After leaving Mt. Rainier I headed north to Canada to join up with Spirit of the West kayaking tours. I had been aching to do this for three years, the previous year I was detoured to England so that wasn’t to bad (actually quite nice). But now I was finally here and my excitement was building. The Spirit of the West office is on Quadra Island, specifically Herriot Bay, which is where we met the night before leaving to go over the details of the adventure ahead. The first two photos are of Herriot Bay as viewed from my campsite.
As morning dawned, the ten fellow adventurers and our three guides (actually two guides our third guide was flown into camp later in the day) met and we boarded a high speed catamaran for a two and a half hour trip north to our base camp located in Johnston Straight, separating Vancouver Island from mainland British Columbia. The weather was as good as I could hope for, pleasantly cool with periods of clouds and very brief rain followed by sun, this cycle would repeat itself for the entire experience.
With a brief stop in a quiet cove for lunch and also stopping to watch a salmon catch loaded onto a fishing boat, we neared our base camp, already seeing, seals, sea lions, white sided dolphins, and a Bald eagle(I didn’t see it but others did), all of my anticipated expectations were already being met with the exception of being in the presence of orca’s.
After settling in and orientation to camp etiquette, we set off on our first afternoon paddle. Ahhh, At last paddling in the summer home of over two hundred orca, I believe a smile was permanently etched in my face for the entire four days! I was to share a kayak with Gordon (a fine paddle partner indeed!) as we began learning how an ocean kayak behaves, how to kayak with a partner, how to navigate kelp beds, it was outdoor adventure at it’s best. All that was left was for orcas to appear, which as it turned out none were sighted until day three. In the mean time we honed our kayaking skills, went for a five mile (or so) hike, enjoyed generous camp cuisine, hot showers, and hot tub, (who ever heard of that, a hot tub! in the middle of the great Canadian wilderness!), as well as enjoying the company of new friends including Scott’s 50th birthday, this adventure was his gift!
And then it happened, orca dorsal fins, four in all were spotted not to far in the distance, I wanted to forge full steam ahead to close the gap, however our guides, Amy and Allie’s better judgement won out and we gathered together to watch them pass by at a whale friendly distance. After returning to camp we continued to watch orca on the far side of the straight enjoying the salmon that were running in record numbers.
Entirely to quickly our final day dawned and after breakfast we launched for our last paddle. As I waited for the others, in the cove I noticed a seal bobbing in the water about ten feet away, with a lousy track record of catching the abundant wildlife on camera ( I believe they know when I’m about to shoot and promptly vanish) I decided to simply enjoy the moment, which I think is often the best thing to do.
And then we were back at Herriot Bay, saying our goodbyes, and going our separate ways to continue our own journeys. Even though I would have loved a closer experience with the orca, such was not to be this time. I can however say I have kayaked with my beloved friends, and look very much forward to the next time.
My hats off to the folks of Spirit of the West, all aspects of the adventure were perfectly planned and executed. The guides, Amy, Allie, and Sam were perfect hosts,… knowledgeable, accommodating, friendly, and all shared great senses of humor. All in all I give Spirit of the West two thumbs up and five stars!
Please enjoy the photo gallery! and remember all photos are property of me! Steven Dieringer, dba Steven Dieringr Photography, and are protcted by copyright law.
Thanks for your interest and time! Steve……….