All of us have that one trip which floats in the back of our minds, teasing and enticing us to take a week and immerse ourselves into the wonderous expanses of nature either in our backyards or halfway across the globe. TRAK Pilot Duncan Bray's trip was Desolation Sound for quite some time. "I had always heard so much about how pretty it is up there. From my home in Vancouver it's relatively accessible, but far way enough to need to trust in my skills and knowledge." "I was looking for a few days of remoteness..."
With that, Duncan set out to prepare for his adventure. He mapped out the campsites in the area, and identified Secret Cove as his first stop. Knowing he wanted to explore the Curme Islands helped to craft his route, and allowed him to prepare a Trip Plan with the Adventure Smart App. His trip plan was also shared with two friends, a prudent step for any multiday adventure!
This trip was also a good opportunity for him to practice his food prep, "I actually bought a dehydrator and made some of my own food at home. Dehydrated chili worked out really well! I rounded it out with nearly 20L of drinking water - everything I'd need for the trip plus a few days for security"
Making his way up to Lund, BC was easy enough from Vancouver with his supplies and TRAK kayak stored in its travel bag. The route entails two ferry crossings, and storing the boat inside his vehicle saved costs and kept the TRAK secure. Arriving later in the day, he'd put in to begin his journey.
He had the tide with him, which would've been a stroke of luck if not for the fact that Duncan had reviewed all of the weather forecasts and tide tables before departing Vancouver.
He made good time northward out of Penrose Bay, toward Feather Cove where he would settle for night 1. Harbour Seal flanked him on this first leg, playing in the surf and trailing in his wake, in a curious pursuit. Duncan quickly covered the 13km up the inlet spotting a mother black bear and her 3 cubs. "I rounded the point just as the sun was setting, and discovered a beautiful campsite. The views were incredible, with nearly 270 degrees from the point. As it was getting dark I was grateful to have had an LED light string to help me set up."
Starting the morning with coffee and a beautiful sunrise. Another 13km paddle brought him to the Curme Islands, and he spent the day enjoying the area and exploring all the tiny coves and inlets. A south facing campsite awaited Duncan on night two, high above on the bluffs. "I used a trick with the TRAK Expedition Bags... packing them with my gear I rolled the bag ends up as usual and then clipped two together, forming a sort of yoke that I could wear on my shoulders. Makes it much easier to carry all of my kit!".
Time to push into Desolation Sound to the NE. Setting off in the morning Duncan spied some Orca off in the distance through a monocular. Paddling up the coast, he found some park rangers who confirmed the Transient Pod Orca were hunting porpoise offshore. After stopping for a quick lunch break at the northern most end of his journey, he set off again. This was a much longer day, and he really got into his groove... "It was a sort of flow state. Everything else faded, it was just myself, the boat, the water and my paddle stroke. Moment to moment my only concern was where I would place my paddle next. It was wonderful to have a fully cleared mind, just me, the whales and the water."
Pressing on, Duncan completed the 24km day arriving back to Feather Cove where he began Day 2 and settled in for a well deserved rest. "It was a really wonderful place, listening to the whales blowing throughout the night as they cruised past my campsite. It was magical."
After a leisurely morning - with coffee of course - he paddled back down the inlet to the launch where his journey began. Back to civilization, returning from the remoteness in his backyard and rejuvenated from the time spent connected to the water in this beautiful wilderness.
"It was a wonderful trip for a number of reasons. I was able to plan reasonably well and I had all the right gear. A few paddlers laughed actually because I was in my full dry suit the entire trip despite a very warm September, but it would make the difference if I ended up in the water."
"I also had the good fortune to have learnt a ton about kayaking and the TRAK specifically from Cole Wilde during a TRAK Trip to Lasqueti Island a few years ago. I was a BCU 1 / 2 paddler in the UK, and I thought 'I'm fine I can paddle.' but I never really used those skills, the way we did on that trip."
After his successful Desolation Sound trip, Duncan needed a new trip to occupy that place in his mind, and he was quick with an answer "I'd love to do some bigger challenges, like paddling between Victoria BC and Bellingham WA. I'm planning to head out to Bowen Island soon to practice in some more challenging conditions, but also am looking forward to meeting up with some of the local TRAK Pilots in the Vancouver area for day paddles."
With a laugh, Duncan added "Maybe one day I'll be able to run the Skookumchuck Narrows in my TRAK... we'll see!"
All photography courtesy of Duncan Bray, Vancouver based TRAK Pilot. He loves paddling with other kayaking enthusiasts and beginners - get in touch for a test paddle or day trip with him!
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