blending soups is even better! Chili using ground beef works well but I made another dish with chunks of chicken that took forever to re-hydrate.
  3. Dehydrate like with like. If you have one tray of peaches and another of broccoli, you’re going to get broccoli infused peaches (maybe ok?) and peaches that taste a bit like broccoli (not as good…)
  4. Mark the quantity you dehydrated so you know how much liquid to put back in. Add liquid conservatively….you can always add more water but you can’t take it out once it’s in!

That’s it! Have fun dehydrating! If you’re looking to get a dehydrator, the ones with fans in them are the best.

Here are some dehydrating tips and ideas our experiences:

Dehydrating Fruit

dehydrating peaches
dehydrating peaches

Fruit is amazing to dehydrate and it’s so tasty to munch on. It’s great in oatmeal and to supplement granola/trail mix. I chopped up apples, peaches, bananas and strawberries and also dehydrated some raspberries and blueberries too.  With fruit, really anything is possible.

** With fruit that turns brown when left out (i.e. apples, pears, peaches), soak it in a little lemon juice and water for about 5-10 minutes before putting it on the dehydrator.

FRUIT LEATHER

A fantastic way of preserving fruit is to puree it and then spread it out on the dehydrating tray. Some dehydrators have fruit leather inserts but you can also easily make your own with parchment paper (not wax paper). You want to be careful to not over dry fruit leather or else it cracks. Once it is not sticky to touch anymore but still a bit pliable (like leather, who would have guessed?), peel it off carefully then cut into the size you want and roll it up in wax paper for storage.

Some of my favorite combinations are:  raspberry & strawberry, blueberry & applesauce* with a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and the all time favorite, blend up all the fruit I have in my fridge for a kickass mixed fruit leather!

*Apples are a great filler and give a little extra sweetness to sometimes tart berries. Applesauce is really easy to make. Just boil up four roughly cut and peeled apples with about 1/2 cup of water, add a little honey/brown sugar/ maple syrup as you like, optional cinnamon. Boil for about half an hour and then blend in a food processor or blender after it’s cooled a bit. Presto! Delicious homemade applesauce!

Dehydrating Veggies

Dehydrating broccoli
Dehydrating broccoli

Veggies also dehydrate well and it really reduces the weight and space of carrying delicious veggies. A large ziplock bag of broccoli turned into half of a small ziplock bag of broccoli. Six full sized carrots turned into something I could hold in the palm of one hand. Dehydrating veggies separate means you can be versatile with your meals, coming up with meals on the fly or jazzing up other meals. This is new for us and thanks for backpacking guru, Lauren, for her suggestion! Now, we will have our freshly caught fish plus a side of quinoa with some dehydrated veggies tossed in while its cooking for an awesome dinner!

Some tips dehydrating veggies:

  • Soak broccoli in salt water for 10 minutes before throwing it on the dehydrator. This will help it keep its green colour
  • Bell peppers (all peppers actually) dehydrate well and really keep their flavour. Chop it up in small squares for better dehydrating.
  • Mushrooms soak up flavour so you can make little mushroom “bullion cubes” by soaking them in beef or veggie stock for about 10 minutes before dehydrating
  • Frozen veggies work great. Throw frozen peas and corn straight onto the dehydrating trays
  • Carrots can take a long time to re-hydrate. Some ideas for quicker re-hydration is to shred the carrots or cook them first. I tried cooking them this time and they dehydrated so small!
  • Leafy greens dehydrate well including kale, Swiss chard, spinach and more. You can also dehydrate herbs quite well too

Dehydrating Meat

Meat can re-hydrate kind of tough and use a higher heat on your dehydrator to make it safe. Many dehydrators have a meat setting.

Ideas for dehydrating meat include:

  • Deli cold cuts such as ham, turkey, chicken, lean roast beef –  Cut into strips to dehydrate. This can be a great addition to mac and cheese!
  • Canned tuna – Screw the heavy metal can! Make sure you get the tuna in water rather than oil
  • Similarly, canned chicken! – the key apparently is that canned chicken is pressure cooked. If you have a pressure cooker, you can do it yourself. See this website for more details: http://www.backpackingchef.com/pressure-cooking-chicken.html
  • Ground beef apparently dehydrates best with some breadcrumbs added in – 1/2 cup for every pound of beef, make sure you use lean beef. Bread crumbs allow more liquid to penetrate the dried meat when you re-hydrate it so it turns out more tender!

Honestly though, I don’t dehydrate meat separately all that much.  I have ground beef in my delicious dehydrated chili but I don’t normally have a bag of simply dried ground beef. The BEST WAY  to dehydrate meat is beef jerky!

BEEF JERKY

Beef jerky is so easy to make that you’ll never buy expensive store bought jerky again! First get a big hunk of beef roast then slice it. If you have a slicer, that’s great. If you don’t, a tip is to put the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes before slicing and it will make it easier to cut. Cut the meat into about 1/2 inch slices – too thin will make the jerky really crispy while too fat will be hard to dehydrate. Use only lean meat for dehydrating and cut out fat parts as fat will go rancid and spoil faster.

We made a simple teriyaki sauce for the beef with soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, a bit of garlic powder and cayenne. Some other things you can add in include liquid smoke,  black pepper, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s hot sauce and Tabasco. Play with the different amounts and see what tastes good for you. Just make sure there is enough to cover all of the meat.

Leave the meat to soak in the sauce overnight and then put it on the dehydrator. Like fruit leather, you want the meat to be completely dry to touch but still pliable and bendy.

 

Enjoy and comment below on any dehydrating thoughts!!

 

 

 

Vancouver’s Kayaking Gem: Indian Arm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Our kayaks at Granite Falls beach near the end of Indian Arm

Kayaking up Indian Arm is probably one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets where locals flock to on a sunny evening or weekend. It is close to Vancouver (transitable!), has a kayak rental place right at the beginning in Deep Cove (accessible for those who own or don’t own kayaks!) and it is a wilderness paradise (roads end soon after Deep Cove). Indian Arm is a steep-sided glacial fjord close to the city of Vancouver extending north for about 20km from Burrard Inlet.  It was an easy choice for us for a practice paddle up Indian Arm last weekend with a couple friends in preparation for our larger journey around Vancouver Island this summer.

Map of Indian Arm
Map of Indian Arm

Indian Arm is at the heart of indigenous Tsleil-Waututh Nation since time immemorial. Since 1995, much of Indian Arm has been made into a provincial park named the Say Nuth Khaw Yum Heritage Park (aka Indian Arm Provincial Park), which is co-managed with Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Fun fact, a rough wilderness hiking trail goes around the perimeter of Indian Arm, created over many years by Don McPherson who also created the Grouse Grind!

Launching at Deep Cove
Launching at Deep Cove

We started at Deep Cove near the entrance of Indian Arm. Burrard Inlet and the opening of Indian Arm was mapped first by Captain George Washington and then Indian Arm was fully explored later by Dionisio Alcala Galiano in 1792. Kayaking out of Deep Cove, we followed the western shore past gorgeous homes and old family cabins nestled into the cliffside.

Getting some help putting on my sprayskirt! I don't remember it being THIS tight!! haha
Getting some help putting on my sprayskirt! I don’t remember it being THIS tight!! haha

Talking to another fellow who comes up here regularly, he said that there are two types of people who live up around Deep Cove and Indian Arm – the hippy, live off the land type and the independently wealthy. Well, after about 3km of paddling, we get up to Lone Rock Point where there is a small “lighthouse” beacon by a gorgeous home with its own helicopter perched precariously on wooden landing pad that pulled up from the beach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm6vV6rPwgE Lone Rock Point is the closest crossing point to Raccoon Island. On hot summer days, a wind picks up in the afternoon whipping up the channel causing a bit of chop to the waves and lots of little powerboats, sailboats and yachts zipping around. However, the crossing is not long and soon we were at Raccoon Island. Raccoon Island is day-use only and apparently should be named Goose Island because it is invaded by Canadian Geese. As we paddled by Raccoon Island, a couple Canadian Geese trumpeted their dislike of our arrival.

Camping at Twin Islands
Camping at Twin Islands

Twin Islands are about another kilometer further.  The two islands are very close to the mainland and seem to detach themselves as we paddled closer and depth perception increased. The smaller southern island is day use only while the larger north island has five wooden tent pads nestled in the forest.

Trails on Twin Islands
Trails on Twin Islands

There are little trails all over the small island that we wandered around in the afternoon all the way out to the northern tip of the island where there is a small “lighthouse” beacon and then trails south over the rocky hill and down to the small beach between the islands and a quick trail there back to the dock on the northeastern side of the island. The north island is covered by tall evergreen trees and a thick underbrush that is almost completely edible! Hardy green salal carpets the forest floor with delicate little white bell flowers hanging in a row. Huckleberry bushes already have plump red berries on them and a salmonberry bush welcomed us onto the island right off the dock ramp. Around dusk, a deer timidly wandered by very close to camp.

It was about 5.5km paddling from Deep Cove to Twin Islands. About 5km further north following the eastern shore, we came up to two old BC Hydro powerhouses built in the turn of the century where Gothic stone architecture made them look like an old castle. We paddle by Buntzen No 2. first, built in 1914 and then around the corner is Buntzen No. 1 built in 1903 to power Vancouver and upgraded in 1951. Penstocks direct water down from Buntzen Lake about 150 metres up the hill. The lake is in turn replenished though a tunnel from Coquitlam Lake, which was completed in 1905.

Approaching Buntzen No. 2 powerhouse
Approaching Buntzen No. 2 powerhouse

Though Buntzen No. 2 looks a little like a setting from a horror movie with broken windows and only the only sign of life is one fan high on the stone wall spinning away, they are still functioning. One unit at Buntzen No. 2 was shut down in 1972 but the two remaining units can still produce 17,800 kW. Both plants are remotely monitored and operated at a facility on Burnaby Mountain. On Buntzen No. 2 is a small sign that cautions people from getting to close as there can be sudden outflows of water. Ironically, the writing is so small that you need to be close to read it! Fun fact, Buntzen Lake and powerhouses is named after Johannes Buntzen, a Dane who was the first general manager of the BC Electric Railway and was called “the grandfather of electricity” in British Colombia!

Granite Falls 1887
Granite Falls 1887

After the long Buntzen Bay where Buntzen No. 1 is located, Croker Island comes into view in the middle of the channel and Granite Falls is tucked in behind. Granite Falls today is a beautiful wilderness boat-access-only campsite with about seven gravel tent pads and extra camping on a grassy field south of the falls. Though many people love Granite Falls for its wilderness, it was actually the site of a huge rock quarry as early as 1891. Stone from Granite Falls was used to construct grand new buildings in the young city of Vancouver around the turn of the century.

Granite Falls Quarry circa 1925
Granite Falls Quarry circa 1925

The Granite Falls Quarry bunk-house and cook-house were completely destroyed by fire in September 1946. Throughout the 20th century, the Indian Arm fjord was a popular destination for day-cruises, including a daily steamship up to the posh Wigwam Inn, originally opened as a luxury German resort and fishing lodge in 1910 located at the north end of Indian Arm (currently owned by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club as an outstation for club members). In 1965, Granite Falls was the site of an ambitious resort project with a marina, lodge, dinner and dancing facilities, beer garden, roller skating pad, picnic area and horseshoe pitches.

Brochure of the Granite Falls Resort from 1965
Brochure of the Granite Falls Resort from 1965
Picture of Granite Falls Resort 1965. The Galley is probably sitting right where we camped this past weekend!
Picture of Granite Falls Resort 1965. The Galley is probably sitting right where we camped this past weekend!
All that's left today of the busy industry here in the past!
All that’s left today of the busy industry here in the past!

A view of the falls now….much different from the previous pictures from the past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSgRDCvo02c Today, it is a tranquil place with its campsites filled with paddlers. Boats come in for the day to splash around in the waterfall but then leave to anchor with other boaters in different areas.

The
The “Waterslide” at the base of the waterfall. The middle portion is the place to slide down rather than from where the water comes out. There is a bit of a drop from the first tier to the other which tilts people forward so they land headfirst into the shallow water. This is also the perfect water level…any more or less is dangerous. There is apparently a rock that sticks out if there’s less water that cuts people (a regular to the falls told us to look for the iconic 4 inch scar on the left shoulderblade on other visitors to the falls).

There is a lovely shallow pool at the base of the waterfall including a cool waterslide down the lower part when the water level is right (see picture for more info). However, the secret is to climb up to the second tier where the views are gorgeous and there is an emerald green pool deep enough to dive into. There is a beautiful cascade tumbling into the pool and more cascading down onto the ground. Follow the dried creek-bed on the south side of the waterfalls and then ironically, follow the dangers of climbing up the waterfall signs. It is a steep climb using roots as handholds and only go up to the second tier if the conditions are good.

Cascade into the lovely swimming hole up at the second tier of the falls
Cascade into the lovely swimming hole up at the second tier of the falls
Bryan taking in the gorgeous view from the second tier of the waterfall
Bryan taking in the gorgeous view from the second tier of the waterfall

However, the swimming fun is not just limited to the day. We went for a midnight dip in the bay where every movement sparkled with bioluminence. These glowing sparks are plankton that produces their own light through a chemical reaction when disturbed. It was very surreal to swim in the dark waters where each of our movements was followed by a swirl of light.

Perfect conditions in the morning leaving Granite Falls
Perfect conditions in the morning leaving Granite Falls

There is a mass exodus from Granite Falls early Sunday morning. We all wanted to paddle out early when the fjord was calm. The water surface was like a mirror and fog curled out of the mountain sides. As the day heats up, the wind picks up and is channeled down the fjord into a challenging headwind. We crossed over to the western side of Indian Arm and stopped at Silver Falls about a third of the way back to Deep Cove. You can hear Silver Creek before you see it. The roaring sound leads us to a little nook with beautiful translucent green water and a waterfall behind some rocks. There is a lovely pool for some refreshing swimming.

Leaving Granite Falls at around 8am, we were back in Deep Cove by around noon after a leisurely 17km paddle. It has been a great paddle to get ourselves back onto the water and hang out with friends, Mike and Lauren!

Great times with great friends!! Thanks for all the fun, Mike and Lauren!!
Great times with great friends!! Thanks for all the fun, Mike and Lauren!!

How to paddle up Indian Arm:

  • You can launch your own kayak at the beach in front of Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Center. If you have a vehicle, you can rent a kayak at MEC (cheapest) and bring it there. If you want really easy and/or don’t have a vehicle, you can rent at Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak Center and launch right there!
  • Paddling to Twin Island – best route is to kayak up the west side of Indian Arm up to Lone Rock Point for the shortest crossing to Raccoon Island and then Twin Island is only a little farther away. About 5.5km
  • Paddling from Twin Island to Granite Falls – stick to the east side of Indian Arm. You’ll see Buntzen No. 2 power plant from Twin Islands, which is about 5km away. Buntzen No. 1 is around the point in Buntzen Bay. After crossing Buntzen Bay, you’ll see Croker Island and Granite Falls is behind the island. About 12.2km
  • Paddling from Granite Falls to Deep Cove – cross to the west side of Indian Arm via Croker Island. Silver Falls is after about 6km and just before the first dock on the trip south.  About 17km

Our Route around Vancouver Island

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

We are excited to share that we are leaving on the expedition in under three weeks! We plan to head out on June 22, the day after Father’s Day.  Fun fact, I found out that June 22, 2015 is also Discovery Day, a holiday in Newfoundland commemorates John Cabot’s arrival at the province in 1497. While our trip is across the country from Newfoundland, it is kinda cool to start this epic expedition on a day named Discovery!

Our goals (*ahem* not expectations – read my blog post on expectations versus goals for a long expedition by clicking here) is to spend about 5 weeks going up the inside of Vancouver Island, stand on Cape Scott at the northern tip for our second anniversary of our wedding on July 27 (I love you, honey!) and spend another 5 weeks paddling down the outside of the Island (hopefully with those NW winds that plagued us going up to Alaska last time).

Our end date is September 10-11 fitting between vacations our family members are going on and going back to school to upgrade his electrical ticket for Bryan!

Part 1 – The Gulf Islands – Victoria to Nanaimo

Part 1 - Victoria to Nanaimo

  • Mainland to Victoria BC Ferries from Twassassen to Swartz Bay, kayak to Portland Island in the Gulf Islands that night to camp
  • Portland Island, Prevost Island, Wallace Island, Valdes Island, DeCourcy Island and Newcastle Island
  • A couple of the highlights: Cool sandstone cliffs on Valdes Island especially northwest of Blackberry Point, Hole in the Wall “one of those special places” narrow passage between sculpted sandstone with a crushed shell bed between Link and De Courcy Island

Part 2 – Strait of Georgia – Nanaimo to Lund

part 2 nanaimo to lund

  • It becomes a long series of private property between Nanaimo to Campbell River and while beaches are public property in Canada up to the high tide line, it is really awkward and sometimes confrontational. We instead use Lasqueti and Texada Islands as are more wild option for our marine highway through the top end of the Strait of Georgia
  • Gerald Island, Home Bay on Jedediah Island, Texada Island, Harwood Island or Powell River, Lund
  • A couple highlights include: paddle through the only sea cave in the Gulf Islands on north shore of Jesse Island, Jedediah Island (tucked between Lasqueti and Texada Islands) is in the middle of a small archipelago gaining popularity as perfect for kayaking!

Part 3 – Discovery Islands and Johnston Strait – Lund to Telegraph Cove

part 3 lund to telegraph cove

  • Early explorers through Vancouver was just a large peninsula off the mainland and it is easy to see why they thought so as Vancouver Island and the mainland blur in a myriad of little waterways between the labyrinth of the Discovery Islands. Challenges here include strange currents swirling around the islands and tidal rapids. As we get into Johnston Strait, the waterway opens up and we are joined by orcas on their migration path!
  • Marina  Island, South Rendezvous Island, Hole in the Wall (rapids), Francisco Island in the Octopus Islands group, Okisollo Channel (upper and lower rapids), Little Bear Bay, Robson Bight Ecological Reserve (camp by it but not inside since it’s an orca reserve), Telegraph Cove
  • A couple highlights include: The sweet little 8 island archipelago Octopus Islands surrounded tightly by a wider ring of islands that we squeeze though on narrow little passageways guarded by rapids (don’t worry, we paddle through on slack tide avoiding the rapids and whirlpools), orcas who travel up Johnston Strait and visiting rubbing beaches of smooth pebbles – we may camp by three of these beaches!

Part 4 – North End of the Island – Telegraph Cove to Winter Harbour

part 4 telegraph cove to winter harbour

  • This is probably one of the most challenging parts of our kayaking trip, rounding the fearsome Cape Scott at the north end of Vancouver Island. On a closer look, the Cape itself looks like a claw reaching out into the seas. Weather, wind and surf are our challenges here but there are also beautiful scenery with long sandy beaches to enjoy.
  • Port McNeill (resupply and restock stop), Cattle Islands, Bell Island, Nigei Island, Cape Sutil, Experimental Bight, Helen Islands, Topknot Point, Grants Bay, Winter Harbour
  • A couple highlights include: God’s Pocket Provincial  Marine Park in the islands by Port Hardy, the awesome Cape Scott Provincial Park with its beautiful beaches!

Part 5 – Brooks Peninsula – Winter Harbour to Rugged Point

part 5 winter harbour to rugged point

  • After Cape Scott, our next challenge is the mighty Brooks Pennisula, an 800m high and 14m projection off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. However, with the right planning and waiting for the right conditions, it is an amazing place full of wildlife from birds to sea otters to lots, lots more!
  • Rowley Reefs Peninsula, Heater Point, Crabapple Islets, Paradise Beach, Bunsby Islands, Mission Group, Rugged Point
  • A couple highlights include the Sea Otter reserve in the the Checeleset Bay (Bunsby Islands) and kayaking through the Mission Group

Part 6 – Nootka Sound – Rugged Point to Hotspring Cove

part 6 rugged point to hotsprings cove

  • We have an option for inside passage around Nootka Island or the outside. Both routes are basically equal in kilometers and we can decide when we get there. We might want a break from the exposed coastline and ready for a nice quiet waterway paddle.
  • Catala Islands, Lord Waterfall, Santiago Creek in Tahsis Passage, Bligh Island/Yuquot, Barcester Bay, Hesquiat Harbour, Hotsprings Cove
  • A couple highlights will be Bligh Island Marine Park in Nootka Sound and the lovely and well deserved hotsprings in Hotspings Cove

Part 7 – Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds – Hotsprings Cove to Bamfield

part 7 hotsprings cove to bamfield

  • We have another choice here to go the inside route in Clayoquot Sound or the outside route – inside has serene waterways while the outside has glorious beaches. After a couple days off in Tofino, we will have lots of beaches anyways navigating Long Beach to Ucluelet where we will hop into  Barkley Sound for the Broken Group and Deer Group islands
  • Francis Island, Dodd Island, Gibraltar Island, Ross Islets in the Deer Group/Bamfield
  • A couple highlights include kayaking the Broken and Deer Groups in Barkley Sound! Those are both places I have wanted to kayak for so long!

Part 8 – Juan de Fuca Strait – Bamfield to Victoria

part 8 bamfield to victoria

  • The final hurrah of the expedition where our challenge now is few and far between campsites. We will have some long days in this section as it is just straight coast without many inlets or islands.
  • Transiting the Pacific Rim National Park and the famous West Coast Trail perhaps with stops at Tsusiat Falls, Carmanah Point, Trasher Cove by Port Renfrew, Mystic Beach….and then there is a bit of a camping desert as we get closer to Victoria….suggestions and recommendations anyone?
  • A couple highlights: we’re basically doing both the famous West Coast Trail and the Juan de Fuca trail…marine editions! A victory beer in Victoria!

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 – https://www.bcmarinetrails.org/  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 🙂

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Food

Napoleon Bonaparte, the first Emperor of France and widely regarded as one of the greatest military leaders in the history of the West, once said something very simple and true,

“An army marches on its stomach.”

The last of classical Athens’s three great tragic dramatists, Euripides, also said,

“When a man’s stomach is full, it makes no difference whether he is rich or poor”

A final saying to this delicious trilogy is the famous proverb,

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

These three quotes and sayings speak to the importance of food and a full stomach.  Food is central to any trip and this is especially true for us embarking on a long kayaking journey. When kayaking through huge remote areas, there is the challenge on how to provision for such a long trip in the wilderness. Some other kayakers on a similar journey had food airdropped into the remote locations or mailed it to various villages on the way…though they only held the packages for a couple weeks so it was always a bit of a rush to make deadlines.
me (Maggie) with some fresh greenlings I caught that we cooked up for dinner
Some fresh fish for dinner caught off my kayak! These are a couple big greenlings, which are often found in kelp beds

When we kayaked from Vancouver up to Alaska in 2010, we decided on living off the land. This meant fishing and gathering berries, shellfish and wild edibles for our dinners. This turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the trip and something we now really look forward to about these long kayaking journeys through the wilderness!

We plan on foraging for our dinners on this kayaking expedition circumnavigating Vancouver Island as well! 

Our plan is to stop kayaking around 2pm in the afternoon and fish for dinner. We will go to a kelp bed and jig for rock cod and greenlings. We’ll bring our catch of the day to shore to clean the fish and make a fire to cook it in. Our fires are always very small cooking fires made in the intertidal zones where it will be washed away by the next tide and we always prepare food away from camp for wildlife safety. Sometimes, we will also find some shellfish like mussels or wild edible food like berries and greens. Also depending on the location, we will put the fish heads and spines after cleaning the fish into our collapsible crab traps to put out for a couple hours as we continue to set up camp.

The bountiful resources of the Northwest Coast has not only been discussed in the present day but has been a part of the discussion of the coast’s history.The Northwest Coast is famous in anthropology for the rich cultures that have been found here. Previous to exploring the First Nation cultures on this coast, it was generally believed that a foraging society could not be very sedentary and could not develop complex societies. However, an anthropologist named Boas found during his work here in the late 19th and early 20th century that the resources of salmon and berries was so rich that people were able to live quite sedentary lifestyles and the cultures on this coast was amazingly intricate and complex.

That being said, finding the occasional restaurant at one of our town stops also “technically” counts as foraging!
Yummy campfire meal of some dehydrated chili. Secret is that you can actually dehydrate almost anything so before we leave, I will make big batches of food and dehydrate it for the trip!
Yummy campfire meal of some dehydrated chili. Secret is that you can actually dehydrate almost anything so before we leave, I will make big batches of food and dehydrate it for the trip!

We will post about our culinary adventures including the camping food we dehydrate to prepare for the trip, showcase some of the meals we’ll cook over the campfire, display proud pictures of the fish we caught and feature some of the amazing westcoast restaurants we run into on the way!

Are you a restaurant on the coastline of Vancouver Island and have a dish you want to share with the world? Contact me at my email (maggie.m.woo@gmail.com) or post a comment below if you would like us to come visit your establishment!
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