The Zunoquad

The Zunoquad: Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago (5)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Day 5

The morning of departure from Insect Island was rainy, making it easier to pull up stakes. Again led by Navigator John we wended our way down Misty Passage, past Tracy, Mars, and Hudson islands, through Spiller Passage, across Arrow Passage, past Betty Cove, through the Fog Islets by Cedar Island to Owl Island, situated at the mouth of Knight Inlet.

The trip was punctuated by a pee and gorp stop on an unvegetated rock islet. We glided through several liquid slits between islands, challenging to find in the fog and thrilling to negotiate.

Here at the edge of the open sea, vegetation was sculpted by prevailing winds into thick rounded hedges. Unperturbed, a bald eagle in a snag observed our progress.

We found the campsite at Owl Island squeezed into a narrow terrace between vertical rock walls and the high tide line, protected from exposure at the head of a long bay. Tall spruces, second growth but 200 feet high, fronted the water, and a fire ring was placed in the shelter of large vegetation-covered driftwood logs.

After carrying the kayaks safely onshore, we pitched tents, found appropriate toilet locations, and built a bench and footrest with the capacity to seat the whole crew comfortably near the fire drying out clothing wet from the voyage and last night’s rain. Once again the weather cleared and insects stayed away.

Steve, the resident sculptor, started work on a Zunoqua totem, using flotsam he found on the beach and nails ingeniously pried out of the wide driftwood board that served as our kitchen table. We searched for water but found no source nearby. This was the first location we stayed at that did not include a shell midden.

Murray and Steven prepared the dinner of canned Chili, couscous and bacon bits. The sunset gave the treetops and rocks at the mouth of the bay a golden glow. From different directions two wolves howled.

For a full set (67) of my Zunoquad pictures click here.

For a pool (184) of pictures by several people on this trip, click here.

For a wiki including these journal entries and writings by other participants, click here

The Zunoquad: Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago (6)

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Day 6 (thanks to John for much of this entry)

The overnight high tide (14.8′) turned just short of reaching the tent of Steve and John, and was quite low in the morning. We had a breakfast of porridge and coffee, hiked the food up into the trees and left our camp (the south corner of Owl Island) about 9:30AM heading out with a rising tide that would sweep us up Knight Islet in the direction of Village Island.

A 20 min buzzbombing sweep of some kelp beds produced nothing, another harbinger that the ecosystem is under duress. This area once supported a large population of mammals and humans that lived on clams, mussells and salmon, and you can’t even pull up a decent sized rock cod today.

Despite its broad expanse, the tidal flow through Knight Inlet was strong enough to allow us to play in the current, getting pulled upstream in the rippled patches and then finding the smooth surface of the back eddy to slide back down.

We pulled into the beach and flats of Maud Island, which once supported 14 longhouses. We found another great hot rock to set out lunch: Fistfuls of gorp, heavy unleavened pumpernickel bread and cheese, and sips of boiled water.

Carrying a newly carved staff that completed his picture as biblical prophet, Murray again swam solo in the freezing water.

He found a beautiful zebra patterned butterfly trapped by the surface tension of the still water in the bay, gently lifted and shook it off, and set it free. The creature circled around him and then flew over to the cheering onshore audience, approaching within six inches of several faces, settled on the rock to have its picture taken and then fluttered off into the sunshine.

After this break, we swung to the south around the islands in front of Mamalilacula. From a distance we saw a long glittering white clamshell beach below a bank overgrown with greenery which turned out to be blackberries. Poking out from the bush were the gaunt remains of a few euro style structures in various states of dereliction and a post and beam structure which was clearly native built.

We found our way up onto the embankment where the settlement was built. Welcomed by a huge pile of bearshit, we walked around the village site along trails hollowed out through the blackberries which now claim the site. Down one trail, near a forlorn looking fallen totem pole, Peter stepped into human excrement. A house still standing was littered with beer bottles and other trash. Apparently one of the buildings was a hospital. Back in the woods overlooking the village was a domineering sinister-looking residential school.

We picked up water from the creek. We thought beer colored water was bad. This water was coffee colored!

Down on the beach near our kayaks a group of people who had apparently arrived by motorboat and docked on the other side of the island was sitting and talking: a young couple, their one year old child, and one younger and one older man. Murray overheard some of the conversation. The old man was telling stories of his growing up here to his son and daughter, her husband and grandson. We exchanged greetings, but missed the opportunity to hear what he had to say.

At 4Pm we started the the paddle back to Owl. By that time the afternoon breeze was up and we stayed south, trying our best to remain in the lee of the winds. The tide was now falling to our benefit. We avoided the headwind, passing through a narrow passage between a small island and Creese near Rocky Point. Then it was into the teeth of the breeze diagonally over to the cover of the Jumble Islands and then across to Owl. We were back to camp by 6PM to see what we had left in the food bags for dinner.

It turned out to be Knorr/Lipton glorified macaroni and cheese, and grilled Hormel reconstituted ham steaks. We boiled our Mama water and made hot chocolate, laced it with brandies and quaffed it to no ill effect. “Real men drink black water.” Nutella stores held up so no one went hungry!

We contacted Dennis and he agreed to pick us up at Owl about 1:30 the next day. We were relieved that we didn’t have to move camp again. Steve and Lionel improvised a No play at the campfire, music supplied by spoon and tin cup.

For a full set (67) of my Zunoquad pictures click here.

For a pool (184) of pictures by several people on this trip, click here.

For a wiki including these journal entries and writings by other participants, click here

The Zunoquad: Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago (7)

Friday, September 7th, 2007

Day 7 (Again thanks to John for much of this material)

Late awakening with mixed feelings: reluctance to end this interlude of pure living in the present and eagerness to get back to a less simple existence. Slow breakfast of oatmeal and granola. Murray collected clams in the low-tide mud flats, enough for two each. Sunshine.

With assistants, Steve completed Zunoqua and mounted her on a log facing into the bay. Rob created an artful arrangement of grass, rock and roots.

Careful cleanup of the campsite and deliberate packing of kayaks, gear and personal effects to be ready for Dennis’ appointed arrival at 1:30, the moment of high tide.

He got to us at two p.m. along with Leonardo, his quiet stepson, when the tide was already falling. He knew just what to do, as he slid the boat in parallel to the shore and holding it at the bow with a snag protruding out over the water, and at the stern by having Leonardo push a pike pole into the shallow rocky bottom, keeping the boat in water deep enough to float and shallow enough to allow us to to load first our baggage and then ourselves in a race against time and tide.

Dennis two-stepped along the wobbly snag ashore and back, and then at his urging and our cheering, Leonardo followed. Up went the heavy kayaks, whose bows were lifted to him for levering into place on his racks. Dozens of parcels of gear were passed on board by a human chain””a chain means that nobody moves.” And we squeaked out with the help of pike poles pushing us off into the deeper water.

Perhaps in return for the offering of Zunoqua, Dennis went well out of his way on the trip back to Telegraph Cove to a bay in Johnston Strait where he found Dahl’s porpoises to race and cavort with the boat for our entertainment.

Then he proceeded to the middle of the Strait for a close encounter with an Orca which spouted and surfaced.

Back in the Cove, the unpacking went smoothly, we paid our last bills, and Rob the provider came up with beer for everyone. Dennis told us of an even more remote kayaking spot on the mainland near the mouth of Seymour Inlet and Burnet Beach we could go to next year.

The long car trip back down Vancouver Island was relieved by dinner at the Cable Cookhouse Café in Sayward, a unique landmark constructed out of 26 tons of steel logging cable. The complex accounting of payment and reimbursement was completed over hamburgers and more beer and homemade blackberry pie. Peter Behr waited 1.5 hours for his dinner to come and it was the wrong one after all that. The blackberry pie and ice cream was divine. We cleaned them out.

For a full set (67) of my Zunoquad pictures click here.

For a pool (184) of pictures by several people on this trip, click here.

For a wiki including these journal entries and writings by other participants, click here

Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (1)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 20

Lionel’s condo on 8th St. in Vancouver was the first assembly point. Steven was picked up by Ian at the Airport’s South Terminal after his one day visit to Lund, Peter arrived from Sequim where he’d just moved his mother from New York City to a nursing home, Murray arrived by Ferry from Nanaimo and Rob drove in from Burnaby. Gear was packed into Rob’s Honda and Peters Tracker. The rainy Spring made the Fraser Valley vibrant green, swelled the muddy river and produced dozens of spectacular waterfalls. Along the Hope-Princeton highway through Manning Park trees were just coming into light green leaf. Steven and Peter stopped at an unnamed serpentine canyon to admire the cascade.

Two carloads reunited at the Cedars Motel in Princeton, where gear and food were distributed. A Greek Taverna in this unprepossessing town served up dinners and beer excellent by any standard. We were joined at the table by Gregory Archambault who was biking solo all the way across Canada during a five month leave from his transportation company in Quebec. After dinner our group agreed to start out at the eastern end of the preplanned route and head back toward Princeton.

May 21

At Backroads Bikeshop we rented bikes and panniers from Jim Harrison, as prearranged by Lionel, and met up with Andy, who’d driven from Edmonton in his red sportster, and with John, whose Mom drove him down from Kelowna. She brought us fresh grapes, wide smiles and grandmotherly blessings, and took our picture in front of the trailer being loaded by Neil Allison, our driver. On the way to our starting point through the beautiful Similkameen Valley, Neil was a bottomless source of local information. Steven recognized his name as that of the founder of Princeton, from whom he was directly descended by way of one native wife. We passed through exploding Osoyoos and its vast outlying subdivisions, a sign of the real estate boom in this border region, over a pass to the quiet Kettle Valley. Eager to get on the bikes, we decided to start at Rock Creek and Neil unloaded us at the Gold Pan café, where we paid him $50 each and ate borscht for lunch.