Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five days' kayaking in the Sechelt Inlets. Day 4: upper Narrows Inlet and an unexpected helping hand

Read the introduction here
Read about Day 1 here  
Read about Day 2 here
Read about Day 3 here

September 7:


Emboldened by our previous day's triumph, we figured we could take another whole day's paddling. We wanted to get back to Kunechin Point to camp tonight, but also wanted to explore further up beautiful Narrows Inlet. To that end we woke up early, struck camp, and made an early start of it.

 On the other side of the narrows, the inlet is still and sheltered. Early morning is a beautiful time for paddling anywhere, but here we felt like we'd crossed into Middle Earth or something. I lingered for a while under a moss-covered maple tree, where the light filtered green and gold through the leaves, bounced off the water, and rippled on the mossy trunk and branches from beneath. Whether by a trick of the light or a quirk of the location, the water here was clear and I watched little perch dart around under the boat for some time.

Our Pedals & Paddles map (not quite the same as the one on their website) didn't show the whole of Narrows Inlet, so we had no idea how long it really is. It curves gently northward, so around every corner we thought we might have come to the last reach, but every time there was just a little more.
All the trunk you see here is one tree. It goes up, over, down, over, and up again. What a survivor.
We took our time paddling up the north/west shore, taking it all in. We got a nice view of a waterfall on the opposite shore above some cabins about 3/4 of the way up, and it was generally just a gorgeous area. We had greatly underestimated how much distance we had to cover, but we decided to press on to the end.

Near the head of Narrows Inlet, the water, already turbid, changes again and is filled with a coarse particulate. It's quite unnerving to paddle in, actually. The head of the inlet was a logging camp up until about 10 years ago, and a lot of remnant structures and rusting equipment can be seen as you paddle into the shallow bay at the head. 

On the way back we hugged the opposite shore, passing the charming cabins under the waterfall and passing through a little channel between an islet and the shore. Other than that little gem of a spot, the east/south shore isn't as scenic as the other one, and we paddled a little more quickly back. This side of the inlet was chockers with jellyfish.
Acres of them.
 We watered up at the big creek, then pressed on back to camp for lunch. We wanted to hove off to Kunechin in good time. I found myself more tired than I had expected - partly the effects of yesterday's big paddle and partly because the morning's trip was quite a bit longer than we had anticipated.

On our return to camp we met a fellow named Dave who had moored his awesome little boat near us.
Dave's little tug
 He offered us a tow to Kunechin, as he was heading that way on his way to Sechelt anyhow. We wondered if that would be cheating, but when he threw the offer of a beer into the bargain, how could we say no? I've never enjoyed a Coors Light so much in my life.
Making time
As we left Tzoonie, the weather was fine, but the farther we went the more wind began to kick up. As we passed Storm Bay (scuttling our thoughts of exploring it, but you can't have everything) and entered Sechelt Inlet, we encountered significant chop from the afternoon winds, which were blowing against the tide. Nearing Kunechin, our kayaks began to kick water into Dave's kayak, and after a bit I noticed it was taking on too much. Dave cut the engine just as his little guy took a dive. We hauled her out, emptied her out, and rescued his life jacket, which was blowing away. It was a bit of a mad scramble in rough waters, and we had another struggle finding a sheltered spot to reenter our boats.  Poor Dave seemed a bit frazzled as he dropped us off, so I hope a few beers and a burger at the Lighthouse Pub restored his equilibrium.
Pictures never do it justice.
The winds didn't die down until well into the evening, as a huge moon rose over Mount Richardson and the Kunechin seals began their nightly gargle-fest: around 6:00. Now the warning we'd received about afternoon winds made sense. But did we listen? Like hell we did. Dumkopfs, we don't learn except the hard way.

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