Over the Easter four day weekend I embarked on a kayaking trip with my friends Matt and Mathew. Last year during the Easter long weekend we had kayaked Kennedy Lake (Links 1, 2, 3) and had amazing weather, so I was optimistic about a repeat. The weather forecast was not optimistic, and the sun we had been having on Vancouver Island all week leading up to the long weekend was going to end on Friday, the start of the weekend 🙁 The forecast predicted overcast weather all weekend, strong winds, and periods of rain. This resulted in two of our friends dropping out of the trip at the last minute.
If it’s the weather you fear and plan your weekend around, you will rarely find yourself adventuring on Vancouver Island.
We launched out of Cedar on Friday morning to sunny skies and light but persistent south east winds. We had to do a little low tide portage between Link and De Courcy Islands and then crossed to Valdes. On the north west side of Valdes Island are the most beautiful wind eroded cliffs which rise straight up out of the ocean upwards to 100 metres. As we passed the cliffs at low tide we were treated to close viewing of a number of sea creatures hanging off the rock face including starfish, anemones, crabs and various plant life.
We paddled out to Blackberry Point in Valdes island and made camp. Blackberry Point is a super spot, really close to Vancouver Island but feels like miles away. The shell and white sand beach at Blackberry Point is amazing. It is also west facing so you can plan for great sunsets and afternoon sun. On the first evening we had a sweet sunset and a fantastic campfire.
The following day we set out for Dionisio Point and Wallace Island Marine Provincial Park. On route we explored the remains of an encampment which had some trailers, vehicles and household items strewn about. There had not been people living here in decades but it appeared this was once an active thriving village or retreat for a large group. The houses and cars were being reclaimed by the earth! The abandoned village left me with an eerie feeling and I tried to imagine the conditions under which the houses and vehicles were abandoned on the island and where the inhabitants ended up.
We continued on towards Dionisio Point which is on the north end of Galiano Island. The south end of Valdes lines right up with the north end of Galiano and forms a channel which is the gateway to the Gulf Islands. The currents run fiercely though here as the tide ebbs and flows. If you do not live near the sea, I am sure you can not imagine what happens in a narrow passage such as this when the tide is fully ebbing or flowing; the channel turns into a rapid, with water quickly running in one direction or the other. The features on the seafloor push the water up to form drop offs in the water and rapids. Although we were exploring this channel during a slack tide I still found it quite uneasy to traverse. I am still not completely comfortable in my new kayak and the way the boat was feeling on the water left me feeling nervous. It was as if the water was pulling me in all direction at once, so I called off the passage to Dionisio which fortunately my friends were ok with.
We travelled quickly back to camp with strong winds at our back. With some hours left in the day we climbed the ridge behind BlackBerry Point called Mexicana Hlll. Matt and I tried to find the top of this ridge when we were here last year but we never did reach the top – I think we both had inappropriate shoes for such a climb on the last trip. On this trip we did find the top and amazing views of the Gulf Islands facing West.
The following day, Mathew had to get back home for work on Monday. Matt and I decided to move camp to a site we had seen north of Blackberry Point. We have not yet determined the name of the site, it might be “Hole in the Wall” as the site is shouldered by two rock faces that meet the sea in either direction. The “Hole” is a little beach which allows easy landing, river and a grassy landing perfect for camping. As we arrived here a group camping, having sailed in from Vancouver, were departing so we took over their campfire and camping spot.
From this site we explored the road which went east of the site to gather firewood. We then explored South of the site, which immediately goes up on the rocky ridge over the sea. The trail along the ridge provides amazing views West. We went as far as a creek and waterfall cascading down the ridge about 1/3 of the way back to Blackberry Point. We easily could have walked all the way back to Blackberry Point. The trails on Valdes are unmarked and unaccounted for and Matt and I pledged to explore more by hiking and mapping the island over the summer.
We got back to camp and Matt set out to capture crabs for dinner. Over the three night trip Matt had crabs each evening for dinner (he was cursing himself for not bringing butter). He caught the crabs by hand in the shallow waters on the coast of Valdes, by plucking them right out of the water.
We furthermore explored the northern ridges north of our campsite, gaining amazing views by following an overgrown trail.
On the Monday of the four day weekend we set out back to Cedar to head home. We started out early to calm seas and were treated to massive flocks of seabirds nesting and flying about. There is something about seeing a thousand birds flying together in a huge flock. We also spotted seals, sea otters, racoons and mink on the seashore or De Courcy island.
We pulled out of the water around noon on Monday. After landing and loading then unloading the boats, rinsing all of the gear with fresh water, and organizing everything it was nearly 5 hours later!
A great trip as usual with good friends, we did not have the amazing weather of the Easter weekend of 2013, but the few breaks we did have, great exploration and amazing sunsets made it all worth while.
Valdes Island Kayak Trip by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.