Skip to content

Winter paddling adventures off Tofino, Clayoquot Sound

November 12, 2018

LP1100160Here’s a secret about Tofino: Some of the best sea kayaking here is over the winter months! We often get a high pressure system sitting just off the coast – which leads to crisp, sunny, windless days. The swell might still be big, so you can’t land your kayak easily at beaches exposed to the surf – but you can sure get out on the water! And that’s what Dave and I did yesterday – experienced the best of Clayoquot Sound from the water!

Dave and I had never paddled a double kayak together before. We wanted to try it out – and, since we were only going out for a day paddle, rather than use up short daylight hours loading/unloading our singles from the truck, we got a rental boat from Tofino Sea Kayaking Co. (where I used to work as a sea kayak guide!).

LP1100147

It was just on low tide when we launched, so we first headed out towards the open ocean as the flood current started to build.

LP1100156

Then we looped around Lennard Island. I don’t think I have ever seen the seas this flat out here! Then we caught the flood current in, along the shores of Echachist and Wickaninnish Island, past the village of Opitsaht, and up Lemmens Inlet, Meares Island.

LP1090552

Yay – Dave even took a picture of me! (Being the photographer, I don’t usually get many pictures of myself – especially nice ones!)

LP1100181

There’s a little secret spot I wanted to check out (I actually have a lot of “secret spots” in Clayoquot Sound) where two small salmon streams – creeks, really – come out into a quiet little bay. I remembered that the salmon runs here were quite late, so I wanted to go and see if we could see the fish going up.

LP1100179

Turns out we had just missed the fish – but not by much. There were bear trails all through the forest here – well used! – and lots of bear poops out on the estuary, and salmon scraps littered throughout the forest. (That’s why these salmon-river ecosystems are so rich and productive: because of all of the natural fish fertilizer the bears spread through the rainforest). So, we had missed the spawn – but not by much. As you can see, the rainforest here was just so beautiful – so wild, so serene – that we were just happy to be here, salmon or not.

LP1100203

We were travelling so fast (double kayaks go much faster than singles, and we are both quite strong paddlers – oh, and we had the optimum tides for this route) that we even had time to paddle farther up the inlet, to historic Adventure Cove, before turning around and heading back to Tofino. Here we are just after 4pm, almost sunset… a great six hours on the water.

Advertisements

Royal Canadian Geographical Society AGM and dinner, 2018

November 2, 2018

I’m just in from the RCGS AGM and dinner, held yesterday here in Ottawa. It’s a long way for me to travel. However, as much as you can keep up with what’s going on with people’s lives and projects online, there is nothing like making connections, hearing people’s stories, and maintaining relationships in person.

LsqshP1100144Here I am with my oldest buddy in the world, adventurer and cave diver extraordinaire, Jill Heinerth and her husband, the multi-talented Rober McClellan (writer and so much more). Jill and I have known each other since we were three years old! Which means that we have known each other for, well, a long time.

As Robert noted, we scrub up pretty well!

For more about the happenings of the day, check out this article: Eight awesome things that happened at the 2018 RCGS Fellows Dinner.

North America’s highest waterfall: Della Falls and Love Lake in a day

September 9, 2018

LP1090924Just in from what might be the last adventure of this summer! Dave and I fastpacked in to Della Falls and Love Lake on Monday. (Fastpacking is the best of ultrarunning and backpacking combined: the route we did is normally a 3 to 5 day backpacking trip). We go fast and far – but our packs are light!

I’m not really sure what the total distance was – something between 40 and 50 km, with a net elevation gain of just under 1200 m (Love Lake is at 1240 m, and we started at Great Central Lake which is around 90 m). This route is all within Strathcona Provincial Park, central Vancouver Island.

We were especially grateful for the blue skies, after such a smoky few weeks. And the weather couldn’t have been better: mostly sunny, not too hot and not too cold. Here are some pix – enjoy!

LP1090867

We launched Dave’s boat in the dark, and made it to the trailhead at the west end of the lake before 7am.

LP1090874

The first few hours are fairly easy – a relatively flat and straight trail, only a very gradual uphill – until around here, where it becomes a bit more twisty and rugged.

LP1090896

Della Falls, in the background had very little water going over it – it’s been such a hot and dry summer. (And yes, we packed a tripod so I could get these pix of both of us).

LP1090918

Love Lake. The first time we came up here together (seven years ago to the day) the lake was still frozen solid. Yes, in September! Which means it never thawed that whole year!

LP1090903

So nice to get up to the alpine. We are so lucky to have so many great trails near home.

LP1090927

Then we descended back down from Love Lake and the alpine, and headed upstream to the base of the falls. There was a bit more water coming over the other branch (to the left of this photo, but no trail to get over there) but very little coming down here.

LP1090937

And then back to the boat just on dark. Our time on the trail was 12:46, but that includes stops for the photos (with the tripod and the timer, so they take a while) and a nice relaxing break up at Love Lake. It is raining now as I post this – glad we made it in there when we did!

Megin watershed kayak trip

August 29, 2018

LP1090046

I’m very lucky to own two Feathercraft folding sea kayaks. I bought my first one well over 20 years ago, a gift to myself for completing my PhD. My mom bought one a few years later – and, last year at age 87, she finally agreed she probably wouldn’t be using hers much more, and she gave it to me.

LP1090573

Which means that Dave and I now have two folding boats! So here are pix from our first expedition together – taking advantage of the fact that we can pack these kayaks into a float plane. We flew in to Megin Lake, northern Clayoquot Sound (Vancouver Island, BC), and descended the Megin River to the ocean and paddled back to Tofino – the whole trip taking a week.

LP1090577

This summer was the 30th anniversary of the Sulphur Passage blockades and protests that ultimately saved the Megin watershed. It is the largest remaining intact watershed on all of Vancouver Island! Being so fortunate to travel it allowed me the opportunity to see first-hand the value of this intact and pristine watershed – from the diversity of the wildlife to the massive size of the old-growth trees!

LP1090614

Above is one many giant cedars on the shores of Megin Lake, and below is me bumping my loaded kayak down the many shallows in the river (it was a very hot and dry summer – and you can see from the photos that we were affected by all the smoke from the wildfires that were ravaging the province).

LP1090090

I feel intense gratitude to the people who dropped what was going on in their lives in 1988 to attend the blockades.

In so many of these environmental “fights”, a win is just temporary – the logging company or mining company or government agency will just come back and then they have to fight the fight all over again (whereas a loss is forever, the area they were fighting to protect is destroyed, and there is no reason to come back for a second fight). But in the case of the Megin, the watershed became designated as an addition to Strathcona Provincial Park – preserved for real!

LP1090710

LIMG_0094.jpg

The photos above are emerging at the mouth of the Megin into the saltwater of Shelter Inlet, and then the evening view from our first oceanside campsite at Shark Creek.

LP1090806

Our final three days were spent navigating the ocean in fog, and then camping on the surf-washed sand beaches of Flores and Vargas Islands.

LIMG_0512

Here’s the Bob Bossin song No Pasarán – the anthem of those protectors of Clayoquot and the Megin, from back in those days. I still get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes every time I hear it – thank you to all of you!

My TEDx talk: You are not normal!

May 14, 2018

Lsq39939052920_135098203c_oOK, I know that’s not a normal kind of title. Let me explain…

One of the things that I love the most about my training in the Earth Sciences (PhD in Geology) is that it has given me a deep understanding of time. It really broadens how I think of things.

So instead of asking, “What is normal for how human beings live?” with a “now” kind of implied in there… I ask what is normal for humans over the entire time that our species has existed. Not just what seems normal now.

 

Add to that the fact that I lived for several years as a squatter, in a tiny little cabin in the woods, which gave LcP1090117me a very different perspective about what we actually need to live (and be happy), as opposed to what we now consider we must have in order to be normal.

So that’s the basis of my TEDx talk, delivered at the fantastically organized TEDxChilliwack event on April 14, 2018. My aim is just to get people to think about these things in a somewhat different way. Here’s the video, hope you like it (and if you do, I would appreciate it if you help get my message out by sharing it!)

 

New anthology: In the Company of Animals

October 21, 2014

In the Company of Animals Book coverEVENTS THIS WEEK:

West coast book tour for In the Company of Animals, Feb. 25-27, with venues in Victoria, Port Alberni and Tofino!

A selection of our west coast contributors will be reading at:
Bateman Centre, Victoria, Wed. Feb 25 (starting 7:30 pm)
Char’s Landing, Port Alberni, Thurs. Feb 26 7pm
Darwin’s Café, Tofino, Fri. Feb 27, doors open 7pm for appies and “meet’n’greet,” readings at 8pm
________
In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters
Nimbus, 2014, 282 p.
ISBN 978-1-77108-224-2
$22.95
_________

Here’s an anthology that I am very happy to have contributed to: In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters, published by Nimbus Publishing.

This book has been in the work for years. Editor Pam Chamberlain has compiled true stories, written by a total of 37 Canadian writers, of exceptional and unusual relationships we have had with animals: both domestic and wild.

My contribution is called Frogality. It’s an essay about Kermit, a Pacific treefrog who I raised from egg to tadpole to adult. I had Kermit for a total of nine years – not at all what I expected would ever happen the evening I rescued a little mass of frog eggs from a wheel rut on an active construction site.

(And, by the way, for all of those people who think I am not a very original frog-namer: I had eleven little tadpoles-turned-frogs, and only one of them grew to look like the famous muppet, and so was named for him. It just happens that she ended up being the frog I kept. Spot and Stripe and Juancho and Pancho and the rest were all returned to the wild).

It’s so easy for us to think that small animals, especially cold-blooded and slow-moving ones like frogs and salamanders, don’t have much of an “interior” life or much intention in their actions. But over my years with Kermit, I had the opportunity to gain some insight on what a frog’s perception of the world is. And to ponder: just as there are things that we know that a frog could never come close to grasping, are there things that the frog knows that are beyond reach for us. What does the frog know?

LDSCN7182I have to admit, most of the other authors’ stories are about relationships that are somewhat more conventional than mine with Kermit. Christine Lowther, who lives in a floathouse off Tofino, writes about a seal she befriended. Farley Mowat relates the passing of his old dog. Victoria writer Anny Scoones tells of her friendship with a pig.

As I write this blog post, the book is only just off the presses. As the season turns cold and wet and dark, I look forward to settling in with it, and to reading the other authors’ stories. This book will definitely be on my Christmas-present list for this year, the perfect gift for many of my animal-loving friends. If you want to purchase a copy, you can find it in at any bookstore (in Canada) or ask them to order it in, or you can order it directly from Nimbus, or you can order it directly from me (It’s $22.95, plus shipping/GST).

The English edition of Hai kur mamashu chis / Book tour dates

August 16, 2013

WeShisEnglish first published Hai kur mamashu chis as a bilingual Spanish/English edition in Chile in 2005. That print run soon sold out. I am pleased to announce that we were able to republish it as an illustrated English-language edition here in North America for the fall of 2013.

Hai kur mamášu čis, or “I want to tell you a story,” is how the Yagán (or Yámana) people of southernmost Patagonia used to refer to their story-telling.
Hai kur mamášu čis is the time when the birds used to be humans, and perhaps also the time before there was an understanding of all that exists, of even ourselves. The deeds in these stories – the values and anti-values, the tricks and heroic actions – all lead to the transformations, to the idea of some sort of beginning.
Hai kur mamášu čis is ancient wisdom, stories passed down orally since the beginning of time by the ancestors, and passed down today through the voices of the grandmothers Úrsula Calderón and Cristina Calderón.

The grand launch of the book took place at the de Young Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco in September, with tour dates following across the country through winter 2013-2014:

2013

San Francisco, September 6th, de Young Museum of fine arts, event info

Toronto, November 14th, Ben McNally Books, event info

New York, November 18th,  Explorer’s Club, event info

Regina, November 22nd, Sakewewak Artists’ Collective, event info

Calgary, November 25th, Shelf Life Books, event info

Vancouver, November 27th, Banyen Books, event info

2014

Los Angeles (Santa Ana), January 25th, 2014, Bowers Museum, event info

Nanaimo, Sunday April 13, Harbourfront Library 2pm

Port Alberni, Monday April 14, Char’s Landing, 8pm

Tofino, Wednesday April 16, Darwin’s Café, 8pm

Seattle, Saturday April 26, Barnes & Noble Pacific Place, 2-6pm

Click for more info about the book: Hai kur mamashu chis: I want to tell you a story