Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011.03.201 - Portage Inlet

The temperature was a relatively mild 2C when Richard and I launched for a paddle up the Gorge this morning, but the cold north breeze made for a chilly day on the water. Moderate wind forecasts and the chance of snow in the forecast prompted us to pick a relatively protected spot to paddle today, however we sure felt that cold north air whenever it crossed our path.

It was pleasant enough when Richard and I started out.
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As we headed down The Gorge a pair of swans took off in front of us. I managed to get a shot of them taking off, as well as a shot of me getting the shot of them taking off.
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They are big birds, and they need a lot of runway to get off the ground.

Once we got into the Inlet, we turned into that wind and started feeling the cold in a hurry. Fortunately for Richard he had a very fashionable lime green hood to pull up.
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We ducked into a little estuary and stumbled upon another family of swans, two adults and three adolescents. It's always nice to see that the local swan population is doing well.
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We carried on up Craigflower Creek...
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...hoping that the water level was high enough that we could get around the fallen tree and into the tunnel under Highway 1. We've done this a few times over the years, and it's always a highlight of any paddle down the creek.
But today we discovered that the fall rains have brought down another tree off the bank, totally plugging up the channel behind the roots of the big tree that we would use to get around.
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The way through is now totally impassable for kayaks, unless you want get out and haul your boat over the large tree trunk. Hopefully there's still enough room for salmon to get around come spawning season, but for kayakers this way is now permanently closed until someone brings in a chainsaw.
Needless to say we were disappointed, but what else could we do except take it in stride?
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And by then it seemed like a good time to turn back and get warm.
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Trip Length: 9.88 km
YTD: 22.20 km
More pictures are here.
2011-01-09 Portage Inlet

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011.02.200 - A Quickie to Chatham

Caddy Bay Pano
This morning it was -2 degrees, a bit of a step up from Saturday's -4. But while Saturday's weather was sunny and clear, today was unexpectedly cloudy which resulted in a wonderful sunrise as we prepped for launch. We also had a bit of a breeze, not enough to be a worry while paddling, but enough of one to add an extra chill to the morning. The sun was trying to burn through the clouds but didn't look like it was going to accomplish much in that regard.

Louise, Paula and I got ourselves ready to put in at Cadboro Bay. Paula always likes to do a little air guitar before kayaking.

Richard joined us a few minutes later. He hasn't been in his kayak since September and couldn't understand why it was so heavy as he carried it down to the beach. Then he realized that since he keeps his kayak outside and he has a small hole in his rear hatch, rain water had spent the last three months dripping into his kayak, and that rainwater had frozen solid over the last few days.
Paula had a good laugh until she remembered that she keeps her kayak outside as well, and she hadn't checked her hatches either. She put ashore to double check.

A few minutes later we were underway...
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...but some of us found the conditions just too chilly and couldn't get thoughts of chai tea lattés out of their heads. So we quickly did a crossing to Chatham....
...then headed back.
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As we passed Flower Island, I peeled off to see if the otters I saw on Saturday were still around. They weren't, but two oystercatchers and a merganser were enjoying the cloudy day.
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And as we neared the beach, as per Murphy the sun came out.
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Trip Length: 7.57 km
YTD: 12.32 km
More pictures are here.
2011-01-03 Chatham

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011.01.199 - New Year's Paddle

-5C and dark. That's what you get when you get up before the sun does. By the time Louise and I made our way to Cadboro Bay beach for the first paddle of the new year a couple of hours later, the temperature had risen to a balmy -4. But at least it was no longer dark.
Caddy Pano 2

We met Paula for a quick paddle to start the New Year. The highlight was going to be us taking pictures of Bernie taking his annual polar bear swim. Louise is fighting a cold but volunteered to photograph Bernie from shore and I was was going to take shots from my kayak. However, Paula informed us that Bernie woke up feeling under the weather and had decided to hibernate instead. So Louise didn't get any pictures of Bernie, but she did get one of me all geared up and ready to go.

Paula started out in her small inflatable while I was still gearing up. I told her I would catch up as she paddled along the south side of Ten Mile Point.
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As I departed a few minutes later, I tried to keep an eye out for her but the sun was low to the horizon and she was lost in the glare. We finally connected near Sheep Cove and paddled together towards Flower Island.
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We saw the occasional seal head pop up here and there, as well as a heron who seemed to take special delight in tormenting photographers. I spotted him on the shore off a small rocky islet, and I carefully maneuvered so that the low sun was behind me. I pulled my big camera out of its waterproof bag, but just as my camera was ready, he flew off. He didn't fly far, just from the shore to the top of the islet, but I had to pack up the camera and reposition myself to try again. And again, it was as soon as I had the camera ready that he moved, but this time he didn't fly. He merely took a few steps down the far side of the rocky outcropping and out of my sight. I could almost feel his disdain -- apparently I wasn't even worth the bother of flying away from!
Paula hung around Flower Island, but I ventured out a bit to watch the wind and the currents working. We were near the end of a huge high tide, and the current was going to pick up later in the day with a fast-flowing ebb. The breeze picked up a bit as I paddled into in the more open channel. I looked over saw Mount Baker looming in the distance.
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Earlier in the bay we could just barely make out the top of Mount Rainer, so today was what Paula likes to call a two-volcano day.

As I headed back towards Paula at Flower Island, I could see she was over by Evans Rock on the south-ish side, and as I came closer, she paddled towards me with a look of concentration that made me think that she was trying to impart some message to me telepathically.
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As we met, she said, "Go slowly around. On the left side of that rock there's two otters."
After being burned by that heron, I was certainly willing to try to get a few shots of the otters.
At first I only saw one otter....
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...and he was busy rubbing his ass against a big log. How charming.
But as they scampered around the rock...
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...I quickly realized that there were three otters on the rock.
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I don't think the otters even realized we were there. Paula had drifted behind me as I took pictures, then the otters hit the ocean for a swim. They followed Paula for a while...
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...until they finally realized that something big and red was behind them and they disappeared with quick splashes of their tails.

After that we headed back towards shore....
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...where we looked down the beach and saw Mike Jackson and some buddies putting in for their first paddle of the year. Guess my lead over him for most paddles this year is not going to last long!

Trip Length: 4.75 km
YTD: 4.75 km
More pictures are here.
2011-01-01 New Year's Paddle