Almost a trip . . . Indian Arm, BC

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by pawsplus, Aug 5, 2019.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    So while I was visiting my mom in Vancouver this summer, I planned a trip from Deep Cove up Indian Arm. Planned to spend the night and paddle back the next day.

    Philip Torrens, who is the nicest guy ever, volunteered to lend me camping gear, as it seemed absurd to have to ship all my gear from Nashville to Van and back. I was super grateful for this!! I ordered a cheapo sleeping bag and had it delivered to my mom's place, but was borrowing tent, stove, cooking stuff, etc. from Philip.

    On the Sunday, he and I met at Ecomarine for a paddle. We spent several hours working on rolling and rescues, and for some unknown reason I could NOT get my left-hand standard GL roll!! I am still not sure what was up with that. Yes, the boat was unfamiliar, but I often paddle unfamiliar boats and have rolled a ton of them at symposia. I think it was psychological (as most rolling problems are IMHO). When I practice rolling w/ my friend Joel, we had been switching off with one person in the water and one in the boat, at least on rolls that are not 100%. Now, my off-side standard roll has been good for almost a year now. I have done it successfully many times in deep water with no one there, BUT this was a specified rolling practice, and my brain said, "THERE IS NO ONE TO SAVE YOU!!!!" And I suck at waiting under the boat for bow rescue. We tried that and I either panicked and wet exited or I fell out of the boat (b/c it was too wide and I couldn't get locked in with no thigh bracing). I was super frustrated that I couldn't do it. Did my onside roll, as well as butterfly and shotgun, but the left was abandoning me. I could tell what I was doing wrong (rushing, so not getting my right shoulder down on the water), but just couldn't fix it!

    But as a result, we did a lot of rescues LOL.

    The good news: As soon as I got back, I went to the lake with Joel and got my offside roll right away. And we are now practicing at least sometimes with us both in boats, one ready to come in and bow rescue the other, to avoid this psychological hitch in the future! :) I'm actually NEARLY there on my left side Norsaq roll, too! :)

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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    The next day, I started bright and early, b/c I had a long series of bus rides to get to Deep Cove. I had about 40 pounds of gear in two duffles, one on each shoulder, plus my paddle case, and I was barely able to stagger to the bus station LOL. Changing buses downtown was horrific, since I wasn’t sure where the next bus would be and walking half a block to read the next sign was pretty bad, as burdened as I was! Finally found it, and then had to change one more time.

    Arrived in Deep Cove right at 9 when the kayak center opened, got my boat (a Seaward Luna), and got packed and launched around 10. It was a BEAUTIFUL day! Sunny and pretty, with little wind.

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    One thing I was not aware of is that there is basically no place to stop (that I could tell!) between Deep Cove and the end of the Arm. Everything is either privately owned or a cliff LOL. Fortunately I had put the dry bag with the food between my feet in the cockpit, so I was able to fish out a Clif bar and keep myself from starving to death.

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    It’s amazing how the houses on the Arm are built right into the cliffs, some appearing to be clinging on for dear life! They had to have been built from the water—all those properties, at least on the West side, are water access only!

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    I took a boat trip up the Arm a few years ago, so much of the landscape was familiar. Saw the old power station.

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    And stopped by Silver Falls.

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    By the time I drew near my destination, Berg’s Landing, about 3 hours after launch, the clouds were starting to lour a bit.

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  3. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    And by the time I got there, it was clear a storm (not forecast!) was in the offing.

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    I landed and started getting stuff unloaded ASAP, hoping to get the tent erected before the skies opened up. A few minutes later, a group of at least 20 campers from Camp Jubilee (just down the Arm) arrived in one HUGE canoe!

    Here’s where things start to go wrong. There are gonna be a lot of “should haves” here. ;) In retrospect, I should have asked Philip to show me how the tent went up. He says he sent me instructions, but I don’t remember them and when I searched my email the night before, I couldn’t find them. But at that point, I should have tried to assemble the tent in my mom’s living room and, failing that, called Philip. First lesson learned.

    As I started to work on the tent, the rain began, and it was pretty hard. And there was thunder. So I was rushing. And the tent was weird. I’ve assembled probably 6-7 different tents and they are all pretty similar, so I didn’t expect any trouble. But the thing just made no sense to me. If the weather had been good, I probably would have figured it out. But I was rushing and getting a little panicked. And I forced a pole I shouldn’t have and <SNAP!> broke the pole.

    pole.jpg

    Stood there holding the two pieces of pole for a good 15 seconds, while the rain poured on me and all my stuff. Going through my head were my options. I could stay and wait it out. It’s the PNW—storms are often passing and rain hadn’t been forecast. It would probably blow over. BUT if it didn’t, I ran the risk of spending the night cowering in the rain under a tree. This was Not Appealing.

    I also knew that normally strong afternoon winds from the South can slow down a paddler’s progress going south down the Arm. If I waited too long, it might be too late to head back, given that if I got back to Deep Cove after the kayak center closed, I would have to spend the night with the boat to protect it!

    So I decided that the best plan was to head back. I started madly packing up the broken tent and everything else. I made two trips down to the boat, repacking in a rush, and after the second trip, got waylaid by the campers, who were getting their enormous canoe out of the water. Had to move my boat out of their way and help them, which took a few minutes. Finally I was ready (I THOUGHT! Famous last thoughts!) to set out again.

    I realize that I was taking a bit of a risk heading out in a thunderstorm. I didn’t see any lightning though, and I didn’t feel I had a lot of choice, given my tent situation. I figured that if things got worse, I could always pull off at Camp Jubilee—surely they wouldn’t begrudge my landing in an emergency.

    The good news: Due to the storm being behind me, the only winds I had were tail winds! A HUGE help, especially as I was worrying that I would have a head wind. Had another Clif bar on the float and paddled like hell to get back. I would outrun the storm for a bit, and things would improve and then HERE IT COMES AGAIN! I had put my dry suit on at the campsite--it had been too warm on the way up, but now it seemed like a good idea, and boy was it, because I would have been drenched and cold without it! So I kept getting rained on off and on for much of the way back.

    Of course, when I pulled into Deep Cove, it was just as bright and sunny as it had been at launch! You could see the dark clouds behind me, but they never made it all the way down. I got the boat emptied and packed everything (I thought! Famous Last Thoughts!) back up in the duffles to take my three buses BACK to Vancouver.

    When I finally got back to my mom’s, I looked the tent (a Big Agnes 3 person) up online and was distressed to learn that Philip has EXCELLENT taste in tents LOL. I called him and told him what had happened, and that of course I would pay for it, but maybe we could replace just the pole? He called Big Agnes and they don’t sell the poles separately, but I decided I would visit MEC the next day to see if there was anything they could do.

    Woke up out of a sound sleep at 2 AM realizing, on a very long delay, that I was missing my VHF radio, my cheapo sleeping bag, the (not cheap!) footprint to the tent, and a stuff sack with Philip’s tent lines in it. The latter three items, I realized, were still up at the campsite at Berg’s Landing—I had meant to make a third trip to ferry it to the boat when I got distracted for 10 minutes by the kids and their giant canoe and just forgot about it entirely! So I lay awake cursing myself for few hours. I have never broken anything or forgotten anything on a camping trip EVER – this was just the biggest cluster-f in the history of cluster-fs!

    In the AM I called Camp Jubilee, praised their well-behaved campers, and asked if it might be possible to ask them to bring my stuff back. They radioed to the counselor, who said they had my stuff and would take it to the camp. The Camp then said they would mail it to Philip and my mom. Yay!

    I also called Deep Cove Kayak Center, who said that yes, I had left my radio (black) on the black seat of the kayak, and that they would hold it for me. I planned to go get it the next day.

    So next I set off for MEC, by bus, with the tent clutched in my hands. When I got there, I asked for their best tent guy, and they gave ma Shahbaz. Shahbaz is THE BEST GUY ON THE PLANET. I love him. :) He looked at the broken pole, headed into a back room, and after 10 minutes of flurried action (there were poles flying all over!), he emerged, handed me the poles, and said, “It’s a slightly different color.” I looked down at a brand new pole, a slightly darker orange but otherwise perfect, and said in wonder, “You FIXED IT?!?!?!” Then I threw my arms around him. MEC wouldn’t even take any money!! I hunted down Shahbaz’ manager and told him to give him a raise, and also said that I am a member (true) and while I’m in the US I have often ordered from them (true), and that now I will do it EVEN MORE often, because that was the best customer service EVER!! So relieved.

    Headed back to my mom’s in victory, and then it occurred to me that since I was going to Deep Cove anyway the next day to fetch my radio, MAYBE it would be possible for the other stuff to be there too. Called Camp Jubilee back and they said that they would try to get it on the boat that was going to Deep Cove that evening at 6 pm. I thanked them profusely.

    The next AM I set off again on my 3-bus trip to Deep Cove. At least thing time I knew where to find all the buses! :) I have to say that Vancouver buses are LOVELY. Buses here are disgusting and no one rides them unless they are super poor. I know people who have picked up bedbugs on buses. But in Vancouver they are classy and clean, everyone is polite, and it’s really almost a pleasure to ride them!

    Got to Deep Cove and the guy at the desk handed me my radio. Yay! What about the other stuff though? Did it make it on the 6 pm boat from Camp Jubilee? He checked twice but said it wasn’t there. I would have asked if I could look myself, but after all, the Camp lady had said they MIGHT not get it on in time. So I headed back to Vancouver. Should have called the Camp from Deep Cove, but my phone doesn’t work in Canada and I was already being such a PITA that I didn’t do it.

    Called them when I got back to my mom’s and the stuff HAD been on the boat! ARGHGHGHGH! Called Deep Cove AGAIN and a different kid checked and yes, it was there and had been there since 6 pm the night before! I was leaving at 6 AM the next day and there was no time to go back up to Deep Cove, but they said they would mail the stuff to the appropriate people

    And they did—Philip got his stuff and my mom got my sleeping bad within a week. WHEW! :)

    So . . . The good news is that I did the trip I had planned. Just did it all in one day instead of two. Learned that I can paddle close to 20 miles in a day! Good to know.

    And next time I will just spend the money to put my own stuff on the plane, because I know how to use my own stuff and can put my tent up in 4 minutes LOL. And if I lose or break stuff, it’s mine and it’s not worth very much money anyway. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
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  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Epic, just epic! I've had trips kind of like that ... but you win the prize. I bet this will be in your brain forever. And, you had a great experience at the hands of those nice people to the north.
     
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  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Quite a trip!
    Excellent write-up; thanks!
     
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  6. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Indeed!
     
  7. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Sorry to hear that things went a little sideways, but congratulations for improvising and making it through.

    There are a few good landing spots between Deep Cove and Berg’s. When I take students on that trip, we stop three times before Silver Falls for pee and snack breaks. The folks at Deep
    Cove know that stuff, though I know that it can be such a zoo there in the summer that it’s hard to find the right person to ask.

    Also, those of us who do a lot of paddle trips on this coast always have a tarp handy. In a rainstorm, the tarp goes up first, providing a dry place to build your tent (which can then be moved) as well as a kitchen.

    Anyway, we learn the most through our hardships and we’ve all been there before (and will be again).

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Yeah--should have asked about landing spots, but didn't and then everything looked private! Yes--would have had a tarp if it had been my stuff. And actually, I think Philip said there was a tarp in there, but I didn't find it and by that time I was having a bit of a panic LOL. I'm going to practice more with tarps now. I tend to not bother if I'm sure it won't rain, but then I don't get any practice. So gonna make myself do it every trip no matter what! :)
     
  9. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    And yes--this had confirmed in my mind that Canadians are RIDICULOUSLY NICE PEOPLE. I mean, that's the stereotype, but it's there for a reason. Between Philip, Shahbaz, Deep Cove, and Camp Jubilee, not to mention the super nice bus drivers and passengers . . . you guys are just too nice for words. Given how completely horrific we Americans are appearing to the world right now, it's a wonder you even let us in your country. :( Not sure I would if the situation were reversed. But then, I'm not a nice Canadian!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
  10. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Oh, and I kept the short part of the broken pole and plan to attach it to my PFD with a zip tie so I will always remember the mistakes I made and not make those particular mistakes again!
     
  11. Man in qajaq

    Man in qajaq Paddler

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    Great report.
    Some of the worst trips seem to be the best. Haha
     
  12. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Also useful future info for beach breaks: private property ends below the high tide line, meaning you should be able to stop almost anywhere that’s accessible for a rest and a snack during most tides.

    Whatever else you might say about this trip, you’ll always remember it!
     
  13. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I'd need a PFD with a lot more flotation if I attached mementos of all my mistakes to it!!
    :)

    Some tent designs are easier than others to improvise a repair if a pole is broken.
    I'm not a big fan of the 'hub' tent poles which are common (MSR, BA, etc..) for that reason.
     
  14. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Yes--these were all attached together in one unit, so replacing one on the fly would not have been easy even if I'd had a spare. My tent has several different pieces so they are not all one unit. I'm going to get a few spares though. :) I usually have duct tape with me on a trip, but not this one, and I'm pretty sure duct tape wouldn't have worked in this instance.
     
  15. designer

    designer Paddler

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    PawsPlus, maybe you don't need that full broken segment with the sharp edge. One trend in Hammock tarps (which are really just Tarps) is having panel pullouts on the sides that give more interior space than guying the tarp with straight inverted V sides. Originally the panel pulls were guyed out but later people started using a "tent" pole over the ridge line and attached to the panel pulls to hold the sides out. So we learned to make shock corded poles. It is way easy. But not something one would do "in the field". A pole (segment) cutter is cheap and you could cut just a piece of the broken segment and smooth off the edges.

    Though a tarp is the standard shelter for a hammock, I learned about "Tarp First" from kayak campers using tents. I had never seen such a thing - a tarp over a tent that already had a rainfly. They explained that it allowed them to set everything up - and pack it up when time to go - in a relatively dry area under the tarp. That assumes there is someway to rig/suspend the tarp.

    With your "mojo" kit of tent pole segment, you could add a small bottle of lake water. That way, when you roll, you can remember that you're around lake water, not a big ocean :)

    I had to learn about that packing focus too. When rock climbing, the rule is, you don't talk to the person when she is putting on her climbing harness. If you do, she has the right (obligation) to curse you out so you will never interrupt that process again. When packing my boat, I've been innocently interrupted many times and more than once that interruption resulted in something forgotten/misplaced. So far, it has never been a trip stopper, but it has certainly been a trip inconveniencer. So I'm going to have to be stronger about, "Please don't interrupt me until I'm done packing." Or have a check-off list and mark where I stopped to deal with what was vying for attention.

    Thank you for sharing. I learn a lot from missteps - mostly mine.
     
  16. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    LOL! I don't think that was it. I've rolled many times in the ocean, in deep water, in waves. Not successfully so far in surf, but working on that. My nose sure prefers the ocean! Think it was just that it was different from my practice routine, and therein lies the problem -- need to not have a ROUTINE! B/c then everything that is slightly outside the routine messes you up. So last time we practiced we mixed it up, and going to keep doing that. Also going to practice rolling Joel's boat, which is too big for me. Most rental boats ARE, so need to figure out how to not fall out of those LOL.
     
  17. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I suppose another practice is to start the role on one side, then pretend it isn't happening and switch to the other side (on the same roll). So easy for me to say; so seldom for me to do. One psych weakness I identified for myself was paddle design. I use standard (European) blades and one of my paddles I think is called Little Dipper. It is long and narrow (easy on the joints but will flutter if too much power is applied). I would practice with that - reminding myself over and over that people can roll without a paddle - so the fact that I'm using this skinny little thing shouldn't make a difference. That was back before I knew there was such a thing as a Greenland paddle. But I've seen club instructors fail to roll my boat because they "think" they need a low back deck and a wide paddle blade.

    Practicing in surf - sounds like signup time for a Lumpy Waters session at Pacific City.

    I think you did great addressing each challenge as it came up, wiggled around and changed shape.

    My father once told me, "Never be afraid to make a decision. There are very few decisions you'll be married to (meaning unchangeable - it was a different time) and once you make the decision, you'll know soon enough if it was correct. It if wasn't, then you make another adjustment." It was probably the only thing he told me that I listened to - must have caught me at a rare teenage moment.
     
  18. jamonte

    jamonte Paddler

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    Paws, great story! Whenever I'm feeling rushed, I try to make myself slow down. Navy Seals have a saying that goes, "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast." I'm not a Navy Seal, but I have found it to be good advice.

    Who knows what was up with your offside roll that day, but I agree that practice sessions should not follow any routine because getting flipped unexpectedly is seldom routine. In WW, I hear people explain that they missed their roll because... "my nose plugs weren't on/my sprayskirt imploded/my paddle was upside down/my paddle was backwards/my paddle was broken/my knee came out/my boat was full of water/my drysuit had too much air in it/I inhaled some water and started coughing/I didn't get a breath before I went over, etc. etc., etc." So I practice all those things. Hell, I try to practice all those things at the same time!!! Make it a game to see how many things can go wrong and STILL you find a way to roll up. If one technique fails, then maybe another will do the trick, but it's mental preparedness that makes it work in the end.
     
  19. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Yup. I've practiced "blowing" my roll one way and switching underwater to roll up on the other side. I can even go down w/ no paddle and pull either my GL paddle out from under the decklines or even half a Euro blade, and roll up. But that's when I have PLANNED to do that LOL. It's all different when I'm under there and things don't go as planned. The lizard part of my brain takes over, screaming, "OMG YOU'RE GONNA DIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!" It's like I'm two different people. That's what I have to work on. Overcoming the lizard brain and slowing down and letting it happen as I KNOW it can. Darn lizard.
     
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  20. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    It takes a while before you can suppress the panic. I used to practice holding my breath, timing it, just sitting on the couch.
     
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