July 21 — Marbled Murrelets and a Tanner Crab

I woke up fairly early, as usual these days because I had to get off the water before the winds would pick up around lunch time. Also as usual, it was calm and foggy. Those two things typically go hand and hand here in summer – foggy and calm in the morning and by mid day the sun burns off the fog and heats up Georgia Strait to the south sufficiently that the air rises and sucks the air down from up here, which then funnels the wind through the very passages I am paddling.

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The tide was way out, exposing the expansive mud flat and eel grass bed, interspersed with rocks covered with barnacles. The first thing I did after unkinking my back from the rocks I slept on, was head down to the other end of the bay where there appeared to be a wet draw, based on the vegetation and topography. I made my way across the mud and found that there was no running water at the draw. I followed it up about fifty feet and noticed wolf claw prints in the clay bank from the previous day, where he or she slipped coming down to the beach.

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There was a stagnant pool a little ways in. I filtered the water. I will not be taking any chances with water borne diseases from now on, as it could ruin my trip for several weeks. The water was brown from the tannins from the decomposing vegetation, but otherwise fine – not stinky.

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I returned to my tent and began making breakfast which consisted of, as always, quick oatmeal. I could usually find salal berries around this time of year so I would typically also add these which livened it up a bit. I was hoping I might see signs of the wolf again but I think with all my smells and noises, he will be staying away.

I was beginning to worry slightly about water. I had 3 litres in a plastic blue orange juice container as well as a smaller juice container which I would drink during the day. I also realized that I should have waited to fill my water bottle until after I made breakfast, rather than before, because I used some of that water for breakfast which left some empty space in my water bottle, and I didn’t want to go back and filter more.

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Oh well, I packed up and put the boat in down at the mud, although it was mostly barnacle-covered rocks at that place, with a rising tide. I put on my sandles when launching or hauling out because I can walk into and out of the water without soaking my shoes. I obviously have to wear footwear because of all the sharp things in the water. Luckily up to this point I haven’t cut up my feet yet slipping on some rocks in the water.

I began heading out through the channel because the rising tide provided enough depth to pass over the barnacle rocks I hit yesterday. I set up my video camera at the front of the boat in the waterproof housing, as well as my GoPro camera, and my audio recorder. I soon began crossing Knight “Inlet” and was talking about it when some porpoises showed up 30 yards in front of me. I broke with my boring speech and pursued them a bit but they got further away. They don’t seem to like me. I continued across the inlet.

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Knight Inlet is the third of my rivers-of-interest on my trip. It is fed by the third river I have encountered, of the 10 in BC that begin in the interior and flow through the mountains out to the ocean – the Klinaklini, which begins in the Chilcotin area between Williams Lake and Bella Coola. On the return journey of my trip, on my bike, I plan to explore this area thoroughly both by bike (on wilderness roads and trails), and by kayak (on the lakes and sluggish rivers I will need to cross to get from one place to the next.) However, on this part of the journey I will not be veturing up there because it is a LOOONG way up Knight Inlet to the Klinaklini from where I am, and based on my conversations with the wilderness tour guides in Telegraph Cove, not a nice trip for a kayak. The guide I was talking to said he had never seen a kayak up there. From where I was at that point, there is 70 km of fetch until the first bend in the inlet, and the winds really kick up some nasty waves, with little area for refuge. This is a bit of a shame because Knight Inlet is a popular grizzly viewing area, with even a few lodges built near their estuaries. I still haven’t seen a grizzly on this trip, but they are there, just east of me in the mountains. I should see them soon enough though.

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I didn’t have a very good map of the Broughtons, I just printed one off the Government of BC’s online topo map service (which is very good). But I knew the direction I needed to go so I just continued on north from island to island. I ended up in a little channel heading north and had the currents with me and there were schools of sand lances swimming by. I didn’t manage to get any footage of them though.

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Then off to the right led another channel which had a fish farm at its end. In checking the maps afterwards this was located just outside of the boundary of the Broughton Marine Park.

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I continued on and turned right at another channel and had the current sweep me through. This really is a neat place. At the end of it I saw yet another eagle perched in a picturesque pose and couldn’t resist pulling out my camera and tried to get some nice bird-in-flight shots but none turned out too well. Then right around the corner I came upon harlequin ducks hanging out on the rocks, and they all jump in the water when they see me.

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Keep on going north, I didn’t know where I was but whatever. It was all really fun. I was beginning to get hungry and hoping for a spot to pull out and stretch a bit but the geology isn’t very cooperative here. It is all hard granite so the shoreline is usually steep with interesting little islands shooting straight out. If I had a better map I’m sure I could have found a spot since there are some nice camping spots around. Oh well, it’s fun to just so ahead semi-blindly and discover what I find.

I soon came upon a boil of fish only a few yards off my port and of course I stopped to take photos. They didn’t seem to very wary of me. They were a bunch of sand lances being pursued by a marbled murrelet. It would ball them up, they would try to jump out of the water, and then it would shoot up through the ball and surface with fish in its mouth. This went on for a few minutes and I got some good shots but not the action shot of the instant the bird emerges. That is one reason why I need more memory for my camera and to just keep shooting because you don’t have time to predict when that happens, you jut have to be shooting at that time. Then a seagull swooped down and grabbed a few, and it was over. I continued on my way.

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I was planning to get to Eden Island where Bryan and Maggie had stayed and in short order I got to the channel separating Eden Island. After a big fishing boat went by and I took photos of it, I crossed over and the winds started picking up.

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I quickly found a neat little cove to camp, although it was a bit exposed to the wind. It had a nice sandy beach which made launching and exiting very pleasant. I unloaded and set up camp above a log which seemed to be around the high tide line. I explored a bit and found an old shell midden which seemed to take up a lot of the higher parts of the beach and forest in one corner of the cove. I went into the forest and there were some big cedars and another interesting blob of slime mould, but no water.

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I went to the entrance of the cove on the rocks to try to catch some fish and I had my GoPro mounted on my head, but with no audio recorder. I tried a few casts but it just wasn’t deep enough. However, I did notice a huge spider type crab ambling around beneath me in only a meter or so of water. I had my buzz bomb on which is a heavy metal lure with a three pronged hook on the bottom. I figured I could snag the crab. I tried for a few minutes and caught him a few times but he would fall off again. I finally managed to get him and pull him onto the rocks. The hook was firmly set in the joint of one of the legs. He didn’t seem so big out of water. That is due to the magnification effect underwater, which is something scuba divers experience. Those big sharks you see aren’t really as big as you remember, and of course you remember them bigger than you were seeing them…..

Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera going at the time for some reason which is unfortunate because that would have been some interesting footage, me catching a crab with my fishing lure!

I took the crab back to the beach and decided that I wouldn’t eat him because it wasn’t a Dungeness, which are the tasty ones with lots of meat in the claws. He was pretty skinny and a nice looking crab so I let him go after taking a bunch of photos. I have no food shortages right now and I don’t like killing things. I will have to ID it later.

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I took a rest in my tent because it was windy and I was tired. I cooked in the shelter of the log by my tent and went to bed with strong winds buffeting my tent. In the middle of the night the tide got pretty close to the tent, but I was OK.

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2 responses

  1. Great sand lance and MAMU pics. Can I get permission to use?

    December 7, 2011 at 4:21 am

    • Hi Gary, sure you can use it, just give me credit. What is it for? If you want a better copy I could probably do that.

      With that shot I was hitting my head afterwards. If I had taken it a split second later I could have gotten the bird emerging through the school, but my card wasn’t fast enough…

      Mark

      December 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

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