The Zunoquad: Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago (6)

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

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