April 7, 2023
We’d laid plans for this trip with an Option A (Howe Sound/Átl’ka7tsem) and an Option B (Indian Arm/Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park). The predicted winds made Howe Sound sound rather too exciting, especially given that if we were crossing from Porteau Cove to the Islets View site, we’d have the wind and waves on the beam coming and going.Read more: April Showers bring… April showers
So Indian Arm it was. Rhian and I swung by the Jericho Sailing Association compound to grab our boats, then met our accomplices, Paul and Nessa, at the Deep Cove put-in. A light drizzle washed us as we loaded and launched.
Things cleared a bit as we made our way down the Arm, becoming what the Irish would call “soft”. Scraps of blue sky even appeared, lulling us into a false sense of security.
We paused to frolic briefly in the currents below Silver Falls, then pressed on.
The rain held off as we landed at Bishop Creek (Berg’s Landing) in the late afternoon, letting us all rig both our tents and the overtarps for them. It began to foreshadow the coming deluge as we rigged the kitchen-dining tarp.
Fortunately, the group consisted of seasoned outdoor folk, who understand that when it comes to weather, things are what they are. Plus, we had brought a lot of good cheer (mostly of the fermented-red-liquid-in-bags kind.) And, as this group’s now-traditional dessert, we heated a pie in the Outback Oven until it was as warm as though fresh-baked, and drizzled it with hot custard.
April 8, 2023
Throughout the night, the temperature continued to fall, as did the rain. In fact, it cranked up to a volume that made last evening’s showers look like a desultory drizzle. Even landing on the tarp above the tent canopy, it drummed loud enough to preclude sleep. So I stuck in my ear plugs – not usually a recommended procedure in bear country, but honestly, unless Brother Bruin were clashing cymbals to herald his approach, I’d never have heard him over the rain anyway.
I was on breakfast duty and had massively underestimated the time needed to cook a “full English” for everyone in the group. It could only have gone slower if I’d started by planting the potatoes and fattening the pigs. Fortunately, no-one was in any hurry to leave the sheltering tarp, so the meal evolved into a leisurely “full English brunch”, washed down with endless cups of tea and coffee.
The ground under the kitchen tarp had gone from fairly damp last night to full swamp this morning. Fortunately everyone had waterproof pants for kneeling to cook or fill plates, and full-frame, above-the-flood chairs for actually eating.
By this point, all of us were wearing every layer we had when outside our tents, and counting our blessings that we’ll all brought winter-weight sleeping bags, pads and clothing. Entering and exiting the tents involved elaborate doffing or donning rituals that would have looked familiar to a hard-hat commercial diver. Vapour hung in the air with our every breath.
In the afternoon, Paul and Nessa, ever the bold and energetic ones, launched for a daytrip to Granite Falls. Rhian went on a wet weather photo safari, finding the beauty in the rain. I did likewise in my own way, hanging out under the tarp and admiring the way the swirling low clouds concealed and then revealed the various peaks and crannies in the fjord walls opposite our camp. And I pondered an additional point I would emphasize to the students in my Online Trip Planning Class: in the Marine Weather class, we typically talk about the importance of being dressed appropriately for whatever on-water (and possibly in-water) conditions prevail. But frankly, if everyone in our group had not been equipped with not just drysuits and appropriate layers, but winter-weight shore wear and sleeping equipment, we’ve have at best been trying to call a water taxi for the trip home and at worst needed to be medi-vaced for hypothermia.
Supper was tamped down with our also now-traditional hot Auntie’s Puddings and custard. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
April 9, 2023
Wanting to be back home at a reasonable hour for what promised to be several days of drying tarps, tents and selves, we’d agreed the night before to aim for a 9:30AM launch. Typically this means we’d actually launch nearer 10ish. But we were all apparently very motivated, and were sliding the boats off the cobbly, shelly beach at the appointed hour. Even with all four on each boat for the portage from the loading station to the water, we all walked very gingerly – one slip on the slimy, lumpy and shifty rocks would have been an excellent way to twist an ankle or break a leg.
My three companions, all younger than me, set a smart pace back to base. At first, I kept up well, and was even in the lead for a bit. But gradually, I fell behind. If there had been a Captain Oates Award For Best Straggler, I’d have been a shoe-in. Fortunately, the situation was not quite dire enough for the others to suggest I go outside for some time. Besides, we already were outside.
About an hour out of Deep Cove, we got hammered by a headwind squall and blinding rain. In the low vis, I mistook two other paddlers who were bee-lining for their shoreline cottages as Paul and Nessa, and wound up paddling for sometime at a tangent to the rest of the group. But once the weather cleared, we re-united.
On the final leg to Deep Cove, the wind shifted, and I kept hoping I would get a least a sail assist to catch up with my friends. But the wind just toyed with me – repeatedly inviting me to rig the sail, glide through the water for a few seconds, then dying off. My companions were remarkably patient with all this faffing about. And even with it, we landed at Deep Cove shortly after noon.
The rain continued to fall so hard that Rhian and I simply stayed in our drysuits for the drive back to Jericho and dropping off our boats. Even with the wipers on full blast, the windshield often looked as though it were iced over. The heavens poured one last contemptuous dump on us as we offloaded the kayaks. And naturally, as I drove Rhian home from Jericho, the showers ceased and the sun began to peek coyly out from behind the clouds. That sun of a bi …!
Big thanks to Rhian, Paul and Nessa for sharing their companionship and photos!