Aug 29 2012 — Holy Cow Rain!

Some rain overnight — what else is new…

There is another beach at this site that was an easier put-in.

I was ready for the weather, and it was still blowing from the south. I wasn’t complaining.

The winds and currents pushed me north pretty fast. I zoomed by Spider Island which apparently has an old WWII base, and a road leading across it. Midway along the island the rain started. I battened down the hatches and took advantage of the wind. A train of about 10 fishing speedboats from a lodge went by heading north. I was glad I wasn’t in one of those in this weather. They were probably thinking the same about me. Kind of ironic, eh?

The problem was what I would encounter after Spider Island, which is Superstition Point, a couple kilometers of exposed coastline facing the west. If you want to kayak northwards, you have to paddle it. It wouldn’t normally be a problem since yesterday I was in places more exposed than that, but this weather was really getting crazy. And the wind started coming from the west, which is definitely not the direction you want to be blown while going around that point.

I took refuge behind this rock, the last sheltered place before going out into open water. This is looking north and you can barely see Superstition Point on the right. I hung around here for about half an hour and eventually I couldn’t see Super Point anymore from all the rain. My boat was filling up with water. This is a problem because my drybags don’t really seal up. They provide protection from splashes but my electronics bag was placed sideways lying down on the floor in front of me, and there was about 2 inches of water in the bottom of my boat. I was worried this was going to flood my bags.

I decided that I had to come ashore. There is a portage around Superstition Point so I headed for that.

After paddling a small portion of exposed water and getting blown around pretty hard I entered the calm inlet leading to the portage. The rain continued and my boat turned into a bathtub.

I had to search around at the head of the inlet a little bit but I soon found the ribbon marking the trail.

I hiked the 100 meters five times for all my gear. I stayed in my drysuit and wore my sandals. I was a little worried I might poke a hole in my drysuit feet, but there wasn’t any gravel or anything else sharp to poke it. The trail was thick organic matter and peat moss. The forest was really beautiful old growth cedar. At one place a tree had fallen over the trail and I thought I should have used my saw to clear it a bit, but I was in no state to be doing that.

Finally, as I finished portaging my stuff over, the rain eased up. That was probably some of the most intense rain I have ever been in. It lasted for a good hour and a half and dumped about 3 or 4 inches, judging by the water in my boat. I climbed up a little bank on the right side to fill up my water bottles with all the water gushing out of the moss, no filtering required. This meadow was covered with goose crap.

Then the sun came out! And my gear was dry! I was perfectly dry in my drysuit! The extent of the water damage was the foggy lens you see in the above photo, which dried out pretty fast. I had lunch of peanut butter on mango, and energy bars. It seems I’m getting better at managing the rain. I still need to figure out how to get a quick and reliable way of making a front porch out of a tarp.

I was soon off again.

They don’t seem to mind the rain.

I followed the little inlet to the north and came out at Cultus Sound. The speedboats were there fishing. I crossed over and followed the coastline up to the north-east. I wanted to get to Latta Island where there was a campsite marked on my map. There are some really nice beaches in Cultus Sound but I wanted to plod on further while I could as this weather was causing me some worry. The only problem was that the map didn’t show many more campsites for a ways north so I’d have to commit to several more kilometers.

This area is pretty convoluted. I chose what I thought would be the best route heading north. Without my map and GPS I would have been lost. Yes, even me, Mr. Magnetic-Compass-in-the-Brain, would have gotten disoriented. I can’t imagine how the first explorers made sense of this place.

I went up Sans Peur Passage — that’s quite an interesting name. The current was behind me and I was making good time. But then midway down the channel I noticed quite a commotion ahead. It was the tides changing. I had no choice but to go through. It is a strange feeling being thrown left, right and center by strong currents, and trying to avoid whirlpools. The last time I experienced it this intense was way back in Big Bay in the Discovery Islands, and of course in Nakwakto Rapids at Belize Inlet. It’s a good display of the power in the ocean, to be able to move that much water so violently. All that power comes from the pull of the moon, and specifically the Earth’s rotation. But moving that much water around uses up energy and rotational momentum, so the result is that the planet has been rotating slower and slower over the ages, or in other words, the days are getting longer. They used to only be 23 hours. Eventually the moon and Earth will be locked tidally, and then there will be no more tides. Too bad for the rich intertidal life!

Shortly afterwards I passed another raging creek discharging gobs of foam into the sea.

As I made my way northwards the sun came out again and I had to undo my drysuit. I soon enough made it to Latta Island, the last island I would be landing on before turning up the channel to finish this year’s trip at Bella Bella. I searched around where the map said there was a campsite and couldn’t really find anything. I was a bit dismayed and decided I had no choice but to take the most suitable location, which had a little sandy beach way up at the top of the tideline. It wasn’t a very good spot, and it looked like it got flooded during high tide. Plus there was water seepage under the site from all the rain. Oh well, what else was I going to do.

I took advantage of the wind and sun to dry out my tent.

A black katy chiton. There is interesting intertidal life here. It doesn’t get bashed by the open ocean so much because the area is sheltered by Goose Island, a fairly large offshore island that I chose not to visit because doing so involves a long open crossing. It is supposed to be an interesting place though, with lots of bird life. And the northern tip is the site of the First Nations youth correction program, which involves banishing troubled youths to a few months of solitude in the wilderness. They seem to return as changed individuals — something we could learn from. Inmates leave regular prisons worse criminals than when they went in.

An interesting sand anemone that I haven’t yet ID’d.

I got another fire going which wasn’t easy due to both the wind and the lack of dry material to burn. I was running out of garbage to get it going.

At midnight I woke up to hear waves lapping by my head. Damn tide! It was flooding my tent! I had to move everything up onto the wet grass and rocks and stand there watching the tide in the moonlight. They say a watched pot never boils and I was not a happy camper to have to be spending half an hour in the middle of the night waiting for the tide to drop. Eventually it did. Luckily it wasn’t raining though. Note to future paddlers in this area: there is NO suitable campsite on the south side of Latta Island, regardless of what your map might say!

If you go to the dead center of this map, then look a little to the left, you will see a turquoise bay. Go check it out on Google Earth where you can zoom in more. I think they took the satellite image when the herring were spawning in that bay.

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