Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Five days' kayaking in the Sechelt Inlets. Day 1: Pedals & Paddles to Kunechin Point

Read the introduction here

September 4:


Up at dawn to catch the 7:20 ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale on the Sunshine Coast. We were at Pedals & Paddles by a little after 9:00. Laurie, the owner, was great to deal with. Her partner, Steve, was a little gruff but gave us a firm warning about the winds that kick up around mid-day in these parts and make travel difficult. They outfitted us with a pair of Nimbus Telkwa kayaks (one regular, one high-volume) c/w paddle, spray skirt, PFD and whistle, sponge, paddle float, hand-operated bilge pump, throw line, spare paddle, and laminated maps of the inlets.
Ready to roll

By about 10:30 we were on the water. The weather was gorgeous and the day was calm and still. We made good time up the inlet, stopping after about an hour just north of Oyster Beach for lunch on a rugged little bay that would disappear at high tide. Another half-hour's paddle brought us to the entrance to Salmon Inlet. We had originally thought of exploring Salmon Inlet as part of this journey - and kept returning to it as an option right up till the end - but aside from apparently quite a nice beach at Thornhill Creek near the inlet's head, it's not a great trip; the scenery is second-rate and lots of wind. If we'd had another day, we probably would have gone for it.

We did pop around the corner for a look-see at the abandoned summer bible camp. Lots of ruined buildings and machinery being overtaken by moss. Would be a great place to shoot a horror movie.
Recreational opportunities abound
We then crossed the mouth of Salmon Inlet for Kunechin Point, about 20 minutes' vigorous slog in 6-inch chop: nothing too hairy. We landed on a little beach on the west side of the point after passing between the point and the Kunechin Islets, a pretty little clutch of rocks topped with gnarled fir and Arbutus. There was a couple there setting up their camp when we arrived. The two tent pads perched on the south-facing knob of the point were side by each; a possible third was indicated on the maps we had, but after a half-hour's exploring failed to turn it up, we resigned ourselves to a bit of company. (We later discovered said campsite; see the entry for Day 5 for details.)

Kunechin Point is easily the most spectacular camping spot in this whole area. It affords panoramic views of Salmon Inlet, the Islets, and the southern half of Sechelt Inlet; and the water around the Point is about the clearest we saw on the whole trip. (This was actually one of my few complaints with Sechelt Inlets as a destination; because they're so sheltered and not as heavily flushed by tides and storms, the water tends to be murky for viewing underwater life.) In poor weather you'd be too exposed here - buffeted by winds and pelted by rain - but during this sunny week it was perfect.
Looking east up Salmon Inlet; you can see the edge of the tent pad lower left

The Kunechin Islets and Sechelt Inlet to the south. There's a tent pad on the southernmost islet, but you'd have to be pretty desperate and willing to share your sleeping space with lots of gulls and their excreta.

The view to the west; our boats are just visible lower right
The only other thing that stops Kunechin from being camper's paradise is that there's no fresh water to be had here; you have to pack it in or pick it up elsewhere on day trips.

Jonathon found a second firepit and seating area a little to the east of the tent pads (there's also a third on the west side on the way to the outhouse), so we got out of our neighbours' faces for the evening and settled in for a meal (Italian night) and a nice fire. There's tons of driftwood here for burning. The seal colony on the Islets makes quite a racket well into the night; they were making the most improbable gargling-snorting sounds, alternated with cooing.

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