The Secret Coast Expedition was a success! We paddled in to Chestermans Beach, Tofino, yesterday, and landed our kayaks near the Wickaninnish Inn – where the Inn’s Managing Director Charles McDiarmid and staff greeted us with a tray of champagne glasses and a bottle of bubbly. Let me tell you, that was a very nice way to return to civilization.
There were so many unknowns, heading out to Vancouver Island’s remote and nearly uninhabited central west coast for a month – and, for the most part, everything went really well. I had done my work in the planning, and it really paid off – in everything from the route design to the food packing to the travel logistics (our float plane and motor boat connections). Once out there, we had pretty much no contact with anyone (we had handheld VHF radios, so we could contact passing boats – if we saw one – and the lighthouses – if we were within range). So everything had to be planned and committed to well in advance. And all went really well!
And then there was the weather – another unknown. We were extremely fortunate. We had some very high winds, day and night, around our second week out – but that was on the hiking section. It was fatiguing to be in that constant wind, but it did not hamper our travel the way it would have if we had had that weather on the kayak section. We had some rain (what would a west coast trip be without rain? it would seem a fraud!). But we had nowhere near the amount of rain that Vancouver Island’s west coast is capable of dumping.
Yesterday, my dear kayaking friend and Tofino author, Joanna Streetly, paddled out to accompany us on our final kayak leg and to take some photos of us.
Many thanks to Joanna for the pix and the video, and to the Wickaninnish Inn crew for the amazing welcome – and many thanks to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the Spanish Embassy in Canada, as well as to our many industry sponsors. (Honestly – having quality gear made a HUGE difference to both our safety and our comfort out there. More to say about the hiking gear later – but for the paddling section our Kokatat paddling jackets and PFDs kept us safe, dry and comfortable, and our Aquabound graphite paddles were light yet strong: just what you need for long paddling days).
Here we are paddling past the Inn:
I now have thousands of photos to go through. We hiked with bears and camped with wolves and paddled with whales… we had some wonderful visits with the Nuu-chah-nulth people who still live on their traditional village sites… and there will be a lot more posted to this blog, as well as to our Twitter and to my Instagram site, over the coming weeks and months.