Inland Passage 2016

June 20, 2016

We are beginning the Alaskan part of the Inside passage today

We are beginning the Alaskan part of the Inside passage today

Today we will be in Alaskan Waters. The paddle around Cape Fox went well. Soon we will be past the waters that are exposed to the Pacific in the area called Dixon Entrance There were relatively large swells and we would disappear from each other when we were in the trough.  I give a thumbs up as we are back in the states and the sea state is good.

Ketchikan here we come.

Ketchikan here we come.

A lot of boats were rolling around in the swell as well.  We learned that there was an opening which makes sense of why these boats were here. They came in all sizes and were using various techniques to catch the salmon.

Did not look fun to be on board today.

Did not look fun to be on board today.

An Alaskan lighthouse

An Alaskan lighthouse

Steady progress with the wind and current with us. We passed a cool looking light house. Most of the light houses here are not manned like they were in Canada. Talked to one fisherman that said the fishing was slow. We watched a couple of nets being pulled in and that seemed accurate. Not too much wildlife today except for one whale who rose quite near our boats. We only saw the whale once. Sure would be fun to be able to see what they are doing underwater. The day kept getting sunnier and calmer, exactly opposite of the weather forecast. When we saw a sandy beach with a place for the tent and kitchen to be in the woods, we opted to stop, set up camp and and enjoy the scenery.

When there is a hardened campsite in the forest, we take advantage of it.

When there is a hardened campsite in the forest, we take advantage of it.

Great view

Great view

Our plan is to not have a long paddle day tomorrow as we want to be in a position to be in Ketchikan in the morning the next day and leave by late afternoon. So time to read. pick some huckleberries and just check out the view.

Nautical Miles Paddled 24.7

 

 

 

June 19, 2016

We listened to the weather forecast which was calling for wind to build by afternoon. There was going to be another large crossing to do either later today or early tomorrow. Generally we like to do crossings early, as that is when the wind is the least strong, but on this trip that does not always seem to be the case. So we look at all the factors and decide accordingly. It is an easier load this morning as the tide is higher, We paddle past a First Nations village that had been called Fort Simpson now it is known by its native name. The houses and buildings are well kept. It is early so we do not see any activity and pass by. This will be our last town in Canada. Next town will find us in Alaska.

A quiet early morning paddle.

A quiet early morning paddle.

Once we leave the somewhat protected bay that this town is located. We head toward a site that may put us in a good position to cross Portland Canal which is part of the exposed part of the  Dixon Entrance. Camping sites are now harder to find so we thought that if could find this place we could stop and take a break and assess the crossing. the weather is overcast and the wind is starting to build.

Last picture we take till we get across Portland canal and into calmer water.

Last picture we take till we get across Portland canal and into calmer water.

We have checked where the guidebook said that there was a camping spot. Unfortunately it did not match the map and when we had gone around an island to find it, we came out in a channel called Work Channel. The current was not in our favor, in fact the current was creating large standing waves as it rushed into the channel. We had hoped to avoid this, but our new plan was to hug the shore taking advantages of back eddies as we got towards the mouth of the channel.

At this point we put our kayaks into ferry mode and with a tight angle ferried to the other side. We were glad to have that done! Now we were looking straight at Portland canal. There was some wind but the current was flooding and that was a good sign to get us across. We steadily made forward progress. Waves would go over our decks, but with controlled bracing and a little adrenaline we kept moving. Once again we appreciate the strength of the current. We were headed to a sandy Island called Proctor Island. We had made good time so far this morning and we arrived at the island around 2. It was a great spot to take a break, but we decided to move on as the wind had calmed and we were feeling good.

What a contrast from our previous camp.

What a contrast from our previous camp.

It was temping to stay here.

It was temping to stay here.

After a short nap we were ready to go.

After a short nap we were ready to go.

Our next point of potential hazard was Cape Fox. If we paddled somewhat further today we could see what the conditions were at the Cape.  So with that in mind we headed off to Tongass Island. This had been a site of a native village as well as a trade settlement. We did not see any signs of past civilization, but the forest is quite thick so did not want to go exploring. The day had turned sunny so we took the opportunity to dry out some of our gear.

Nice shell beach

Nice shell beach

Interesting to imagine lots of activity here at one time.

Interesting to imagine lots of activity here at one time.

We took a small walk along the beach and found a few berries and checked out the crossing to Cape Fox

Nautical Miles traveled 25

June 18, 2016

A leisurely morning eating fresh bing cherries, real milk, bananas and yogurt on our cereal. The sun is shining brightly as we depart the Pioneer Hostel. It was a great overnight and we feel refreshed and ready to continue our northward journey.

Does not look like he has been on the water for a month!

Does not look like he has been on the water for a month!

Don has talked to several people in the hostel.(not kayakers.) A big difference between this trip and our hiking trips of the PCT is the numbers of people we have talked to and learned their stories. We have only met 4 other kayakers in the month we have been out.  On the PCT we met new people everyday. It was fun staying here and talking to some of the travelers passing thru. We called the US border office which is located in Ketchikan.  The next city that we will visit is Ketchikan, but we will be in American waters before that and to be legal they need to know that we are coming. The border officer that we talked to was quite enthusiastic about our trip and is looking forward to talking to us when we arrive to Ketchikan. We head down to where are gear and kayaks are stored and begin the process of loading. The very helpful Amanda who works at the Rowing and Yacht club sends us on our way. She tells us of the wind that may increase today.

Amanda

Amanda

It looks like we will be on target for catching the ebb tide as we leave the docks. First though we have to wait for a tug boat pulling a large barge of logs.. There is a pulp mill here and looks like the tug is heading in that direction.

Here comes the tug boat.

Here comes the tug boat.

Logs on the move has been a common sight. 

Logs on the move has been a common sight. 

It has been a good stop here and would be a good dropping off point in the future as one can drive to this port. We get a good view of the town as we cross over to head up Venn Passage with the ebb tide now occurring.

Prince Rupert.

Prince Rupert.

When we got over to the other side and were setting ourselves up for the approach to Venn Passage, Don called his Dad with the satellite phone and wished him a Happy Father's Day. His voice sounded a little stronger. He is back at home after a short stay in the hospital and is adamant about not returning to the hospital. The wind has not picked up as predicted and with the current flowing with us, we easily move thru the passage. A decision to continue on is easy to make. As there are numerous places to camp which is a change from areas south of Prince Rupert. There is an increased amount of kelp beds that we are passing. If possible we try to go around them, but at times we just need to push our way thru them. Today was a push thru day, but with the lighting, they made beautiful patterns in the water.

Kelp bed slow us down.

Kelp bed slow us down.

Beautiful

Beautiful

The underwater camera worked!

The underwater camera worked!

We are glad that we did not heed the wind warning. It is a good day to paddle and we are taking advantage of it. Don is able to take a photo of another bird that is quite common in the area. With its white wing patch and bright red feet, it is easy to identify.

Pigeon Guillemot

Pigeon Guillemot

We decide to stop at Burnt Island and take advantage of the sun to do some repairs and dry some gear. The tide is close to low and the beach we choose will have a rocky carry, but the campsite looks good. 

Would have rather landed at high tide.

Would have rather landed at high tide.

Not a bad place for a tent site.

Not a bad place for a tent site.

Home for the night.

Home for the night.

Nautical miless traveled 16.2

 

 

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June 17, 2016

We were up at 4 and on the water by 6. We wanted to catch the hide tide and we were successful. The first bird that we saw as we crossed the open water towards Prince Rupert was the:

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rhinoceros Auklet

The crossing to Prince Rupert had the potential to be quite windy and wavy and to have lots of boat traffic heading to the town. Being on the water so early helped with minimal traffic and we were fortunate to have the current with us as well as some nice winds on our backs. We were approaching Prince Rupert before noon and had paddled 18 miles.

Great conditions this morning.

Great conditions this morning.

As we approached the town the first thing we saw was a large loading dock surrounded by numerous piles of unidentified minerals. 

It was quite noisy and dusty as we passed the loading dock.

It was quite noisy and dusty as we passed the loading dock.

The next large operation was an  enormous container ship that was being unloaded.

We had a vision of what happens when a container ship looses some of its cargo at sea.

We had a vision of what happens when a container ship looses some of its cargo at sea.

There were 4 containers being unloaded at a time here.

There were 4 containers being unloaded at a time here.

We were headed to the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht club. We had sent them a box of our food and Don had Seward Kayaks send them a foot peddle replacement. We were hoping that our packages would be there. As we approached the docks a women was walking on the docks, when she saw us she asked if we were looking for a place to put our kayaks. We said that we were looking for the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht club. She said that is who I work for.  And then she asked are you Don and Donna? I have some packages for you! Great ! She showed us where to put our kayaks and we unloaded our gear on to the docks.

We are getting good with the dock unloading.

We are getting good with the dock unloading.

We grabbed a cart and wheeled it up to the building.

This is the last year for this building. It is to be torn down and a new one built in its place.

This is the last year for this building. It is to be torn down and a new one built in its place.

This turned our to be a beautiful sunny day, tomorrow afternoon the rain and wind is predicted to begin. With that in mind we decided that we should take off tomorrow. One needs to leave here at high tide which means a late morning departure. We are excited to see our three packages and Amanda who I had talked to in May has graciously allowed us to store all of our gear in the back room. Don and I divide up our tasks.. He heads off to reserve us a room in a nearby hostel and to repair his kayak. I have the fun job of organizing our food and repacking it into our bear proof containers. Several hours later we feel our gear is good to go and head to the hostel for showers and to do laundry. This is the second time in a month that we will be sleeping in clean sheets. Clean does feel good! We take a walk around the town, find the Safeway store and delight in buying fruit, yogurt and ice cream. Good internet connections and we were able to talk to our son Jeff. Coming up are once again more crux moves of the route so we do some reading of the hazards that we may encounter. Since we can not leave till high tide, there is no reason to get up early. Yeah!

Nautical Miles traveled 18.2

June 16, 2016

It is another wet morning, with on and off visibility across the channel. There are drips everywhere. This has been a wet week. We need to wait for the tide to shift before we head out. We will be in an area where the flood and ebb meet so want to time our paddle where we will be near the switch when that happens. With that in mind we do not have to leave early. We wait for the flooding tide to get closer to our campsite, which will also make loading easier. Our hands look like prunes that never get to dry out. Our bodies mostly though are doing well and we are thankful for that. Around noon we packed our kayaks and headed out. With poor visibility and increased number of boats we hugged the shore until we were out of the channel.

Views were limited today.

Views were limited today.

When we left the channel we had to do another crossing, from out of the fog appeared five boats. Fortunately the fog had lifted enough for the smaller boats to see us and the cruise ship was on the other side.

Lots of boat traffic.

Lots of boat traffic.

With some wind to our backs and the currents also pushing us we were making good time today. We checked the charts and determined that if it worked we could set ourselves up well to get to Prince Rupert tomorrow.  Two factors would have to go well if that would to happen. One was that we would have to push to get to a campsite that had potential strong currents in the approach and tomorrow the seas would be calm enough to make a crossing to the town. We had already gone thru the ebb cycle of the tide and it had switched to flooding. The flood cycle was what we needed to get to our campsite. We had to smile as we felt like we were on a river going downstream. Not only were we getting a ride, the sun had come out and it looks like we might be able to dry some gear at the campsite we were aiming for. A beautiful sandy beach was our site tonight. Large logs that had washed ashore left enough space for our tent to be set up between them.

Not being fans of sand camping as the sand, especially when our gear was damp sticks to everything. Today we were super happy to be here.

Not being fans of sand camping as the sand, especially when our gear was damp sticks to everything. Today we were super happy to be here.

The second factor of getting to Prince Rupert tomorrow was sea conditions. At least tonight, the sea has calmed and if the pattern stays we should be able to get there tomorrow.

Calm seas

Calm seas

It was a good day in the paddling world. We were definitely working with the flows of the sea today.

Nautical miles traveled 22.0

 

 

 

June 15, 2016

After having a zero day yesterday, we are ready to be back in the boats. We are up at 5 and on the water by 7, The day is overcast, but we do get some views of the mountains and there are a lot of waterfalls on both sides. We can see why this is a preferred route of the cruise ships. The tide is with us and the sea is calm. Makes for enjoyable paddling.

Glad we waited to leave today.

Glad we waited to leave today.

This is some of the narrowest channels that we have paddled.

This is some of the narrowest channels that we have paddled.

Not sure where I got the idea, but I thought that this was more representative of the Inland Passage. The tidal current is strong thru here so we are on the tides schedule. When the fog lifts we have views of the granitic mountains above the trees.

Some of these area look like their might be some hiking possibilities.

Some of these area look like their might be some hiking possibilities.

One thing that catches our eyes today is the red color of the sea. It reminds us of paddling in Baja when there are lots of phosphorescence in the water. Not sure if this is a toxic bloom or not, but there are signs warning not to eat shellfish.

Lots of red in the water today.

Lots of red in the water today.

There are several whales in the area and at times we seem to be traveling with one that is going our direction.  We are never sure when it is going to breathe and several times it has startled me when it is fairly close to my kayak. it has also come close to Don's. One feels so special when one is in the presence of one of this magnificent mammals.

The whale is  ahead of the kayak and to the left.

The whale is  ahead of the kayak and to the left.

Notice the spout of the whale.

Notice the spout of the whale.

We had a destination in mind, but when the tide shifted, even though it was calm, it was not enjoyable to be on the water. We found a site that was quite small, but with the help of the shovel and saw we made a reasonable camp on the shore, A boat came by and dropped off some crab pots. We like the name.

Our oldest son had the nickname Fury in College.

Our oldest son had the nickname Fury in College.

We are feeling pretty wet, this last week has been one of mostly rain.

Nautical miles traveled 28.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 14, 2016

We slept soundly, something to be said to doing a lot of physical activity. I think we would have wakened if the tide had approached our tent, but in reality I am not sure. When we awoke at 7, the sun was starting to warm up our tent. With the tide and narrowness of this channel going with the tide is almost mandatory. We decided that we would get ready to leave at 11.  By 9 the sun was hiding behind clouds and shortly after the rain started. The fog lowered and visibility was minimal. As the rain continued in intensity. We thought this would be a good day to have a Zero mileage day. We were ahead of where we thought we might be and this was a scenic section. With that decision made, we settled down to reading, chart studying and baking. Hopefully tomorrow will bring clearer skies. We filled all of our droms with rain water and are catching up on sleep. Whales keep us entertained with spouts and boat traffic has increased. It is a lazy day for the Ford's.

ZERO miles paddled!

June 13, 2016

Glad to report that our little ledge campsite worked just fine. Neither of us took a wrong step at night and our kitchen stayed dry as well.

It was about a 10 foot drop around the tent, plus with the rain the rocks were quite slippery. Not the best tent pitching job, but it worked!

It was about a 10 foot drop around the tent, plus with the rain the rocks were quite slippery. Not the best tent pitching job, but it worked!

Our kitchen was quite cozy as well.

Our kitchen was quite cozy as well.

Once again the sea state has changed dramatically from yesterday. We still can not see the tops of the mountains, but the seas are flat calm. We have some major crossings once again today, so we are hoping the conditions stay the same. One crossing is called Douglass Passage. it even has it own weather report with inflow and outflow winds. We are looking forward to having that stretch behind us as we have a great weather window.  In the distance we see a light marking a point which we mistakenly think that it is the point we want to go around. We head there and then realize that we have passed the channel that we wanted to take north. We have two options, one is to go back, the other on is to go forward and connect to a channel that will take us to where we need to be.  The only challenge is that there is a narrow pass that we will need to hit at the right time or we will not be able to paddle against the current and will have to wait till tomorrow when the current will allow us to pass thru.  We decide to continue on and are blessed with seeing numerous whales spouts. Perhaps this is the good choice. When we get into the channel that will lead us to the channel we want, we realize how valuable our I phone app is for charts. Without this we could have been in this maze of inlets and outlets for a long time. Later we read that using a gps is the only way to navigate this section. To our amazement we have hit the passage that we need just a bit past slack. We have to paddle hard to get thru, but we did and once we made it thru we were greeted by two large humpbacks that were feeding. In the near distance we find a site next to a stream.  Once again we have to carve out a spot for our tent.

We are now in Grenville channel, which is a major channel for boats going to Prince Rupert. Several cruise ships have gone by us and with the fog blocking the mountains, we are not sure that they are getting great views. Don has a foot peddle break and called the manufacture, Seward, today via satellite phone. They are going to send him a replacement part to Prince Rupert.  This day turned out to be about 8 hours longer than we thought. So much for a short day.

At least we had calm conditions for most of the day.

At least we had calm conditions for most of the day.

Nautical miles paddled 20.9

June 12, 2016

The rain poured all night, but considering we had pitched our tent on a cement platform we stayed dry. There was not a place to put up a tarp, but Corey had offered the use of a work shed which we could use to cook breakfast and we happily took up the offer.

We were told this was where the fish was kept.

We were told this was where the fish was kept.

The work shed and soon to be our kitchen.

The work shed and soon to be our kitchen.

We were glad to see that our kayaks were still well secured at the dock and sitting above the water line after it had poured all night.

Our waiting kayaks

Our waiting kayaks

As we were cooking our breakfast, the rain came down hard and we were able to smile as we watched it from inside a dry building. The pancakes tasted oh so good. Check out the glass gallon water jugs in the back. Someday they may be for sale as very pure bottled water.

A much appreciated dry space.

A much appreciated dry space.

Corey came down to visit this morning and offered to take us on a tour. The buildings were in about the same conditions as Namu, the last abandoned cannery. The only exception might be that this place has had continuous caretakers and they have all left some signs of their occupation. Lots of history and artifacts in this place. We saw the building which is still making electricity for the buildings from water power. It was quite impressive knowing how long it has been working with very little repairs. While we were continuing to talk on the dock a BC ferry stopped outside of the buildings and one could hear a narrator telling about the history.

BC Ferry

BC Ferry

The Alaskan State Ferry passes by here, but never stops. the owner of the property has bought a drone for Corey to take videos. We were quite impressed as he showed us his skills at maneuvering the drone.

Corey, the caretaker

Corey, the caretaker

By 10 we are packed and ready to go, but first we check our emails as there is internet here. Don's father has improved slightly, but does not sound very good. The ability to communicate via the internet still has us somewhat baffled. As we head off we admire the large waterfall and also take note of the angry skies in the direction we we heading.

Beautiful falls.

Beautiful falls.

Looks like we are in for some rain!

Looks like we are in for some rain!

The day is filled with rain squalls and gusts of wind. Not many take outs along the shore. We are glad we have put on extra layers, it is a cold damp day! As the tide lowers it exposes several colorful animals that generally live below sea level.

Purple starfish

Purple starfish

Red Sea Urchin

Red Sea Urchin

The weather is not improving and the waves splash over our deck. If we saw a spot to camp we would probably stop, but there is not any along the coast. One of our books mentions a site that may have potential. In fact the author recalls it as being one of his favorites as it is surrounded by high mountains and waterfalls. As we round a point, a beach looks like his description. We check it out and think we can make it work. Our first impression is that it will be quite tight and most likely if we camp on the beach, we may have to move it momentarily when the tide comes up. I do a little more scouting and find a tent site about 10 feet up on a small ledge. Someone has been here before and we are going to take advantage of their creativity. We can put our kitchen up on beach logs and it should stay dry. Our tent just fits and we remind ourselves that any night activity must be done with caution. It has been a long two days and our bodies are tired. Sleep comes quickly.

Nautical Miles paddled 12.5

June 11, 2016

We finally were in bed around 11:00 last night. When we arrived to our little island there was a fishing boat anchored nearby. Glad that it was still here in the morning as it was quite the serene photo.

Fishing season has begun.

Fishing season has begun.

This is quite the protected inlet and it feels like we are in a large lake except the tide tells us differently. Quite happy when the tide did not reach to the top of our island and no bears came to investigate. Really did not have a choice cooking any distance from the tent, but in our circumstance we did the best we could.

Lake or ocean?

Lake or ocean?

Just enough room for tent and gear,

Just enough room for tent and gear,

Not quite the proper distance, but we could easily see in all directions.

Not quite the proper distance, but we could easily see in all directions.

We were loaded quickly after breakfast and with a higher tide we almost could just slip our boats into the water from where we were camped. Yesterday's wind had gone and the seas were flat calm. For awhile the current was with us and we took our time enjoying the many waterfalls of this area.

If this was August we would have been watching bears grab Salmon as they went up this stream.

If this was August we would have been watching bears grab Salmon as they went up this stream.

Instead of moving easily forward after several hours of paddling. It felt like we were moving thru molasses. Later we found out that the tide switches near here and we were going against it. We were planning to stop at Butedale, another abandoned cannery for the night. I managed to tweet my back and so paddling become un fun. Finally we saw the named waterfall and the remains of the cannery.

Finally the cannery

Finally the cannery

As Don approached the dock, he was first welcomed by a large friendly dog followed by a man quickly behind him. This was Corey, the caretaker. He had heard about this place and it seemed just like the place he would want to live. He got a boat to take him here and became friends with the caretaker at that time. Several years later the caretaker who was quite a bit older than Corey decided to move back to a town and Corey was hired to take his place. This place has been bought by a man who has huge plans of making this place an eco tourist destination.  The new owner has also put in a solar water filtering unit that he hopes will eventually be a basis for starting a water bottling plant. According to Corey, the water that comes from the lake above the old cannery has been tested and is one of the purest around. With the addition of the filter system this business may have potential. I must admit the water tasted great, but so does the rainwater we have been catching off of the tarp. Corey has renovated one of the old houses on the property and often rents it for 10 dollars a night to kayakers that pass thru. Sounds like we are the first ones and there are not a lot that usually pass thru.  He had just painted the floor so it was not very usable, but it had flush toilets that we could use. We set our tent up on a concrete platform and after another long day of paddling and talking we were tired.

Some of the remaining buildings.

Some of the remaining buildings.

We unloaded our gear on to the dock.

We unloaded our gear on to the dock.

Nautical miles paddled 20

June 10, 2016

Not sure where the night went, but all of a sudden it was morning. I was clean, there were no bears and there were no bugs. We knew that the tide was going to be against us this morning so thought that we would have a leisurely morning and get on the water after lunch. With that in mind we had pancakes smothered in apple sauce and even cooked on a gas stove. Checked the internet one last time and got our resupply food boxes and began the project of reorganizing our food.

New food yeah

New food yeah

We have more food than we need, but were able to get it all in our bear proof containers. Time to load the boats and say goodbye to Klemtu.

The ramp was somewhat slippery.

The ramp was somewhat slippery.

As we headed out of town we passed by the ferry. It seemed appropriately built for this area.

The ferry building

The ferry building

Then there was the hydroelectric plant.

The water comes from a high lake up in the mountains.

The water comes from a high lake up in the mountains.

Finally we were past the signs of civilization and moving well as the wind and current were pushing us forward. We had picked out a spot not very far away and arrived there sooner than we predicted. Two kayakers were already camped there. We had heard about a couple that were doing the inside passage from one of the other single kayakers that we had met. Turns out that this was Hannah and Rodney. They welcomed us to join them for the night, but the day was still early and the conditions couldn't be better.

Hannah and Rodney - With these folks we have now met 4 kayakers doing the Inside Passage and that was all that we met for the rest of the trip 

Hannah and Rodney - With these folks we have now met 4 kayakers doing the Inside Passage and that was all that we met for the rest of the trip 

With a smile on our faces we headed to Greene Inlet.  Sometimes it is so much fun to feel the power of the water.

Great conditions

Great conditions

Now we were seeing numerous waterfalls on the shore. A contrast from the last weeks.

The weather up ahead was not looking great, so we were glad that Greene Inlet was getting closer.

Just around the next point we hope

Just around the next point we hope

The guidebooks have warned us that camping spots become scarce in this area. We are thinking that this is true as we scan the horizon for a place to make camp.  Tim has warned us of the grizzly bears in the area so we have eliminated one spot for that reason. Finally we see a small island that is just big enough for our tent and kayaks. We make it do and are soon well fed and warm in our sleeping bags.

Nautical miles traveled 21.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

June 8, 2016

Hated to leave this camp. One could get quite comfortable here. We took our time packing up this morning as we wanted to mail charts and books that we were not using and we would have to wait for the post office to open up. It was less than a mile paddle to Shearwater and we pulled into the dock around 9.

The blue building is the Harbor Master

The blue building is the Harbor Master

An interesting people story was that the Harbor Master, Christopher, was a cousin of Martins that we had met in Lund. Martin had not seen him for 5 plus years but told us to pass on his greetings.  As we got into a conversation with Christopher we discovered that every winter he goes to Baja and lives on his sailboat. He often anchors it near where we base out of at the NOLS Mexico branch in Baja. We have probably paddled right next to his boat. This winter we will be sure to say Hi. There was an interesting mural on one of the building that depicted the variety of the population in the area,

Many stories can be told from this mural.

We called to King City, Oregon to talk to Don's 90 year old father. He had fallen and tore the skin on his arms. It did not sound very good. He was weak and could barely talk. We had many conversations with folks learning about their lives as we spent the morning in Shearwater. Enjoyed some ice cream treats at the local coffee shop. In the front of the town was a fairly new carving.. The story behind it was interesting. See photo below and description.

Check out the description.

Check out the description.

The temperature had dropped, there was mist in the air and the wind had picked up. Not really looking forward to getting back into the boats, but it was not bad enough to stay here. We paddled by a light house. Canada light houses are well maintained. They are easy to see from a distance as they all seem to be white with red roofs. Our dry suits felt good to day.

The waves were choppy when we took off.

The waves were choppy when we took off.

Light houses are always well maintained.

Light houses are always well maintained.

The spring kings are in and we saw several boats out fishing. One fisherman was excited to show us his catch and held it up high. The weather was unsettled going from fairly calm to wind and waves. There was a crossing to be done, but with the weather conditions we did not think it wise to start across. We started hugging the shore and checking out sites for camping. Most seemed unsuitable for the tides we were getting. Finally with some work at carving out a site we felt confident that we had found home. As the tide went out, the view was pretty good as well.

Great colors on the beach.

Great colors on the beach.

Nautical miles paddled 15

 

 

June 7, 2016

It was a beautiful morning as we bid our good byes to a land filled with memories of the people who once lived here in large numbers. A design in the sand created a unique pattern.

Patterns in nature are so impressive

Patterns in nature are so impressive

After the wind and waves of yesterday, we were enjoying the calmness of the sea state today. We were heading to an abandoned cannery called Namu. There were indications in discovered ruins that people had populated this area for over 10,000 years. Today, however, signs of habituation were quite recent. Before arriving to the bay where Namu is located, we looked across to the other side and thought that we were seeing an unusual colored small mountain. It soon became obvious that this mountain was moving. It was a very large mound of logs with a crane on a barge. Picture is a bit blurred, but you can get the picture. There is a lot of logging going on in this part of British Columbia.

Most of these logs are going to a pulp mill.

Most of these logs are going to a pulp mill.

As we paddled into the bay of Namu, the first building that we saw looked like housing quarters.

Some parts of the building did not look too bad.

Some parts of the building did not look too bad.

The next building though had large signs saying Danger! and we agreed!

Would not want to go near here.

Would not want to go near here.

Several years ago a caretaker had lived here and would actually give tours of the town to visitors passing thru. Today no one lives here and most of the buildings unfortunately have been vandalized. We were able to beach our boats in several locations and walk thru some of the buildings.

We liked the paint colors.

We liked the paint colors.

A store was located here and when we went inside there were still a lot of items left on the shelves. We had heard that when there was someone actually living here, it was quite organized and looked as if they were open for business.

Don heading up to the store

Don heading up to the store

At one time these shelves were loaded

At one time these shelves were loaded

Hard to know how long these items have been sitting here

Hard to know how long these items have been sitting here

There were lots of cases of bottled water from California. There were also a lot of boxes of alcohol. These bottles all were empty. In a office building we saw the ledger for recording fish that had been brought in to sell.

Fish for sale

Fish for sale

The story is told that one day the owners came and closed the operation. Everyone just loaded up on the boat and departed.  Dishes were just left on the table. Clothing left in closets and the stores shelves were full. After a little exploration it was time to move on. We had another crossing to do and all conditions were in our favor.

No complaints when the sea state is calm.

No complaints when the sea state is calm.

Considering we had taken a long break at Namu, we were making good time. One option to camp was to set our tent up on a helicopter pad. One of our books talked about making a camp there. It looked like an interesting place, but with good conditions we thought we would move on

Helicopter pad, would be quite the flat surface for camping

Helicopter pad, would be quite the flat surface for camping

By late afternoon, the wind had shifted and it was against us. We looked for several sites, but did not find one that would work. If we could go another 5 nautical miles, one was marked that was on an island and good for all tide levels. To get to that site we would be changing directions and the wind would not be such a factor. We paddled past the mostly First Nations town of Bella Bella. A nearby island held a burial ground. A headstone and totem marked a grave.

In olden days the ashes of the deceased person would be place in a small box inside the totem.

In olden days the ashes of the deceased person would be place in a small box inside the totem.

A town that we would visit tomorrow and get some fresh food is called Shearwater. We could see it in the distance, but needed to go to our island campsite. It was a 5 star! Not a long carry and the view from the tent was explicit!

Does not get much better than this.

Does not get much better than this.

This location even had cell service so we were able to check our emails. This is new to us being connected. Fortunately we do not have cell service that often so don't feel that connected to the world of surfing. This was one of those good days of paddling with lots of varied sights.

Nautical miles paddled 30

 

 

 

 

 

June 6. 2016

This is a beautiful area and staying here for a week probably would not be enough time to explore this area.  We still have quite a few miles to make and realize that this is a journey of travel. In our minds we can easily see returning to some locations and make this area one of a destination. The fog had settled in this morning and we decide to have a leisurely breakfast of pancakes and fruit. When we were setting up our tent in the forest last night we got excited about seeing some berries along the forest edge, however after looking them up in our plant book discovered they were not edible.  The berries are still lacking, hope that this improves before too long.

Twin berries...pretty to look at, but not good to eat

Twin berries...pretty to look at, but not good to eat

After breakfast the fog has started to lift and the skies are a beautiful blue, time to be on the water. As we make our way out of the islands we are awed by a flock of Harlequin ducks sitting on the rocks.

There feathers are amazing.

There feathers are amazing.

One of my favorite ducks.

One of my favorite ducks.

It is mostly a mellow day of paddling. Until later in the day when the wind and waves pick up. In the morning though we are able to enjoy the day and take in the views. Don decided to try out his camera for an under water shot of green anemones. Thought it turned out pretty well.

Anemomes

Anemomes

 

 

   Glad we waited for the fog to lift.

 

Glad we waited for the fog to lift.

Lunch was a fun spot. It was another white beach with bright blue water.  As we enjoyed our food the tide rose and soon our spot was going to be underwater, the pro was that we were able to pull our boats over a small sand bridge and not have to paddle around the now island.

Love these sand beaches;

Love these sand beaches;

After lunch, our mellow morning of paddling changed. The wind came up and as were making our way to a place we could camp, my mascot Esri got washed off my boat when it was hit by a big wave. Did not see it happen as I was focusing on good paddling technique. The current  also became a factor and the seas were confused as the waves were hitting us in all directions. Not a fun time of paddling.  We were glad to see the river valley that we were aiming for come into view. Where the river is located was a protected bay.  This had been a settlement of the Helsuk first nations people for thousands of years. It was an ideal location with the river and a high bluff where the village was located. Now there are are beautiful buildings that are used as a retreat for First Nations groups.  Adults and children come here to learn about their heritage. We beached our boats and walked up the hill to where we could see a man working. On the way we passed a large Salmon berry patch that was full of berries. A good reason to pause and add vitamin C to our bodies. Chris, the caretaker was filleting a chum salmon that he had netted. He told us about this place, filled our water droms and gave us permission to camp near the river's mouth across from the buildings.  There was a large dining, meeting area and smaller building surrounding it. Beautiful paintings on the building represented drawing of the clan's emblems. the buildings were made mostly out of larger cedar planks.

Art work outside one of the buildings.

Art work outside one of the buildings.

A meeting area with a unique fire ring in the middle.

A meeting area with a unique fire ring in the middle.

Near where we beached our kayaks was a large long house, built in the style of the earlier Clans. Chris again gave us permission to stop and check it our. This type of structure is where many families of the clans would live in the winter after they had returned from their summer fishing grounds. The large cedar planks were impressive as well as the interior.

The two figures guarding the door are paintings of the wolf clan.

The two figures guarding the door are paintings of the wolf clan.

We paddled over near the river's mouth to set up our tent. In a month the salmon would be returning to the Kelowe river and the bears would be here in large numbers. Now, however, there were no signs of the mammal and we slept soundly.

Nautical miles paddled 20.0

June 5, 2016

We were up at 4 to check out the sea state. Our camp was in the forest so when we walked to the beach we were glad to see that the surf was quite doable. The only challenge was that the tide was way out now and still had a way to go. By the time we finished our breakfast, and started loading our boats, it was a lot of walking.

The two objects way in the distance on the shore are our boats

The two objects way in the distance on the shore are our boats

By the time we got all of our gear to our boats, we had probably walked about a mile. We were now ready to go around Cape Caution. From reports and conversations this point can be quite dangerous or if the conditions are mellow, a beautiful paddle. Today it was going to be a beautiful paddle. The fog is mostly gone and the swells have become gentle. We are still on alert for boomers.  After yesterday the word boomer has taken a new meaning. We can see the light house in the distance and as it nears, we are confident that we will not have to read anymore about the challenges of getting around this point.

The light house of Cape Caution

The light house of Cape Caution

What a difference from yesterday!

What a difference from yesterday!

The Cape the crux as we were calling it is now a memory. Once around the point though we still have a ways to go before we can find a place to land. We paddle steadily and watch the waves crashing on the shore.

Once rounding the point we paddled steadily till reaching a more protected larger bay.

Once rounding the point we paddled steadily till reaching a more protected larger bay.

When we finally  found a small bay, we pulled into stretch our legs. We saw a kayak that was parked on top of some logs. Don went in to investigate and found a kayaker who was also on the mission of doing the Inland Passage.  We now have met two kayakers who are heading North. The fog is now gone and the large bay we need to cross is a go. When it is time to take another break we find a white sandy beach with beautiful wildflowers. 

Feels more like Mexico!

Feels more like Mexico!

Monkey Flower

Monkey Flower

A flower in the mint family

A flower in the mint family

Columbine

Columbine

A potential campsite is just around the next point, but the wind, waves and current are all going in our direction and we feel that we should continue on.

Moving nicely along1

Moving nicely along1

According to our guide book and some notes from a friend, there is good camping at Fury Island. It will be a long day but we decide that if we can we will try to make it there. When we see the island we understand why this place is magical. It is an area where a lot of sailors make it a destination.

Glad we are here

Glad we are here

Even Esri is jumping for joy.

Even Esri is jumping for joy.

With the long days we still have plenty of time to just enjoy the sun. This is the hottest day of the trip so far. I am tempted to take a swim. but the temperature of the water is quite cold.

Reading up on what is next.

Reading up on what is next.

A good ending to a good day.

A good ending to a good day.

Nautical miles traveled 28.8

 

 

 

June 4, 2016

Up at 4 and on the water by 6.  We were both glad that no bears or cougars visited us during the night. The wind was non existent ,but the fog that was quite thick blocked our views.

This could be interesting!

This could be interesting!

We were hoping that the heat of the sun would burn off the fog and we would be able to see where we were going. Sometimes that seemed to be the case and we would get to see some of the shoreline.

At least we had some scenic views.

At least we had some scenic views.

As we paddled the fog would come and go, but it never completely disappeared. In fact for several hours we were using the deck compass and our program on the iPhone to give us headings and directions.

Glad for the compass today.

Glad for the compass today.

As we got closer to the Cape, the swells grew. One of the challenges of this area is the boomers. As the swells make contact with shallower water, breakers or boomers are formed. This was an interesting dilemma.  We couldn't see very well and often we would have what appeared to us as huge waves breaking near us. There was a lot of surge and we paddled in many different directions to avoid them. The waves were also hitting the shore and rebounding back so one had to keep the distance from the shore as well.

The white foam is from a breaking wave

The white foam is from a breaking wave

Making forward momentum was not as important as just keeping our boats upright and being prepared for breaking boomers.  We talked about options, but decided to continue to keep moving. Around noon the fog began to lift and we were just dealing with swells. They were probably around 4 feet, but being able to see made a difference, occasionally one would hit a reef and double in size.  We had heard that if one made it around Bremen Point there was an area that had some protection from the surf. We decided that would be our destination. Several hours and the point was in sight. We set outside of the breakers waiting for the best set. Don rode a nice one in, but the one I chose was a bit steep. I felt my boat's stern raise and I was looking to doing an ender. I opted for a sider and was was soon swimming with my boat to shore. 

Glad we both made it thru the surf. 

Glad we both made it thru the surf. 

Someone had spent some time here before. On the other side of the logs was a camping site for one tent in the woods. There was even a welcome sign. It took us a while to get our gear over the logs, but with the sun shinning, we were smiling.

The logs were a bit of an obstacle course.

The logs were a bit of an obstacle course.

Looking out from the campsite.

Looking out from the campsite.

With time on our hands, a walk up a nearby creek seemed appropriate.  The tide was out so we were able to easily hike up the sandy valley.

We finally got up to where there was fresh water. What a treat!

We finally got up to where there was fresh water. What a treat!

A favorite flower of mine was also growing near the water.

Chocolate Lily

Chocolate Lily

This is a beautiful area, so different than any terrain that we have paddled by

Life is good!

Life is good!

Nautical miles paddled 15.9

June 3, 2016

There was a strong wind warning this morning and one could hear the trees swaying in the wind. We walked to the other side of the island that we were on and got a better view of what we would be paddling. We need to do a crossing and the waves were building. No need for us to leave our protected spot. Back to our cozy tent where we spent the morning sleeping and reading. Several times we checked out the conditions on the other side. Around 2 the winds seemed to be abating.  The next big crux move is getting around Cape Caution and in order to do that we want to get as close to the point as possible. The weather seems to be unsettled so we want to take advantage of this lull, besides if we get around this island we can always turn back. There are also a couple of islands that we could take refuge if needed before we get all the way across to the mainland again. With this in mind we pack up and get ready to do the crossing. As we were preparing to cross over to the first set of islands a large cruise ship appears. we need to wait for it to go by and then we see another one on the horizon. This one also must be waited for. 

We see them, but doubt if they see us.

We see them, but doubt if they see us.

The cruise ships go by and soon we are on our way once again!

Lots of crossing on this expedition.

Lots of crossing on this expedition.

We encountered some strong current as we crossed, but were able to make it into a place called Shelter Bay. It was a welcomed sight as we paddled into a protected cove with a beautiful sandy beach.

Glad to be here and the sun still is shining.

Glad to be here and the sun still is shining.

Would be a nice place to stay for awhile!

Would be a nice place to stay for awhile!

We unload our gear and I decide to take a picture of all the gear that we have unloaded from our boats.

No wonder it takes us so long to load our boats in the morning.

No wonder it takes us so long to load our boats in the morning.

No to mention it takes quite a bit of time to unload our boats when we arrive at low tide.

At least we had hard sand to walk on.

At least we had hard sand to walk on.

This place does seem to have it all. Some of the all we could do without. The campsites are in the woods and nailed to several trees are warnings about cougars in the area. We remember  a NOLS course that was camped here and one of the instructors actually had her boot pulled off while she was in the tent by an aggressive cougar. The cougar would not leave and finally the course had to call for a boat to be evacuated as the weather was not conducive to travel. No fresh tracks are seen on the beach, but we take a large knife and bear spray to the tent with us. Tomorrow we would like to get as close to Cape Caution as we can.  Cape Caution is quite exposed and swells can be large when they hit the shore. Lets hope we sleep well!!

Nautical miles traveled 10.7

June 2, 2016

We slept well last night. The hedge that we had pitched our tent behind, sheltered us from the wind and the Hilderberg tent kept us dry. The weather forecast was still predicting strong wind warnings for the area, but the conditions were currently favorable to paddle. For a while we would be hugging the shoreline and could find protection if we needed. We use the inch method of traveling when we can and not when the conditions predict otherwise. We will be passing the town of Port Hardy today and will be able to get cell service and pick up our emails. This sure is a switch from our travel days of the past. Instead of the weather getting worse it seems to be improving and when we get to Port Hardy we decide to camp in an area called God's Pocket. There are several crossings but only a mile or two in width. Some of the water in this area is a turquoise shade of blue. There are two marked camp sites for the area, the first is near a commercial area that could be for fish. The generator makes for a noisy site so we continue on passing rocks covered with oysters. We have seen numerous signs along the way advising not to eat oysters due to toxins they ingest. We oblige. 

The day is beautiful.

The day is beautiful.

Oysters are plentiful.

Oysters are plentiful.

We find a campsite on Hurst Island in harlequin bay. It is up on a bench so no worries about tides here. Someone has even placed a rope to help climb up to the site. Fortunately the tides are not extreme right now, so we do not have to carry our boats up high.  The bay is shallow so the tide does go out far at low tide which makes for a long walk to clean dishes. The island is not one of a healthy forest, a lot of the trees seem to be dying or are quite small in girth. Again it seems like we are perhaps camping at an old logging site. Someone has built an area with a rustic table and benches. Once again the forecast is calling for strong winds. Guess we will be on hold until we see what the weather is going to bring.

The view from the kitchen.

The view from the kitchen.

Nautical miles traveled 16.1

June 1, 2016

We were up at 6 and on the water by 8. Fortunately the sea is calm and the crossing goes well. We are learning about currents this trip and sometimes they just do not make sense of their direction. Mainly we enjoy it when it is moving us in the direction that we want to go. The day started out sunny but as the afternoon progressed the weather deteriorated. After we had crossed to the other side a barge pulling a long log train appeared. Now that we know there are logs up to five stories high below the surface, it gives us pause.

The sea is like glass this morning.

The sea is like glass this morning.

This tug boat was pulling quite a load!

This tug boat was pulling quite a load!

Not a great picture, but this is only some of the logs that the tug is pulling

Not a great picture, but this is only some of the logs that the tug is pulling

In the late hours of the afternoon, the clouds lowered and rain was on the horizon. We stopped at a beach to check out campsite potentials. Before we had even started looking we noticed  large bear tracks and a pile of fresh very recent bear scat. Not far away was a regular campground. At this point we were more than willing to camp in a developed site. We paddled to the beach, unloaded the kayaks and were shown by one of the campers there where would be a good place to camp out of the wind. Just as we got the rain fly up, the rain started falling down. we were glad that we still had our dry suits on. We cooked dinner under the fly before putting up the body. This was probably not the best bear practice camping techniques, but seemed appropriate for the time. The wind is blowing quite hard and the waves have increased in size and pounding the shore. Glad we landed when we did. The forecast is for more of the same tomorrow. We will decide in the morning what the agenda for traveling will be.

Nautical miles traveled 22.9