Kayak & Canoeing Parks Spelunking
Kayaking here on the north island is pretty awesome, so many places to put in, both for river running and saltwater trips. Just outside of Sayward are the White River and the Adam and Eve Rivers, these are premier white water kayaking rivers. For saltwater adventures, the Telegraph cove area is best, many places to go and the marine life is incredible. If you are looking to go on an adventure with a guide, l suggest that you book a trip with North Island Kayaking, they are pretty awesome. Here is an account of a trip my wife and l went on with them.
It was 4:30 am and my wife Georgina and l were on our way to Telegraph Cove to head out on a three-day kayaking adventure. Steve Emery, a local friend of mine from Sayward owns North Island Kayak and had a trip going out that was not fully booked, he offered a spot for my wife and l. We jumped at the opportunity. This was a chance to go out for three days, with a guide that included all the kayaking equipment, camping gear, and food.
Upon arrival at Telegraph Cove, we met the other members of our trip, Chet Morrison and his daughter Alexandra who are from Pennsylvania, Barbara Wilson from Oregon and our guide Danial Finer who hails from Saltspring Island. After introductions, we loaded our kayaks, my wife and l were in a double kayak, Chet, his daughter and Barbara were also in a double, but the center cargo hold had been refitted with a seat for Alexandra and Danial was in a single. After pulling out of the cove, we headed across Broughton Strait and into the Cormorant Channel Marine Provincial Park, this park is located at the western end of Hanson Island. During the crossing, we saw many Dall’s Porpoise’s, they are such beautiful animals.
I have had some experience in a kayak but the other guests were fairly green at it and as we went through the channel between the Plumper Island Group and Hanson Island, we encountered a very strong current that had to be pushed against, it was quite a struggle for my wife and l. It was a great way for the others to learn how to control their craft. It was tough but all of us got through and then we headed into a small cove on the north side of the island where we stopped for a wonderful lunch that was put together by our guide Danial while the rest of us rested up.
The rest of the day we traveled down blackfish sound along the north shore of Hanson Island. We saw several whales off in the distance, but they were too far away from us. We did get to see deer, mink, seals, sea lions and a few more porpoises as we headed to the east end of the island. We went between Hanson and Little Hanson Islands on the eastern end and arrived at our first camp where we would spend the night. North Island Kayak has 6 of these camps located in various places in the area and they are incredible. There are 6 or more tents set up on platforms, covered cooking and eating areas, compost toilets and vistas that that will take your breath away. The guides do all the cooking and cleanups, our dinner on the first night was awesome, Danial created barbecued salmon, rice, salad, and various treats. We all ate hardy after that first day of kayaking. These guides are pretty incredible and l have to hand it to Danial who looked after us very well.
After dinner, Danial got the kitchen area cleaned up and then started a fire where we all sat around eating smores and getting to know one another better, I could not have asked for a better group of folks to spend three days with. We all got along quite well. Georgina and l headed to bed around 9 pm and fell asleep pretty quickly. At 3:30 am, she woke me up to say that she thought she could hear whales just outside of camp but that she was too scared to head out to see. I told her it was most likely just waves from a passing boat and then rolled over to get a few more hours of rest, but just then l heard the unmistakable sound of a whale breaching, it is amazing just how fast we got dressed and out onto the rock bluff overlooking the strait. As we trained our eyes to the early morning light, there they were, a pod of Humpback Whales feeding off in the distanced, it was an awesome sight. They entertained us for more than an hour, it was incredible, this is what we had come to see. The sound of them breaching was like thunder. There was no going back to bed after this. I sure do wish the others had been up to see these whales.
After the rest of our group woke and we all ate a wonderful breakfast of banana pancakes and sausages, we carried the kayaks down to the water, got them loaded and headed out for our second day. We headed across the entrance to Black Fish Sound, between Hanson Island and West Cracroft Island and then along the southwest shore of the island until we reached the Sophia Islands, stopping for a short break along the way. We saw lots of Dall’s Porpoises but no whales. After passing the Sophia Islands, we headed across the Johnston Strait to the western boundary of Robson Bight. We stopped for lunch here. After lunch, we headed west up along the shore of Vancouver Island until we reached the camp for our second night. This was just west of Kaikash Creek, as we finished carrying the kayaks up to the high tide line, we spotted a humpback whale just offshore, it was swimming slowly just on the outside of the kelp bed and all of us were able to observe it well. I am pleased that the others were able to see it.
After a great dinner of homemade chile and buns, Georgina and l headed down to see Kaikash creek, it was nice to stretch our legs a bit, there is a public campsite here that is maintained by the Namgis People that is only accessible by water, nice site with plenty of tables and a double compost toilet. The creek is very pretty and the water is fresh.
That night was an early night for us as Gina and I had gotten up at 3:30 am, we slept very well and woke up to the smell of fresh coffee, eggs, and bacon cooking and Danial in the kitchen with a big smile for all of us, Danial was always smiling. He also had a great knowledge of the area and could answer all our questions in a way that you could understand.
After packing our gear and loading the kayaks, we headed west along the shore of Broughton Strait towards our final destination of Telegraph Cove, there was some wind and we had waves rolling over our kayak, this was quite exciting to Georgina. We made a lunch stop at the Blinkhorn Rec Site where we had pita bread sandwiches filled with a tuna salad and other treats, we then hiked out the trail to the Blinkhorn light where we had a great view of the strait, there were a few seals and sea lions.
After a bit of a rest, we headed back to the rec site, loaded our kayaks and headed out on our final leg of the journey back to Telegraph Cove. On one of the little islands just off Westell Point, we were able to see a large Eagles nest with a couple of little ones in the nest. Then we pulled into Telegraph Cove and reached the end of our trip, all too soon for all of us. It was a trip of a lifetime.
The canoeing in the Sayward Valley area is awesome. the Salmon River has always been one of my favorite places to head out canoeing, I have been enjoying this trip since my first time back in 1972. It’s a 5-day trip filled with awesome sights and incredible fishing. We put in at the big tree creek crossing and go right down to the ocean.
Sayward Valley Canoe Route
Back in the 80s, l had the honor of being part of a team that built the Sayward Valley Canoe Route, this is a pretty cool journey that takes you through many of the areas lakes, they are connected by fairly easy portages, its a great summer trip.
You can put in at most points along the route, just pick your place. Here is a map of the whole route.