Updated: Jun 13
Yesterday was our longest paddle as a group. We covered just over eighteen miles. Our window to round the Brooks came early in the journey, so we took another day off.
JF left early before sunrise to go catch lunch. He came back with four ling cods and a large rockfish, which he again breaded and fried. There was enough fish that everyone at four fish tacos. We ate until our stomachs complained and we could eat no more. I’ve even noticed that since being with the group, my intestinal routine has changed, and I find myself needing to go at strange hours of the day, sometimes late at night, due to these big generous meals. I might even have gained weight the past week.
Near the campsite was a stream with crystal clear water flowing over a wide bed of rocks and out over the beach. The water was chilling and refreshing and looked so clean I had no qualms about drinking directly from the source and filling my water bladder with it. I then built a little sand dam with the aid of some boulders and logs to make a knee deep pool. I then took off my clothes and savored my first bath since leaving Port Hardy. So much muck washed off me, that my hair and beard even fluffed up and I felt I needed a barber. The pool proved really popular, and everyone had a go.
One of our mates, Gerry, whose shiny bald head reminded me of Professor Xavier from the X-men, was especially pleased. A couple of days ago a tick bit him on the groin and left two large red blisters that seemed incredibly uncomfortable. He wasn’t sure how they happened, we hadn’t walked through any bushes or tall grasses where the buggers hide to bite into exposed skin. The only time I recalled seeing any ticks on me was when I hiked through the meadow on the Cape Scott trail. I immediately slapped it dead and pulled my socks over my pants to deny the little devil an easy meal. Ticks are not very common in the Pacific Northwest, but they have been slowly making their way north with the changing climate and rising temperatures.
The worst thing about the ticks isn’t even the bite or the blister but getting infected with Leishmaniasis, which is a terrible disease that lasts for years and causes recurring eruptions of slimy ulcers and patches of dead skin like leprosy. If it’s not treated with antibiotics, it eventually attacks the spleen and the liver and can be fatal.
“It’s a less than one percent chance that the tick was a carrier, but it can happen.” Said JF. “It’s much more common on the East Coast of Canada. But I would still get a blood test and have a doctor check it out after we finish the trip.”
In the afternoon I fetched some driftwood on the beach to make a campfire and burn the paper trash we’ve been accumulating. I was assigned as the trash carrier, and the bag had been growing day after day, making it almost impossible to fit it through my kayak hatch.
I made a two-foot-tall driftwood pyre, stuffed our trash in the middle, and for good measure I added all the plastic bottles I could find on the beach. I’ve noticed something interesting on some of the bottles I picked up. They were nearly all stamped with Japanese labels. One even had the cap sealed. I opened it, took a sip, and to my surprise, it was perfectly good fresh drinking water.
It’s not unheard of that litter from Asia ends up on the West Coast of North America. The North Pacific Gyre turns clockwise, and any garbage tossed off a beach in Japan gets picked up by the current, swings around the Aleutian Islands and eventually passes through British Columbia, sometimes going all the way to California. In 2011 when a 9.1 magnitude earthquake hit the east coast of Japan, the ensuing Tsunami created millions of tons of garbage. Entire ghost ships and shipping containers ended up on the coast of North America.
While I combed the beach for more trash to put in the pyre, I found a squeegee mickey mouse bath toy. It had red pants with suspenders, white hands gloves, and waved with a jolly smile. I wondered what story it would tell if it could talk.
“Yes, many years ago I belonged to someone; a kid who lived in Japan. One day his family took him on a trip to the beach and brought me along. He buried me in the sand with a shovel as though I were a treasure, and then screamed when he saw a crab in his bucket. His mother picked him up, his dad packed the toys, and I was left behind and forgotten like so many countless playthings. Then one day a big wave came and washed me and the whole town out to sea; after drifting in the ocean for years I landed here on this beach where I have been for many years more and now you found me. What will you do with me?”
“Eh, I suppose you’re not too heavy to carry along. I’ll drop you off somewhere you might get a second life. You are plastic, so you’ll probably be around a while and live a longer life than me.”
Sea Kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation