Friday, January 27, 2017

Blue Highways of the Inside Passage - Part I

Paddling the Inside Passage changes people forever.  Attempting it is bold.  Completing it is remarkable.  I stand in awe of those who have attempted or completed that task.

Living in Seattle I have the good fortune of being just a day’s drive from Port Hardy which is located at the north end of Vancouver Island.  That allows me access to the Canadian Coast that most North American paddlers would die for.  While I have paddled parts and pieces of the Inside Passage I lack the commitment that is required to do it from start to finish.

The planning and logistics of a trip of that magnitude are daunting and the time requirement can be tough to accommodate with our busy lives.  The Canadian and Alaskan Pacific Coastline is probably a long way from your home.  It certainly is for most North American paddlers so just getting to and from your put-in and take-out isn’t easy for most.   It takes tremendous commitment from beginning to end and I suspect that this combines to make the Inside Passage trip a one-and-done sort of experience for many paddlers.

The IP is well established and serves as the primary route for all water craft with only minor variations that are focused on efficiency of staying on task.  Little is mentioned about what lies just off the route by a day or of lesser-used parallel routes and from an efficiency standpoint that seems wise.

In 1982 William Least Heat Moon released the book “Blue Highways” which was his account of traveling around the United States using lesser used roads which, in the days of paper road maps, were blue in color.  Avoiding the interstate highways/established routes his experience was enriched by traveling the “road not taken”.  since it may be hard for you to return to this remote paradise consider incorporating some “Blue Highways” into your route planning. .………..just in case you don’t get back that way or you need fodder for planning another trip.

As Robert Frost once said:

I shall be telling with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Blue Highways - Hakai Luxvbalis - Part II

Traveling northbound on the IP you exit Fitz Hugh Sound by hanging a left into Lama Passage and following the shoreline of Denny Island to Bella Bella.  Most folks stop at Bella Bella / Shearwater to pick up a resupply, do laundry, take a shower, sleep in a real bed and/or to eat a real dinner of pizza and beer.  “Blue Highway-Hakai” recommends that you cross Fitz Hugh Sound after visiting the Addenbroke Light Station and work your way up Calvert Island’s steep eastern shoreline to Kwakshua Channel or Hakai Passage.  Both will take you west into the heart of Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy Area which is an unspoiled region of magnificent beaches and stunning beauty.  Kwakshua is more protected from winds and its currents are light where Hakai Passage is magnificent but may display both in spades.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Blue Highways - Queens Sound / Bardswell Group - Part III

Swordfish Bay

An option to picking up your resupply in Shearwater is to have it sent to Klemtu, instead.  That makes Shearwater a discretionary stop rather than required and makes it easier to exercise the Queens Sound / Bardswell Group Blue Highway option.  Klemtu is a dry community, though, so no pizza and beer dinner.

If you are in a hurry to get back on the IP you need to reach Seaforth Channel.  From Cultus travel up Queens Sound on a strong flood and blow through Raymond Passage to Seaforth.  You will miss a lot if you do but will be back on task.  Instead consider stops at the Goose Group, the McMullin Group and the transit of Gale Passage.  That is a much more interesting route but more time consuming.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Blue Highways - Beyond Seaforth - Part IV

If you pick up your resupply in Shearwater be sure to take the time to visit the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre in Bella Bella.  You won’t regret it.  When I was there they were closed but opened up to us and provided a personal docent to help guide our journey.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Blue Highways - Laredo Channel - Part V

Morning on Laredo Channel

In the event that you are still outside and heading north up Laredo Channel you will soon face a really tough decision.  Do you stay out here or go back in to the IP?  Do you follow the Princess Royal Island shoreline into Whale Channel or travel up Estevan Sound along the western shore of Campania Island?  Your next supply stop is Prince Rupert and you can carry enough food from Shearwater or Klemtu to go either route.  Choices.