Before my hair even dried I was packing again for another adventure, and things got really interesting for me here. We headed out on a three day ocean kayaking trip with a superstar cast of four from Deep Cove Kayak. We launched from Whytecliff Park and headed for Gambier Island. The goal of the trip was to acquire our level 2 skills certification. Which we, totally, like, did.
The day the journey began started out really messy, for me at least. I woke up at about 5am in the pitch dark. I had no power. I looked out my window and there were no street lights. Luckily everything had been prepared the night before so I slipped into my wet suit, grabbed my 25 pound pack and 10 litres of water and hulked it the 15 minute walk to the bus stop. The streets were eerie and black. It was creepy and silent at the bus stop. There was definitely a post-apocalyptic feel and the zombies could have been anywhere. A man eventually walked by and told me there was a fire on the bridge and the buses weren’t running (I live on an island). Great. I now felt the threat that my trip was in jeopardy. Just then a bus did pull around the corner and stop. He said he could take me to a place where I could take another two buses to meet my classmates carpool and I hopped on. When I called them they offered to wait for me and I am still grateful for that. Thanks guys. About 40 minutes later I was stuffed in a sweltering sardine can with almost 50 pounds of gear in a wet suit and thermal slowly, awkwardly hitting people with my pack as they were trying to lean out of the way unsuccessfully. Half of the faces showed curiosity and the other half showed annoyance. All I wanted to do take a bathroom break. I was tugging at my collar and doing the pee dance trying to think of anything else. It wasn’t until I got off that bus, hopped on a train a few stops that I was finally able to just ditch my gear practically and jet mach 10 into a Safeway.
For every single one of us this was our first overnight kayak trip, I liked to compare it to hiking, you can bring a lot more supplies. The stellar guide/instructors gave us some tips and before we knew it we were headed into open ocean. The freedom and access a kayak can give you is undeniably cool. It was quite an experience seeing all of the snowy mountain tops from the water as we went. I watched the sea to sky highway get smaller and smaller and imagined myself on that road with my snowboard hitchhiking to Whistler. I knew I would from then on see that highway with new perspective. Exploring British Columbia is one of the most exciting adventures I’ve had to date. We paused and watched the large ferries pass us, giving us waves that were fun to roll over. A little seal popped his head out and curiously watched us. I was really getting going on my kayak. It and I were getting along great and working as one, it was groovy. It was easy to get lost in my thoughts watching the surrounding mountains and focusing on my stroke. I could see Garibaldi and Black Tusk at one point. Eventually I looked back and my trance was broken, I was breaking away and starting to leave them behind by accident. Oops.
Arriving at the island was pretty great, I found a camp spot and made some food. I love camp food. It’s such an art and believe me when I say, everything tastes better when you’re hungry. The guides had some nifty concoctions, and Mark is a celiac. I listened to some of his tricks and will likely incorporate some into my own mental cookbook in the future. Since I wasn’t carrying anything on my back, and it was only a three day trip, I took some liberties and actually had some strawberry salad. Might as well anyway, my fridge had no power and it would have spoiled. Sometime after dinner we all huddled around our lovely instructor Vanessa’s genius propane fireplace (no fires allowed) and played this hilarious game where someone acts out a scene from a movie and everyone else tries to guess what it is. It took off and we laughed for hours. Everyone was involved. Even some of the more quiet group members came out of their shell and got super into it. No one is going to forget our beloved Japanese exchange student as Robert De Niro, “Do you feel lucky?”. Marty is French so nobody understood his. We found out Vanessa has a penchant for accents which highly entertained us.
The next day was skills day. There were components to the course we had to master, well, at least execute, to pass. Marty taught us what to do, and more hilariously and with great animation, showed us what not to do. The whole day zipped by and it was that day when something switched in my head, from simply enjoying the experience, to realizing that I want to continue with this sport. After about a half an hour of hard work by me and dedication by our guide Spenny, I was able to successfully roll my kayak completely upside down, and back up the same side. It was thrilling and I loved it. I gained so much from this experience, best of all my certification and the excitement of a new sport I am passionate about.
The paddle back was a riot. I saw some kind of hawk with a starfish in his talons right before we took off, and an eagle later flew right over my head with something in his talons! My crazy crew and I sang Disney songs the entire time. I hadn’t realized the chops on my one friend who sang as we were paddling, a Scottish song that I recognized from home. It was beautiful and made me nostalgic.
We were lucky that trip. Three days of unusually calm and beautiful weather. We had each other, great guides, a pack of seacats, tons of stars and the isolation that I crave having been trying to accustom myself to city life. No hustle, no bustle, no transit cops. It had been an eventful month and in a couple of short days we would be at the halfway mark of the program. Cheers to Us.
Special thanks to Chilliwack River Rafting, Deep Cove Kayak, Burnaby Tours & Charters and Safeway.