Packing up at Big Bay at 3:30AM to make Dent rapids at the preferred slack to ebb transition of just before 5AM proved our neglected head lights still worked. The days are really long... just not that long.
Paddling towards the familiar Green Rapids and trying to hit its own slack period before it gushed water at us, we hustled up the Cordero Channel. One whale waved and splashed its fin at us from across the channel, but these swift currents wouldn't allow us to stop, unless we were willing to hangout for 6 hour for the next safe passage.
Green Rapids was just starting to move and swirl as we anchored the kayaks in a secluded bay and climbed the rock jumbled approach to a campsite we had used in 2014 with Rob and Pris. Then we witnessed why we give these waters so much respect... minutes after the slack period water is moving faster than we can paddle. An hour later it is 2-3 times faster than we can paddle. Maybe someday in empty boats we could play... not this afternoon, sleep is calling.
Scouting the modest camp location for the ideal snooze that was going to take place we discover the largest animal scat conceivable. Moose, bear? Definitely Bear! Shit! Figuratively and literally. Sleepless in BC.
We waited for the tidal current to change and elected to paddle another 7-8 NM to set up for Whirlpool Rapids the next morning. Landing just before 7PM... it had been a long day.
Evaluating the beach, the enormous logs and what we believed was the previous nights high tide line, we secured/ tethered the boats up on logs and placed the bear canisters considerably above that mark. Not high enough. 3:30AM wake up call... floating boats bouncing against each other make an unmistakable sound. Now you can picture the funny scene of me running around in thigh deep, 50 degree water in my underwear, retrieving our food and cooking gear. Sea filled bear canisters with who knows how much damaged food... unplanned day off tomorrow to get it sorted out.
It's never good to have to compare the time to your destination and the time your food will last. Our margin for error was now minimal. I could probably afford to miss a meal or two. Lauri can not. IF weather is reasonable we'd be fine.
The next morning we timed the Whirlpool Rapids properly, but the stupid wind didn't make it easy. The wind caused the tide to turn a bit early and it required some effort, but finally the wind eased up and we were paddling in calmer seas. After a lengthy lunch stop and brief nap, we made the decision to paddle up the north side of Sunderland Chanel for a bit more protection from Mr. Wind. We paddled from protected bay to protected bay and worked our asses off in between. Then the ebb started as we neared our goal.
Wind against tide... hmmm... it got "interesting" in a big hurry. And then the wind increased and the speed of the ebb increased. Team Thorley was past the comfort zone. Then Lauri's paddle joint stoped holding the paddle from rotating. We needed to find a safe landing as soon as possible.
The large protected bay east of Tuna Point was a welcome relief, but I knew our odyssey was just beginning. High tide near 4AM would prevent a prolonged stay on the rocky beach, but we'd have to make due. We tried to get some sleep as we waited for the inevitable creep of the water. I also said a silent prayer that the wind didn't shift to the south or south east. Tide would be a foot less than last night... We were sure the boats were safe up on giant logs and all our gear found a home stacked on or in them by 3 AM. Lauri and I climbed in our dry suits, added a coat and snuggled up on a log, with a tent draped around us to keep the wind off. Quite the scene I'm sure.
I think there are two types of adventure kayakers... those that have been rescued and those who will be rescued. I'm not sure this makes us the former yet, but the look I got from Lauri when I suggested paddling to the known camp site the following morning, before the wind increased, was a priceless husband wife moment. There would be no paddling today while we had cell phone coverage.
Lauri had a small freight hauling craft dropping it's gate on our beach by 3:30PM and we loaded our boats and gear without getting our feet wet! Eric, the awesome boat's owner took us to Kelsey Bay and we found a hotel to get some much needed sleep.
Lauri and I hope to continue the trip Friday morning... a bit more humble... a bit more conservative. But still happily married.
Oh, don't let me forget to tell you about our first bear encounter and the awesome people at Mt. H'kusam view lodge.
Whales and wild water
Phew... made it past the infamous Yuculta Rapids. But first let me back up...we saw our first WHALE! Right there in Lewis Straight as we paddled towards the Rendevous Islands. It was about 30-35ft long and did lazy laps from shore to shore. Pretty freaking cool!
Yesterday we got an early start to take advantage of the Flooding Tide and left Copeland Marine Park at 6:30 AM. The tide helped us out right up to the point that it flows the opposite way at the northern part of Vancouver Island... about Quadra Island. So coming off being jazzed about the whale we start paddling in mud (Lauri's name for it) at about a third of our previous speed. So the last 2 hours of an 11 hour paddling day was a bit painful, but it was about to get more interesting. Just as we explored the last island that we could camp on we found one tent location and off in the distance we see 7 other kayakers headed our way. Hmmm. They too were setting up to time some rapids near this camp spot... and there were no other places to camp....so what could we say? Sure join us... the Guides were great and their clients enjoyable, but man were we tired.
This morning we all got paddling before 8AM, but it turned out Lauri and I had barely enough time to catch slack tide at Yuculta due to a stupid head wind that pummeled us. What was supposed to be a leisurely approach to the rapid entrance was a rushed affair, but we made it! We intended to also pass through Dent rapids on the same slack water, but we'd spent to much energy so we pulled into Big Bay and found a place to camp... pretty damn early, but we were beat.
Sorry we haven't written more... way to much to do. Every day is a puzzle to sort out where we should be and how we are going to get there safely. We are trying to take what Mother Nature gives us, but as it turns out she has a twisted sense of humor. This area is glorious but we are on our toes ALL THE TIME! Thumb typing is not my forte... please overlook autocorrect, typos, spelling and punctuation.
The Day before
As the song goes... The bags are all packed and we are ready to go. The pre-trip nerves are are starting to... well holy shit, we are leaving for 75 days! Tomorrow we depart from Bellingham and point the kayaks NW. Rain is in the forecast and its a bit colder then we anticipated. Hmmm? Should be interesting. All the fast water, wild animals and what am I most concerned about? Rain. Everything we've read implies that we will learn to enjoy paddling in the rain because the wind is typically diminished during a light rain. We will find out tomorrow.
Denny and Lauri