Sunday July 1st Canada Day.
Awoke to sunshine! It would be a late start with an outflowing tide until midday. We emptied our kayaks of all gear, yet again. I used the rain water collected in the giant blue tarp as a wash basin. Castile soap, collected rain water plus my shammy cloth. The daily washing/wiping routine. I washed and rinsed out our paddling clothes and hung them to dry on the sand stone rocks and tree limbs and any available place. Re charged my Go pro using the battery pack. (Now I need more sunshine to recharge those batteries.) We carried each kayak up over the East side of the island and down onto a subtidal shelf and chute in the barnacle and algae covered sandstone. Placing them one behind the other on the foam rollers, ready to reload with all of our gear. We had a casual morning of taking down camp, hauling all of our gear to the other side of the islet and reloading the kayaks as the tide slowly worked up the rocks towards our waiting kayaks. Rita and John came over to wish us well and send us off on our way. (Yesterday, I forgot to mention their solar garden path lights, toilet seat, blue bucket and supply tents with humming-bird feeder and all. They stuff the islet birds each summer on their annual 10 day visit). With a steady pull I rolled my loaded kayak down the chute into the water with Traci following right after. Not a scratch or scrape to be had! Then off we paddled, North along the West side of Reid as John recommended, towards destinations not totally yet decided upon. No rain, no wind, and calm water – We’ll take it as it goes.
It was warmer and not raining, so we just kept on going. Paddled over to Valdez island for a sandy beach and quick-lunch in the sun. Great camp sites, but just not far enough, so off we launched. We would paddle until the tide and current shifted. On we went along the East side of De Courcy island. We took a long look into pirates cove – It looked very, very nice, not busy either…. Just kept on going. Nanaimo it would be – no matter how late, after all, we still had no current and a tailwind. (It was Sunday afternoon in the saddle). About 4 hours straight from Blackberry beach, our sunny lunch stop, until AT LAST Newcastle island Nanaimo! Yep our Butts are getting tougher, still saddle sore, but after 2-3 hours no more so than on the first day at hour one.
Back to the trail…. We ran into the tide change and small medium rapids at Mudge False Narrows. The tide had reversed and still 8-10 miles to go. Actually, I found it fun… after a splashy slow paddle in the Narrows rapids we worked our way over to alongside Mudge island and I picked our path along the shore against the slowing building current. Paddling along shore in a few inches of water with only one small grounding on the sandstone bottom. It was quite beautiful and interesting kayaking, the time passed by quickly. The Narrows has fabulous shoreline ledges with succulents, indian paintbrush blooming grasses and dandelions, ocean spray in white tassels of flowers and a backdrop of arbutus and conifers. I just love the sandstone with all of its organic eroded shapes and grainy texture. As we approached Nanaimo, even the shoreline behind the log booms was amazing. We ferried across the opening to Dodd Narrows, sprinting against the ebb tide that tried to suck us in. After a long constant paddle with a slight tail wind and no current!!!! Thank god, finally.
We crossed the giant Northumberland Channel and Nanaimo harbor. Sunday evening of the Canada day weekend. The busy harbor was pretty quiet. We rounded the North east point of Protection island and made landfall at the campgrounds on Newcastle island. (Just get me to the outhouse for a long overdue pee!) Pushing on this afternoon was smart. We would have had to go against low tide in False narrows Monday morning with a Low tide, there would be no room to maneuver along shore. (This is much easier at high tide.) Also, the tail wind across the harbor and bay was helpful and we could paddle right up the campsite on Newcastle island at high tide. This morning it is a very long sandstone tide flat. All good decision-making this day, 20 plus miles, all in the afternoon! One sore bottom and body.
Rest day tomorrow. (Monday, hanging out with Kathleen P.)
Total miles: 149, Nanaimo
Conditions: sunny, warm, mid 60s, slight breeze from the south; steady barometer still around 1015
Glorious lazy morning! No early start for us, we had to wait for the water to come to us. The tidal exchanges are much more dramatic as we head north. We moved our empty boats (blessedly light!) to the other side of the island and found a great slot to slide in once the water came up. The pool noodles are absolutely genius for rolling the boats over sketchy terrain. In fact, they allow us to roll the boats while still laden, which alleviates a lot of the gear schlepping. John and Rita came to wish us well (side note: it was very funny explaining to John where we had paddled from the night before. He was a bit sloshed, and I think he mistook our launch point as our journey’s start. When he realized we had come thirty miles that day but had started a week earlier in Seattle, he was quite floored). While waiting for the water, we picked the last (maybe) of the thistles and brambles out of our clothing. The island was generous with them. I felt like a walking Velcro patch. Finally we had water and pushed off into a lovely sunny day. Er, early afternoon (like 1pm. Late start!).
We headed over to Blackberry Point on Valdez Island, a lovely sand beach – rare in these parts, warm in the sun. Conditions were favorable to keep pushing north, so on we went. We cruised over to De Courcey Island; due to the tides we would not be in a favorable position to see the petroglyphs and Gabriola, so we chose to soldier on to Newcastle Island at Nanaimo. The entrance to False Narrows was an interesting mess of water, which was actually kind of fun. When through that, we headed over to the left shore to find some eddies against the outgoing water. We ended up making better time than the prior morning, plus it was beautiful, so in spite of being tired it was quite enjoyable. We reached a point where the water widened, and realized we were at Dodd Narrows. We sprinted across to avoid getting sucked back to where we had just come from. We stayed by shore until getting trapped behind some log booms, where we had to backtrack and head farther from shore. Big surprise as we suddenly picked up speed. We had a slight wind behind us, we were surprisingly warm, and it was late in the afternoon on a holiday weekend with no boat traffic around, so we came right down the center of the normally busy harbor making a bee-line for Newcastle Island. We came in at high tide to an interesting rock beach, hauled up our boats, set up camp, HOT SHOWERS! Called home and hit the sack.