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Broughton Archipelago August 24-30, 2019 (1 of 2)


Where the paddle takes me
Mar 2, 2019
Port Alberni, BC
Broughton Archipelago Trip Report 1 of 2

Having lived on Vancouver Island on and off for over 10-years I have always been drawn to the beauty of our surrounding waters and the adventures that can be had on them. I wouldn’t call myself an expert paddler, but I would say that I am comfortable on the water on my own and I am always looking for opportunities to challenge myself with more challenging and longer distance paddles.

In March 2019, Ryan and I decided on a 7-day epic Kayaking Adventure in and around the Broughton Archipelago. The decision to paddle around the Archipelago was based on the fact that we read that there was minimal boat traffic and other paddlers in this area compared to other popular destinations such as Desolation Sound, which was exactly what we were looking for. We were looking for some easy days of paddling and a few longer distant and challenging paddles. The Broughton Archipelago trip ended up being a 225km paddling trip and did not disappoint! Over the exciting week-long trip, we saw a little of everything – sun, wind, and rain as well as humpback whales, orca whales, dolphins, and a grizzly bear!

Day 1: Departure Day
With our bags packed (some over packed!) myself, Ryan and Amelia, who are married and whom I have been friends with for the past 12-years, drove north on the Island Highway for about 3-hours until we reached departure location of Telegraph Cove. Having this be our first long-distance paddle together we were challenged with getting organized with what gear to bring and what food to bring.

With John Kimantas BC Atlas strapped to the back of the kayak we left Telegraph Cover at 1:30pm and at low tide we paddled out into the Johnstone Strait, in our shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops, and was greeted by calm waters, a nice current traveling in our favor, a slight tailwind and we were kindly greeted by a humpback whale as we started our journey!







The goal for our first day was to paddle as far into Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, in hopes of seeing some active Orca Whales, but unfortunately, we didn’t and so we made our way to shore to set up camp at Pig Ranch South Point. We made our first camp after a 20km paddle, which was the perfect distance for a first day. With our camp set up, we cooked our first camp dinner which was a delicious steak and boxed wine!


Day 2: Orca Whales and Humpback Whales!

With a late start to the day due to a great sleep in the hammock as well as trying to figure out how to put everything back into the kayak we headed north towards Blackney Passage. Upon arriving at the mouth of Blackney we were greeted by a pod of orca’s and humpback whales swimming around and feeding! We sat there floating around for about 90 minutes and watched the action in awe! We could have sat there all day watching, but alas the journey must continue!




Heading along Baronet Passage with the current we arrived at our second campsite on Klaoitsis Island. While we were paddling around looking for a spot, we came across a beach with a local resident (medium-sized grizzly!) unfortunately he didn’t stick around for very long and ran off into the bush. Deciding that we should give each other space we paddled a little further looking for a suitable spot. The second day’s trip was clocked at about 25km.





Over the past 5-years, I have been a collector of potentially useful camping and kayaking gear and this trip was a perfect opportunity to try everything out! Everything from a Hennessy Hammock to a new MSR Elixir Tent, to a Goal Zero Solar Panel and Portable Power Source, water filter, USB rechargeable headlamp, Garmin Fenix 3 and many other useful items! Did I need them all? Probably not, but still great to have! One of the items that I brought that I was really hoping to use, but didn’t was the fishing rod. It was strapped to the deck of the kayak for the entire trip and never got used and Amelia reminded me almost every day that it was there! It would have been great to catch a salmon or rock cod for dinner.

Day 3: Good Morning Mr. Bear!
After another great sleep in the hammock, we decided to try and make it an early start to our day with our destination being approximately 40+ km away at Burwood Group Islands.

During the planning stages of this trip, I didn’t calculate the proper amount of coffee grounds (and alcohol!) for 3 people each having 1-2 large cups each day so we were on lean rations for both, which did not go over very well with Amelia! Not being a fan of oatmeal, I had to find ways to make that slop more palatable. With the addition of fresh apples, dried cranberries and lots of brown sugar and cinnamon I was able to find an excellent consistency to oats and sweetness! Ryan was the master Oatmeal Chef of the trip. After a big hearty bowl of the best cut oats and a small cup of coffee, we headed out onto what would be one of the best days of paddling of the trip!

Shortly after leaving we made our way across to an old abandoned village (Tlowitsis-Mumtaglia). As we approached the beach, we saw and heard some rustling in the bushes followed by breaking branches. Once we got within 50’ of the beach a juvenile grizzly bear came sauntering out of the bush! Good Morning Mr. Bear! We sat there for about an hour watching him roaming up and down the beach eating apples and berries! It was amazing to float closer to the beach, within 10’, and watch this guy go about his daily business. Needless to say, we did not get out of the kayaks and explore the abandoned village! Watching this grizzly was definitely a highlight of the trip!





Leaving behind Mr. Bear we headed to Mamalilaculla another abandoned village. It was interesting to walk through the property and think “what and how life must have been like a century earlier”. This site had an amazing view! Walking in and around the houses and gardens give you a sense of the community’s organization and flow. Coming across fresh bear scat gave us a little apprehension and we headed back to the kayaks to venture on.



In a number of locations throughout this trip, we could see the deceiving logging that has taken place in this area. They leave the trees that are 20m-30m closest to the water in place and clear cut everything behind that is out of sight from the water. It’s very deceiving and sad that this beautiful part of our west coast is harvested like this.

As we pushed off, the skies were clear, the sun was shining, there was minimal wind and the current guided us across Knights Inlet. As we wound in and around islands, the sea life was bright and active with seals, fish jumping and sea creatures crawling up and around the rock formations. Traveling north through Retreat Passage we decided that we would do a hard push for the Burwood Group, which I had read on the West Coast Paddlers page as being a great place to camp. On the map it didn’t look to be that far, so we pushed on. As we came to Cramer Pass the currents shifted and turned against us. The last couple hours of the day's paddle became more difficult with the current and the increasing headwinds. Crossing Hornet Passage we had a full-on headwind and the sun was quickly dropping. The group's energy was quickly diminishing and the need for food and rest was very much needed.

As I landed on the white crushed shell beach at Burwood, I turned back to see Amelia gliding in and looked visibly exhausted and I knew that if this wasn’t the best beach and campsite in the Broughton Archipelago that there would be a terrible and awkward silence at the dinner table! Walking over the berm, I was ecstatic to see the most amazing views, beaches, and campsites. I turned back to Amelia and yelled “it’s a 10 out of 10!” and Amelia’s exhausting look quickly turned into a content and much needed relaxed look! The decision to paddle 10+ hours and 43km this day was well worth it as this location was by far the most exquisite site you could imagine! It was unlike any other site we used or saw on our trip and seemed as though it was a protected oasis in the middle of the Archipelago.




The mood and energy around the camp stove and the evening's fire was very relaxed and joyful as we all reflected on the day's paddle.

Continue reading the this Trip Report on the next post...


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