Thursday, April 06, 2017

Around the Redondas: kayaking near Desolation Sound, Aug 1-6 2016 Day 4

Somewhat reluctantly, we packed up camp and prepared to head down Homfray Channel after breakfast. But first: some high drama. While making breakfast, I made a really stupid error of inattention - trying to light the Trangia, I spilled flaming alcohol all over my hand and leg. Jonathon reports a moment of bewilderment as I shrieked and ran to the waterline to douse myself. Fortunately I was in cotton camp clothes, not polyester paddling clothes, and the only burns were to my hand. Which was pretty bad, actually. It didn't hurt immediately, but it did go white and began to blister. Jonathon had (quite level-headedly, I thought) prevented the logs on which we were cooking from catching fire. Then the pain kicked in, which I could only alleviate by holding my hand under cold water - thank god for the creek.

I will admit I said some bad swears.

I wasn't sure at first whether I'd be able to paddle - my whole right palm was burnt. After a goodly while holding it in the creek and after the tylenol kicked in, I wrapped it in gauze and hockey tape and hoped for the best. It turns out it was OK - the blisters popped right away but weren't as irritating as friction blisters, and my self-administered first aid did the trick. Lesson learned: the critics of the Trangia are right; having an open pot of flaming alcohol at your campsite is a hazard. This doesn't mean I've given up on the Church of Trangia, it just means I've got a new healthy respect for it. Pay attention ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE OUT IN THE WOODS A DAY'S PADDLE FROM ANYWHERE CIVILIZED, YOU JERK.

Eventually we set off toward Brettell Point, a calm crossing. Toward Channel Island, there's a real "big sea" feel to the water: some swells. I can see why Kimantas says this area is "recommended kayaking."

We looked for an access point to the hiking trail that leads over to Pendrell Sound but couldn't find it. (Seems like the access point is on the west side of Hepburn Point and we were looking on the east side.) We meandered down the east shore of East Redonda Island, a very pleasant paddle. East Redonda is a wonder of nature - more a mountain complex than a single mountain. Nust be seen to be believed.

After stopping for lunch at the first likely place, a boulder beach across from Foster Point, we crossed the channel (a bit creeped out by the idea that Homfray is almost a kilometre deep) to a headland campsite that Kimantas recommended. It was quite nice - exposed, though, and the day was very hot. We backtracked north around Foster Point and had a nice chat with some folks who'd opened up a little lodge there. No, they don't sell beer ("We're not bootleggers!" they said, kind of missing the idea that you can sell booze legally if you have a license for it). Decided to press on to Lloyd Point where we planned to spend the night & water up at Lloyd Creek.

The wind came up as we crossed Forbes Bay and paddling became a struggle. Somehow we got our reckoning wrong and overshot Lloyd Point (which is less like a point than a gentle bulge) by a considerable margin and ended up at "Mt. Pardoe," although we didn't figure that out til the trip's postmortem. We explored a washed-out gulch that we thought must have been Lloyd Creek - in retrospect, just a relic of recent logging.

We pulled out on the south side of the point at high tide, relieved to be off the water after a long day. Trying to reconcile the BCMTNA descriptions of the Lloyd area with where we were was a weird exercise in cognitive dissonance. I simply wouldn't believe that we couldn't find the level upland camping, or that the low-gradient cobble beaches weren't simply undetectable under the high tide. I went bashing through the forest looking for them while Jon - the pragmatist - made camp on the headland.

The forest was a hellscape. Recent logging activity has devastated the area. The clearcuts are one thing, but the real destruction came from the road-building, where the logging company has simply pushed all the unwanted timber downhill, creating a thick and impenetrable tangle of debris from the road almost all the way to the shoreline (excepting maybe 100 feet of "scenic fringe" at the shore). The concept of "scenic fringe" is something that former BC Premier Mike Harcourt was a proponent of, no doubt inspired by the scenic fringe above his ears and under his nose as shown in this photo... which nonetheless fails to disguise the ugly clearcut at the summit.
Finally I admitted defeat. Walking back on the logging road, singing at the top of my lungs to let any bears in the area know I was a rocketman, I heard Jon holler out - no doubt to let me know where to descend. I hollered back - no answer. Turns out he hadn't been echolocating me at all - he'd disturbed a nest of bees and was being attacked by them.

Aside from the rock ledge camp, there is one spot in the upland that's suitable for camping. It's a bit dank but would be a good sheltered spot in bad weather conditions.

The unsuitability of this area for a gravel quarry - an idea that's been put to rest, at least for now - is really obvious when you're there. You can see and hear everything for miles up and down Homfray Channel. We could hear the radios on the boats off Price Point, and I'm sure they all knew I was a rocketman too.

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