Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking Queen Charlotte Strait Solo



DAY 1: TO PORT HARDY

As usual, finishing the packing took all my evening hours and I had only managed to get three hours of sleep. Unlike the previous year, this time I had ended up with five check-in bags. The extra ten days of food had pushed me above the weight limit per bag and I had no choice but to add a small duffel bag to the usual set of four: two with the kayak and kayak-related stuff, one with the camping and photo gear and the remaining one with various odds and the food.

I arrived to Victoria bus depot close to 6:30am, one hour before the departure. Then I had a by now familiar conversation with the ticket agent that I would end up filing for a bankruptcy with so many check-in bags. At the end, the extra bags cost me just above $100 – a manageable amount as, after all, I had saved a lot on the round trip bus ticket buying it well in advance.

While waiting for the bus, I got acquainted with a Polish couple, quite conspicuous because of their huge shapeless check-in bag attached to a cart. I had soon learned that the husband was going to Courtney to join his son for a sail to Alaska, while the wife was seeing him off. The bag was a dinghy to replace the old one on the sailboat. We had chatted for a while.

The bus ride was overall uneventful. At some point, a gentleman from Northern Ireland had sat next to me. He was on a long British Columbia trip. After staying for some time in Tofino, on island's west coast, he was going to Port Hardy and then on to Prince Rupert on the mainland, a some 20 hour ferry journey. I had learned that we were going to stay in the same hostel, and we agreed to meet again in the evening for a walk and a meal.

The bus had arrived to Port Hardy at 5:10pm, ahead of time. After the bus station employees had graciously agreed to hold my bags in their office until 6:00pm, I went shopping at the mall and got the last-minute items. Portaging my bags to the C&N Hostel took around 30 minutes. There I was welcomed by friendly staff. One of them, Patrick, had shown me around. The hostel looked like a nice and well-run place.
 
After settling down in my room, I went for a walk along the shore. Located a couple of good launch points, on the beach across the street from the hostel, just a short walk away. Took pictures of the shore, the park and the Visitor Centre, already closed.



The flags on the Visitor Centre were flying horizontally, blown by the wind, and this was in the protected bay. I did not pay attention to this fact, and I should have, as this was a preview of what was yet to come tomorrow.



After a fish & chips & beer dinner at the local pub with the gentleman from Northern Ireland I was back to the hostel preparing for my early morning departure. The plan was to be on the shore as early as possible, as it always takes a while on the first day to assemble and pack up everything.

While at the hostel, I had talked to Patrick -- a local photographer helping to run the place. He had recently published his first photo book, about Port Hardy in all seasons and was now working on the second one. After a hot shower, likely my last for a month, I retired at 10:00pm.



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