Mikhail Belikov Photography (nature, adventures, travel)

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Kayaking Queen Charlotte Strait Solo


I woke up at 5:30am. I was planning to start my day earlier, however I needed to get some sleep after the overnight adventures. It was a calm morning, as the weather service had forecasted, and I planed to paddle as far as I could, hopefully reaching Wells Passage and therefore finally leaving the open sea behind. But first, I had counted my losses due to the overnight high tide. It looked like I got lucky this time: the damage was limited to only a liter or so of the boiled water, left in the cooking pot and contaminated by the sea water, and two hours of my sleep.

This was a beautiful morning to paddle: no wind and only the gentle ocean swells.


My by now familiar neighbors were Rhinoceros Auklet, passing by in small flocks.

In two hours I had rounded Lewis Rocks and turned into Wells Passage. I had stopped at Ommaney Islets to photograph harbour seals on the rocks.

While photographing, I had almost ended up on a reef. I was slowly drifting along the islet shore, getting closer to a patch of seaweed that I mistook for kelp, usually indicating a safe depth, except at low tide. Unfortunately, it was a different type of seaweed, growing on shallow reefs, and I would have ended up hitting it if I did not notice the difference, just a few meters away. A bit later I had observed a bald eagle flying with the fish ahead of me and soon reached another islet where I saw a pair of bald eagles at their nest.
One of them was just settling down after a flight.

After a quick granola bar lunch while safely tucked in a kelp bed, I had continued my journey. The light waves and the tide were gently pushing me into Wells Passage. It was so nice to beat my farewell to the open sea, knowing that from now on my travel plans would be primarily based on the tidal currents, much more predictable than the waves and the winds. I had decided to camp at a creek in a bay north of Popplewell Point, hoping to stay there for a day to get some rest, do the washing and planning the remaining part of my trip.

Harlequin Ducks, resting on kelp, did not mind me passing by. The males, beautiful in their breeding outfits, were almost indistinguishable from the females this time of the year.

On my way to
Popplewell Point I had decided to check Kenneth Bay, shown on the chart as a vast tidal area with a river flowing into it. If I could see an area suitable for a camp, I would stay there, and try to fish: the fish often likes being in the estuary, as the salmon caught earlier testified. Unfortunately, when I got close to the bay, I had found it clogged with large rocks, and this was at high tide.

So this was a very shallow bay, very likely completely drying up at low tide. I did not want getting stranded here as in Cohoe Bay, and so continued to Popplewell Point.

Soon I had found a loon, not a very common bird. It was calling from time to time, maybe signaling a partner that it was loonely?

Finally, I had reached 
Popplewell Point. It was noon. In less than four hours I had covered around 20 kilometers: I had just completed a full and very productive day of paddling.

I had entered the bay at high tide. The bay was overall pleasant, however access to its end, to the creek and the likely campsite, was blocked by several fallen trees. They were passable at medium and high tides, but departure at low tide would require long portages to the the middle of the bay, around the fallen trees.
After finding a suitable campsite I had unloaded my deck bags and went fishing.

The area across Wells Passage displayed clear signs of human activities, most notably the bald hilltop, indicating a logging site.

Then a float plane had taken off on the opposite side of the passage: was there a resort inside one of the bays?

Within an hour of fishing, I caught two greenlings, enough for several meals. After setting up the camp, I had enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner of fish and mashed potatoes followed by the tea. It was already late in the day and the tide was falling fast. The fallen trees were by now out of water, fully exposed. A mink had passed by, searching the tidal area for food.

It was an early evening and the wind had died completely. Myriads of mosquitoes had descended on me, in the numbers I had not seen in that part of the world before. The only way to survive was by hiding inside the tent. I had immediately dismissed my original idea of staying in this area for a day of rest and pulled out the guidebook and the charts to prepare for the first leg of my journey in Broughton Archipelago. Although I had a general plan for my month-long trip, I had left the details unplanned, as much depended of the weather, the available time and other matters that were hard to predict in advance. Just when I spread over my charts, I saw a few no-see-ums inside the tent. Thinking that these blood-suckers got in when I was opening and closing the tent, I had quickly disposed them. Then the new ones had shown up, and I had disposed them as well, but the numbers kept increasing. It took me a few minutes to realize that the no-see-um net on my tent entrance was not no-see-um proof. Then I thought that these insects might not be after me, they might be hiding in a dry place to pass the night. This hope was immediately dismissed with a firm bite in my finger.  At the end, I had given up the fight taking a refuge inside my sleeping bag. The planning would have to wait until tomorrow. I had covered my face with a hood of the sleeping bag insert, leaving only a tiny hole for breathing, and fell asleep.

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