I've finally got around to working on a few quite overdue trip reports. The first is from a trip to the Broughton in 2010 -- this was a very special week-long trip spent with a very special group of people -- all with a common connection to this website. I hope that you enjoy this trip report despite it taking nearly two years to write. There are more (late reports) coming...
-----The Broughton Archipelago, summer of 2010
"Bring some friends."
Wow. I thought, that's really generous.
I've known Bruce for a few years and had given him a hand with a few things over the previous couple of years so I was delighted when he called me up one night in April with an invite.
Bruce owns and operates the Paddlers' Inn, a float-based lodge in the heart of the Broughton Archipelago that caters to kayakers. The Broughton is one of my most favourite places that I've visited so far on this planet. It's a peaceful place that has a sense of calm I've experienced no where else. It's big, and takes a while to explore. Bruce has called the Broughton home for the past 35 years, having homesteaded and raised two children there with his wife Josée. When it comes to kayaking in the Broughton, Bruce knows it as good as anyone -- his primary boat for several years when first coming to the Broughton was a kayak.
"Hey, bring up your family up for a week in August, I've got you booked in". "And bring some friends".
And so began our summer paddling holiday of 2010.
The first thing to do was to decide who to bring with us. A tough decision indeed. I'd always wanted to do some paddling with Philip (Kayakwriter on WCP) so I called him up. Yes, he was definitely game but would have to check to see if his wife wanted to go and he thought there might a schedule conflict with his niece who was coming from Germany to stay for a couple weeks around that time period.
"Hopefully Leanne will want to come, no problem if your niece is here during that time. Bring her with us" I said.
The next day Philip, party of three was booked. Who else could we bring? There was still room for three more. It was obvious that we would ask Maddie's and my frequent paddling partner Elsa, if she wanted to come along -- a quick phone call and she was on the list. Another fellow member of WestCoastPaddler, AstoriaDave and I had developed a friendship over the course of the six years that Dave had been on the website (he'd been a member of the site since near it's inception) and I often wanted to spend some time paddling with him. We'd met face to face briefly a few times when he passed through Vancouver on his way to visit his son, had lots of e-mail discussions, and met at one of the WCP Spring Campouts. A call to Oregon and he'd let me know after he talked to his wife, Becky. The next day he replied "We're in at the Inn". Excellent. We've got a group heading off to the Broughton at the end of July. We were all excited about going and over the next while, planning e-mails began to pass through the electronic ether.
Finally after a few months of waiting, it was time.July 26 - A Travel Day - Malcolm Island
Elsa arrived at our house at 6:30 with her her kayak and weeks worth of gear and provisions. In short order we had the van loaded up with boats, gear, and people and were on our way to catch the 8:00 AM ferry at Horseshoe Bay on a sunny Sunday morning. All was good. In fact, it was better than good because we were all on our way to the Broughton. Pam and the girls had been to the Paddlers' Inn the previous year and I'd been there a couple times before -- we all treasure our time in the Broughton. I was in touch with Philip in the morning on the phone, and it looked like they'd be on the 8:00 sailing -- we might make the 8:00 if it wasn't full. Turns out that a bit of road construction held us up enough to miss the 8:00 sailing by 4 cars! No problem though, we'd be on the 9:00 sailing and meet up with Philip further up the Island. We'd arrange to meet Dave and Becky at Port McNeill around 3:30 so we were good for time.
In Campbell River we met up with Philip and Leanne, and their ten year old niece. Their niece informed me that she liked to be referred to as The Princess. Yeah. OK. This was going to be fun.
Our drive up the rest of the Island to Port McNeill was uneventful except for a lot of singing and laughing in our van. Don't know what was going on in Philip's car but I figured The Princess probably had things well under control.
Arriving in Port McNeill we stopped at a restaurant and just as we ordered, Dave and Becky showed up and joined us for an early dinner before the ferry to Sointula arrived. This was the first opportunity for everyone to meet face to face and we could instantly see that it was going to be a fabulous week with some really terrific people. The ferry ride to Sointula and Malcolm Island was a lot of fun and everyone was looking forward to the upcoming week.
Our first night would be spent on Malcolm Island at Bere Point Campsite -- a spot that is little known for it's very long whale rubbing beaches. Bruce would pick us up at the south end of Malcolm Island at Mitchell Bay in the morning.
Stopped at the Seymour Narrows viewpoint with Philip and co.:
Arriving at Sointula, on Malcolm Island -- watch your step:
Setting sun at Bere Point:
Orange moon setting over Malcolm Island:July 27 - Heading into the Broughton
We arrived at the dock ahead of schedule and we quickly carried all of our kayaks and gear for the week down the long pier and waited for Bruce to arrive. It didn't take long before we saw Bruce. We did some quick introductions and loaded the boat -- we were on our way to the Broughton and everyone was excited.
Boats loaded on the boat:
A bald eagle flies past:
Entering the archipelago after crossing Johnstone Strait:
Rachel and Elsa goofing around:
Arriving at the Inn:
Kayaks on the boat. Only six of the ten of us had boats -- Pam, Becky, Leanne, Rachel and the Princess would not be doing much paddling but instead would spend the most of their time hanging out at the Inn -- when we all wanted to paddle together, we rented kayaks from Bruce's fleet:
Everything is off-loaded to the dock and then sorted out from there:
We had previously decided that each group would take a turn making dinner for everyone else -- our first night was a Mexican dinner prepared by Dave and Becky. Here, the busy meal preparers are doing their thing:
The rest of us enjoy a little quiet time in the shade while dinner is under way:
And a great dinner it turned out to be:
Dave supervising cutlery and portion control:
And of course, no Mexican meal is complete without a margarita:
After dinner, we all walked out to the lookout on the small tidal island next to the Inn to watch the sunset:
Rachel takes a photo of a dogwinkle shell that she found:
A Broughton sunset:July 28 - Viner Sound
Elsa and I got up quite early and set out on a 20km paddle to the end of Viner Sound and back. I was hoping to photograph some bears and figured that the tidal flat at the end of the sound would be a good place to see bears at low tide. That small dot is Elsa, a fair distance ahead of me:
Zoomed in view (from the same location as the previous photo) of Elsa on this foggy but warm morning:
Sunstars clinging to a rock ledge. Most of the shoreline in the Broughton is quite steep so anywhere there is a shelf of any kind, there is generally something living on it or clinging to it:
Heading into Viner Sound:
A small cove in Viner Sound that we stopped at to stretch our legs:
Boats on the beach at low tide:
My kayak is looking a bit worn -- it's taken me to some fabulous places since building it four years previous:
Viner Sound marine campsite complete with an outhouse, a couple of tent spots, and a picnic table:
Sea Anenome out of water:
End of Viner Sound. The very end of the sound is quite flat and a bit of a sandy marsh area. I figured it might be a good place to see bears but none were to be seen this morning:
The high-tide treeline creates an interesting backdrop as Elsa paddles past:
End of the line. We tried to paddle up the stream at the end of the sound but it was too shallow to get further than a hundred or so meters:
Sunstars. The dark purple sunstar was chasing the orange one:
As we paddled back along Hornet Passage, we saw these two barges raft up together and transfer materials from one to the other:
One of three porpoises we would see on this morning paddle back to the Inn:
Almost back at the Inn we see Philip sailing up Cramer Passage toward us. Looking closer, we realize that he's rafted up with Maddie and they're moving along together under sail power:
For our first couple of days, there was another guest at the Inn -- he was from Texas and was waiting for a floatplane to come pick him up for a further trip to the Queen Charlottes. We met him on our first day at the Inn when he returned from a days kayak paddle. He pulled up to the dock and exited his kayak -- in cowboy boots! That's our guest checking out Philip's paddle while waiting for his floatplane to arrive:
Floatplane taxiing into Little Simoom Sound:
Of course, this isn't something that we see much in the big city so it was a bit of an event on an otherwise quiet day:
A few minutes later and everything was back to quiet:
Sitting around in the lodge after dinner. On this evening we had arranged that everyone would do their own meals -- we had barbequed burgers. After dinner we sat around listening and laughing at stories that were true or should have been true. Philip gets my vote for the best storyteller -- and he's got plenty of stories to tell from his extensive travels -- including an encounter with a polar bear that he lived to tell about!:July 29 - A chillin' kind of day
This was our day to cook dinner so Pam and I went with Dave and Becky for a short(ish) paddle to the Burdwood Group for a few hours. While we were off paddling, Maddie began preparations for our evenings dinner.
Bruce gives Maddie a lesson in how to properly handle and prepare prawns without getting stabbed by sharp parts:
Becky and Dave heading out to the Burdwoods:
Becky telling Dave that she would like really, really calm conditions:
Pam as we get close to the Burdwoods:
Not a lot of places to get out of your kayak in the Burdwoods:
On the beach at the campsite on Walker Islet:
After crossing back over Hornet Passage, we see a heron landing on a log boom:
Paddling through a narrow passageway after leaving Scott Cove:
After arriving back from the Burdwoods, we find Elsa doing some painting from the deck of the Shoreline cabin:
Looking out across Hornet Passage from the Shoreline cabin:
Daisies and a view of the rear of the lodge:
Rachel took more pictures of flowers around the lodge:
Philip getting a little late afternoon sailing time in:
Meanwhile, Maddie has been busy preparing dinner:
And Rachel worked on a centerpiece for the table:
Pam and Maddie have done a fabulous job of preparing a Chinese dinner for the evenings meal:
Mmmm... the perfect combo -- Chinese food and margaritas:
Dave and I were tasked with the night's cleanup:July 30 - The day of the dolphins
Today would be a very special day for Dave, Elsa, Maddie and I. Today we would have a truly incredible marine experience. Today we would paddle with dolphins -- about a hundred of them. For over an hour!
The four of us decided the previous evening that we would circumnavigate Baker Island, paddle between Mars and Tracy Islands, and stop at the huge campsite at Insect Island. We started off from the Inn shortly after 8:00 AM -- as we were getting into our boats, Elsa exclaims that there's something out there in the water -- just outside the bay. Sure enough, we could see it -- dolphins at the entrance of Little Simoom Sound, where the Inn is located -- and right where we're heading.
Within minutes of leaving the Inn, dolphins started coming close to us and checking us out. We would paddle the length of Crammer Passage for about 4 kilometers (about an hour) with dolphins swimming around and near us. It was truly amazing. I estimated that there were about 100 dolphins from one side of the channel to the other -- mostly in small groups of three or four but a few larger groups of 15 or so. At any given time, there were about a half dozen swimming near us -- with the exception of one instance when there was a group of three sport fishing boats rafted together in the middle of the channel. When the dolphins were aware of them, they left us, joined up with other dolphins and began putting on a jumping show for the boats. It was quite a spectacle. Once we were about a hundred meters or so past the boats, the dolphins all of a sudden left the boats and were back performing for us once again.
At one point Elsa was about twenty feet away paddling parallel to Maddie and I in a double kayak and a dolphin jumped out of the water right between us! You can't imagine the feeling you get when these amazing creatures are so close. In another instance, two dolphins sped towards Maddie and I directly at our broadside and just under the water, forcing the water up and over their heads like speeding torpedos. They charged towards us at amazing speed, submerging about ten feet from us -- one of them going directly underneath Maddie's cockpit and the other directly beneath mine -- just inches below our kayak! Truly amazing stuff. Unfortunatley I didn't get any photos of either of these instances but it was really quite a special moment. In hindsight, I should have been taking video of the encounter as most of the photos that I took really understate the excitement that was around us for the better part of on hour. Elsa, by far, got the best show -- about half a dozen dolphins were about 30 feet directly in front of her jumping up in the air, doing spins, flips, twists, and cartwheels -- we could see the smile on Elsa's face from the hundred or so meters that we were away from her.
About five minutes from the Inn:
Elsa has the best seat in the house:
As the dolphins head off in a different direction, Maddie keeps a watch out as a few straggling dolphins swim past us:
A float plane goes past on the other side of the channel in the fog:
Dave in the fog:
Elsa catching up:
Dave watches something on the shore:
The channel between Mars and Tracy Islands is teeming with marine life -- it's best to go when the tide is lower:
Maddie rescues a sea cucumber:
Dogwinkle. Lots of Dogwinkle:
Dave and Elsa pull out on a small islet to stretch their legs:
You'll need good shoes if you're walking around here:
Maddie warms up a bit by the (non-existant) fire:
Someone has set up a kitchen here -- it's a cool spot with good wind protection, right on the point:
The entire campsite is similar to this -- a maze of trails with lots of small levelled spots for camping:
Elsa and Dave going over a chart of the area:
Meanwhile, Maddie grabs a quick nap:
Back on the water and heading between Insect Island and Baker Island. That's Dave ahead on the left:
Gull, taking off:
Alongside Baker Island with Ragged Island in the center of the photo:
Stopped in a small cove along the shore of Baker Island:
A school of small fish in the bay:
We arrived back at the Inn to a small greeting party:
Time for a refreshment and to tell of our adventures of the day:
After a fabulous pasta dinner by Philip and Leanne (sorry, no pictures) we enjoyed some desert -- artistic pies were done by Rachel and the Princess:July 31 - A visit with Billy Proctor
A fun day was had with everyone going over to Billy's Museum. There was an art show going on at Billy's so it made the outting even more enjoyable. We decided to paddle to the beach at the end of Echo Bay and then walk over to Billy's by way of a trail at the end of the bay. Meeting Billy is something that you should try to do if you're ever in this neighbourhood. Billy was born and has lived in the Broughton his entire life. He knows more about the Broughton and the animals and marine creatures that inhabit the area than anyone you'll ever meet. He's very approachable and friendly and enjoys meeting people. His museum is a collection of artifacts and bottles that he's picked up from locations throughout the Broughton and is well worth a visit.
Heading out in the kayaks to Echo Bay:
An over-the-shoulder shot of Dave as he leaves the Inn:
Paddling past the yachters in Echo Bay:
Our paddling destination is the beach at the end of Echo Bay -- there's a campsite (of sorts) and the old Echo Bay school:
Looking out across Echo Bay:
The trail to Billy's is at the back of the bay, around a few old buildings:
Continuing on past the old school:
The kids wanted to stop to use a zip line that was at the back of the school:
Once past the school the trail goes through a short section of forest:
And then opens into a field at the back of Billy's boat house:
Checking out the art show:
Billy had recently built a typical loggers cabin as a new attraction to his museum. He built it from cedar that he hand-split -- each and every board -- exactly as it was done in the early logging days. It's a really good glimpse into the hard lifestyle of the day.
Billy with Elsa and the Princess. Note the authentic furnishings and fixtures:
Pam and Maddie enjoying a quiet moment in the sunshine:
Outside, Billy and the Princess are checking up on Billy's dog:
But he's just sleeping under the cool shade of the building:
After our visit with Billy, we decided to hike over to the marina. It's back up the gentle slope from Billy's house and past Billy's chicken coup:
Over a rickety old foot bridge:
The marina. There's a store there where you can get an ice cream bar (not a lot of stuff, mostly odds and ends for yachters). There is also free wireless if you feel the need.
In the afternoons it's quite common to see the yachters playing yachter games -- here, they're shooting golfballs into a floating bucket. Not sure what the prize was but it most assuredly involved a drink (or two):
On the trail back to our kayaks. Billy's place is near the bottom and to the right of the photo -- we're heading to the left to get back to the beach:
Back at the small field by the school:
An old teeter-totter:
Heading back to the Inn:
Philip and Leanne:
It's starting to become a familiar sight:
There's always a lot of activity when a group arrives back at the Inn:
Philip takes the Princess out for her first paddle in a single kayak:
It doesn't take Dave long to get in an agreeable mood:
Chilin' before dinner:
The girls put together a dance routine:
In preparation for dinner Dave uses his super powers to grate cheese:
And the girls dance on:
After dinner it's a hike to watch the sun set:August 1 - Traveling home
Philip - as much at home in the BC wilderness as he would be on an African safari:
A group shot before heading out:
Boats loaded (the previous evening):
Last minute to relax at the Inn before we leave:
The Paddlers' Inn guest book -- lots of good reading, from people around the world:
A misty trip home through the fog:
Dave and Elsa keeping a keen eye out for whales but we would see none on this trip:
Arriving back at Mitchell Bay on Malcolm Island:
A final parting shot from Rachel -- she took this on the beach at Sointula while we waited for the ferry:
We had a fabulous week in the Broughton and I'd not hesitate to do another trip with this group -- we had lots of fun and laughter and saw lots of really cool things together. Thanks to everyone who was there for a fantastic trip that is chockablock full of great memories and a big thanks to Bruce for all the work and foresight in building a very unique haven for paddlers.
If you're looking to spend some time paddling in the Broughton I highly recommend a stay (long or short) at the Paddlers' Inn -- you can get more info from their website at http://www.paddlersinn.ca