Inland Passage 2016

June 9, 2016

We were quite happy with our carved out spot on the beach. Our tent kept the rain out and the tide stayed below our anchors. Everything but the bugs were good. The biting gnats were in abundance and sent us making a record time packing up and departing the beach. Once we were on the water though they left us alone.  We had a large crossing today and the sea state was beautiful.

 No complaints about the sea state.

No complaints about the sea state.

With the seas being calm and nothing in the forecast to be leery of, we decided to do a route that would be more exposed to ocean swells. We headed around Ivory island and checked out another Canadian LightHouse facility. It looked like the access to this location was mainly by helicopter.

 Canadian Light House

Canadian Light House

As we headed up a channel a humpback whale spouted nearby. Today our destination was the First Nation Village of Klemtu. We knew we were getting close when we saw Cone Mountain.

 Cone Mountain

Cone Mountain

Klemtu is a First Nations village. When we paddled up to the dock we were pointed right towards the Spirit Bear Lodge.

 Spirit Bear Lodge

Spirit Bear Lodge

Our friend Tim who we met working at NOLS in the 90's is the manager of the eco tourism lodge that does tours of the area and bear viewing expeditions. Tim was working on a boat at the dock.

 Our friend Tim

Our friend Tim

We were told that we could camp outside of the Big House which was nearby. It is a beautiful structure that is a replica of a long house or big house, that was used as a living space in the winter for the First Nation Clans.

 The Big House

The Big House

Before we were able to unpack our kayaks, Tim drove over to the Big House and said that he had gotten us a room at the bunk house. The bunk house was a place where government workers would stay when they were in town. Currently there was only one room being used and we appreciated his offer. Not only would we be sleeping in a bed tonight, there were hot showers and laundry facilities. After cleaning our bodies and clothes we headed over to Tim's office. One of the main draws of this location is the spirit bear. It is a genetic version of the black bear. It is completely white. Our chances of seeing one is slight. If we were here in August and the salmon were returning to the streams, the bears would be partaking of the feast.  Today however we would have to be satisfied looking at the videos that Tim had taken. Tim also recommended some scenic routes to kayak. We toyed with the idea that would make our route somewhat longer and then decided that it would be best if we returned to this area someday and visit his great suggestions, when we had more time. Tim also suggested that if George an elder  of the village was available that he could give us a tour of the Big House.  A call was made and George said he could meet us at the office around 9.  This was going to be a late night for us as we had gotten up quite early and paddled quite a few miles.  George was a good storyteller and soon we were learning about the town and the fact that he had quite a few relatives living here. The town has the lodge, a fish farm and a processing plant to help with the employment of individuals living here. As we approached the big house, he told us that one of the female elders had a dream to build this for a gathering place to hold potlatches and meetings. She died before the building was completed, but when it was dedicated a spirit bear walked thru the meeting. This was a rare sighting for the town and one could only surmise the meaning of this. Outside of the big house was a replica of a cedar dug out canoe. some canoes were so large that they could hold upwards of a hundred people.

 Cedar Canoe

Cedar Canoe

As we entered the big house, we admired the four totems in the four corners. They represented the whale, raven, eagle and wolf clans. Master Carvers had carved the totems.

 All of the totems had many details

All of the totems had many details

Next George showed us the cedar drum which he played and sang a song that his father had taught him. During a potlatch there are many drummers playing at the same time. 

 Drumming on a cedar drum

Drumming on a cedar drum

In the back of the big house was a room of photographs and art work. So many stories to tell. We thanked George for the evening and enjoyed all that he had shared with us.

 George and Donna

George and Donna

Finally it was time to head back to the bunkhouse and i think we were a sleep before we even laid down.

Nautical miles paddled 21.4