Ruminating over Rum (the Island)

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Dan_Millsip, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. jk

    jk Paddler

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    It would be nice if kayakers were somehow consulted in site selection to avoid the Dionisio Park syndrome (the Sandstone campground created for kayakers that is inaccessible by kayaks). I always felt the camping site at Rum Island, or the option at least, should be the isthmus or just above. I've never liked that overland hike from the beach to the campsite. If so the rest of the island could be left intact.

    I checked out the new tent pad sites in Desolation Sound, and overall they are excellent, but again I wonder at the input from kayakers. In three instances the walk from beach to the tent pads is arduous, and doing three to four trips with gear in wind and rain while tired would be potentially hazardous. At least one pad should have been located behind the beaches for foul-weather shelter at each of these sites. Oh well.

    On the theme of social etiquette at campsites, Desolation Sound park campsites usually have a cluster of 3-6 tent pads is situated to be near a common area set up with benches, a cooking table and possibly even a picnic table. The common area is at the most scenic and pleasant spot, so without it some tent pads would be isolated and not particularly pleasant, being set back from the shore.

    So I notice this is what can happen at a so-called common area:



    In fairness to the campers they were likely the only group at the time, but when I arrived they were out paddling so if I was left to either a) isolate myself at a tent pad, b) move their stuff so I could use the common area, or c) leave and go to another site to avoid a conflict.

    No doubt these people felt perfectly justified in claiming the spot as no one else was around, making it sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy: people won't stay if you crowd them out. I can seem a stream of people checking this out, seeing the situation and leaving, and the group thinking they are lucky to have the island to themselves. So once again the inconsiderate are rewarded.
     

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  2. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    :yikes:

    Different strokes, I suppose. I rather like the set up at Rum and think putting a campsite at the isthmus or just above would be terrible -- the current spot affords a spectacular view that you couldn't get close to in the steep-walled, restricted viewpoint of the isthmus area.

    And with a beaching bag, it only takes two quick trips to carry all my gear up to the campsite. It's like what, a hundred meter walk? And now that there's a path behind the outhouses to the campsite, there's no need to walk along the old skinny, steep trail -- although you still can if you want a bit of a thrill.

    From your description of the Desolation Sound campsite, I'd suggest that the majority of the fault there lies with the campsite design.
     
  3. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Update:
    I just received an email reply from Marcia Morash, Parks Canada.

    Sounds very reasonable to me.
    I'll let you know when I get further information.
     
  4. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Perhaps Marcia could be persuaded to meet with Liam and/or a BC Marine Trails rep to discuss this and other issues of interest. As a newcomer it would be nice to have kayakers on the radar earlier rather than later. Isthmus or bluff, I'm fine so long as kayaking interests are represented somehow in the planning process so future changes don't make things worse rather than better.
     
  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    John-
    In my reply to Marcia's email, I suggested she read this discussion thread (as a start) and specifically mentioned the thoughtful and useful input from you, Liam and Dan (as well as others) here.

    I agree that kayakers should be involved in the early stages of planning decisions about campsites and other Park issues.
     
  6. greg0rn

    greg0rn Paddler

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    Like overnight, or even day parking to access this beautiful National Park by kayakers.
     
  7. Gary Jacek

    Gary Jacek Paddler

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    I don't think these problems are limited to guided trips.

    This discussion reminds me of an encounter with a not-guided group of 12 "not from BC" paddlers that arrived at our chosen campsite in the Bunsby Group one afternoon.

    As the upland sites were, save a couple, occupied, and with an expected very high tide overnight, one of us talked them into seeking out one of two nearby campsites, since beach camping was not an option.
    Without leaving their boats, they paddled off. What a mistake!

    Later in our trip, we got a frosty reception from the same group, already encamped at south Spring Island.
    To get some distance, we camped on the far side of the empty tombolo, in the wind, as far from them as possible, only to discover that one of them had pitched his tent in the woods behind us.
    Yes, they were VERY spread out on that popular site.

    Later still, we got another frosty reception at Rugged Point when we arrived near sunset.
    At Rugged, they occupied every tent pad, all the beach sites near the tent pads, the entire bear cache and the cook shelter.

    We beach camped out of sight on the far side of a rock outcrop, improvised a kitchen and hung our food the old fashioned way.

    We had some time for a quiet word with a few of these paddlers. All were very civil, save one.
    This "hothead" among the twelve was insistent that we move on to another camp site, as they had claimed Rugged Point for their stay.
    Meanwhile, I was thinking..."claimed?"...hmmm...this BC Park was paid for by BC taxpayers...and you are a guest here!

    How to defuse this? You'd have to wind back the clock.
    In hindsight, we should have invited them all out of their boats in the Bunsbys.
    Nothing like a good leg-stretch and look around "for future reference" to promote blood flow and improve the outlook of the group.
    Then dig out a chart and help them find something suitable, in the event the're not inclined to tent below the high tide line. But if they insist... :D
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Gary,

    That is about the rudest paddler behavior I have heard of. Waaay up there on the rude scale. Sounds like there were 11 followers and one obnoxious "leader" ... a very unfortunate combination.

    Sorry you were at the focus of their trashy behavior.
     
  9. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Storytime!

    This Thursday (two nights ago) two campers were quietly enjoying their solitude on Rum Island when at about 4 p.m. from the depths of hell, I mean their kayaks, emerged ten 15-year-olds and two guides (Grade 10s from St. Michael's on an outdoor program trip). Naturally the campers' expressions went from :D to :shock:

    Not able to change campsites, the tour guides decided the best thing to do would be to set up the two girls tents on the two vacant tent pads and keep the boys tent and the kitchen down on the beachside berm. So the group for the most part stayed on the beach till bedtime, leaving the two other campers feeling :D again.

    That's what a considerate group does when creating an overflow situation on Rum Island. Kudos to Sarah and Leah.
     
  10. alanh1

    alanh1 New Member

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    Beginning of summer I went paddling around gulf islands. At D'Arcy about 10 people in 3 power boats arrived and had an all night party, including bonfires on the beach, music, firing off flares etc...
    Next stop, arbutus point on portland. The campsite seemed to be turned into a squatter camp, obviously not weekend visitors as there was a huge amount of provisions in large containers all over, large tarps set up, fire pits on the shell beach. I didn't stick around to see who it was.

    Needless to say i don't camp in any designated campsites anymore.
     
  11. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Hey alanh1, that's a sad tale -- very sorry to hear it, particularly the bit about fires on D'Arcy. But rather than abandoning the designated camping areas, it might be worthwhile to put your tax dollars to use. The signs at the camping areas all give the number of the parks office. Next time, call the office and report what you see.

    The Canada National Parks Act gives wardens (and others designated by the Minister) the authority of peace officers under the Criminal Code. They can eject people from the Park and charge them under the Act for, among other things, lighting fires where no fires are permitted.

    So, again, don't abandon a national treasure that you have paid for. Contact the public servants responsible and enlist their help. It's their job and I'm sure they are proud to do it.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  12. Mark_Schilling

    Mark_Schilling Paddler

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    I think the larger, more 'provisioned' camp you saw on Portland was probably that of a few University students studying bird life in the islands. The camp is usually there for a few months at a time, from spring to late summer, and has been there every year for quite a while now. While I agree it's not visually appealing, I've always found them to be very polite and respectful of other campers. They do tend to have a lot of gear but I guess that's the way it has to be if they're there for months at a time.

    Camping in the Gulf Islands, especially in summer months, has become fairly popular so the unfortunate truth is, you sort of have to expect that you'll encounter others. Obviously some groups are more respectful than others. If you're really disappointed by those facts, all I can recommend is to stick it out a few years while increasing your paddling skills to the point that you're comfortable paddling open waters in strong winds, and then head for the west coast. We routinely escape for two weeks each summer and rarely encounter any other campers - and any encounters we do have are in passing (we've never had to share a beach).

    Meanwhile, winter camping (if you're prepared for it in terms of both gear and paddling skills) can also be a lot of fun in the Gulf Islands.
     
  13. Barratt

    Barratt New Member

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    Wow - what a great discussion by many passionate paddlers. I have been paddling inside and outside of Van Is for 25 years and have had all of the experiences discussed above. I have come to realize that 99% of the time best deal is meet the group. Share experiences - you never know just who you are going to meet. Sometimes you have that whole amazing view all to yourself ..and sometimes you have a fantastic lemon curd cake someone (even a guide - ha) baked by the fire...or a shared fresh salmon. All good. Even though its a big place out there there are just enough amazing people who want to get out into it and it sure can seem crowded at times (just came back from a somewhat crowded week in Broughton) but generally the folks we meet out on the sea are damn fine people - that is part of the reason we go.

    Happy paddling people let's fight for what we have together not what we own for the night.

    Cheers

    Rod
     
  14. Kasey

    Kasey Paddler

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    Wow...I can't believe how long this discussion is - I'm guessing that the "passion" comes from the fact that there just are more people out there enjoying our parks/coastline. With more people attending, we have to shuffle our expectations and remain open minded. We've all seen the variety of people out there and part of that makes it very interesting to chat with new people, or chuckle over their eccentricities. I think Dan already stated what neeeded to be done to have made his experience more positive - they needed to talk. It's much more difficult to be rude or disrespectful of our neighbors, in a city OR a campground, if we've met them.

    Regarding parks planning - yes, it would be very productive if they included kayakers (and all users) in planning if this isn't already being done. I know, here in Kelowna, all users of Knox Mountain (a popular hiking, mountain biking, sight seeing hill in town) are included in their planning meetings - much more efficient use of the funds and energy...plus all the users get to know each other. ;)
     
  15. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Two elements which came out for me:

    1. Seems to be little enforcement presence on small venues like Rum, which relates to the second:

    2. When planning a trip from afar, expect to flex, either to accommodate others beyond the stipulated limits, or, if you cant hack that, have a backup spot in mind.

    I also gained a greater appreciation for the special difficulty a larger group has in settling into a spot. Especially if some of those paddlers are new to the game, as is typically the case for guided groups. Arriving late in the day, perhaps with tired clients, moving on to a distant island is not a safe choice. Not the same game as it is for a smaller group, all confident and seasoned paddlers, who might be able to stack a few more miles on, to stretch to the next island.

    Nothing but respect for those who do take on guided groups, and do it well. I think guiding on the water is trickier than on land, even above treeline. I have lead a few groups on the water, and many in the mountains. My stress level managing eight or ten paddlers on exposed waters was always much higher than taking a similar number up easy glacier climbs, or on multiday off trail transits above tree line. Basically, on land, even in the middle of a steep slope or on a heavily crevassed glacier, you can stop, regroup, and proceed; or, bivvy if you get caught out overnight. On the water, you have got to get to a safe beach for the night.
     
  16. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    A few weeks ago I was on d'Arcy and two Parks Canada people came by to collect the money from the cash box, check our permits, break apart a fire pit on the foreshore, and leave more toilet paper in the privy. (Apparently the extent of ParksCanda 'services'....)
    Total time on site was about 45 minutes.
    I asked them how often they got around to d'Arcy, and the answer: "Every 10 days or so".

    They were driving a small center console RIB with a 30-40 HP outboard; it seemed to me like a 20+ knot boat.
    So, considering the time on-site, transit time between sites, and number of sites in the Park, what exactly do these people do with their time if they 'can' only visit sites so infrequently?

    ParksCanada managers should visit Sucia Is to see the contrast in 'services'.
     
  17. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    I like to think I'm a friendly person, and I've never had a problem/really bad experience camping , but I think the 'happy talk' here is missing one point:

    Whether you are a guide or just one of a group of friends, what exactly is going on in your mind when you deliberately plan to take a group which will require 5-10 tents to a campsite which has a 'stated capacity' of 3 tentsites? How can you possibly think you are not going to cause a problem? And, how does this all fit with your beliefs about the environment, low-impact camping, etc etc ?

    To my mind, it's an entirely different situation from, say, three independent parties each requiring two tents, showing up at the same '3-campsite' spot.

    The second issue is:"What's the appropriate number of tent/hammock sites for the site?" Still waiting for Parks Canada to address that one.....
     
  18. Kathryne

    Kathryne Paddler

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    The problem of poor neighbourly behaviour isn’t restricted to just groups! I had an experience lately in Desolation Sound with two women on the Martin Islands. If you know this area, it’s a well-established site outside of the park that is heavily used.

    We had arrived at the empty site in the late morning and began to unpack and claim two of the four or so sites in the main campsite for our three tents (there were five of us). About 15 minutes later, two women arrived. One of the women came to me and said we were camping in her preferred spot and she was not expecting anyone to be there and that she had to use two of the sites (two tents) on the island that had no sun implying that our presence was ruining her vacation. I pointed out that there was another large site that we had left unoccupied (we put two tents on one small site, as the tents were small, and another back in the bush a bit) and that we welcomed the company and had no issue sharing the common kitchen area. I also made sure she knew that they were fully entitled and welcome to come out of the bush and get some sun, etc if she still chose to use the two sites in the bush. She worked on me for 15 minutes, and then went to others in our party with the same thing. Keep in mind, there was a very large site in the main area of the campsite that would house their two tents and they could even set up their own kitchen area if they didn’t want to share the common one. She just kept going on and on about not having solitude, not being in her preferred site, her hips, her back, everything she could think of to convince us to move. My unexpressed thoughts on this were that, hey, you’re in Desolation Sound, you need to adjust your expectations because this is a very popular paddling destination and you can’t expect solitude unless you go to a less established site. You also have to be prepared to deal with stuff, and if your hips and legs aren’t up to less than ideal landing situations, you probably should have chosen an easier trip. Eventually, they decided to stick with the two sites in the bush. I also mentioned that the large site on the end of the island was unoccupied and available, but they didn’t want to go there because it was a more difficult landing. We did everything. Offered to help them with their boats and gear, rescued their water bags from a rising tide, quickly moved our boats out of the way and delaying our launches so they could get in and out of their boats.

    Later in the day, a guided group of four kayaks came by. We told them that there was a large site available where we were, but they chose to go to the unoccupied site. We stopped in on them the next day and had a really nice conversation about the area and their plans for the next few days. They said they hoped they had not come across as rude by not coming to share the site, but felt the experience for their guests would be nicer in the other site and hadn’t planned to camp at the middle site anyway.

    The next day, we caught a nice sized Chinook salmon that would be a challenge for the five us to eat. So we invited the pair over to share in the bounty and have a little social time. She came over, took about a pound of fish, and disappeared back to their site saying that they were already cooking coucous but would join us after dinner. They never did come by.

    The whole exchange was very passive aggressive. She wanted us to leave so she could have her “preferred” space, and worked on each individual in our group separately. We did everything we could short of cramming three tents into two small sites so she could have her sunny spot and solitude. Yes, we were a larger group, but we have been doing this for many years and understand that a campsite is not an entitlement and sharing space is a part of the experience. We did not occupy all the sites even though we could have, we kept our footprint small, we invited others to join if they liked, and we offered solutions that would be acceptable to everyone, and we shared our beautiful food despite the bad taste this woman’s complaining left in our mouths. If we had arrived after this pair, we would have done what we needed to do, which would probably have involved some or all of us respectfully camping in close proximity to them anyway. I wonder what would have happened then?
     
  19. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Loud people will be loud, ignorant people will be ignorant, rude people will be rude, unreasonable people will be unreasonable, selfish people will be selfish, combative people will be combative, but thankfully nice people will be thoughtful, accommodating, friendly, giving and so much more, which overall seems to make up for it. Kind of like office coworkers, etc., it makes you wonder what their home life is like to see people act these ways in public. Take solace in the fact they're not part of your family I suppose and feel for their spouses, but with any luck happy paddling for the rest of the trip. But there's nothing you can do to change personalities while sharing a campsite. I passed through Desolation about a week ago and every party was a joy a meet. Luck of the draw.
     
  20. jk

    jk Paddler

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    Passed by today, snapped some pics. The view north from the berm looking over a perfect spot for a tent:



    The view south, same footprints turned around, I didn't even take a step. Two views, one spot! Very perdy. Gotta love da berm.
     

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