July 2, 2010
Back in the day, Butedale was a thriving, company-owned fish canning community of several hundred people. “The day” ended in the 1950s. Since then, the rain forest has been relentlessly reclaiming the town. Today, only a few buildings remain habitable. Lou, the 65-year old caretaker, lives in one, and he rents out rooms in a couple of other cabins to recreational fishermen and the occasional kayaker.
I wheeled my kayak aboard the Queen Of Chilliwack at Port Hardy at about 20:00 hours. After a late supper of burger and fries in the cafeteria, I found a quiet corner of the solarium on the upper deck, and made camp with my mat and sleeping bag. As we steamed north through the night, the weather changed from clear skies to the cloud and light rain more typical of the central coast.
The sun was shining when you launched your kayak this morning. But shortly after noon, it clouded over and the rain set in. You aren’t surprised: you are paddling the British Columbia coast not far south of Alaska, just off the most verdant rainforest on Earth.
The fjord-like channel you’re travelling offers few landing spots, so it’s six in the evening before you ground the bow of your kayak as gently as possible on a cobble beach. Hours of rain have given you bathtub hands.