Monday, August 10, 2009

Sea Kayaking in British Columbia - July 17th

Friday, July 17th
By now the whole crew considers itself experts, and we demonstrate our group skills as we paddle easily past the end of Balaklava and up Browning Channel all the way past Bob’s Landing, crossing the channel, and passing two small timber covered islands that guard the entrance to Alexander’s Bay, indented deeply into Nigei Island. We haul the kayaks up on a beautiful grey slate shingle beach. There are perhaps 50 feet of flat gravel beach sloping up gently to an immense linear pile of logs and driftwood, funneled into the bay by winter storms.
Immediately behind the barrier of logs is a dense forest that is almost entirely composed of spruce trees. We clambered over the log ramparts and found a trail leading off into the dark, mossy forest. We walked single file about a mile through rain forest with moss so deep and thick that it covered the forest floor like a carpet, covering the ground, the rocks, the trunks and branches of standing trees, and fallen logs and branches the littered the forest floor. The trail, twisting and turning through the jumbled old branches and fallen trees was almost invisible, and it would have been easy to wander astray if it had not been for the ugly old plastic bottles and jugs tied to branches at frequent intervals at eye level.
We emerged from the dark forest into the light at Clam Cove. Across the water was a cluster of ramshackle buildings, and I speculated that it was a tribal village. It wasn’t until later that day that I found out that it was a very run , but still operative dive center. After a brief pause on the shore of the cove, some scurried and others ambled back to the beach at Alexander’s Bay for lunch. By the time we had all regrouped the morning overcast had cleared almost completely, and it was actually hot. I wandered a few hundred yards down the beach and around a huge pile of driftwood, and felt inspired to test the water. It was icy, but refreshing in the heat of the afternoon. After putting my clothes back on and returning, a couple of others also wandered down to that sheltered part of the beach to indulge in the pleasures of skinny dipping.
It was late in the afternoon before we started the long, hard, five mile paddle back to the cabins. As we crossed the last half mile of channel to the dock we must have been a sight. Eight long kayaks moved as a phalanx, sandwiched close together in perfect formation, paddles dipping vigorously, surging ahead of the others a foot or two for mere seconds before the falling back again. We were tired and winded as we hauled the kayaks up on the dock one last time. It was a perfect ending for an adventure filled week.

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