Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Kayak Photography Trip to Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Canada

Desolation Sound in British Columbia, Canada, was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 while he was carefully surveying and charting the B.C. coast, in search of the mysterious Northwest passage and to claim the area territory for the crown. He stated "...there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye". Normally he named locations after people. Few places are so named here.

Today Desolation Sound is far from desolate. In the summer it is a bustling, busy place with every type and size of vessel plying it's waters. In the autumn, the rains really start settling in and most everyone leaves, leaving it quiet and peaceful. This is when I enjoy coming here.

Desolation Sound on the final day
Photography and kayaking are idyllic here; soaring granite mountains descending into the sea, beautiful forests, wildlife in the water and on the shore, interesting people close to the land and sea. I beg to differ with Captain Vancouver's assessment.

Goals are tempered by the vagaries of weather. Here in the Northwest, storms can come at any time, with the likelihood of challenging weather increasing as September comes to a close. Temperatures are falling, but hopes rise of the chance for beautiful snow on the upper peaks.

Jervis Inlet exhales in the morning, between storms

After weathering a few strong storms, a break came to paddle the oyster laden Okeover Inlet to Malaspina Inlet, camping at Hare Point, part of the Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park. I frightened a scrambling family of River Otters upon my arrival. No one else was there. A condition that remained for the duration of my visit.

Malaspina Inlet from Hare Point

Spending days waiting for the weather to improve, continuous entertainment was provided by Steller Sea Lions catching salmon. Sitting on the Point with my chair, camera and umbrella, I watched them chasing down, flinging, chomping and swallowing whole, large Chinook Salmon. Along with the Salmon attempting to head upsteam, every day 6-10 Sea Lions would arrive with the incoming current. The Harbor Seals were also making quite a showing. Bald Eagles watched from the trees.

Sea Lion Salmon breakfast at Malaspina Inlet
Stellar Sea Lions are big. Very big. Their heads are the same size as a Brown (Grizzly) Bear, and they have no shortage of very large, nasty looking teeth. They look especially large when they are grunting 10 feet from your little boat. They come right up to you, sometimes making rather loud blowing sounds, sometimes following you around, but they never felt seriously threatening, yet. They are big, fast and dangerous. I always talk to them. In times past, we were a major predator of them.

Large teeth 10 feet from my kayak-deemed curious, not threatening
 After a cold front past in the evening, there was some clearing in the morning, so I packed up and headed for the Curmie Islands, which were about 6 miles away. Greeted by a 15+ knot north head wind, there was also plenty of distance to the north for the wind to build a rather large sea. Hard paddling for 2 hours netted 1 mile of forward progress. The waves were reflecting off the cliffs beyond the headland to create quite a show of breaking waves and chaos, known as clapotis. Retreating from this growing concern brought relief, and I was back with my Sea Lion friends at Hare Point in 20 minutes. Time for chocolate.

Majestic Bald Eagle taking a rest

Milky Way from Malaspina Inlet
The next day was clear and beautifully calm. I paddled out a few miles to the main part of Desolation Sound to photograph the islands and Coast Mountains. It was infinitely easier than the day before. Fog banks created some very beautiful patterns.  Fresh water was a disappearing commodity at camp with no fresh water source nearby, so I needed to head back to Okeover. It was a long day of paddling, but a satisfying one. It was further enhanced by another delicious meal at the Laughing Oyster

Oyster boat on Desolation Sound in the early morning
 I explored some areas near Okeover Inlet that were recommended to me by first nation folks, then headed back via ferry to Jervis Inlet, making note of next year's destination, Hotham Sound. Paddled out to the photogenic Harbor Seals in Sechelt Inlet, then out to Jervis Inlet for the wonderful peaks descending into the depths of the sea. 

No snow on the peaks this trip. Guess I'll have to return!

Harbor Seals at Sechelt Inlet

Soaring peaks in Jervis Inlet
A collection of images can be seen here>>