It is departure day. We eat breakfast, pack up and are on the road for a kilometer or so to meet our guides John and Richard. But let me back up slightly.
Early in the summer Murray and I started talking about doing a kayak tour on the west coast this summer, but with the COVID pandemic we were not sure about the traveling and exposing ourselves to people we did not know. We emailed back and forth with John from Footprint BC about a six day tour to Desolation Sound starting September 13 and whether other folks had signed up and what their COVID policies were. After some thought we decided we couldn’t make a decision that far out as who knew what the world would be like in 2 months.
Then as September approached, we emailed John again and asked whether anyone had signed up and whether he would be willing to take just two of us out (at a premium price, of course). Even though he had lots of inquiries, no one had committed. So we did. And that is how Murray and I had a private kayak tour with two exceptional and experienced guides.
Back to September 13. John and Richard (from Island Romer Adventures) meet us at the Desolation Sound Resort. We ask all sorts of questions and sort out our gear and throw it into the back of John’s SUV. We are driving to the other side of the Malaspina Peninsula to Lund and will embark from there.
The smoke from the forest fires in the western US has blown into the area and so our intrepid guides have decided not to go into Desolation Sound. They think the smoke will not clear from that area very well. So we are going to circumnavigate Cortes Island instead as there is more of a chance that the smoke will clear from Georgia Straight. We are okay with this change of plan as we have never been in the area before so everything is new to us. I tell John, “You lead and we will follow!”
It takes some time to load up the four sea kayaks with the myriad of gear and food and then we are launched. I notice right away that I cannot paddle in a straight line, which I can in my kayak. Arg! Frustration! So I relent and put my rudder down, and now I have to figure out how to use it properly. Only took half a day to finally understand how to use a rudder.
We hug the coast of the Malaspina Peninsula and sneak up through the Copeland Islands and stop for lunch on a small island. We see out first seals, lots of them! Richard explains about “shell midden” which is oyster shells in the dirt from many years ago, maybe 50 years or 100 years or more. The indigenous peoples harvested oyster shells, tossed them on the ground and then the shells aided in making the soil and are integrated into the soil. Cool!
After lunch, we turn west towards Twin Islands and John has to navigate using his compass as we cannot see far enough in the smoke. The water is rough and the occasional wave slaps across the kayak. It is a tough paddle. Twin Island is just a grey blur on the horizon when it first appears. As we get nearer to the islands, the trees start to become more distinct. Nearer still and there are colours – dark green, light green and grey. Nearer still and the trees have branches and the rock has ridges and cracks. Once we are paddling close to the island, the trees become huge and we are tiny specks on the water.
We camp on the north end of Twin Islands on our very own tiny island. The landing spot is rocky but I think that is the way of things out here. There is room for our three small tents and a kitchen/eating area. We dine on nasi goreng and peanut sauce and it tastes wonderful after a hard day! Guess what, we crash early as we are tired from our paddle and have five more days to go.