Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012.11.236 - Up The Gorge

Louise and I didn't have a lot of time to paddle today, and a breeze was forecast to come up early in the afternoon, so we rolled the kayaks down the hill for a quickie for in our home waters in The Gorge.

We'd barely paddled a hundred meters before we passed a heron looking for some fishy breakfast.
It was a bumper day for herons. We couldn't swing a kayak paddle without hitting a heron. Not that we'd want to do that.
A few minutes later we spotted another one fishing. No, he was not fishing for ducks.

We paddled under the Craigflower Bridge (named this despite the fact that it's Admirals Road). Long-time readers will recall that the 80 year-old bridge was slated for demolition and replacement this summer, but the project has been delayed until next year due to environmental concerns about a native species of oyster.

Oh, yes, there was a heron.

After a few futile looks earlier in the year, we finally spotted the local nesting swans. Unfortunately, no baby swans survived this year.


And there were more herons.
IMG_0966 copy

Today was the first time Louise used the Columbia Sportswear Powerdrain shoes she won at the 2012 MEC Paddlefest a couple of weeks ago.
The water drains out of the shoes. Above, Louise has put her foot in the water while launching, while below she's lifted her foot out of the water and the water is draining out.
Louise says her feet seemed drier than in her neoprene boots and they were very comfortable to walk in. She liked the fact that her feet weren't wet for the duration of the paddle. And that sounds good to me -- gonna have to get my own pair!

Trip Length: 6.88 km
YTD: 84.03 km
More pictures are here.
2012-07-29 The Gorge
Capture copy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

2012.10.235 - Quadra Island

We've heard of this mythical season, seen the occasional glimpse, the teasing hint of it, but it remains elusive. For instance, as Louise and I drove up the east coast of Vancouver Island for quick getaway last Tuesday to Quadra Island, we encountered cloud, rain and a little sunshine. Often all three at once.
Quadra Island is a short ferry ride from Campbell River. (And I do mean short, only about ten minutes. I've never taken a ferry ride this brief. It took longer to load the ferry than to make the crossing. But I digress.) On arrival in Campbell River...
...we could see band upon band of dark clouds passing by overhead, dumping their load of moisture as they passed. Soon the venerable Powell River Queen arrived and we departed, as a lone seal swam by the ferry to make sure all was ship-shape.
Arriving a few minutes later at Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island, we headed east across the narrow lower portion of the island to the small village of Heriot Bay, where we did a bit of shopping at Works of H'Art, before heading to the southern tip at Cape Mudge, and our home for the next couple of days, The Tsa-Kwa-Luten Lodge.

Owned and operated by the We Wai Kai First Nation and situated on their ancestral land, the Lodge is located in a stunningly beautiful part on the world. We have a stunning view out over Discovery Passage, with the ocean at our feet, tall trees swaying, and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Well, I imagine we do -- it's still all socked in and raining and we can't see a darn thing.

The lobby of the Lodge is gorgeous and decorated with wonderful First Nations art.
And you've got to love a place that has deer wandering through the parking lot...

The next morning we returned to Heriot Bay and found the Quadra Island Kayaks shop, known locally as the Yak Shack, where we signed up for a six hour tour.
The rain from the day before had ended, and the clouds were slowly burning away with sunny skies expected in the afternoon.

We hoped down to the docks, met our guide Samara from New Zealand, and our fellow paddlers on our tour, George and Lindy from Toronto. With conditions looking to improve, we put away our paddling jackets and hoped for sun. We prepped our kayaks on the dock...
...while a nearby heron went about his business.

And we're off! Louise and I both ended up in Current Design Storms.
We launched in Drew Harbour and paddled to the point of nearby Rebecca Spit, a lovely slender finger of land sticking out into Sutil Channel. From there, a 2km crossing through calm conditions...
...brought us to the Breton Islands, where we found some seals lounging away the morning on a small islet.

From there, we crossed to No Name Island (so named because I can't find a name for it on any map). Although we'd seen a few earlier, here we started seeing a lot of eagles. There were at least a half dozen or so flying around, as well as a couple of turkey vultures. Most of them weren't too interested in posing, but this one sat down for a few moments.

Passing around No Name Island, we pulled into Moulds Bay for lunch. Samara brought out a yummy feast prepared back at the Yak Shack. It was so good that I was distracted and forgot to take a picture of it, but you can see a portion of it in this portrait of a satisfied customer.

Sadly, the sun was not winning its battle against the clouds, and by the time we were ready to shove off again, a breeze had come up and skies looked a little more threatening than when we left. The paddling jackets came out of hiding as we suited up.
We crossed the mouth of Open Bay and we were into some chop. The breeze came up a little more on the water, and Louise was a little leery, but she handled it perfectly, as did some of the others in the group who had very limited kayaking experience.

Another crossing, this time across Hyacinthe Bay, and we were out of the chop and cruising down the coast of Quadra again.

The eagle pointed the way home for us.
IMG_0879 copy

We had a great paddle with George and Lindy and Samara was a terrific guide. Everyone we met on Quadra Island seemed like friendly, down to earth, just plain good folk, and this certainly is true of the folks at Quadra Island Kayak. Definitely check them out if kayaking on Quadra Island is in your future.
Of course, after six hours on the water, food was in our future, so we drove the short distance to Rebecca Spit and wolfed down cheeseburgers at The Raving Raven. Yum!

We headed back to the Lodge, and finally the clouds parted, and the view finally appeared. No, it was not still raining and I was not holding up a brochure in front the camera. It really is this beautiful...
Cape Mudge panorama
....and you never know what you're going to see out your window. Maybe something big...
IMG_4064 the Silversea Silver Shadow, or something small...
IMG_4060 a robin resting on your neighbour's balcony.

This morning, sadly our last here, we awoke to picture postcard perfection. Sunlight on the mountain snows...
IMG_4092 eagle flying past our window...
...and a deer, just below our window.
Nature calls for them too, I guess.

Clearly, someone had a good time!

Trip Length: 13.29 km
YTD: 77.15 km
More pictures are here.
2012-07-05 Quadra Island

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2012.09.234 - Canada Day Paddle

IMGP0294 copy

Yes, we're 145 years young today, and what better way is their to celebrate than our annual Canada Day paddle down The Gorge?
Louise and I were joined by Robyn and Mark (Gecko Paddler). Normally, they would park at our launching point at the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club, but since Gorge Road is closed today for the annual Gorge Road Canada Day Picnic, they drove to our house and all four of us rolled our kayaks down the hill to the put-in at the Kayak Club.

Of course, four of us launching at the same time created a bit of a traffic jam on this partly cloudy day.
Mark tried out a new idea of using his feet as pontoons.

It's only fitting that we spotted some Canada Geese on Canada Day.

We headed down The Gorge, passing by the vendor tents set up along the Gorge walkway.

Scooting under the Craigflower Bridge...
GOPR3075 companions stopped to pose for a moment.

Entering Portage Inlet, we were hoping to see the local swans and find out if they had any babies this year, but they weren't around. They weren't in their nest and we didn't spot them along the shoreline. We did see something vaguely swan-shaped across the Inlet, but it didn't seem to be moving so we weren't sure what it was. We'd get to that mysterious object eventually, and even though the swans weren't around, the herons more than made up for them.
IMG_0810 copy

We paddled past purple martin bird houses. Purple martins have specific nesting needs and human encroachment has almost wiped them out, but thanks to bird houses like these, the martins are coming back. However, whatever was camped in this martin nest, it was not a purple martin.

We finally discovered what we thought from a distance was a swan. Not a swan, but it was a large duck, so you can understand our confusion.

Mark ended up stuck on a rock. I told Mark not to feel so bad because I had ended up stuck on rocks twice already today. I just had the good fortune not to do when I was surrounded by people with cameras.

We paddled back to our put-in and Mark and I decided to check the current under Tillicum Bridge. As we coasted in the current towards the bridge, another heron was fishing.
IMG_0845 copy

After the paddle, the four of us sampled the sights and sounds of The Gorge Road Picnic, starting with the classic cars.

My first car was a 1971 Plymouth Duster. It did not look like this one.

We took in music, dancing, and, of course, mini-doughnuts...
...along with a few thousand neighbours.
Happy Canada Day, eh?

Trip Length: 9.85 km
YTD: 63.86 km
More pictures are here.
2012 July 1