Big Water Big Bear

June 6, 2019 – When BABS and I got on the water this morning it was calm. By the time I paddled out of the little (and I mean little) bay I camped in it was 2-3′ rollers. I had no choice but to do the crossing anyway. If I was able to go directly across to the mainland it would have been a three mile crossing. Because of the rollers, a 45 degree angle was the easiest and safest way, but ended up being a 10 mile crossing. I paddled for three hours in those conditions. At first I was nervous. During that first hour, I learned to let go of the fear and deal with it even though from the first stroke, my body knew what to do – dig in to each wave as much as that wave needs you to dig. We flew through them brilliantly. The second hour I started to have some fun, to play with the waves, to find the holes between the big ones, or to take on the biggest ones for fun. The third hour I started to get tired of more of the same thing and I shouted to the sea to “lay down”, and it did. Not completely but a lot. Coincidence? Hmm… From this experience, I have a new phrase for BABS – Brilliant, Acrobatic, and Beautifully Stable. These conditions are where her stability really shines.

I kept telling myself the first beach I can land on I’m getting out and staying there for the night – maybe even two! The first beach I got out on was nice, but I wasn’t done paddling. Plus it really did calm down, so I paddled for another few miles until I found my first sand beach! Nice island to look at across from it. I set up my tent, set up the kitchen on the other end of the beach from my tent (I had written in my charts last year when I met a local here who said this whole section is bear country), attempted to crab/fish with no success, and started making my supper.

As I was waiting for it to cook, I sat down on the log next to the stove and looked out at the water. I saw something much larger than, well, anything I could think of swimming north (thankfully not toward me). I ran through all the possibilities of things I’ve seen and, since it was much larger and not at all shaped like an elephant seal, the only thing I could think of was a bear. Of course my binoculars were in my tent so I dashed over and got them before it was out of view and, yes indeed, a very large dark brown bear with the cutest ears and nose swimming about 12 mph having a seemingly nice time of it. It did look my way. I don’t know if it saw me, but it kept going thankfully.

I finished making the food as quickly as I could, choked down what I could and buried the rest. Then I washed everything up, sealed all the waterproof/smellproof kitchen bags, stuffed them under a log, covered them with another log, and am hoping for the best. I’ve researched this a great deal as you can imagine. My mind knows what it knows but my heart is still racing. This is what I wanted right? Big water and big bears. I just didn’t think they would both come all at once. What am I doing? Having the adventure I wanted. Deep breath. Enjoy safely.

I have paddled a total of 50.1 miles in four days. A few of those miles are from paddling into bays, paddling a little ways into channels before making a crossing. Almost half way to Prince Rupert. I am already ready for a hot shower.

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

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