In a matter of less than 3 weeks, I have seen either on or right by my camping beaches, Humpback, Orca and two Black Bears. I guess I shouldn’t forget about the Porpoises, Seals, River Otters, Sea Otters that also visited and certainly not the snakes that my friend Jeff constantly befriended, right beside his tent at Garden Point on Nootka Island.

Garden Point – Nootka Island

Between July 27th and August 2nd, our party of three, Kirsten Hathaway, Jeff Kolebaba and myself paddled out to Garden Point on the north end of Nootka Island. Further information about the camping area can be found here: Garden Point east (bcmarinetrails.org)

The paddling route required us to launch at Little Espinosa Inlet. Little Espinosa Inlet west (bcmarinetrails.org) The launch was easy and as we paddled out of the little inlet, it reminded me of Johnson Lagoon on South Brooks Peninsula. Exploring Johnson Lagoon | Nature Photography by Martin Ryer (mryerblog.com)

As we left Little Espinosa Inlet and entered Espinosa Inlet, we were faced with turbulent waters and high winds coming from the south, very much impeding our progress. We made it 70% of the way down the inlet and to our intended destination before taking a break at a little beach located here: 49.889952, -126.917817. I have dubbed this beach, “Kolebaba Beach” and have recommended it’s use to BC Marine Trails by completing a site assessment report on Knack.

After taking a break on “Kolebaba Beach” our group decided to carry on to Garden Point and cross over Esperenza Inlet, as the winds had diminished. The crossing was enjoyable and we were met with gentle ocean swell breaking through on the northwest side of Center Island. We arrived at mid tide which required long walks up the east end of the point to make camp.

Some notes and considerations if you’re visiting this location:

  • High winds can funnel up and down Espinosa Inlet, potentially assisting you on the water or requiring you to get off the water. There’s locations to safely land along the east side of the inlet and wait out the winds but aside from “Kolebaba Beach” they’re not great and wouldn’t make for ideal camping if the winds did not diminish.
  • A lot of recreational and commercial fishing boat activity occurs just off Garden Point, disrupting the scenic views and natural surroundings and presenting a serious hazard if one was to attempt crossing in the fog.
  • Black Bears are present in the area and there’s been reports of Wolves. The Black Bear we encountered on the beach was respectful of our presence, as we were to his. Hang your food! More information about recreating in Black Bear country can be found here: Staying Safe in Bear Country – BC Parks
  • This is a fairly highly used area to access Nuchatlitz Provincial Park – BC Parks, no toilet facilities were observed but the construction of one has been recommended to BC Marine Trails.
  • At mid or low tides, the carrying of gear and kayaks is absolutely dreadful on the east side of the point. Admittedly, even with paddling partners to help, it was exhausting. Plan your landing and launches accordingly and if possible, consider making camp on the west side of the beach as there’s both forested and bluff camping opportunities available.
  • Brodick Creek intersects the east and west sides of the point and offers clean, fresh drinking water.
  • Jeff found a tree stump, filled with water and mud here: 49.845828, -126.899530, if one was interested in having a truly natural “bath.”
  • Local recreation fishing boats and their occupants by no means are interested in sharing any of their catch.
“KOLEBABA BEACH”

ALWAYS REMEMBER THE BC MARINE TRAILS CODE OF CONDUCT

July 23rd, 2021 – North of Campbell River. T090C is a large female Transient Orca.

I spent a wonderous 5 days camping and sea kayaking in Johnstone Strait between July 16th and July 20th. I made Spy Hop Beach my basecamp. It’s located just west of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve.

On the afternoon of the 17th, a pod of Northern Resident Orca passed right by my beach and later than evening, also a Humpback Whale. On the afternoon of July 19th I was visited by another pod, including “Springer” and her two calves, “Spirit” and “Storm.” Springer is one of the most famous Orca in the World and it was an honor to meet her and her offspring. One of the calves actually breached in front of my kayak.

You can learn more about Springers amazing story here:

Surprisingly, it’s been nearly two years since I’ve paddled and camped solo. My intent was to spend a few nights in the Pearse Islands and conduct some site assessment work for BC Marine Trails. Once I got out on the water from Telegraph Cove, and turned the corner, conditions were less than ideal for the crossing. Instead, I decided to leisurely paddle down to Blinkhorn Peninsula. Landings are possible on either side of the peninsula, I opted for the east side as it offered broad views down Johnstone Strait, should any marine wildlife be approaching. This is a Recreation Sites and Trails BC site, equipped with a picnic table and compositing toilet. I had the entire beach to myself for the 3 nights that I visited. I didn’t get to see any Orca but I was treated to mostly good weather, some warm wind and some rain but nothing that dampened my spirits.

A highlight from the visit was likely the day that I departed. It had rained heavily overnight and a large waterfall formed near my campsite. A great deal of water was pouring down from the mountain and landing in the ocean. I made a point to paddle over and appreciate the scene. It was raining lightly but as I approached the Bauza and Wastell islets, I was treated to some of best coastal morning light that I have ever encountered.

I recall my friend John Kimantas once telling me that he camped here and had problems with Mice. Fortunately, the only thing I encountered were slugs right outside my tent.

On May 15th, myself Martin Ryer and two guides from Grey Wolf Expeditions, Dan Whalen and “Wild Bill Elliott” not only managed to get inside Johnson Lagoon, but we made it all the way back to the end and we completed a circumnavigation. It’s very unlikely that any Sea Kayaker has ever done this.

Johnson Lagoon is located on South Brooks Peninsula. A large body of water flows in and out of the narrow opening, so you have to time things perfectly with the slack tide, otherwise it can be very dangerous. The Lagoon is surrounded by towering mountains on either side which can funnel heavy winds. There’s several small beaches or estuaries that can be reached, mostly on the north side that would be feasible for camping. A small waterfall exists as well on the south side of the Lagoon. It was very special to visit a place that has seldom been explored.

A big thanks goes out to Jaclyn Allison from KCFN Marina and Campground in Fair Harbour for helping to arrange Water Taxi transportation for us out to “The Bunsbys.” We definitely want to tip our paddles to Tony Hanson from Siiqaa Water Taxi. Tony is very friendly, knowledgeable and most of all, reliable. He made sure we got dropped off and picked up on time and safely. If you’re planning any remote drop off or pickup in the greater Kyuquot area, I highly recommend Tony. He has in depth local knowledge and his rates are very reasonable.

Lastly, I had two great paddling companions! Dan and “Wild Bill” were both class acts and it was great to share this adventure and experience with them.

Great Horned Owls are fierce predators that can take large prey, including raptors such as Ospreys, Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons, and other owls. They also eat much smaller items such as rodents, and frogs. I was able to photograph these Owls on April 19th, including an Owlet.

I have dreamed about some of these images I was able to capture, April 15th-17th, 2021.

Today I got to meet T002C5 – a new calf born in December, 2020. It’s not yet known if this is a he/she but this little calf was definitely frisky!

I spent the last few days paddling and camping in “The Copeland Islands” with a couple friends, including former BC Marine Trails Communications Co-Chair, Kirsten Hathaway. This was my first time visiting this area. I’ve been meaning to so now for awhile. Also, joining us was Jeff Kolebaba, an individual new to Sea Kayaking. I was quite impressed with Lund, it’s a charming little place.

Parking is footsteps from the launch, only costs $6 to launch and $10 per day for parking. Lots of amenities are also within footsteps in case you need any last minute provisions. It’s all quite convenient.

Our first day of paddling consisted of working against 15-20kt winds and as a result it took us 2.5 hours to get to camp – on middle Copeland Island. We arrived, unscathed and were happy with how well Jeff did. The landing isn’t optimal at lower tides but we made out okay.

On day 2, we were battered by 35kt winds and just stayed at camp. It actually snowed overnight too but we woke to a beautiful sunny and calm morning on day 3. We explored the north Copeland Island campsite(s) which were beautiful. I plan to go back in mid April. We were all pretty excited by the sunny day and location and were in a celebratory mood. Kirsten came up with a great idea, as we were running a bit low on “refreshments.” So, we called around in Lund and had a person with a boat deliver us 24 cans of beer, some cider and even a pint of Vodka as both Jeff and I have Ukrainian lineage. So, for a mere $175 including delivery, we considered it a good deal.

Our paddle back to Lund on the 23rd was blissful and after getting all packed up, we even had time for some wonderful fish and chips at the Boardwalk Restaurant before departing to our respective ferries. You must go here: Dining in Lund, British Columbia (boardwalkrestaurantpowellriverlund.com)

I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking but I do want to give kudos to Jeff for dismantling and cleaning up a fire ring on middle Copeland Island. Fires are not permitted on these islands but yet some still defy the rules. Please everyone, be responsible. Find out more about the Copelands here: Copeland Islands Marine Provincial Park – BC Parks

All loaded and packed up, the night before departing to Powell River / Lund – via Comox:

Launching from Lund:

Middle Copeland Island Campsite:

Jeff, cleaning up the fire ring:

Exploring North Copeland Islands Campsite:

Working the phones for “refreshments”:

Delivery:

The sun setting on our last night:

Back in Lund:

And lastly – a testament to Jeff:

John Benson

I recently became acquainted with First nations Artist, John Benson. John is graciously commissioning two pieces for me, reflecting the Vancouver Island Mountain Lion. “The Cougar” is rarely depicted in First Nations art. I’m very excited. Contact me via email if you would like to get in touch with John.