Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kayaking in the Gulf Islands - Part 2

I awake to the chirping, trilling, warbling of an avian orchestra, interrupted occasionally by the brash honk of a Canadian goose. Soon the tent is down and I push off into calm waters under a cloudless pale blue sky. Two squabbling young raccoons rush to the water’s edge but when they spot me they melt into the forest. I have a deep sense of pleasure for yesterday’s hard work has paid off: I’m immersed, alone, in achingly beautiful nature. The cliffs are scored into rectilinear blocks by cracks and fissures that tilt at bizarre angles. Broad-leaved stonecrops form patches of yellow on the steepest crags. Acorn barnacles and purple sea stars adorn the rocks near the waterline.
I cruise into Echo Bay and bounce my voice off the tall rock walls. Then I turn the corner and feel like I’ve entered a cathedral. Majestic cliffs bathed in golden morning sun soar heavenward. The rock is an attractive buff to brownish-yellow colour and has been sculpted into attractive curves and numerous circular hollows that range from pockmarks to grottos several metres in diameter, all arranged in delightful patterns. I’m overcome with reverence for nature and am glad that I’m spending time alone to re-connect with her.
Patches of bull kelp show the current is running my way. Ahead I hear loud bleating and baaing and then I see three feral goats, sure-footedly grazing along a steep slope.
I roll over huge 3-foot waves from a fishing boat that roars past in a cloud of foam and slowly work toward the Java Islets. From a distance I hear splashing and crashing and then I see that seals are frolicking in the water, enjoying this perfect day. Many more are lolling on sunny rocks all eyes watching my kayak. Soon they are in the water and I am followed by a flotilla of curious heads.
For lunch I pull in at Taylor Point, part of the Gulf Island National Park, and amble along the beach, around the old stone walls of the Taylor residence, which are decorated by slender bright-purple foxgloves, and the remnants of the quarry.
The long crossing from Saturna Island to the south tip of Pender Island is windless and like riding on glorious rolling glass. The swells are gentle, like caresses. Clouds are reflected and distorted in the water. This is heaven.
I paddle past Blunden Islet, then Gowlland and Tilley Points. An afternoon wind rises and now the water’s surface is a rough, unfriendly texture. I paddle on past luxury yachts at Poets Cove Resort and arrive at Medicine Beach with its layered middens speaking of a long native heritage.
All too soon this blissful retreat into solitude and nature is over.
For information on the Gulf Islands National Park visit: .

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