It’s been a busy summer (and spring and fall) for Sanesh and I, and we’re excited to fill you in about what we've been up to and where we’re currently at.
In early May, Sanesh embarked on a 9-day course in the hopes of receiving his Assistant Overnight Guide (AOG) certificate from the Sea Kayak Guides’ Alliance of British Columbia. He passed the course with flying colours and is currently working on his Wilderness First Aid (WFR) and Marine Radio Operator (ROC-M) Certificates to finish his training journey. Check out his write-up about the experience of taking an AOG course in Ucluelet.
The same week as Sanesh’s AOG, I drove my 1973 Dodge Van up the island from Tofino to Port Hardy and boarded the ferry to Haida Gwaii. 30+ hours later, I had arrived in Daajing Giids for a semester of school at the Haida Gwaii Institute (HGI) followed by a summer of expedition guiding with Green Coast Kayaking. Haida Gwaii truly is a remarkable place - I was immediately enwrapped by the thriving Haida Culture and the abundance of the land. Rarely have I felt so quickly accepted into a community and surrounded by such incredible natural beauty. What a summer!
In mid August, Sanesh came to visit me in Haida Gwaii for a series of prep paddles. He’s written a super detailed three-part series about the trip, so all I’ll say here is that we were very busy, had two really productive prep paddles, and were witness to some pretty incredible cultural events. We learned a lot about our paddling dynamic, tested some paddling and camping equipment, and had a great time!
By the time I drove back onto the ferry in Early September, I had spent 4 months in Haida Gwaii, Paddled the East coast of the Archipelago from Skidegate to Sgaang Gwaii, and made some incredible friends. My summer of expedition guiding was over, but I was hurtling towards a fall of outdoor education (OE) instruction that would keep me busy until the end of October.
In September and October I taught OE for three schools leading five separate overnight trips. I began in Clayoquot Sound for six days, then headed South to the Gulf Islands National Park (GINP), then North again to Strathcona Park, South once more to GINP, and finally North to the Sayward Lake Canoe Route. Three of these were sea kayak trips, but there was also a hike and a canoe trip - a welcome change. Those five tips also gave me the opportunity to collaborate with five different instructors, each with their own style of instruction and leadership. It was a treat to have had so much diversity of programs, locations, and co-workers in such a short time. At the end of October, I participated in a five-day Paddle Canada Level 1 instructor course based out of Gyro Park in Victoria. It was really nice to be a student for a week after so much time spent being in charge!
In October I had laser vision correction. It’s amazing! I’m still getting used to the fact that I can see stuff all the time now and I’m very grateful to not have to use glasses or contact lenses on our expedition. Given the severity of my condition beforehand (I couldn’t see my own feet without glasses) there are some lingering side effects from the procedure, but I’m hopeful that they will mostly be resolved in the coming months.
November was a slower month. I took a part time position selling equipment at the Patagonia store in Victoria, and spent the rest of my time decompressing and kayak surfing at Jordan River. The one major exception to my slow November came when Sanesh suggested that we take an action-packed road trip to Seattle, Washington, and Uclulet, BC… all in one weekend! We’ve written a whole blog post about the adventure - go check it out.
In October, Sanesh pulled the trigger on a used Nimbus Telkwa Sport from the Majestic Ocean Kayaking fleet. Part of our mad-dash trip in November involved collecting it from Ucluelet. He’s pretty stoked on the boat! It has lots of storage capacity, tracks well, and is sporty enough to keep him happy for the expedition.
I also pulled the trigger on a kayak - a Sterling Grand Illusion. It’s being made in Bellingham at the Sterling factory currently and should be ready in a month or so. It’ll have a strong surf layup, a custom bulkhead placement, and a couple more goodies. I’m incredibly excited to see how it turns out! As we put our boats through their paces on trip, we’ll keep you updated on their performance and write a formal review at the end of the expedition.
We’re thrilled to have received a mega box of gear from Valhalla Pure Outfitters (VPO). We’ve partnered with them to put some camping staples to the test on our trip. We’ll be testing a pair of Nemo Sleeping bags, Nemo sleeping mats, a kitchen set from GSI, and a Garmin satellite communication device. Sanesh and I have also done a few personal orders for drybags, a stove, chart case, and more from VPO and are getting pretty close to having all the gear we’ll need.
We’ll be using a pair of Werner paddles to power our expedition - a Kaliste and a Cyprus. They’ve been ordered and are on the way! We’re stoked to get some practice with them before the trip. I’ve also had my previous paddle (a Werner Kaliste) repaired after it snapped in two this summer. It’s a beautiful repair and I’m stoked to get it in my hands and on the water.
We’ve had continued meetings (beer and coffee) with the lovely folks at Orange Canoe and are refining the designs of our custom drysuits. We’re also hoping to settle on a design for a paddling anorak and a waterproof zippered drybag for our First Aid Kit so they can make a prototype in time for our departure.
Things we’re working on
As of last week, the Excel database app Sanesh has been creating for our menu planning is complete and ready to be filled with data. We’re close to settling on our meal selection and should have updates in February. We’ll be prepping, cooking, and dehydrating around 350 servings of a dozen different recipes - so stay tuned for a few photos, videos, and blog posts about the experience.
Our route planning also is coming along nicely. We’re hoping to connect with the few paddlers who have paddled in the Northern parts of our route to gather some beta about the route, weather, and sea state. We’ll release some updates in February and March as we finalize the route planning and create a dashboard where you’ll be able to follow our progress day-by-day.
We’re excited to announce that my partner Sarah, and father Jay will be joining our trip from Bella Bella to Prince Rupert. They'll take the ferry and meet us en-route for 14 days of paddling at the end of May and beginning of June. We’re working out the details of their trip at the moment and will have more to share soon.
Finally, we need to train! Life always seems to have a way of complicating things so we’re working on finding the balance between work, social commitments, and expedition prep. We’re trying to get out on the water as much as possible this winter - easier for me in Victoria than Sanesh in Montreal… but we’re figuring it out. Expect lots of photos and videos of us paddling, surfing, camping, and honing our skills in the coming months.
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