I know. I got a little carried away writing about British Columbia last summer! But seriously, if there weren’t so many other places I want to visit, I would be perfectly happy spending every summer there for the rest of my life! There are so many islands, waterways, mountains, towns and remote areas that I would love to explore with my family. So, I have to write, again, about BC. Specifically, about the 5 day kayak/camping trip my family took this past summer.
After a fun-filled few days in Victoria and the spectacularly beautiful Strathcona Provincial Park in Vancouver Island, we took a ferry to Quadra Island, one of the largest islands in the Discovery Islands chain between Vancouver Island and the northern BC mainland. This is part of the Inner Passage that leads from mainland US to Alaska. After a 40 minute drive to the far side of Quadra, much of it along an empty dirt road, we arrived at Discovery Islands Lodge, home base to Coast Mountain Expeditions. The lodge is beautiful and not all that rustic although you couldn’t feel closer to nature. We didn’t stay long though as we were met and escorted onto a boat full of kayaks and the other 7 people who would be our fellow travelers for the next 4 nights.
After a beautiful 90 minute ride past sunning seals, oyster farms, and several bald eagles, we arrived at the remote Coast Mountain Lodge on Read Island. Coast Mountain Lodge was both hand-built by and is home to the lovely owners of CME. We were greeted warmly but them in the cozy dining room with tea and freshly baked cookies and the most amazing view of the still and misty cove. We spent the afternoon paddling around getting familiar with our boats.
After dinner (locally caught salmon, garden grown vegetables and freshly baked bread!) we got back into our kayaks to practice capsizing and rescuing. This was optional so we opted out! Instead we sat in out boats in the cold and beautiful cove and paid close attention to other’s practice and then warmed up in the wood-fire hot tub by the water’s edge.
The next morning we were off—-our kayaks loaded up with all the camping gear, food, and water we would need for the next 3 days. The other kayakers had single sea kayaks and my husband and I each had a double that we shared with our kids. For the duration of the trip, we decided that my husband would partner with our 7 year-old son and I’d take our 9 year-old daughter. This proved to be a perfect arrangement as our son will be the first to admit that he didn’t really paddle much! Our daughter enjoyed a lot of relaxed sightseeing at sea but she paddled with enthusiasm the couple of times I asked for help.
We set off for a couple hours of easy paddling before stopping for lunch on an island and then continuing the paddle in the afternoon to our campsite for the night…a small beach on Cortez Island. Let me just say, to spare you the details of each amazing meal that I am tempted to describe, that the food on our trip was incredibly delicious and almost every single part of it was homemade or homegrown including the eggs from the happy chickens living seaside at the Coast Mountain Lodge, the clams on our linguine the first night at camp, and even our wine and beer!
We spent 3 days paddling the calm passage, taking in the stunning nature and wildlife along the way. We made up paddling songs with the kids and spotted eagles nests and talked about all sorts of stuff out there on our own. It was such great family time. The kids were never bored even though we were in our kayaks for hours each day.
We spent 2 nights camped on remote beaches and the kids spent hours exploring the tide pools each afternoon (often accompanied by our enthusiastic and knowledgable young guides). We went to bed each night in the tents and sleeping bags provided to us by CME after gazing at the stars with cuddly children in our arms.
On our third day on the water, we made our way back to Quadra Island, where our kayaking expedition had begun. We spent our final night in the comfy lodge and enjoyed our last delicious communal meal with our new friends. It was a truly amazing experience that none of us will ever forget. And although this trip it is a memory now, we know what serenity feels like, should we choose to return to it at any point.