Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Prince Rupert to Misty Fjords

The good weather in Prince Rupert held for a couple more days. I left Prince Rupert around 6am to catch the last of the ebb tide through Venn Passage. That's a narrow pass that can have fast currents, and I didn't want it's current against me.

By the time I made it out to open water, the tide was so low it was hard to find my way among the shoals that now were dry in this lowest of low tides. I kept wanting to turn north around the headland, but I couldn't get close to the headland for all the rocks. Eventually I found my way through the maze and headed north and east around Dixon Entrance.

I thought of camping early that day because of the continued gale warnings, but to get to a camp area meant hiking half a mile to shore at this low tide. So I kept pushing along, and the winds remained moderate.

I ended up paddling all day long and putting in 33 miles. In the last couple miles, I came across a couple fishing boats, and one skipper offered me a sockeye. How could I refuse?

So that night it was fresh salmon for dinner. After the simplicity of my de-hydrated meals, fish was complicated. And I was tired and it was late in the day. There was no driftwood available so it was going to be poached salmon. The fish was so big I had to cook 2 batches in my camping pot.

The fish was real tasty, but there was so much of it. In the end, I felt like I ate too much, and I still wasted a lot of it. Not sure I'd accept a whole fish again.

And cleaning up after fish is a nightmare. After cleaning the fish, I couldn't get the fish odor off my hands. And then I have to handle everything--set up the kitchen, get water, move the rest of the bags above high water, try not to touch my clothing, etc.

After cooking, I boiled soapy water in the pot, but even the next day the water boiled in the pot for coffee tasted like fish. Tasty...

OK, enough fish bashing. But I don't recommend it for solo kayaking up here.

Next day, out the last mile of Work Inlet to Portland Canal. Getting out of Work Inlet was like trying to get out to sea from a river mouth when the currents are opposing. Big rollers, some of them breaking were coming up the Inlet. I skinnied over to the right side of Work to hit Portland as far upstream as I could. It wasn't bad over there, and I kept ferrying upstream until I got past the breakers downstream of me.

The rest of the day was pleasant with little wind and with the fog burning off my midday.

Next day, I had to get around Cape Fox and the 15 miles beyond that were fully exposed to Dixon Entrance weather. This was the third day in a row of predicted gales, but the lasts couple days weather made me hopeful.

But this was the first morning when the water wasn't calm. The wind was maybe 10 knots, and there were rollers under the waves, but it wasn't bad. I had 5 miles to Cape Fox, and I could re-evaluate there.

Approaching the Cape, the wind picked up some, as should be expected at a point of land. I passed between Fox Island and the mainland and came out onto another world on the other side.

The breakers were now 6-10 feet high and seeming to come from every direction. The wind hadn't seemed to increase, but it was chaos out there. The shore was lined with shoals--some were exposed and some weren't. But the whitewater and crashing surf was all around.

I aimed straight out for open water hoping that things would calm down out there. And they did. Somewhat. The wave direction was still confused, but they were also still big. But it was easier being outside the shoal line. My comfort level was being pushed here. More than once, I wondered if I was making a mistake. But the conditions weren't anything I couldn't handle. The concern was how long these conditions would last and would they worsen? I hoped not.

After paddling in these conditions for 45 minutes, the waves began to be more regular and predictable. I breathed a sign of relief. Or did I yell, "Yahoo!!"? I don't remember. And within another hour, the wind noticeably subsided. I don't know if conditions in general were improving and therefore the cape would have been easier now as opposed to earlier, or if I was reaching some protection from the west wind from an offshore island. In any event, the waves quit breaking and the whistling in my ears stopped. Another sigh of relief.

I paddled all the way up to Foggy Bay before stopping, and I set up camp there after a 20 mile morning. It felt good to have that section done. It would have been nice to have the sun come out t9o help celebrate, but there's a reason it's called Foggy Bay. The place is downright dismal. The whole time I was there, the fog never lifted much.

Next day it rained pretty hard all morning. A couple hours into the paddle, I met another kayaker coming south. His name is Eric, and he's from the Queen Charlottes. He ferried up from Prince Rupert to Auk Bay (north of Juneau), and now he's paddling back to Rupert. This was his 15th day, and the rainiest day he's had. I think I would say the same for myself. Interestingly, Eric is the first paddler I've met that seems to be even older than me. Good to see.

I camped early that day because I found a beautiful little beach on a lovely island just offshore. And the distance from there into Misty Fjords would be good.

I set up the tarp and tent as the wind lightened up, and within an hour or two, it was warm with blue skies. The afternoon felt like a layover day to me. Reading with short sleeves and bare feet--now that's livin!

But by morning, it had started to rain again, and so far, it's been raining pretty steadily for 2 days. Yesterday I paddled to Winstanley Island cabin that Cass had rented for a few nights. He and Barry should be arriving today with Hipper coming tomorrow. Anyway, it was nice to have a cabin to dry out in, and a dry place to rest.

It's going to be a tight squeeze with 4 people and gear, but I'm sure we'll manage.

I just baked a chocolate chip cake--and it's my birthday! Yeehaw!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi bc:
i just finished catching up on your latest trip postings. all i can say is WOW, you are amazing!!! and we think that riding to the towers on our mountain bikes is a BIG adventure?!?!?! the truth is, we're all living vicariously through you but very happy to be lying in our hammocks, soaking up the NM sun, drinking mint lemonades and reading about your adventures. happy belated birthday from all your buddies in Santa Fe. we're beaming you lots of energy to get you through the rest of the trip. can't wait til you get back and we can catch up for real!
barbara m.