It’s a Tough Life

It’s a Tough Life
Mom often asks, “When are you going to take a normal holiday?” By that, I think she might mean go to a resort and lie on the beach. Well, that’s what we do. Kinda.

Usually, we’re out of bed at 5:30 or 6 a.m. to paddle our 15-25 daily kilometres and get off the water before the winds rise.

Early morning calm

While KJ puts away the kitchen, arranges food for lunch and prepares breakfast (tea and bagels with cheese for her and PBJ and a cup of milk from powdered milk for me), I take down the tent, stuff the sleeping bag (we share a double) and compress the thermarest sleeping pads. Then, after a quick breakfast, we carry the gear and canoe down to the water, load the canoe and by 7 a.m., we’re paddling. By noon, or 1 p.m. at the latest, we’re at the new camp.

Then comes the resort part of the day. Nap, read, explore, sit on the beach, collect sea shells, look at intertidal life, go for a walk, rinse and repeat.

As the day comes to a close, we prepare dinner. Kitchens are interesting places.

KJ cooking on Triquet Island NE

BTW, we don’t do the dehydrated stuff. It’s not Downton Abbey, but it is fairly elaborate because we enjoy the process and the delight in eating good home-cooked food. We bring fresh frozen fish and bagged salad for the first night and for almost every dinner, we have sautéed vegetables and brown minute rice or quick cooking pasta or gnocchi with sauce. Other staples include fried tofu, canned salmon or tuna and even falafel. Dessert consists of a bar of dark chocolate or canned fruit. 


The dining rooms are always splendid.

Eating dinner on a log dining table in the bay behind Cultus Sound

By 9:30 or 10 p.m., we’re in our cozy bed, in our comfy tent, ready for another day.

So, as you see, camping is just like being at a resort except there’s no room service.

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Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics
Day 0: Port Hardy
We stayed at the Backpackers Hostel in Port Hardy. We dropped off the canoe, a Kevlar Clipper Tripper with our North Water spray deck and other gear in the morning, returned to the Hostel, dropped off the car (free parking) and took the $8 shuttle back to the ferry terminal in time for the check in 2 hours before departure on the M.V. Northern Expedition. At the terminal, we loaded our gear into the container (with labels), put the canoe onto a rack and handed the propane for our stoves to a ferry worker for the voyage–mandatory.

Route Map with Campsites

Day 1: Hose Point
Once the ferry arrived at McLoughlin Bay (3 km from Bella Bella), we unloaded the canoe from the rack just metres from the gentle shore, loaded it up and canoed to Hose Point.

Day 2: Quinoot Point
Then, we paddled down Boddy Narrows to Quinoot Point, where we found water from a stream just 500 metres north.

Day 3: Isle 55
On day 3, we stopped at Isle 55–look for the black buoy in the bay.

Day 4 & 5: Cultus Sound
We stopped next at No Name Islet, ( 52° 0’13.69″N, 128°15’7.10″W) but by late afternoon, the tide looked like it might flood the beach site. So, we continued on to Cultus Sound–a busy place.

Day 6: Serpent Islands
We spent an extra day there, then went around Superstition Point and camped at Serpent Islands. That is a fantastic site.

Day 7: Calvert Island
Our next stop was North Beach on Calvert Island after fumbling our way down Kilditt Sound and across Hakai Passage, almost all in heavy mist with minimal visability. We also stopped by the Hakai Fishing Lodge, where we stocked up on water, hiked to West Beach and to the Hakai Research Institute (there’s water there too, but be warned, it’s a long carry back to North Beach).

Day 8 & 9: Triquet Island NE
The following day,we launched precariously but successfully into the waves on North Beach, crossed Hakai Passage in a complete fog (hurray for my Garmin 64s GPS!) and went up Edward Channel, stopping for a quick look at the nice campsite in a north facing bay just a couple of kms up. We then headed west in Nalau Passage to Kilditt Sound, crossed to Serpents for lunch and ended the day a the Triquet Island NE, where we spent a delightful two nights.

Day 10: Swordfish Bay
On our third to last day, we headed to Cultus Sound, but were stymied by big waves and swells just before Supersition Point. We did see a group of kayakers paddling in those swells, wind and waves, but it was too much for us in the canoe as we were alone and thus, the risks were too great. We pulled into Swordfish Bay, hunted around and found a delightful sandy camp just at the southern bay/drying area.

Day 11: Isle 145
Very early the next morning, we crossed Superstition Point in calmer conditions, restocked on water in Cultus Sound in the large bay just east of the campsite and stopped for the day at Isle 145, a beautiful shell midden beach.

Day 12: Bella Bella
Our last day involved a pleasant 17 km paddle back to the ferry terminal at McLoughlin Bay. Once there, we rearranged our gear for the ferry and went to town–literally. Read the story about how we got to there!

On the Ferry
Once on the ferry, we paid $5 each for a hot shower, ate dinner, watched for whales (saw several) and watched a movie in the theatre.

Port Hardy
Back at Port Hardy, the shuttle picked me up, drove me to the hostel where I picked up the car, drove back to the ferry, retrieved our propane from the storage area, loaded up the gear and canoe and drove back to the inn for a relaxing night in a real bed.

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