We left our gear on the campsite and paddled further into Nuchalitz Sound. As we neared the end of the Sound, I heard the rumbling of a great waterfall soon followed by a cold breeze from the cascading water. Soon we were paddling against a strong current, and the water turned fresh and foamy. Beyond a rocky outcrop there appeared the thundering the white torrent we had anticipated. It poured from a rocky shelf some twenty feet above the sea where a gentle river suddenly lost its stream bed.
This physical oddity reminded me of a lecture I had once attended at the University of Florida, on the geologic formations of the Pacific Northwest. Some thirty miles off the coast is the remnant of a slice of oceanic crust called the Juan de Fuca Plate, which is slowly being subducted under North America. Every few hundred years this oceanic plate gets jammed and causes the continental crust along the Pacific coast to buckle like a folding carpet and forms the coastal mountains in northern California and British Columbia. When the plate unjams, it does so violently with an enormous earthquake, and the unbuckling of the continent causes the entire coastline to plunge into the ocean in a gargantuan landslide. The last time this happened was January 26, 1700. Although there were no Europeans here at the time, the natives have many stories of a great flood that took place, and in Japan there is a record of a strange tsunami that hit the island, even though there was no preceding earthquake. Perhaps that is what happened here, I thought. Three hundred and twenty-two years ago the same earthquake sliced the river at this location and the part we were paddling in now fell into the sea, while the remainder was left on the shelf. The waterfall hasn’t yet had the time to erode the rock down to the new sea level.
I took the opportunity to paddle along a back eddy until I could maneuver my kayak into the current in front of the waterfall where I made two rolls in the freshwater to wash away the salt on my hair and beard. Some of the others liked the idea and did likewise.
We paddled back of Nuchalitz Sound in the afternoon , retraced our steps through the archipelago of rocky islets, and camped on Rosa Island overlooking the entrance to Esperanza Sound. This was our last full day together as a group and JF noted that we still had a lot of food, and we should not be ceremonious with the leftovers. I volunteered to make a clean sweep of the Nutella and blackberry jars.
The moment I had been dreading finally arrived in the evening. I ran out of toilet paper. Over the past four days I tried to be as conservative as possible with my supply hoping it would last until Thasis. But with the three fulfilling meals a day JF and Justine cooked for us over the time we’ve been together, my stock depleted much faster than I expected. As I squatted and wondered what to do, until I had an epiphany.
“Those giant kelp leaves look sturdy enough that my fingers won’t puncture through them.” I thought.
I crab walked to the water’s edge, fetched a handful of the kelp reeds and polished off my work. A rinse in some fresh water would have been helpful, but that would have to do for now.
Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation