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Friday, June 22, 2012

Got water? Go kayak!


Celebrating 10 years of marriage to the funny guy.

Summer is the perfect time to adventure on water with kayaks.  Lakes, rivers or the ocean...anything will do.  The best part is spending time with someone special.  Although be sure you really do like your paddling partner if kayaking in a double ortherwise one of you may end up overboard.  A great kayak trip suitable for both beginners and novice kayakers on Vancouver Island is Blue Heron Park (In Yellowpoint) to Blackberry Point (on Valdes Island).  Now that summer is here, start thinking about that kayak trip and make it happen!  Last year we paddled the route to celebrate our 10 yr wedding anniversary. 

Anniversary Adventure

The first few paddles were surreal.  Kayaking calm waters with blue skies and scenic landscapes reminded me just how special the Gulf Islands are. Joel and I were celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary with a two day kayak trip, solo this time, leaving Thing One and Thing Two behind.  We paddled out of Blue Heron Park in Yellow Point and headed towards Blackberry Point on Valdes Island.  I knew our trip was going to be full of new adventures and exciting discoveries but never expected to feel so comfortable on the water.  We easily settled into a synchronized paddle on the tandem kayak.  Few words were exchanged but there really was nothing to say.  Our surroundings said it all until someone’s tummy began to rumble.  It was unanimously agreed that an islet in the Ruxton Passage would make a perfect lunch spot. 

Tummies full of smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel sandwiches; we departed Ruxton Island satisfied and eager to paddle across Pylades Channel.  Ahead of us was Valdes Island and some of the most spectacular sandstone formations in the region.  The intricate designs and caves carved into the sandstone, created thousands of years ago by winter storms are impressive.  We drifted for some time, admiring the exposed green anemones while passing underneath cliffs hanging over us.  Magical is the only way to describe it.  Seeing Blackberry Point far off in the distance, we put the paddles back to work leaving nature’s art display behind.

Paddling towards the sandstone formations on Valdes Island.

 Setting up camp was unbelievably fast.  Just one tent required versus the usual two, plus no little ones distracting us.  This free time should not be wasted, so off we went to explore Valdes Island and hopefully discover the caves we had read about prior to our trip.  We passed by some fellow campers and struck up a conversation.  Joel asked if they had been to the caves yet.  As luck would have it, they had.  Turns out our fellow camper Peter is an outdoor education teacher who guides his students to Valdes Island on kayak trips regularly. He is not to be confused with Crazy Pete, who is the resident caretaker of some property on the south part of the island.  Initially Peter was not forthcoming with directions, nor did he recommend us explore the caves on our own.  Instead he gave us the once over, looked us up and down, and offered to take us there after supper with some other campers.  Peter was right.  The caves were not easy to find and there is no way Joel and I would have explored even 1/3 of what Peter showed us.  Getting to the caves involved hiking to the top of Mexicana Hill although I would not call it a hike exactly.  More like a crawl up and climb over boulders four times our size.  It was one of the funnest hikes I have been on in a long time.  At the top we took in a breathtaking (or catch our breath) view of Ruxton, Pylades, and Vancouver Island.  It was here Peter instructed us to drop our camera, packs, and anything else that may restrict us, put on the headlamps and “Follow me” he said.  

Crazy hike to the top of Mexicana Hill.

Follow me?  Where the heck was he going?  No sooner did I think this, than he crouched down, lowered his body between two rocks and disappeared from sight.  I had no time to be scared or back out now.  Peter assessed my physical condition earlier and I was not going to disappoint so in I went.  For the next hour Peter took us through 2 caves. I squeezed myself through small confining spaces and climbed up steep sections I never thought I could.  By the end of it all, I found myself sliding alongside the cool granite rock and manoeuvring around tight obstacles with ease.  It was scary and fun all at the same time.  After the hike back down, where butt scooting was the preferred method of travel, we thanked Peter for his generous time and went our separate ways.  The day was topped off with a sunset descending against a BC coastline.

Stunning view of Vancouver Island from Blackberry Point.

 The next morning’s agenda was pretty simple.  Eat, drink coffee and stare at the scenic landscape.  Again few words were exchanged because we each knew what awaited us.  Take down camp and paddle back home to reunite with Thing One and Thing Two.  Halfway home, we experienced a bit of excitement. We were approaching an exposed reef where dozens of Harbour Seals were sunning themselves.  I was admiring them and started to notice several seals slip into the water.  Minute’s later heads were popping up around us.  I was convinced they were executing some sort of tactical plan, ready to attack at a moments notice. Of course there was nothing to fear but I will admit to paddling a little faster after that.  If I was kayaking with anyone other then Joel, I would expect a sarcastic “What’s the rush?” comment.  Or be teased about my silly fears of seals invading the kayak.  After 10 year of marriage I knew he would keep those comments to himself and opt to smack his paddle on the water and splash me.  After 10 years of marriage, he knew I would flinch and scream.

It does not get any more beautiful than this!

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