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Section 2: Full of Surprises

Section 2 of our trip has been full of the surprises. Usually in good ways, but sometimes in less than ideal ways as well. We traveled 244 NM, bringing our trip total is 485 NM

We departed from Telegraph Cove on the after May 3rd, after some sad goodbyes with our friend Daniela who'd kindly come to drop off our food. We adjusted our Section 2 plan a little bit, so that we could attend a celebration in Alert Bay on May 6th to celebrate the removal of fish farms. Our tour of the Broughton is a story in it's own right, detailed in a separate post, involving Sailors from the internet, a toothbrush delivery by kayak, a whale sanctuary in the making, and of course the celebration itself.

Beautiful bear, but this campsite is not for us.

Catching up where that post left off, by May 8th we were back to our regular program. That night was a bit of a surprise in itself. As we cruised in, we saw a beautiful black bear! We were downwind of the bear, so it didn't notice us and we got to observe it quite closely from the water. Though beautiful, this did present a bit of an issue... We couldn't camp there. We moved on to Popplewell Point, another hour of paddling at 5pm, which isn't ideal. We landed at high tide, and in my logbook I wrote "great camp" that night, due to a nice freshwater stream and good hammocks hangs. My logbook the next day says "campsite sucked, happy to leave" due to a heinously slippery carry over ankle eating rocks, and a low tide that went out so far we were unsuccessful in our attempts to keep the boats floating while packing. The plot twist was very unexpected.

Some really cool shoots out of a nurse log.

For the remainder of section 2 we were surprised by some great camping, including a really fun campsite on the Jeanette Islands that felt like real life Super Mario; a couple cute paddlers cabins - equipped with bunk beds and wood stoves; and some absolutely stunning beaches on Calvert Island, Goose Island, and Burnett Bay.

A fun campsite on the Jeanette islands, including a perfect pebbly Beach only accessible at low tide, a perfect set of logs for parking the boats, and some great hammock hangs if you were willing to push up the bluff. And it was sheltered from the NW winds we were facing. Perfect in this moment.

Burnett Bay marks a few other fun surprises. Firstly, as we were landing, Ken Legg popped up behind us! He'd done a monstrous 31 NM day and been about 10 minutes behind us for most of it, as it turns out. It was awesome to see him again and catch up on some stories. Burnett Bay is also the starting point of our crossing around Cape Caution to Cranstown Point. We'd been well warned of the perils of Cape Caution, known to take out unsuspecting mariners, but we'd been blessed with light winds and 1m swell. So we went for it. Cape Caution was a comfortable crossing, but Kelp Head was a different story.

This is our route around Kelp Head we'd recommend taking a wider line around False Egg Island and Dugout Rocks in swell.

We decided to paddle inside of False Egg Island and through Spur Rocks. We made the call from the water, as from our vantage point it looked fine with only a few rocks with breaking waves. But then the rocks with breaking waves kept coming. It was fine for the most part. Nathan and I were alert and attentive, keeping our eyes our for rocks and waves, and giving them a wide berth. It was controlled chaos. The swell built, amplifying the hazards but also improving our vantage point to see them, and we thought we knew what to expect. Nathan and I had picked out a clear line, when all of a sudden, 2 boat lengths infront of Nathan, a wave broke. I had a clear vantage point, and it was at least 4x Nathan's height, making it at least a 4m wave. The situation turned serious, real fast. We both started back paddling, hard. Like our lives depended on it. Getting broadsided by a 4m breaking wave in a rocky headland in a kayak is best to avoid. Nathan started yelling at me to paddle backwards. I appreciate that he thought about me, but this was fairly obvious advice. For the next 5 minutes or so the adrenaline was pumping hard. We backed up, turned around, and gave a much wider berth to the underwater shelf creating this wave. We saw three waves break on this shelf, and then no more. Bigger than average set, and we'd almost gotten really unlucky. A humbling reminder to plan for the unexpected. We made it safely to Cranstown Point, but camped on the backside away from the swell, in preparation for more surprises.

Cape Caution by Kayak. Kelp Head was hectic enough that cameras were stowed.

After Kelp Head, we continued our way up the coast, and decided to stop in at Hakai Institute on Calvert Island. On our way into Hakai, we got to see a pod of Orcas breaching Meay Inlet into Keith Anchorage. To quote Nathan, "If I were a sea lion over there, I'd be freaking out right now."

Once at Hakai, we were warmly greeted and asked to camp on the North Beach, so we went up there and spent the night. It's stunning. It was also cool to meet some of the scientists as well as the founders, Eric and Christina, and learn more about their work. Rob, our contact at Hakai, was super nice, and gave us some great tips for camping and paddling in the area. He also gave us a tour, the place is absolutely stunning. I was blown away by their off grid water and electrical systems. It's amazing what goes into operating dive crews, autonomous underwater vehicles, and hazardous chemicals for year round research in a remote region. One of the really cool things we learned about was their discovery of a human presence in the area dating back to 14,000 years, thousands of years prior to previously known human settlement.

While cooking dinner on the North Beach at Hakai, we were listening to the weather forecast and got some bad news. The weather heading up to our next planned destination of Bella Coola was horrid, 30 knot winds which would have kept us off the water. Time for plans to change. We'd gotten some tips that Goose Group was beautiful, and the forecast for that area looked good.

A beautiful sunrise, promptly socked in with fog on our rest day on Goose Island.

After a morning coffee with Rob, we set off to Trickett Island, and then on to Goose Group the following day. The one wrinkle, was that for the prior few days, Nathan really needed to pee. Like, a lot. We're not quite sure what was causing it, but Nathan was peeing often. As it turns out, there aren't many places to land on Calvet Island, between Calvert Island and Trickett, and them between Trickett and Goose. Nathan is grateful he didn't pee himself, but it was a sufferfest for him. However, I did manage to get quite seasick on the crossing between Hakai and Trickett, puking off my boat 4x thanks to 1m swell. Talk about surprises.

We spent 2 days on Goose Island, including 1 rest day where we repaired our gear, did a small beach clean up, and read our books. We also spent a day circumnavigating Goose Island, just because we thought it would be cool. As it turns out, nowhere to land on the west side of Goose Island in 1m swell. Not so great for Nathan's bladder. As we crossed around to the North Beach, we stumbled across a group of people. We knew that there were some Heiltsuk Cabins on that beach, so we asked permission to come ashore and were invited warmly to do so. We were offered food, water (thank you thank you thank you for the water!!!), and a chance to learn. The group was from the Community Family Services office, which included some really interesting people. I enjoyed learning about all the clean energy projects they had taken on and about the recent strides towards self determination. Having this beautiful interaction in the Goose Group was entirely unexpected... A quick look at a map will show you why. That said, Heiltsuk peoples have been here for at least 14,000 years, so I guess it shouldn't be that surprising.

After the Goose Group, we headed back south to check out a few different places. Spitfire Channel and Nalau Passage (and push you east on the flood!) were beautiful. The abandoned fishing town of Namu is very creepy, but had a cool river we paddled up to fill water. But the coolest thing has been Sagar Lake, where there are pyrite flakes in the sand so the water glitters with gold as you swim. It's absolutely stunning and mesmerizing.

There were wolf prints at a number of beaches we stayed at. At Cranstown Point, a wolf came and checked out our kayaks while we were out for a walk. Imagine our surprise when we saw those prints.

On the last night of section 2, we paddled in to Bella Bella, into a fantastic cabin where we are going to stay the next few nights organizing the next leg of our trip. There's a hot shower and a sauna. Awesome. And we spent our last evening of Section 2 with some of the great people we'd met in Goose Bay.

Section 1 was all about getting out systems dialed in, and while 20 NM days felt big in Section 1, we've been cracking them out with relative ease in Section 2. There have been a few long 4h stretches in the boat, but for the most part our energy has been committed to enjoying the world around us. The people and community in Alert Bay. The stunning surfers cabins. The kind day trippers in Goose Group. And so many beautiful beaches. And deal with some hiccups like seasickness, continuous peeing, crappy campsites and poor sleep. It's been a section full of surprises, and I'm super grateful to have had the energy to enjoy each and every moment of them.

These views never get old

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