We've been out here kayaking and camping in the Bunsby Islands area for five days now, and it's starting to feel a bit like a small town.
While we're over 20 miles from the nearest road, there are few enough kayakers out here and it's a small enough area that we all seem to bump in to each other every now and then between days of solitude. Which, if you're a somewhat sociable person like me, adds to the fun of a trip up here.
Today we're heading out from the Bunsbys to the Cuttle Islets off the Acous Peninsula with Bill, a veteran solo kayaker from Calgary who's here for the third summer in a row. Serina and Lennie, a friendly young couple and guides for West Coast Expeditions we met a few days ago, are taking their group out there too. Of course Serina knows Bill from previous summers here.
With Bill leading us, we cut out to the open ocean past Green Head just off Checkaklis Island on the outer edge of the Bunsbys. We're fortunate to have such a sunny mild day, with only mellow ocean swells to navigate during the 1.4-mile crossing to the Cuttles.
|Green Head is the...uh...prominent rock formation in the middleground.|
Within 30 minutes or less, we've arrived at our home for tonight, a forest-thatched island with an expansive beach facing a tidal lagoon and views of the truly wild and remote Brooks Peninsula to the northwest. (I had to Google the difference between and islet and an island....with significant vegetation, this qualifies as an island.)
|Brave soul in the tidal lagoon.|
|Yes, he dove in.|
|Presunset paddle in one of the protected lagoons at Acous Peninsula.|
|Enjoying evening dusk, peaks of the Brooks Peninsula in the distance.|
|Rising of the "Thunder Moon."|
|Lennie and Serina Allison, West Coast Expeditions guides.|
Then we explore the shoreline of historic Battle Bay, once the site of a thriving native village and now tribal reserve land. While much of the bay is off-limits to camping, we make a quick lunch stop at the outlet of a small river flowing into the bay before heading back across open water to the Bunsby Islands.
One of the things I love about the Bunsbys are the picturesque little coves tucked along the island shorelines at lower tides. Before exploring the quiet and enchanting inner waterway between Big Bunsby Island and Vancouver Island, we take a short break in a little tidal cove in the shade. I could have stayed there all afternoon (or until the rising tide chased us away).
Far too soon it's our last night in paradise, and we're back at the beach where we were dropped off 6 days ago on Barney's Island. A new kayak group is here, a privately led trip of about a dozen "Bellinghamsters," and it's hard to find a place to squeeze our tent. Perhaps this is a way of getting re-acclimated to life back on the grid tomorrow.
Bill builds a fire on the beach, and as another gorgeous moon rises, we watch the fire hiss and throw off steam like an erupting volcano as it's inundated by the rising tide.
|Looks and feels like serenity.|
As we speed away from the islands, leaving a foamy white trail of wake as we go, it amazes me how quickly we cruise through an area that took us almost 7 hours to kayak. After a week traveling only at the pace of our paddle strokes, the speed is jarring.
It also strikes me how quickly we cruise through our lives, seldom slowing down enough to listen, observe, and live by the rhythms of nature and the sea. I feel nourished by this time off the grid in this special place.
That said, I thoroughly appreciated my first hot shower and fresh green salad in a week when we got back to Campbell River. :)
When You Go
The Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve can only be reached by boat or float plane, which makes it an ideal sea kayaking destination. My first two posts about this trip (links at top of this post) describe how we got up here and shows a map of this area.
While it takes some careful planning and logistics to do a multi-day kayak camping trip in this area, I'm proof that you don't have to be a hard-core "surf ranger" to do it. West Coast Expeditions, which is the only outfitter based in the Kyuquot area (on Spring Island), leads guided trips up here. I'd like to go back next year and go farther to explore the Brooks Peninsula.