WEEK 29: PADDLING IN CLAYQUOT SOUND - FAMILIAR AND NEW

Original Blog Post: June 8, 2018

I  like to re-read favorite novels like Pride and Prejudice and re-watch shows on Netflix like Downton Abbey and reconnect with old friends when our lives are too busy to stay connected on a week to week basis.  It's reassuring when the same warm feelings can wash over me in the company of friends both factual and fictional.  I get the same feeling of contentment when I settle into the cockpit of my kayak after a months-long break, like visiting an old friend.  Similarly when I first arrive at the coast and smell the sea air, hear the waves and feel the wind on my face, the memories wash over me like a warm embrace at the same time that I feel a rush of excitement for a new adventure. 

I was lucky to stand on the low tide beach at the government dock in Tofino this Saturday afternoon embracing those familiar and new feelings once again.  After a 4 a.m. rise and dash to the first ferry out of Horseshoe Bay,  Didi and I hauled our boats and gear to the water's edge and stuffed and crammed every nook and cranny of our precious 18 foot long kayaks, to the point of amazement when everything eventually fits inside and on top and they still float.. It's always new and exciting at the same time that it's familiar and comforting to set off on an adventure.

This was not going to be my typical paddle.  Usually, a kayak trip involves paddling for  2-3 hours on the first day, setting up a base camp for several nights to facilitate easy access day and evening paddles of 1 -2 hours at a time with lots of beach time to relax by a fire.   Covering 50-60 km would be normal.  But this week was different.  On the first day, we covered 19 km, the second day:34 km.  Beached, and a little beaten, on the 3rd day we sat in the sun and painted.  We pushed 17 km on the 4th day and an impressive 31 km on the 5th.  We unashamedly threw in the towel and called for a water taxi for the last 10kms.  We were facing headwinds, rain, nightfall, currents going against us, and exhaustion.  Over 100 km in 4 days of paddling is impressive, but considering the conditions we were in, I am more than a little proud of what we accomplished.  

Our destination was Halfmoon Bay on Flores Island.  I hadn't been there since 2005.  On that trip, we rose at 4 a.m. on July 27 and paddled around Siwash and Raphael Point from Cow Bay riding rolling swells early in the morning before the winds picked up. That's the short cut to Halfmoon Bay.  This week Didi and I paddled from Whitesand Beach up Millar Channel, through Hayman Passage and down Shelter Inlet to get to Halfmoon Bay- the longer but safer, more sheltered route.  It did not disappoint.  

On our beach day, we woke early, to the sound of rain on our tents and set up our tarp before the first cup of coffee.  By the time our 2nd coffee was ready, the sun had come out and we sipped as we wandered down the 400-yard sandy, crescent-shaped beach to the low tide pools filled with lime green anemones, crabs and sea stars.  This beach is quite remote, on the westernmost corner of Flores; it is pure rugged exposed beauty.

It was a week of constantly changing weather and paddling conditions, but familiar territory even though it has been over a decade since I last paddled there.  My partner was a perfect match for endurance and entertainment; lots of laughs, great coffee and chocolate-covered almonds.  Twice we didn't get off the water until well passed 8 p.m., too weary to eat more than a yogurt for supper before crawling into our tents and sleeping bags.  Didi and I have paddled many trips together with Helen and Sue but it was our first trip just the 2 of us and the distance that we covered was amazing.  Familiar and new at the same time.

Contentment reigns.

This weeks painting was done sitting on the beach at Halfmoon Bay. My palette, water pot, and brushes rested on a log, and sometimes so did my feet when I leaned back in my chair to stretch my legs out and gaze the 180-degree view that our paddling efforts had provided. I got sun-kissed while I painted that day.  Today my nose is peeling while I am curled on the couch looking out the window at the rain writing my blog.  

See you next week.