Inside Passage Part 3: Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by rheag, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. rheag

    rheag Paddler

    Jun 10, 2009
    Toffer and I resumed our piecemeal traversal of the Inside Passage via kayak July 4-27, 2014, this time a 3 week 305 mile journey in much more remote and wild terrain than the other 2 week segments (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=5007 and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4167&p=55781#p55781). We originally planned to kayak straight from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, which we estimated (probably underestimated) as ~340-350 miles. But, as most small watercraft experience in this region, cranky weather forced flexibility into the itinerary. Roads no longer paralleled our route, so our safety net lacked the previous layer of rescue by Toffer's parents. The net now consisted of a satellite phone, and hastily scribbled numbers for the coast guard and water taxis.

    The frequency of human interaction steeply dropped off compared to the last segment, while wildlife encounters spiked, along with vegetation density. A thick swarm of trees, ferns, bushes etc. vying for soil and sun covered every patch of ground clear of high tide. It's amazing what happens outside the region of human stomping and although we spend a lot of time outdoors, we had never seen so much of this kind of wilderness.

    Joy infused the journey, but so did trepidation over the large number of powerful forces that could kill us by accident, without noticing; just doing their thing. We proceeded with increased caution, and luckily did not experience disturbing situations like those of past trips, e.g. the finger blood fountain and chicken games with ferries. But, with the exception of one phenomenally calm ~37 mile day, we ended most days fairly early in battle with rapidly deteriorating conditions, searching for elusive land-able and camp-able ground. Hitting my preferred 25+ mile, 8+ hour days could not happen often.

    Approximate daily mileage starting July 4:
    0, 0, 8, 10, 23, 17, 13, 20, 21, 17, 27, 18, 16, 0, 0, 18, 37, 18, 20, 14, 8

    Main joys:
    - flat gorgeous water pushing us the right direction
    - stunning topography/views framing the route
    - sunshine for 10 days in a row!
    - dinner, every night
    - wildlife: whales, eagles, otters, mink, seals, snails, starfish, etc.
    - climbing trees
    - solitude
    - getting stronger

    Main concerns:
    - boat churning wind waves appearing suddenly without warning
    - finding a place to land/camp
    - high tide soaking us in our sleep
    - crossings in thick fog
    - grizzly bears
    - making it to Prince Rupert on schedule
    - bear line hanging, most trees were soggy, dense and difficult

    Minor casualties:
    - small laptop, water damage
    - GPS busted
    - 1 torn pair of pants, thank you duct tape.
    - drysuit repeatedly shredded wrist gaskets and body tear, thank you again duct tape.
    - can opener rusted and busted
    - 2 ripped dry bags
    - boat damage
    - sprained hand
    - bug bites galore

    Part 1: July 3-10 Port Hardy – Shearwater: Itinerary rebuild. miles 0 – 71

    July 3-6: Waiting

    We began the drive/ferry/drive to Port Hardy the afternoon of Thursday July 3rd, and right away began rejiggering our itinerary due to the dismal weather forecast for our crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound and traversal around Cape Caution. ‘Dismal’ in this case meant 30-40 knot winds, gale warning in effect, definitely well outside our comfort zone of not dying. Waiting for a weather window would set us too far behind a reasonable schedule to Prince Rupert, so we called several water taxis in Port Hardy and Port McNeil pleading for safe passage past the open ocean section. But, for 2 people this option was prohibitively expensive (about double our expectation based on blogs), and hard to schedule last minute. We researched the wonderful “water launch” option the Discovery Ferry used to offer kayakers, but unfortunately this ferry route was *just* canceled this year. What a big loss for kayakers exploring the central and northern coasts! At least the ferry that transits Port Hardy to Prince Rupert would stop in Klemtu on Saturday and Bella Bella on Monday. Since Klemtu would chop off more of the route and the weather would just landlock us up there too, we chose to hang around Port Hardy until Monday. We discovered another good reason for this choice when we kayaked through Klemtu several days later: launching from the ferry terminal would be extremely difficult, maybe not possible with its fence and steep rocks, while Bella Bella had a nice gently sloped launch spot.

    Back to driving, now that we no longer could launch ASAP on the 4th we took our time driving to Port Hardy, and made an early morning visit to Telegraph Cove, a cute collection of old interesting dock buildings we had regretted skipping last trip. The next 3 days of not kayaking passed fairly slowly. I tried to keep a positive attitude and remember that for most people visiting a far-flung town, hanging out for hours in a café for the food and wifi, then a library for the wifi (we needed to keep up on the latest marine forecast!), checking out a local museum (Port McNeil) and meandering aimlessly is prime vacation material. But, of course the reality of *not kayaking still!* gnawed at this facade of acceptance and flexibility. We were pulled briefly out of our itinerary self-pity after visiting Port Alice, when we happened upon a recent car accident second on-scene. A young man trapped and injured in his smoking vehicle needed help, and the first on-scene sent us back to Port Alice to call 911 because nobody had a cell signal out there. Eventually the police, fire department and EMT’s got him out, I sincerely hope he was alright.

    On Sunday, we practiced loading our boats (to make sure they wouldn’t sink and our gear would actually fit) and kayaked for about 3 hours starting from our original intended launch spot of Wildwoods Campground. The kayak felt good, maybe a bit heavy, but ready. Later I ran to the ferry terminal to gauge how long it would take to drop off the van in the long term parking at Wildwoods Campground and run back to the ferry the next morning by 5:00 AM, the check-in time for Bella Bella transit.

    July 7-10: Bella Bella out n’ back

    The ferry dazzled us with its many amenities, cleanliness and fancy comfy seating; its high ticket cost seemed to have reason. We had mailed one of our kayak carts to Prince Rupert, so I rolled my kayak onto the car deck like a princess while Toffer lugged his by hand. From front row seats we wistfully watched the missed ~90 miles of our route whip by until a friendly Bella Bella local chatted us up. She was returning with her teenagers from the orthodontist in Campbell River, and shared her life story. She also told us about a neat cultural event we would cross paths with – representatives from local bands were gathering in a canoe trip, heading south to Quinault, WA and picking up more First Nations people as they went. They would stop in each settlement, where a celebration and sharing of culture would occur. We subsequently heard about this everywhere we encountered people, and crossed paths with the canoes a few days later.

    We arrived in Bella Bella by 1 PM, carefully loaded the boats, and started a short 10 mile paddle south to Serpent Point. We had gained a couple of days on the original schedule, so we toyed with the idea of adding various excursions, including an extra hot springs tour loop, but ultimately decided to minimize the loss to our original route by heading south to Namu before returning to Bella Bella (or the nearby Shearwater resort), which would put us exactly back on schedule. As we kicked off from Bella Bella a ferry worker informed us we'd “probably see a bear.” Great.

    The afternoon weather/water luckily remained calm-ish until the last couple of miles, when some angled wavy action encouraged us to get off the water. The location of Serpent Point was obvious, marked by a navigation light at the narrowest portion of the channel, but as would be true most other nights of our trip, an obvious location to put the tent did not jump out immediately. We'd remember the gravel beach fondly while trying to hack out a tent site in the thick vegetation a week later. We diligently ate our spaghetti far from camp, smushed smelly tasty items into bear cans, and hung the rest of the food in a dry bag. I slept with one eye open, with bear spray and air horn by my head, and periodically checked the approaching high tide. But, nothing disturbed us.

    Early the next morning we continued south to Namu, first past the helipad and eagles on Pointer Island, then across Fitz Hugh Sound to a pleasant ride along a rocky steep shore. We spotted a white shell beach on a little islet just after crossing Burke Channel and marveled at its high albedo and beauty. Our marvel shifted to slight horror in Namu, which we had heard is in a state of decay, but it still creeped us out and invoked thoughts of zombie movie scenes. A rusted decrepit half sunken ship and collapsing pillars dominated the view from the water; from land collapsing structures, dead plants and broken windows were most notable when not watching one’s step through the carpet of glass and nails. Camping here seemed like a bad idea, and the nearby island didn’t have enough flat ground. So, we paddled back couple of miles to the islet near Burke Channel because our guidebook seemed cautiously confident it was possible to tent above high tide, usually… maybe. About half way there the wind kicked up fiercely from the south (behind us) and suddenly large waves and their horrible random reflections off the cliff shores tossed and shook us like rag dolls. I yanked on my rudder cord with maybe too much adrenaline-inspired force, and the cord responded by snapping apart, oops. No rudder for me! Although it felt like we could have flipped very easily in these conditions, we both managed to stay upright and landed in the lovely protected islet, sea-sick and relieved. We did not have confidence our tent would stay dry here (we saw pieces of seaweed strewn right up to the hillside), but there was no way we were getting back on that ugly water (to go where?). It’s a serene, beautiful place anyways and we could always escape into the brush if needed. I stayed up reading, watching the beach that connected our islet to the one storing our food disappear, and listening to the wind howl until safety from high tide was obvious.

    We re-crossed Fitz Hugh sound early, but the wind arrived early too, spitting up bouncy water by 8:30 am, though luckily not to the extreme of the day before. We nixed an idea of looping back to Bella Bella via Gunboat Passage and returned to Serpent Point. We of course hugged the shore of Fitz Hugh Sound and in one particularly flat and protected cove Toffer insisting “go right go right!” startled me from daydreams as a humpback whale emerged and rolled around a few feet in front of him. Yes I went right! Once at a more comfortable distance from the periodic spouts and fin flapping we waited and watched as it swam away. This would be the first of many close whale encounters.

    As we reached Lama Passage (e.g. to Serpent Point), we noticed the wind no longer blew at our backs but funneled strongly out of the passage into our faces. The current also fought our progress, and so once again the last mile required significant effort. Back again at Serpent Point we enjoyed knowing where to hang the bear line, cook dinner, set up the tent – except now 2 nights later the high tide reached higher and started licking the tent a few hours into sleep time. Luckily I hadn’t really been sleeping anyways, so I noticed in time for us to make a late night move into a crammed spot between driftwood. Fun.

    We had a slow peaceful slog against the current into Shearwater; the main “battle” of this day was figuring out where/how to land. A photo online showed a rocky beach-like area, but now due to construction a steep pile of rocks makes landing not really feasible. I got out at the dock and inquired to a few people who all recommended unloading right there. But, this seemed like a recipe for losing gear, so we made our way over to the boat launch and tried to clear the area quickly. We registered with the hotel for camping, and they generously schlepped our gear in a van up the big hill to the campground. On the way out the next morning we “borrowed” a wheelbarrow. Shearwater offered amazing amenities, showers, laundry, restaurant (superb), and a water taxi to Bella Bella (where we meandered for a bit that afternoon). This was the only opportunity for cleanliness (defined as not smelling like rotting seaweed) and fresh food (vegetables?!!) until Prince Rupert, so we greatly appreciated this wonderful place.

    Part 2: July 11-18 Shearwater – Angler Cove: We are Weather’s toys. Miles 71-189

    July 11-12: Forward progress

    For most of the path north to Watch Island, we had favorable current, flat water, and we just flew. We both did a double take when we saw two deer swimming to an island, and their direction indicated they may have crossed quite a large distance. Deer swim??

    Right after we crossed Seaforth channel (at least we got to cross!), a west wind kicked into high gear, blowing yucky ocean water at us and our progress got slammed to a crawl, and we inched our way the last mile or two. Gee, this seemed familiar. The large waves challenged us, but at least we could see them coming, and reacting to them was much easier than tailwind waves. Eventually we began our daily campsite search. We circled most of the island looking for a marine park campsite we thought existed, thankfully in water protected from the increasing wind. But, we never found it and paddled over to what looked like a nice beach from far away. Up close it didn’t present many good options, so we entered coordinates in the GPS from a book for possible islet camping. The spot was actually very close by, but discovering it without the help of the book and GPS would have been difficult. The Roar Islets had a wonderful beach and ambiance. We could hear the “roar” of the wind and see it blasting the water half a mile away, but the islet and surrounding cove protected us from its onslaught.

    We awoke to a thick fog and a low tide launch. Carefully stepping around starfish we loaded and pushed off,
    hugging the shore very closely. We traveled up Reid Passage, and rather than trying to navigate Perceval Narrows in the fog, bypassed them by heading north, with a lovely current push and flat water. I spotted a black bear turning over large boulders like they weighed nothing. The bear did not acknowledge my presence, which was fine by me and I quickly moved along.

    We read tumultuous things about Mathieson Channel, but our transit passed mostly smoothly because the fog had lifted, the wind hadn’t picked up yet, and we had a great current push, spectacular. Except, when we reached the intersection with Oscar Passage we realized ugly things were happening outside our passage at an angle that kept us protected until then. A west wind pushed crazy angry white-capping water into Mathieson, making for an interesting crossing. Once we passed this section though, the conditions resumed their nice previous state. In the uber-protected Rescue Bay we again used the GPS to find the recommended camp spot. This one had an actual flat clearing in the trees large enough for our tent! A few boats anchored nearby, though we didn’t meet any of the residents. We enjoyed a hot sunny afternoon in a pretty spot after a mostly nice paddle, so we felt pretty content. Bug head-nets greatly helped our mood as well.

    July 13: Klemtu regret

    The morning fog returned, a heavy white-out, messing with our sense of direction. Flow favored us through Jackson Narrows, and the 7 mile transit to Finlayson channel passed quickly. Disappointingly the fog had not dissipated by the time we were ready to cross the 2+ miles of Finlayson Channel on the way to Klemtu. The wind picked up from the south, blowing more dense fog and bad water into the crossing. We heard a loud rumbling that sounded maybe like a cruise ship or ferry, so continuing seemed like a pretty dumb move (the sound turned out to be an electricity generating facility). We pulled out the GPS, hoping to use it to navigate through the fog. But, something had killed it, and it refused to turn on, even with fresh batteries and some encouraging taps. So, we waited for 2+ hours in a little bull kelp filled cove, watching, napping, and waiting for the incoming fog to lessen.

    We considered just heading north and skipping Klemtu completely (especially since the northward moving flood is stronger this route than via Klemtu), but our guidebooks promised us a campground, showers, laundry, places to charge our dead electronics, maybe they even had wifi so we could check-in with family... Eventually we made the incredibly bad decision to just “go for it.” We know better. We took a compass bearing and paddled away from the comfort of visible land. I was terrified. It looked like what one imagines when they think of little boats in the middle of a stormy sea. We paddled as fast as we could, periodically blasting the airhorn. A boat did zoom near us, I think checking on us in case the horn was a distress signal. It was, it was saying “we are distressed by the idea of you or something bigger running us over.” The water had enough roughness to dissuade me from pulling out the compass very often and we just hoped our aim remained steady enough. The sweet taste of relief hit us as soon as we saw land, about 100 feet in front of us. We agreed to never do that again.

    At this point we had no idea where we were along the long island that protects Klemtu, or maybe we were south of the island all-together. Current and wind likely had pushed us north some, but we couldn’t be sure, so we chose to head north and wrap around the north end of the island if we were already at it (we were). Although this idea at first seemed like a good one, pretty soon the tail wind waves turned the paddle into another fight. We groaned and chugged, but eventually reached Klemtu. Oh boy, did we think we deserved some treats after this rough patch. I felt beat up, hungry, and incredibly stinky. But, our two guidebooks are both based on trips from ~10 years ago, and Klemtu no longer has a campground, nor laundry, nor showers (did it really ever?), no place to recharge ourselves and our electronics. It didn't even have a port-o-potty. We really should have researched this part more. We really shouldn't have expected this remote town to give us so much given how few people likely visit looking for public services, but nonetheless we were mightily disappointed. If we had known we would have definitely skipped the last few hours of risk and difficulty. There is a fancy hotel that offers grizzly bear tours and rooms, but they only had a dock, not a landing spot and I didn't have the hootspa at the moment to try to negotiate gear transport. Plus the owner was away on a tour and we were keen to be done flapping around, so we didn’t stay.

    Despite our obvious disgruntlement, the locals treated us with gentle kindness, and said we could camp anywhere in town. We opted for a rough rocky landing just north of town, where some garbage marked a spot flat enough for a tent. I tried to find a place to refill our water supply, and people kept pointing me toward the dock gas station. There I ended up wandering into a restricted area for MarineHarvest employees, and when I asked a sweet elderly man where to find water, he sent me into their break room. How nice of him to respond this way rather than kicking me off the property! So, visiting Klemtu at least got us stocked up with fresh water, and candy bars from the grocery store. Pancakes and spam for dinner filled us up, and we fell asleep to the sound of barking dogs.

    July 14-16 Roller coasters

    Fog, slogging against current, and another whale encounter defined our morning north up Tolmie channel. Later the sun came out and conditions remained peaceful. We paddled happily for miles and miles along Sarah Island. After the current had switched in our favor we crossed the intersection with Finlayson and Hiekish Narrows, which had a few little standing waves, but nothing too rough to handle. We passed by Green Inlet due to our impression of poor camping options, and rumors that bears might like it there. Instead, we aimed a few miles further for Flat Point. Without a working GPS many points fit the description, but suddenly it didn’t matter. Why? Because, wow, in a shocking turn of events the wind started hammering from the south again. It blew the worst waves we had experienced yet, chucking us around like matchsticks. The cliff-rock shore yielded the dreaded reflection waves and absolutely no landing. About 1.5 miles (we think) before the real Flat Point we bailed in a nook of logs and rocks. We pushed around some plants to create a lumpy camp spot amongst the ferns 27 miles from Klemtu. Feeling physically and emotionally spent, we opted to chew on beef jerky and candy bars for dinner. That night I heard what sounded like a bear moving around low tide boulders, and got very little sleep on high alert with the air horn.

    The 18 mile transit to Marmot Cove passed relatively drama free. The wind and waves got a little kicky at points, and the water did weird things as we traveled through where the meaning of current “flood” and “ebb” switch directions. But, nothing too crazy marked the paddle. We easily found the bright and tiny circular white shell beach recommended campsite, and it needed major gardening. We should have brought a large sharp blade of some sort. I filtered water at the river around the corner, and we baked in the sun as the encroaching high tide pushed us and our gear into a small huddle. An otter entertained us, playing with a piece of bull kelp in the cove.

    We greeted sunrise the next morning with no fog! We glided along glassy gorgeous water along the east side of the channel, now in Fraser Reach. Tall hills towered on either side and yet another whale spouted nearby. A lovely first 12 miles passed in peace. But then violence rapidly descended upon us without mercy. Again, no landing spots appeared to our rescue. We had little choice but to concentrate and paddle hard and try to reach Angler Cove without a dunking. Just before reaching our destination the blasting gust calmed to our surprise (though picked up again an hour later). We found a high green spot on the islet on the western end, which had great southwest wind cover.

    July 16-18 Stuck

    Our weather radio hadn’t been able to pick up a station for a few days, but here, near the Douglas Channel reporting station, we finally learned about the gale warning in effect and the 25 knot winds forecasted for the next few days as a large scale system hit the coastline. All afternoon large whitecaps churned. As the tide covered the beach connecting the islet to the cove that night, we heard large waves crashing hard. Around 2 am everything got quiet and calm and we had renewed hope for transit. But by 5am the wind howled again, forcing a mandatory “weather-day.” This day had sun, and lounging, and much needed rest. But the weather only got worse, with strong winds and drenching rain the following day. Hours passed slowly in the tent, reading but not too fast as the thickness of unread material narrowed.

    Part 3: July 19-27 Angler Cove –Seattle: Getting it done. miles 189-305

    July 19-20. Booking

    July 19th we awoke to slightly improved conditions. The rain, wind and waves continued, but at a notch lower level of intensity than the last few days. Kayaking seemed like a poor choice for the first 12 miles. We clung to the forecast of 5-15 knots in the morning, increasing to 15-25 in the afternoon at Douglass Channel, but really, at our location the wind seemed much stronger. Another whale startled us and we hugged the shore, bouncing and battling. At least we faced a headwind and didn’t have to spend another day in the tent. We slogged and rebounded in reflection waves until everything got better at Point Cumings, at Douglas Channel. The wind calmed, the current favored us. It was 10:30 AM and although we found a tent site just past Point Cumings, it seemed much too early to stop. But it also seemed too risky to cross the 3.5 miles of Douglass Channel, so we headed to Money Point, which would set us up for a shorter crossing earlier in the morning. Conditions remained dandy until half a mile from Money Point. So, it was clear we would be camping there. But “there” apparently is a collection of giant cut trees, logs, tipped tree roots, and garbage. Access to the vegetation required careful climbing of an unstable log pile, and the vegetation was incredibly soggy with lots of groundwater and recent rain. We set up the tent on the beach behind some big logs, but it wasn’t good enough because by high tide 6 inches of water filled the spot. We were forced into the brush, and did not find any flat ground. We squeezed into a tiny steeply angle space with roots jamming into us. But, hey at least we didn’t have to sleep outside in the rain.

    The next day we crossed Douglas without incident and slogged against current in Grenville Channel. Our itinerary called for short 12 mile days along this channel, but we needed to make up lost time, so did not stay at Union Passage or Lowe Inlet (grizzly avoidance) as planned. Instead we aimed for 5 miles past Lowe where one book stated there were “a couple consecutive camps.” This implied a 30 mile day; Grenville is narrow, fairly protected and allowed us this mileage. If afternoon winds howled elsewhere they did so at an angle that could not fluster Grenville. Near Lowe the current switched and gave us a mighty push. We moved fast! We looked out for “camps” but at this speed it was hard to estimate distance covered. We stopped at a few spots where it was possible to camp in the skunk cabbage and soggy ground, but they both looked like bear hang-outs and didn’t appeal to us. Plus, current still favored us, and wouldn’t the next morning. So, although tired and sore we continue another 7-ish miles to Evening Point, where we found beaches and beautiful views down Grenville. We had kayaked for about 12 hours, and now felt we had itinerary wiggle room again.

    July 21-24 The paddle finale

    We once again flew with the current the next morning, and experienced yet another scary deterioration of nice water before reaching our intended destination, Bonwick Point, marking the end of Grenville channel. We even paddled up a river for a bit looking for camping to avoid the bad water. Cold rain poured and chilled us through our drysuits and fleece pants. 1-2 miles short of our goal we stopped at a gravel beach, this one exposed to the blast of wind. We put on dry-ish clothes and shivered with wet gear in the tent.

    The low pressure system causing all the bad weather shifted south by the next morning and we had wonderfully peaceful conditions all the way to the gorgeous sand beach on McMicking Island. Crossing Ogden Channel we sprinted, because it is a shipping channel and we wanted to minimize the chances of interactions with a cargo ships. McMicking Island had real camping, clean sand, and even a trickle of tannin stained groundwater. This felt like a vacation again!

    But, one last challenge met us the next morning. We only had 13 miles to travel, but this morning the fog returned. We packed up anyways and waited on the beach, throwing the frisbee a bit. Eventually we loaded the boats and sat in them awhile longer. We sped across the shipping channel again to Hammer Island when moderate visibility returned mid-morning, then waited another hour or so as another fog deck encompassed the region. Finally we could see the Genn Islands, and by the time we reached them, could see Smith Island. A Coast Guard boat passed close by, which we appreciated. Along Smith Island current rammed strongly the other direction, so we chugged incredibly slowly, creeping towards Kitson Island. By the time we crossed toward Kitson a northwest wind churned the water, but it was too late, we were protected! A larger motor-boat family had taken over the south facing beach on Kitson. We felt smelly and anti-social so opted for the north side beach, which was smaller and less sunny, but a vast improvement over many of our previous camps. More clean sand! More lovely views! A couple of otters played nearby. I felt giddy we had made it and would soon return to an existence not so wrapped up in tent spots and water wars, to a sheltered life where death did not feel so possible so often.

    The final 8 miles to Prince Rupert had entertaining ships and industry to “oooh” at and of course much more boat traffic. Before we kayaked though we needed to hike, because low tide extends quite far north of Kitson! We rolled into the government dock area and puzzled over the proper place to land. We tucked in with other small boats at what turned out to be the public dock, and carefully extracted our gear. From here, I ran to the closest campground, uphill only 3/4 mile away, then to the post office 1.25 miles further, and back to the dock carrying the shipped kayak cart. These are small distances normally, but my atrophied legs muscles begged to differ. The wheels held up really well as we rolled the boats up the hill, these really helped a lot!

    Being Thursday, we had a day and a half to explore before the next ferry, and spent our time checking out the museum, eating (taste buds exploded, food never tasted so good), walking, all very relaxing. We schlepped the gear and kayaks back down to the ferry terminal early Saturday morning, and enjoyed the 15 hour ferry ride back to Prince Rupert. I ran back to Wildwoods at 12:30 AM, and the van started without a problem. I drove all night and we caught the 7:45 am ferry to the mainland. The rest of the driving got us home by Sunday evening at 6:30 PM, 63 hours after we began leaving Prince Rupert.

    This trip had both fabulous and unpleasant moments, and now we will likely rethink our goal of completing the Inside Passage in its entirety. The “peak-bagging” mentality doesn’t really work so well out there, and there is much to explore and enjoy without forcing a specific accomplishment. Remote, wild untamed beauty (but not a horse), that is how I will remember this journey.

    For more photos, check out

    Attached Files:

    stagger likes this.
  2. eriktheviking

    eriktheviking Paddler

    Jul 4, 2009
    Prince George, BC
    Thanks for writing up what looks to have been a great adventure. I think breaking up the coast into sections makes it a much more realistic prospect for normal folks, though this last northern section is pretty serious in its isolation. Lovely photos too- though (like on my trips) none from when conditions got adventurous. Some pretty marginal 'campsites' along the way too- maybe the marine trails people can work at improving this situation, or at least having better GPS coords for more proven sites. I like the swimming deer- I saw 3 in a similar state when I was near Porcher Island a couple of weeks ago- from a distance I could not figure out what the heck it was in the water.

    For me the important first stop in Cow Bay is Cowpuccinos.
  3. rheag

    rheag Paddler

    Jun 10, 2009
    Thanks for the response! It is great to hear from someone who has paddled the region -- doesn't seem like there are many who have experienced that rich place. I agree, a marine trail would be great, as would getting back some sort of wet launch option on a ferry route. But, maybe not enough people to justify such lovely things? Ah so you are familiar with the adventurous conditions being a 'your word' not photographed kind of thing, yeah we never seem to capture the essence of being thrown around with the images we get. Glad to hear of another familiar with our experiences! Swimming deer and Cowpuccinos, definitely good things!
  4. kullaberg

    kullaberg New Member

    Aug 16, 2014
    Well written! Thoroughly enjoyed it, made my morning.
  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Dec 7, 2011
    Victoria, BC
    My thoughts exactly! Thanks for a great writeup. :big_thumb
  6. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Nov 2, 2005
    Thanks for putting the work into writing this trip report up. A very enjoyable read.
  7. rheag

    rheag Paddler

    Jun 10, 2009
    Thank you for reading it and I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it!
  8. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

    Jun 6, 2010
    west kootenays
    Thanks for the pics and report
  9. Denis Dwyer

    Denis Dwyer Paddler

    Mar 17, 2009
    Metairie, Louisiana
    I enjoyed reading your trip report.
    The descriptions of campsite scarcity, high tide avoidance, and sleepless nights worrying about bears and tides brought back old memories.
    The descriptions of Shearwater and Klemtu matched my experiences at those locations.
    Namu seems to have deteriorated significantly since my visit there in in 2008.

    The photo of your loaded kayaks in chocks with wheels attached on the BC Ferry was interesting.
    When traveling on Alaska Marine Highway Ferries paddlers are required to empty their boats, remove the wheels, and place their boat on a rack not designed for kayaks. Valuable gear must be left piled loosely below the rack as it is impossible to place back in the boat. The BC Ferry method makes much more sense.

    Good report. Thanks for posting.
  10. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

    Nov 11, 2009
    Tuff City
    Great report! Thanks
  11. Byron

    Byron Paddler

    May 17, 2009
    Vancouver, BC
    I enjoyed the report also!

    The ruggedness and remote beauty make the Central Coast one of my favorite places to paddle.

    Ironically, the area is more isolated and less populated today than it was half a century ago.
  12. rheag

    rheag Paddler

    Jun 10, 2009
    Denis: Interesting to hear about your similar experience! Bears and tide dominate ones' thoughts and decisions out there! I think the Namu caretakers must have left, I certainly hope nobody still lives there.
    Good to know about the Alaska Marine Ferry, that is too bad. It will be nice to know that ahead of time. With the BC Ferry we were able to put the heavy stuff in a trailer with other passengers' luggage prior to boarding, and definitely the wheel-on + chocks setup kept things simple and fast loading and unloading. Not all the ferry workers knew the protocols for kayaks, since I guess it is not that common? So, there was some confusion, but there were always a couple of people who knew what to do with us and it worked out.

    Byron: It is incredible how quickly that environment returns to its wild state when people leave! Rugged and beautiful, I'm glad others are paddling and experiencing there. I'm not comfortable enough with rough conditions for it to be my favorite too, but it is definitely a special place!