Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Five days' kayaking in the Sechelt Inlets. Day 2: Kunechin Point to Tzoonie Narrows

Read the introduction here
Read about Day 1 here 

September 5:


A leisurely breakfast and a late start heading toward Tzoonie Narrows for two nights' camp. I was mighty sore, especially in the neck and my SI joints. Wind and tide were mild, and we had an uneventful trek to Storm Bay, where we stopped for lunch. Just around the corner from Bird Point Retreat (for sale!), we hauled the kayaks out of the water at a spot where it looked like the retreating tide might leave a nice tidepool to explore. No such luck; all that was left was a mud flat covered in oysters, mussels, and weeds. There was some water a few hundred yards away, which might have been the desired pool, or might have been the continuation of Storm Bay. Still pretty sore, and disheartened by the grotty water in the area (everything was covered in brown fuzz; there was seaweed growing on the seaweed), we decided to press on to Tzoonie and explore Storm Bay on the return trip.
Like this, but browner and fuzzier. 
Careful now! Or hobbits will go down to join them and make little kelpies of their own.
We cut some distance off by point-hopping along the middle of Narrows Inlet rather than following the shoreline too closely, as there didn't seem to be a lot to see at the edges anyway. Upon rounding the point (the spot labelled "Sechelt Inlets Marine Park" on the map linked above), we were treated to a pretty little bay and a sun-dappled grassy campsite. There was no beach to speak of; at high tide the water would come right up to the grass. As we were the only ones there (save a little boat moored in the middle of the bay), we had our choice of campsite. The first one we saw was indeed the best; it had the best views, the most spacious lawn, and the most light in the afternoons when the sun peeked over the mountains for a bit. Once we got our bearings, we realized how stunning the location really was; the mountains on the opposite shore were close and more dramatic than we had seen thus far. Tzoonie really is a magical place, although below the surface, the water here is even more turbid than at the mouth of the inlet.
Looking towards the narrows
Water like glass. The islet in the bay is called Henry The Whale Rock.
Unlike at Kunechin Point, there wasn't much driftwood here for burning; it's an out-of-the-way nook, not a promontory at a confluence of waters. A moderate amount could be found, but it took a lot more legwork.

After setting up camp, we struck out to find some water to cook with. Although a lot of the little creeks throughout the area were dry by this point in the season, Laurie at Pedals & Paddles said she had heard running water in the area recently. Our map showed a number of streams - the most promising one being a little ways up the inlet through Tzoonie Narrows - but we decided to cross the inlet and do some leisurely exploring for the evening. The tide was rising and nearing its high point, which would mean the current would carry us through the narrows and we could cross back through around high slack.

No running streams on the opposite shore, so we cruised through Tzoonie Narrows. This was fun - our first experience of any significant current. At its narrowest point the narrows is about 50 feet wide, so it creates a significant current, but because it's deep and free of obstructions there's no whitewater. Entering into the upper section of Narrows Inlet was quite a treat - the mountains are high and dramatic, the water is still, and there's virtually no traffic (at least, when we were there). We dawdled up the right-hand shoreline for a while till Jon found a good creek where we filled our jugs. About another kilometre on, we found an even better creek - a real gusher - where at high tide you can canoe right into the little estuary. From there we looped to the north shore, which is full of the kind of amazing things you expect to see on the west coast: moss-covered trees making bizarre natural sculptures, plants clinging to rocks and growing in the most unusual places, little groves and grottoes that were magical in the evening light. The water here really bears mentioning (again) - it's almost opaque in most places, the colour of coffee ground too fine for the filter and with a couple of drops of milk in it - very unappealing, and at this time of year it was wall-to-wall jellyfish, too. Good thing there was no chance of a capsize.

As we passed back through the narrows the current was minimal - if we'd waited a little longer it would have been on our side, but we were hungry and had done a lot of paddling already. We were surprised to find another pair of paddlers had set up their tents beside ours, even though the other spots were empty. A genial, awkward pair of engineers from Vancouver - male and female, though not a couple. Jon tried valiantly to politely suggest they move, but they were terrified of bears and there was *gasp* a blackberry bush near the other site. The night of halting small talk that followed put a bit of a damper on our mood; the recounting of careers and families is bad enough in any setting, but in this one it was murder. A relatively early night, then.

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