Well, for the next five days, we settled down and did things properly. The next morning, tired as we were, we set out for a much easier and more beautiful paddle to a group of islands just north of the Paddler’s Inn called the Burdwood Group. Although you had to cross a large channel that could get a big cross wind in bad weather, our day was excellent and so off we went. MUCH shorter and really pretty.
Across we went without incident except to see huge salmon jumping, sometimes five or six times in a row, right out of the water all around us. A couple of times it seemed they might jump right into the boat, and I was bracing myself to have a big fish land in my lap and to manage not to tip us in the middle of the channel. It was a good thing it didn’t happen because the result would have been very unpredictable and for sure it wouldn’t have been good.
Anyway, soon we came to an enormous rock outcrop that was absolutely magnificent.
We slowly traversed around it and came into the islands where the wind died off and all was quiet. Just as we came to a little cove, right in front of us at least five black, slithery, apparently boneless tubes slid very quickly right into the water from off a rock and disappeared. What is this? According to Bruce, our font of all knowledge, these were the dying breed of sea otters and we had disturbed their rest. They never appeared again at all, even though we sat in the cove perfectly still. However, as we turned around looking for the otters, what do we see but round, shiny, bowling ball black heads with great big eyes staring at us, lots of them, in all different places in the water. These were seals, cute as can be, but frustrating to photograph. Just when I would dig out the camera, after watching us intently, suddenly pow, they’d be gone. Over and over again, the seals would watch us, swim a little way with us and then disappear. Lovely.
And so it went. All the rest of the week, we travelled the nearby shores and over to the islands, taking in the beauty all around us. It was awesome everywhere and every corner was better than the last. Deer on the rocks, a bear on the shore, seals all the time and indescribable scenery. How fortunate we were to be able to experience this. Amazing.
At one point during the next few days, it started raining. We’d done all there was to do at the Love Shack in the rain (wink,wink) and then, after reading our books and creating cookies from cereal and peanut butter (and eating them all) in the dream kitchen, I could no longer ignore Jim’s hints that we should go hiking. Hiking! With a mother bear and a cub and millions (I’m sure that’s what Bruce meant, didn’t he?) of cougars in the area, and this man wants to go hiking? Honestly, for a super smart numbers guy, sometimes he makes me shake my head. But, hiking we went. Yes, we are certifiably crazy.
Bruce had made a hiking trail up the cliff behind the buildings and I was picturing it as a sort of walk in the bush. Well. Bruce is the original west coast homesteader and hiking wasn’t a girlie activity to him. Previous to this, Jim and I had hiked trails that sometimes had a rope for getting up a steep area. Bruce’s trail had three ropes at least, each one harder to use than the last. We weren’t hiking, we were climbing a cliff, only through the most dense rain forest imaginable and filled, I was positive, with danger just waiting to jump out at us.
Well, I made Jim have the bear spray in hand, I kept yelling, Hey Bear!! loudly every twenty seconds, we crashed through the bush and talked loudly all the way and, in addition, I got myself a cougar stick. That’s right, instead of shopping for a new blouse or new makeup, there I was, shopping for a club. Like a caveman. And I found one, something that made me feel much better. It had a sturdy length to it with a heavy knot at the end, and as we hiked, I practiced smashing it against trees and swinging it with both hands. I worked myself up into a righteous lather of anger at any damn cougar who would dare to try to attack us and I was prepared to fight to the finish. That is, if I didn’t beg for mercy and faint first. Oh boy, what am I doing here?
Well, it turned out that it was a great hike and amazing scenery (it looked like a setting for Lord of the Rings in there), and we made it home in one piece. Lucky for Jim, that’s all I can say.
And so ended our sojourn at the Paddler’s Inn. It really was a time that can’t be described and that we will remember forever. Back to civilization tomorrow in Comox where there’s red lights and cars (imagine that!) and stores (yahoo!) and other people and most importantly, family. We will be having an early Thanksgiving dinner with some of the kids and grandkids and I can’t wait. But that will be another story, so stay tuned.