Putting Down My Paddle

As is usual for me, being the first person up, I liked being able to witness the dawning of each new day. A good place for seeing the sunrise was from that viewpoint that I last mentioned.

Instead of walking/climbing over the driftwood, I chose to walk out on a large, long driftwood tree, which was a bad choice. 

As soon as my left foot, in well-treaded walking shoes, hit that log, I instantly slipped off, coming down HARD on my left side. My feet, now on the ground, were ok, but my side was more than a little hurting. This all happened so quickly that I was stunned (and maybe a bit breathless).

Oh boy, now I’ve done it, I thought.

Standing still, catching my breath, as well as my wits, I knew I probably had broken ribs (plural), but I could breath and seemingly without effort. But the pain was very uncomfortable.

 Since no one was yet awake, I just bit the bullet and slowly, deliberately, went on to the point, cursing myself for my stupidity. But how was I to know that the log was wet from heavy dew and my shoes, even with the deep treads, also wet, were not a good combination at that hour. Thinking about it, even while in pain, I did not want the trip to end before it hardly began and cause a whole lot of concern and disruption for everyone else. A rescue could have been the outcome if I were to let our guides know I was injured.

Keeping this to myself was my decision, and knew there is not much anyone can do for broken ribs (except maybe REST).

 And so, I carried on for the next several days, though I did confide with Kimmie at one point and she too kept tight-lipped until near the trip’s end when I disclosed my mishap to the group.

 Stiff upper lip, carry-on, tally-ho.


 After breakfast, readying for the day’s paddle upon the water, I found that the tight fitting PDF somewhat eased my discomfort, and the actual paddling caused me no other rib pain only some aching in the shoulders with all that repetitious movement. Sleeping was uncomfortable, as I am a roller in bed. Left turns were a no-no. I managed.

 

I, like the others were on this adventure to kayak and see whales and other wildlife. That was the mission and we were not disappointed.

 

Over the course of the next several days, we would have Orca sightings, the blows and breaching oft times just off shore from camps, other times while out on the water. Off in the distance I often could see the blows, but no whales. We never were up so close as to feel in danger or otherwise threatened by Killer Whales or other wildlife.

Our second camp was even more impressive that the first. Tents were similarly situated but in an even more picturesque setting. My tent, here, looked out through the trees and into the strait from where I could see ships passing and a few whale sightings.

Fishing boats plied the waters as well as barges and, surprising to me, cruise ships. I think this was my favorite camp.

Tides typically rise and fall twice each day, one of the high tides was usually at night, which presented a new, undisturbed beach in the morning. At most beaches we carried the kayaks as far up on the beach as possible to keep them away from the high tide waters. I should mention that it was a team effort when we moved the kayaks, either up the beach or back down to waters edge before paddling. Moving all 10 kayaks thus was done rather quickly.









From this camp, one afternoon, an Orca whale appeared not far off shore. While not everyone was actually watching for them, a shout-out brought the others rushing out to catch a glimpse of these magnificent mammals. Similarly, at other camps, a whale sighting shout-out brought everyone out to see and watch those graceful creatures. Some of my photos do show their closeness to shore.

 During the night here, I arose in the wee hours and from my tent opening I looked out on the moon shining down over the water directly ahead of me. Despite having been snuggled warmly in my sleeping bag, I was mesmerized by the moonbeams dancing upon the rippling water. A cruise ship, aglow with lights, sailed through and the sound of whales blowing somewhere in the distance kept me outside my tent observing what I could. Despite being scantily clothed, I continued to watch and listen, the distinctive tail slapping of a humpback whale was very close. I kept hoping the whale would swim by where I could then actually see him in the bright moonlight. Being elusive, and my getting cold, I passed up the chance to see the humpback in person as I zipped up inside my tent and tried to get back to sleep, all the while hearing the slapping very close by.

Daniel, I believe, was awakened around the same time and did get to see what I missed.

 






Setting out the next morning, a very heavy fog obscured the entire view from our camp. Paddling along the nearby shore we could see sea urchins clinging to the rocky sides along and beneath the water. Then en masse we pointed out kayaks toward the rising sun and into the mysterious mist, paddling into the unknown. Progressing forward, the fog gradually dissipated, unleashing a bright, sunny day. 

It would be a long day of paddling but in and around islands we were rewarded with seeing several bald eagles, eagle nests, whales blowing, some distant sightings and the loud racket of sea lions upon another island. During the day we went ashore to investigate in the forests where huge trees had stood for centuries, and hopefully will remain for many more. During our days upon the sea, I clearly saw several jelly fish through the water as well as sea and river otters. 

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We had moments where we would just float. Those were the moments to savor the silence, feel the sun’s warmth upon my face, feel the cool breezes wafting over the sea, and seeing eagles perched high upon a tree or on a shoreline rock. Each day, we did stop for lunch alfresco, soaking in the warmth as well as the scenic beauty. Some days the water was choppy and others it was smooth as silk. (See the videos).

 

Upon our return, an advance kayak startled some seals sunbathing on a rocky outcropping and quickly slipped into the water to avoid us. By the time I reached that area, all that I saw was one of them briefly stick his head out of the water to look at us and then dove down out of sight.

 Back in camp, Tad and Cindy introduced us to a new card game (Anomia), people chatted, walked or explored around the area, napped and generally relaxed before we were served appetizers.

 In our last camp, also for two nights, the beach and camp area was larger. This site we shared with another group that were on a 4-day trip. It was on the next morning that we awoke to strong winds that were whipping up waves. The plan was for us to do a morning paddle along the shore and return by lunchtime. 

However, with my aching and the nasty weather, I opted out of this activity, feeling I needed to take a break and rest and seeing that this would require all the energy I could muster. Everyone else, though, was gung-ho as kayaks were moved to the waters edge. Thereupon Colin began to explain that the conditions were going to be challenging, that the wind would be to their backs in the beginning but then, extra effort would be needed to fight the waves and wind on the return. He began demonstrating some strategies for maneuvering in the heavy seas and at that juncture people began losing interest and dropping out. In the end less than half our group actually were willing to venture forth.

 Those who braved the waves did have a good experience they said. Other non-kayakers just hung out or hiked into the forest.

 

Kayak starfish IMG 1126





A night paddle had been discussed early on during this trip to see the bio-luminescence phenomenon, a light emission caused by organisms in the sea but the best time to do so was when it was a very dark night. This last night proved to be perfect timing as the sky was heavily overcast. Once again, I opted out of this experience and stayed ashore as all the rest paddled out into the darkness. I did see a small example on the beach edge when the water was disturbed and a sparkling light would ripple in the wake. On a much larger scale, the others were able to witness this as they swirled their paddles through the water causing the light emissions. Now, of course, I wish I had gone with them to see for myself.


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Our final morning had us packed up and paddling back to Telegraph Cove. Along that paddle Colin stopped to show us a sea urchin and we saw several starfish that had attached themselves to the rocks. I was amazed at the different colors of starfish. Barnacles and mussels were heavily abundant everywhere.

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Colin giving a talk about sea urchins (in his hand).


After beaching our kayaks and organizing our personal effects, Colin prepared our last lunch as we ate overlooking the marina. Some would go on their way, while most of us stayed on for a group dinner that night where we enjoyed last conversations and thoughts about the kayaking experience.

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It had been another fun, exciting adventure. Many asked me what plans I had for my next one. While I have several ideas, I am undecided what next year will bring. For the immediate though, I told everyone that my outdoor journey had just begun, as I would further explore on Vancouver Island, before crossing over to the US and join an REI camping adventure in the Olympic National Park. From there an unplanned, off the cuff drive down the Pacific coast would top off this year’s adventures.


At times we had rougher conditions and at others the sea was like glass. Rain was not a hardship, nor choppy seas. Nights that far North are very chilly, but warm sleeping bags keep you snug and comforable. The accomodations were very nice and the food was exceptional. The calm peaceful days floating or kicking back in camp were restful. Learning more about Nature and its inhabitants was not only educational but enlightening as well. We all should appreciate the world outside our doors. Mother Earth provides, but we must also help to protect and preserve it.

This had been an awesome experience for me that I am glad to have shared with such a fine group of like-minded people. Our guides, Colin, Rae and Monica took very good care of us. My recommendation is to contact ROW Sea Kayak Adventures so that you might experience the thrill of sea kayaking personally.

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The Kayak Adverturers: l-r - Daniel, Toni, Dawn, Zak, Gail, Cindy & Tad, Don, Rachel, Emily (next to Don), Larry & Yoshi

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(Little did I know that danger lay in wait on my return home).

kdonald940@cox.net © Donald E. Kline 2012