|Tuesday, August 24.|
|This week weather forecast calls for clouds and
rain every day. This morning we get up to light rain and heavy clouds overhead.
The crew has a leisurely approach to mornings. There are no get up calls,
no rushing of people for the bathrooms or for breakfast. The firmness of
the beds helps some get up, the anticipation of the day works for others.
We have a breakfast of cereal, fruit and breads. All of us fit around the
table in the main lounge and eating is a time of togetherness. We are busy
passing or pouring items for each other while we eat and talk. After breakfast,
Sharon announces the daily plan. Today will be broken up into a morning
hike and an afternoon paddle.
We will eat lunch aboard the Columbia because of the persistent rain. The ship goes to Pig Farm Bay on Crocroft Island. We shuttle to shore in the aluminum skiff. The beach is mostly boulders and large fallen trees. This beach faces Johnstone Strait, a narrow segment of the Inside Passage, noted for its treacherous currents and Orca (killer whale) sightings.
We proceed with a 45 minute hike through a Northwest rainforest to reach Eagle Eye lookout. We have to scramble over some very large fallen trees to get onto the trail. The floor of the forest has a spongy feel beneath our feet. Above us, tall trees block out most of the rain drops and much of the lights. On the forest floor we see many ferns, mushrooms in a variety of colors and large ugly slugs. The undergrowth is most intense around the trunk of the fallen trees. Lorna points out the Western Red Cedar, the Douglas fir and the hemlock trees. These are second growth trees that have grown to be 60 to 100 feet tall. Some trees have survived forest fires and have a thickened, charred bark around their base. Several of us remark that this forest looks like a scene from the Ewok land in the movie The Return of the Jedi. It is lush, dark, green and quiet.
We follow the trail up and down over a couple of ridges as we work our way to the promontory called Eagle’s Eye. When we arrive, we find a campsite and lookout station. These are used by volunteers and scientists who monitor and study the whales. We have a bird’s eye view of Johnstone Strait. Across the strait on Vancouver Island we see a small inlet called Robson Bight. This bay is famous as the site where Orcas gather to rub their bodies against the rounded rocks.
Today, we see no whales.
This year the salmon have not come into the strait and the local Orcas have gone away in search of the salmon. We have a grand, but whaleless view. A couple of volunteers return to the lookout while we are there and confirm the general lack of whale sightings in the past couple of weeks. We hike back down the trail and enjoy our time in the forest.
We return to the Columbia for lunch – salami, cheese, tomatoes, and cucumber sandwiches. After lunch, we move the ship to our next anchorage. It is still raining lightly. Some of us play a few hands of bridge, others read, or take a nap.
Our next anchorage is near Mound Island at the mouth of Knight Inlet. We pass a fish farm on the way. From a distance we see four ringed ponds, and a couple of bright green buildings. Our anchorage is in a bay created by a number of small islands. The islands are rocky and covered with trees. The water is calm and reflects the shore line. A light rain is falling.
Peter and Don head out.
We take to our kayaks again. This afternoon, Sharon and Lorna lead us on a island circling tour. We practice our paddling strokes and steering techniques as we make our way through narrow passages and shallow bays. Frank and Nathan who had trouble with foot cramps on day one, switch to the bow position on day two. They have more room there, and do not develop foot problems. After the guided tour, we are left to paddle on our own. Nancy and Jennifer are quite efficient paddlers and take off along the shore of a large island. Peter and Don are nearly as efficient and go merrily along, until they jam their steering cable. Then they go around in circles until they are helped by Nathan and Jane. Kris and Shanna are beginning to put some speed into their kayak. The kayaks move well on this calm water. The paddlers are synchronizing their stokes and are a pretty sight going by.
By late afternoon, the wind comes up and the rain falls harder. The paddling pairs begin to make their way back to the Mothership, to have a warm shower and put on dry clothes.
In the late afternoon, Captain Bill, Kris, Shanna, Frank, Mariana, and Lorna take off in the skiff to set some crab traps. They place the traps near where we will be tomorrow in the Broughton Archipelago. The bait for the traps is fish food (from the fish farm) and some smelly old fish heads. The skiff has a jet powered engine and can really fly, so part of the fun of the crab trapping is the speed boat ride. At the end of the day, the character of the back deck has changed dramatically. The ceiling of the covered deck has a series of clothes lines. All the wet paddling gear and assorted other items of clothing are now hanging from these lines. It looks like washday. We decide that we have had a very good day, even if it was raining most of the time.
This evening we have poached salmon for dinner with red potatoes. It is delicious. Captain Bill, Sharon and Lorna take turns as the cook and clean up crew. For any given meal, we may have one to three people making major contributions. The end result is always good. We learn that they have developed these menus over the course of several seasons.
Our evening discussions cover a broad range of topics, again. Among them, is the tsunami, which we are still anticipating, and Shanna’s job as a teacher and owner of fiber art store. She also has some strong opinions about WalMart stores in small towns. Jennifer tells us about one of her prior kayaking trips in this area. She and her partner were camping on one of the islands in the Broughton Archipelago. They had placed their tent up among the trees, and left their kayaks resting on a level grassy area way out of the water, but on a level below the tent. They did not tie the kayaks to anything. In the morning they found the water level up near their tent, and the kayaks gone. The grassy place was under water. Later in the morning they were able to attract the attention of a power boat. The people on the boat gave them a lift and helped them find their kayaks. Back in their kayaks they resumed their trip. Later during that same trip they came across some other kayakers who were telling the story of the foolish paddlers who had lost their kayaks. Jennifer says she acted naive and laughed along with the rest of them about those neophytes. We are all glad to have the Columbia as our Mothership, rather than being left to on our own in this wilderness.
The night time brings more wind and rain but no unexpected events.