Sunday, November 25, 2007

2007.29.93 - Breaking the Ice

It's a cold Sunday morning, maybe only a degree or so above zero, but we're here on The Gorge for a paddle into Portage Inlet.

Toques and gloves are in order today as we get ourselves ready. It's a large crew today: Karl, Stephanie, Bernie, Paula, Louise and myself.

We're launching at the the top end of The Gorge (#1) and paddling in Portage Inlet. At the far end of the Inlet (#2), we're going to head up Craigflower Creek. We've heard that the creek can be paddled up under the Trans-Canada Highway and up in behind Victoria General Hospital (#3). We're going to find out for ourselves.

No sooner did we start than we saw something cool. This homeowener has recently installed a bank of photovoltaic solar cells. That's the way of the future, we've got to get off the grid.

As we rounded the first point, Paula was ahead of us. Suddenly, she started whooping and shouting. "Ice!" she cried. Ahead of us, the Inlet had a thin sheen of ice on top. Paula had barrelled into it and soon the rest of us were into the icefield. Six little ice breakers.
Paddling Through the Ice 3

The ice was very thin, maybe 5mm if that, although there seemed to be the occasional section that was a little thicker. What an odd sensation to paddle through ice. We often joke about the water getting thicker when we paddle, but this water was solid! One expects to hear a splash when one's paddle hits the water, but all we heard was a crunch.
Stroke. Crunch. Stroke. Crunch.
We were also scaring all the birds away. Our six kayaks plowing through ice were making quite a racket as we cracked the ice around us, sending flocks of birds hundreds of metres away into frenzied flight. No doubt they thought the demons of hell were almost upon them.
Paddling through the Ice 2

We knew it was cold, but we never thought we'd be out breaking the ice. Karl figured that there must be a small layer of fresh water on top of the saltier Inlet water.

We found a lot of ice fields in the Inlet, and I'd guess that we spent about a third of our time in the Inlet paddling through ice.

We turned into Craigflower Creek and headed up. As you can see, we found some ice here. too.

We crossed under Helmcken Road.

This was a beautiful and quiet little river. Although we were sneaking through subdivisions, it was very easy to imagine that we were in the backwoods somewhere. There was one tricky spot, as a fallen tree had blocked most of the river. But there was a small channel, and Karl gave it a try.

It was tricky, but he made it.

Louise made it through, too.

Soon, we reached the Trans-Canada Highway. Here, the creek entered a tunnel.
Into the Tunnel

Ooooh, it's pretty scary, eh kids?

The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. As we left the tunnel, we discovered that there were a lot of rocks in the water here, so we had to be careful. We made it through, but it took a little maneuvering.

The navigable portion of the creek ended just beyond the tunnel and the rocks. Bernie got out to see if we could go any further, but this was pretty much the end of the line.

So there was nothing to do but turn around and head back through the tunnel. There was a bit of a bottle-neck as we entered....
In The Tunnel

...but it was a perfect time to practice some doo-wop.
Head For the Light

We ended up singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The Tokens have nothing to worry about.
In The Tunnel
In The Tunnel

Back in the light of day, we had to get past that fallen log again.

Karl and I were lagging behind the others when he pointed to his right. "Hey, is that a hawk in the tree?"

And there he was, a small hawk that didn't seem the least bit worried about or interested in us.

Then we were back in the Inlet and paddling though the ice.

And eventually, all good things must come to an end.

Monday, November 12, 2007

2007.28.92 - Winter is Here

Today we are getting pummelled by the second big winter storm of the year. High winds and rain. The ferries aren't running today and nearly 200,000 people are without power. It's starting to sound just like last winter.
Yesterday, before the storm blew in, we'd thought we'd put in for a practice session at Cadboro Bay. Do some rescue practice, towing practice, and try out any tricks new we've read about.
So we were dressed for a dunking which was a good thing, because the winds preceding today's storm arrived at the beach before we did.
Rough Morning

So with one-foot waves lapping on the shore, we altered the plan and decided to use the occasion to gain more confidence paddling in rougher water. Bernie was so excited to go that he wouldn't even stop to get his picture taken.
To the Beach

Here's what the well-dressed kayaking couples are wearing these days....
What The Well-Dressed Kayaking Couples are Wearing This Season

...and their photographer is equally well-groomed.
Ready for Action

It was just Paula, Bernie and myself today (everyone else was either wimpier or smarter than us. I'll let you decide which.) Here they are launching....
Off We Go

....which didn't go exactly as planned.
A Failed Launch

If we were doing an "actual" paddle today, we probably wouldn't have gone out. But we decided that we were only going to go out a hundred metres or so. We set the moored boat as out limit. That way if something happened and one of us ended up in the water, we could probably walk back in if we had to. Also, both the wind and current were pushing into shore so we felt reasonable assured that we would be okay should some disaster strike.

And in fact once we got out a bit, it wasn't too bad at all. The wind seemed a little less than it was on shore, and the water was a little flatter than it was near the beach. Still, the wind and the waves were pushing us around a bit, so we had to keep our wits about us.
I Could Use Some Hot Chocolate

Bernie is hooked on his homemade Greenland paddle.....
Rough Water Bernie

...and Paula continues to sing the praises of her pink Eliza.
Paddlin' Paula

Any day on the water is a good day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

2007.27.91 - The Wind on the Willows

We couldn't get the gang together for a large paddle this weekend. Alison and Paula had a glorious day on the water yesterday for a long paddle from Cadboro Bay to Island View Beach. They said the water was a sheet of glass. Alison took lots of pictures and put up a paddle report here.
Louise and I were able to paddle today and we headed to Willows Beach.

While we still had a beautiful day....
Follow the Sun

...we didn't get the flat water that Alison and Paula had yesterday.

I'd hope to go out to some of the islands, maybe the Chain group, and try out my new camera on the birds and seals out there. But it was not to be as the wind was up and Louise's stomach was doing the heebie-jeebies. (That is a real technical medical term, by the way.)

So we stuck close to shore and we paddled towards Cadboro Bay. Here a cormorant keeps watch over us.

Even close to shore, the winds were kicking up some waves....

...but on the way back, the wind died off for a few minutes and we enjoyed some of the calm water that we missed yesterday.

Like these fellows, we enjoyed a fine couple of hours on the water.

My photos are here.