After hearing yesterday’s bear story from the kayaker I decided to hang all my food in a bag over a tree limb about eight feet off the ground. It would probably not have been high enough to dissuade a persistent bear, but it was the best I could find. Given that all my food is either canned or factory sealed, and I had thoroughly washed the trash so that no morsels were left, I felt pretty confident that it would be hard for a bear to catch a whiff of anything. Even so, the woods just up from the beach were thick and dark, and I woke up a couple of times at night when I heard a strange sound outside the tent. The next morning, however, there was no evidence that anyone or anything had made a visit the previous night. The food bag hung from the tree just as I had left it.
A much bigger and pressing problem were all the mosquitos that seemed to magically appear soon after dusk. The underside of my tent rain fly filled up with dozens of them.
I didn’t think to bring bug spray, and before allowing myself to fall asleep I made sure to kill every single one inside the tent.
I remember many years ago when I went to northern Canada, during the summer months for a canoe trip the flies were a pestilent nightmare. During sleep hours they gathered under the rainfly by the hundreds, and their collective buzzing sound was like getting poked in the ear with needles. Sometimes that was literally the case; if you rolled in your sleep, any exposed part of your body touching the tent would have the flies nipping you through the fabric and you would wake up to find several itchy bite marks in the area.
These flies weren’t anywhere near as bad, but I think that the experience left a mark on me, and I always try to be very careful not to touch the tent fabric while I sleep. This night I peed inside one of my water bottles, rather than risk going outside.
The morning brought a strong and consistent breeze from the southeast that persisted along the whole length of Texada Island. I had a thrilling downwind run with the sail and was sliding from one swell to another. At the northern end of the island near Gilles Bay I caught up to another kayaker who must have camped a few miles ahead of me the previous night.
I was surprised how difficult it was to see his boat, even when I was already close to him. Whenever he slipped into a wave trough he disappeared without a trace, and only became visible again when both of us were on separate wave crests.
“Lovely day, is it not?” He shouted.
“It sure is! Good luck. Where are you headed?”
He responded something but the wind muffled his words. The push I was getting from the sail meant I must have been going some two times faster than him, and I was soon out of hearing range.
I got as far as a town called Lund. With a good deal of help from the tail wind I covered almost thirty-eight miles, the longest day so far.
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I had seen on google maps that not far from the town’s marina boat ramp was a small hotel which would make it very convenient getting out of the water and finding a comfortable place to spend the night. When I arrived, the place seemed lovely. The hotel had a lush garden with colorful flowers where bumble bees hummed busily, and several benches where people could sit and enjoy the sunset. I soon imagined myself sitting, stretching my legs appreciating the mixture of ruby red, ginger orange, and wine violet sunset colors of the sunset over the Georgia Strait.
Alas, those thoughts were a little premature. I pulled my kayak to the hotel entrance door and found it locked. A waitress at the pub next door informed me that the hotel has been closed for the past two years because of Covid, and that the only campsite was a thirty-minute drive away.
“Well, it’s late for me to get anywhere, and I am certainly not walking a distance that would take a car half an hour.”
“You know, what you may want to do is to camp on the marina parking lot. Pitch your tent after dark and be gone before sunrise. It’s a little busy now, but this place turns into a ghost town at night. You can also use the marina rest area, there’s a clean bathroom there. The combination for the lock is 369#. Don’t tell anyone I said that though.”
I enthusiastically thanked the waitress, ordered a soda drink, and gave her a 100% tip. If ever I can claim to have received excellent service, this was the occasion. I sat on the bench overlooking the water sipping my drink and for the next hour tried not to think about anything and just appreciate the moment. It was a very lovely sunset.
Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation