My Gulf Island Trip

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by thunderseed, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    I am back and completed my first kayak trip :mrgreen: I changed my route at the last minute because there were more things to explore around the Northern Gulf Islands, so here is the route I took:


    My paddling expedition lasted 11 days rather than 21 days but I camped for longer; I still completed my route, I just underestimated how long it would take me.

    I gained a deep respect for solo kayaking; the freedom is exhilerating, tough, dangerous, it is nothing like anything I could have experienced exploring by land. Being able to travel to faraway islands - all reminiscent of the freedom of olden days when explorers would die just because of a small wound. And seeing the places I have traveled from look like a blue mountain in the distance is very exhilarating, thinking, I have come that far!

    But I don’t think I’ll ever undermine these kinds of trips again. It was a brutal adventure that tested my survival skills, motivation and perseverance. It wasn’t pleasant, but ironically that’s how I like it. I love the freedom it gave me, but that kind of freedom could have killed me at times! There were times I didn’t think I would make it home and where I questioned my reasons for being there.
    Every person I met thought I was either nuts or very brave, especially being alone.
    But I had time to ask myself philosophical questions about the meaning of my life. I became closer to nature, got back to the basics, and my trip filled me with gratitude for every little thing I have.
    But it was a lot of true survival. I couldn't have done it without all the preparation you guys helped me with, that's for sure.

    In review, the Gulf Islands are quite surreal with amazing rock etchings, but honestly, the rocky terrain became dull to me fairly fast. Once you’ve seen one gulf island, you’ve seen them all because they all look the same. It’s all just a bunch of rocks and in-between these rocks, just long stretches of absolutely nothing.

    I never saw any whales due to all the annoying motor boats everywhere. There are many seals in the gulf islands, and the seals stole the only flat rocks that I could have stopped to rest at. There are rarely rest spots. The only nice beaches that I saw were at Saltspring and Galiano.

    The camping spots on the islands have awful racoon problems.
    Wallace Island has a couple of pretty camping spots but it is the noisiest island out there, surrounded with all types of creatures and pests you wouldn’t think to find on a small island.

    Decourcy Island at Pirates Cove is infested with hundreds of mice and rats that come out to look for hiding places at night, it was really disgusting. It’s also swarming with the heaviest blankets of mosquitos that I have ever seen in my entire life. Decourcy Island was the most vile island I stepped foot onto.

    Galiano at Montague Harbour was very nice (my fave) and worth the money to stay there, it also had fresh water and stores nearby, but the racoons are more aggressive there than anywhere else.
    There aren’t many kayak friendly camping spots in the gulf islands.
    In summary, been there done that, I wouldn’t want to go there again.




    Day 1
    I departed late in the afternoon from Chemainus, stressed that I only had a short window of time to get to Wallace Island before high winds picked up.

    I stopped briefly to rest at Tent Island on a tiny yet beautiful shell beach, and that is when I realized I forgot my cell phone! I continued on my route to Wallace but my Uncle came looking for me in his boat and thankfully dropped my cell phone off so I could keep in touch with my family in case anything bad happened.

    Despite paddling as fast as I could, I got stuck in 15-20 knot winds as I fought very unmanageable choppy waters in the middle of the ocean. Paddling through that was awful. I arrived at Princess Cove late in the evening with barely enough time to set up camp, I found a neat little grassy shore with trees to unload cargo and set up my hammock.



    I shall call it Wallace Island, the Island of Noisy Creatures. There are many noisy creatures on Wallace Island and they all romped around my campsite at night. They grunted, farted, yelled, snorted, and had a grand time keeping me awake as much as possible. There were deer, racoons, seals and other sea creatures who took a liking to my camping spot.



    Day 2
    I relocated to find the perfect campsite despite the gloomy marine forecast. I paddled around Wallace Island, into very large rolling waves then crossed over to Galiano in very rough conditions and arrived near Bodega Ridge.
    I thought Montague Harbour would be closer but it was a very long, unbearable paddle. The lack of pictures of this area are due to not being able to work my camera when the water was too rough. The scenic route alongside Galiano Island looked very eerie to me. It was nothing but miles of giant rock cliffs that towered over me, with strange water carvings over the rock faces. Some spots along the way really creeped me out and disturbed me (just a bad foreboding sense, so I got out of there as fast as I could). The sun beat down at me and it was this day that I learned I should wear full sleeves while kayaking - I got badly sunburnt.
    Such barren, ugly, alien rocks. There were no spots to stop for a swim to cool off. Despite high winds, it was sunny and didn't rain once for the whole trip! By the time I arrived at Montague, I had heat stroke, but I set up camp anyway after a huge ordeal of trying to find the campsite.





    Day 3
    I rested at my amazing campsite at Montague Harbour (in the overflow feild), recovering from yesterdays journey and a terrible sunburn, slept well at night since my hammock is more comfortable than any bed I have ever slept in. I explored Galiano’s stores and markets, rode the famous Galiano Pub Bus up to the Pub and feasted on nachos ( it is a free tour bus that takes you up to the Pub while playing loud music).

    Day 4
    I paddled gently around Sphinx Island and the other little islands near Galiano Island and didn’t see anything noteworthy. The boaters I camped next to gave me some Ling Cod for dinner though.


    Day 5
    I paddled from the back end of Montague Harbour after visiting the marina and getting some groceries (fell on barnacles and obtained a nasty cut on my foot) and crossed over to Saltspring, and followed Saltspring all the way to the end of Wallace. That was a very pretty route. I can see why most people prefer Saltspring over the other islands. I set up camp in a very cute campsite, near what I think is Chivers Cove, near where all the boats are moored. I don’t think you are allowed to camp there, but I did anyways. It was free of racoons for that night, unfortunately, 3 party boats kept me up until 4 in the morning, along with having very itchy skin from a combination of salt water and sunburn.









    Day 6
    I journeyed all the way from Wallace Island to escape the party boats past Reid Island and along Thetis Island in search of the Bat Caves, which I never found! I lost my way and my foot was in a considerable amount of pain and thankfully I saw that if I crossed over to the island I could get to a relative who was camping in Yellow Point on Vancouver Island.
    Then I arrived at Yellow Point at the All Four Seasons Resort. Despite the painful cut on my foot, I went to a dance that night at the resort and had a very good sleep in my hammock, which I got to hang up for free in my relatives campsite. Apparently this resort is quite famous and famous people like John Wayne used to camp there back in the day.



    Day 7
    The cut on my foot courtesy of the barnacles at Montague Harbour a few days prior became infected. I even started feeling sick. Not surprising considering my immune system weakens when I overwork myself. Probably shouldn't have danced all night!
    Along with that, my lips got burnt so badly they were peeling, cracking and in excruciating pain. Thankfully my uncle who was staying there supplied me with vaseline, fresh first aid supplies and I was able to go to a small hospital in Ladysmith and they gave me antibiotics.
    That night we watched the fireworks in Ladysmith from my uncle's boat. I arrived at their resort at the perfect time, during the BC long weekend, so he had the weekend off and took me to see many touristy things.


    To Be Continued on Next Page...
     

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  2. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    Continued

    Day 8
    I was still at the resort healing my infected foot. Went fishing on my Uncle’s boat in Porlier Pass. We caught 4 fish, a greenling and lingcod. I also caught two little salmon but let them go.


    Day 9
    Felt quite homesick but was determined to find the Sun God Petroglyph in Kulleet Bay. I paddled through the worst waves I ever paddled through, my kayak got pretty swamped from high winds, big waves that crossed each other and white caps and I had to bail it out when I reached shore, then I trespassed on reserve land trying to find the petroglyph. I climbed up the side of the island but it really creeped me out, especially the area that my spirit guide wanted me to explore. He was very adamant that I go up that way to pay my respects to something. I didn’t follow him and the forest really scared me. It seemed like fresh water trickled down towards the ocean along the slope my spirit guide wanted me to follow. No thanks! Especially not with an injured foot. He did lead me to find a very large pure white feather. I’m not sure if I found the petroglyph or not, but I did see a rock with a strange design on it. Then I went back to the resort after seeing a bunch of natives in war canoes.




    Day 10
    Before leaving the resort, my Aunt took me to restock groceries and along the way we stopped in Nanaimo at Petroglyph Park. Then I paddled from Yellow Point over to Ruxton Island, then went all the way over to Shingle Point Reserve on Valdez Island. Along the way I saw the campsite, but it was full of tents. I planned to go over to Pirates Cove for the night anyway although that was a very long ways away in the opposite direction.



    I wanted to see the Little Cemetery at Shingle Point Reserve. It was probably the highlight of my trip.

    It’s very sad and disturbing, but there are tombs there that are destroyed and opened up. I saw the remains inside, which I didn’t really want to see, and in some places there are human bones sitting outside of the tombs, either courtesy of wild animals or awful people. There are very interesting grave stones all throughout the area, but the graveyard is neglected, and grown over with weeds.
    I met some people who told me many people who camp on the beach there report that it is haunted. Being superstitious myself, I would never camp there, near burial sites that have been disrespected like that. I felt bad enough taking pictures of the graves, so I did not take pictures of the remains though.
    I think they might be white people graves and that’s why the natives haven’t taken care of them. It’s sad. Someone there told me they were from back in the time where shingle point was used for logging. The oldest gravestone I saw there was from the 1800’s and he was an 18 year old boy when he died.
    Yet there are places that I visited along the gulf islands, such as the place near the Sun God Petrogylph in Kulleet bay that disturbed me more than that. I just got very bad vibes from certain places, and the Little Cemetery didn’t make me feel as uncomfortable as some places had. It felt more peaceful than a lot of places I came across. I sensed a lot of history and a lot of bad things happened along the gulf islands at some point in time.








    I arrived at Pirates Cove in time for sunset. As soon as I stepped foot onto the Decourcy Island, I obtained over 50 mosquito bites in 2 seconds and rushed to set up camp. Not very kayak friendly, I had to haul my kayak up the beach, and over a fence while swarms of mosquitos followed me. I trapped myself in my hammock inside the bug net and as soon as dusk fell, the mice began crawling over me. It was very gross! I spent the night punching mice off my hammock! I was glad to leave early in the morning! They have weird camping pads (blocks of wood) that people are supposed to set their tents on, but I strung my hammock up instead.
    The racoons weren’t aggressive here and didn’t get into peoples stuff, but they did make a lot of noise.


    Day 11
    Took the long way around Decourcy Island. On the Valdez side, towards Gabriola Island. I was going to go look at the petroglyphs but with my sore foot and seeing how high up the island went, I didn’t feel like climbing up Gabriola to see them.
    It was during low tide, so I got stuck at “the cut” and couldn’t pass the rock ledge that separated me from the other side of the island. I didn’t want to venture into the passes.
    So I stopped for a lunch break, talked to a few of the locals and waited for the tide to come in so I could paddle over the ledge. Then I cut across the ocean to Vancouver Island in Cedar then paddled back to Yellow Point.
    I saw dead seals along the way :(
     

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  3. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    Just a few more pictures...
     
  4. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Quite the adventure. Sounds like you learned a lot. The campsites you visited seemed pretty well used, perhaps a norm. One shot of Chivers Cove, where it appears you bootlegged a campsite, reminded me of two lovely evenings Becky and I spent there, maybe 2004? We had no raccoon problems on Wallace. Probably just lucky, although all our food was sealed up inside our boats.

    If you can engineer the transportation to Port Alberni, I think a week in the Broken Group would be a good way to round out your summer paddling. With what you learned this trip, should be a lot of fun. The steamer will deposit you on a very ample dock at Sechelt, an easy 2 mile paddle from Gibraltor Island. From there, it is easy to reach the other islands, so you can sample pretty much everything, maybe only moving camp once or twice. Much easier paddling than some of what you did in the Gulf Islands.. I do not recall any raccoon issues in the Brokens, over many visits there.
     
  5. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    I'm glad you didn't have any racoon problems when you were there. I also stored my food inside my kayak, then wrapped it up in a tarp for extra protection. I had brought cotton balls as fire tinder so I used those as earplugs and managed to get at least a couple decent sleeps. If I ever go back to the gulf islands, if, I would invest in heavy duty earplugs LoL. I like my sleep.

    Yeah from what you've told me about the Brokens before, it's definitely a place I'd love to go see. Maybe I'll plan for a late august or a fall trip. We'll see. I'll be getting a spray skirt and a rudder for free from Folbot - what an excellent company with amazing customer service, Eric promised to send me a demo rudder, but it turns out the demo rudder wasn't for the Cooper so they are making me a brand new one - and I'll just have to get a warmer pad to insulate my hammock for colder weather.

    I see Gibraltar island on google maps, but can't see Sechelt. Where exactly does the steamer pick you up at? Can you just camp anywhere on those islands or are there actual campsites?
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Couple links to help out:

    http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/bc/pacifi ... aspx#facil General info from Parks.

    http://www.ladyrosemarine.com/index.html Sechart is where the steamer drops you off, not Sechelt. My bad.

    Campsites are shown here. Sechart is just N of Canoe Island, where the Crawford Lake exit stream enters Barkley Sound. http://www.ucluelet.net/images/bgi_1144x1203.jpg

    Chart 3670, a monster, is the one you want, and has lots of detail. I believe it may show Benson as a campsite, which is no longer the case. My faves as campsites are Willis and Gilbert. Clarke is really primo, but far too crowded for me. Gibraltar is convenient for access to the steamer, both ways, and is an interesting one to circumnavigate.

    Dan Millsip put up a comprehensive trip report on the BG, 6 or 7 years ago. Search his posts.

    Last thought. Water in the BG is a lot colder than in the Gulf Islands. Especially for paddling the outer islands, I strongly recommend a 3 mm farmer john for immersion protection.
     
  7. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    Thanks Dave. I see, and yeah I assumed it would be a lot colder there. I'll have to arrange transportation there somehow but in the meantime I'm just happy I accomplished my last trip.

    It's a pretty huge accomplishment for me.

    I really don't feel like kayaking or camping for awhile. At this point I don't ever want to see saltwater again LoL. It'll pass but I am just so tired of kayaking and camping right now. So tired. Too many weeks of hardly any sleep LoL.
    And yesterday or was it the day before they wanted to go kayaking with me again, I felt like saying NO WAY MAN, but it was just up the river. Still, they wanted to go during low tide when the rapids are just awful. I didn't want to kayak again so I planned to rent a SUP, but the tide was too low and the rapids were too crazy for a SUP, I ended up renting a kayak in the end (since I hadn't brought mine). It was right after the Super Moon so the low tide was extremely low, I've never seen the river and estuary get that low before.

    I haven't even gone home yet. My cat is going to be so mad at me, but I'm sure the house sitter has been taking good care of her. I'll be going home late tomorrow after a trip to Vancouver, by Ferry not kayak LOL. My dad might be buying a 1968 Charger :mrgreen:
    But anyway, I've been camping for what seems like eternity. Thankfully for the last couple days I left the campsite and slept at my parent's house. I just got so mad at rude, noisy people that were camping next to me and ended up leaving the campsite at 1 in the morning - thankfully I did so otherwise I would have avenged them something fierce LoL. And thankfully now I get to eat real food and take nice warm showers but I miss my house, that's for sure. I can't wait to go home!
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The Brokens camping scene is not a party palace. The folks who go there are generally mainly focused on getting out on the water and exploring. Not a bunch of partyhardies at all. Beaches are nicer, campsites are nicer, some under huge cedars, some on needle beds under spruces, and a few on the beach, typically made of shell. Hope you get out there.

    I really prefer the shoulder seasons for the greater solitide. After the first week of September, usually the weather is pretty good for about a month, with the odd system flushing through, but mostly sunny, sometimes fairly warm, even. And, lots to see without a lot of hard paddling. A fair amount of wildlife, mostly waterfowl, but perhaps the odd wolf, or a few deer. Never seen a bear or any sign. Never troubled by rats or mice, though. Some of the cultural features are very interesting, fish traps, modified cedars, a passage natives long ago deepened to avoid a long portage, canoe runs in the intertidal zones, etc. I have always found it very soothing, even when weathered in.
     
  9. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    I'm not sure what to say. I can't recall seeing a report with such a negative tone. It seems like you had a bad experience though you did gain some experience and learned a lot along the way. I am not sure what scenery you will appreciate since you describe what to me seems like it should be rather beautiful as "barren, ugly, alien rocks". I might use the adjectives "striking, dramatic, unique" to describe the same scene.

    I have been awakened by wildlife and the sound is often appreciated (not always, admittedly) and one of the reasons I head out rather than staying at home to listen to the freeway. Generators and loud people, on the other are not so easy for me to take, but we try to limit our stay in those areas.

    Dave suggests the Broken Group, and that may be quite suitable for your paddling and desires. Personally, I loved my time there. However, unless you are open minded to the wonders around you, I'm not sure your experience there will be a lot better. Many places in the Broken Group could also be described in a negative cast such as having "barren, ugly, alien rocks". I do hope it is a better experience for you, though. At least the nature of the fellow campers should be quite different.

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  10. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    By the way, I really appreciated your honesty and your take on the paddling experience, which was different from what I might have expected, and that is OK. The Gulf Islands have never been high on my paddling list because of the numbers of people (and their effects) that I would expect to encounter. However the striking geology of the rocks is one thing I would love to see from the water.

    I really did love the Broken Group Islands when I visited the area with my family. It is a pretty fantastic spot and I hope you can love it as much as my family did, and so many others do. The islands offer a lot of protection from the weather and swell, and you can vary your exposure by venturing farther out through the group, or not.

    I do hope you keep paddling and learn to love all of these aspects of the challenge and natural world the way many of us do.

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  11. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    I never once said I had a bad experience. I had an amazing adventure and from your reply I really doubt that you have ever had an adventure like mine. Still doesn't change the fact that those rocks are barren and some of them are quite creepy and alien looking and after several days of looking at them, it becomes quite dull. It certainly doesn't sound like you appreciated my my trip report at all.
     
  12. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Sorry, I guess I inferred that aspect from what I interpreted as the tone.

    Nope, I have never had the adventure that you described, that one was all yours.
     
  13. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    mine is similar to Bryan's reaction - your story is a most interesting, honest, and odd essay.
    I too, would see many of the more annoying situations to you in quite a different light. Not the crowding, sunburn, or cuts of course, but the 'trials' of the journey and sights along the way.

    What would you do differently to make that same trip more enjoyable for your particular taste?
     
  14. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    What on earth are you talking about? I wouldn't have changed a thing. Maybe YOU wouldn't have enjoyed it, but I certainly did, infection, mice and all. It was all a very brutal, awesome, exciting experience.
     
  15. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    You guys do realize this was my first kayaking trip, right? Why do you feel the need to cut it down? I think I did a lot better than many people would, even experienced paddlers, given my experience levels. I was, before you rained on my parade, very proud of myself for completing this and had thought it had been quite amazing!
    I was very excited to do this trip report. I reported everything in brief, be it good and bad, such is life, such is a real adventure. I'm sorry if it gets your panties in a knot but the truth is I found out that the gulf islands aren't really a place I'd like to go back to if given the chance. That has nothing to do with having a bad experience. It's because, as I said, the stretches are very long, there is nothing to see except rock, and it is too populated for my taste.
    Adventures where everything goes right are not my cup of tea. I like real intense adventures that test perseverance and stamina and that is what I got.
     
  16. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    I don't think anyone here is cutting you down, but you've made your point (a few times) that I, at least, don't know what I'm talking about. What's new.
     
  17. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    Wow. I had the same initial take on your report as the others -- sounded like you had a dreadful trip judging from your long list of complaints. I'm glad despite all not being ideal that you still had a good time.

    Trying to decide which part of your story was my favourite. It might have been this...

    Seals are dicks. Hint: if you poke them with your paddle, they will move.

    or this...

    It's the nothingness that I find attractive.


    But I think my favourite line from your report is this one...

    Priceless. Thanks for posting.
     
  18. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    Thank you :)
    Well I got a lot of pictures of seals, didn't post them all on here. I saw some really gigantic ones, it's those ones that don't really like to move LoL. I could get so close to them, it was so cute, they'd just be amused.

     
  19. thunderseed

    thunderseed Paddler

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    No, but I seriously still have no idea what you are talking about...

    Edit:
    Anyway, the first person who commented on my trip after Dave - it was a very harsh comment, especially when I had been expecting people here to be more friendly and say, "wow, good for you for doing your first trip" or something along those lines. You would think you guys would be more encouraging and supportive to newcomers, instead of nitpicking their stories.
    I just don't understand. You seem to think it is so negative but if you really read it all, you will see that it is equally balanced. I thought it would be best if my trip report should be real and contain all there was seen and experienced in brief. I thought you guys of all people would understand that paddling out in nature is not always gentle and relaxing, it can also be dangerous, exciting, and thrilling and sometimes... you have to sleep next to hundreds of mice and not get any sleep LOL.

    I guess people would have appreciated it if I were to have just kept it short and said, "it was great and this is where I went." But it is my trip report and this is how I wanted to write it, as a keepsake for myself so I can remember everything and to show my family, who by the way, don't think it read as negative at all. They even laughed during the parts that were meant to be funny.

    I shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for documenting the reality of my trip.

    If you don't like it, I guess that's up to you. But I provided you guys with the things I saw.

    Nobody told me there were rats on Decourcy, for example. Now you guys know.
     
  20. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    :popcorn:
    :popcorn: