February 12 to March 1, 2017 - Kitimat to Butedale, B.C.
We were very excited at the beginning of the week to finally think that we would be able to paddle again. The afternoon of February 13 was particularly beautiful. However, two days of intense rain were forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. We decided to be wise and made the decision to stay at the marina and leave on Thursday, unless the forecast improved before then.
During the week, we met with Tracey and Candice. They came to say goodbye. Jacinthe also visited and brought us coho salmon that she, and her partner David, had canned. It melted in our mouth. Delicious! Thank you Jacinthe! The day would have been good to leave on Wednesday, but I had promised to make a promotional video for the marina. I had a lot of fun doing it. Here is the link to view it: https://www.facebook.com/mkbaymarina/videos/1124460297664160/. We began to feel the excitement of our departure again. We thought on Wednesday night that unless Environment Canada issued a warning, we would leave despite the rain on Thursday.
In the early morning Thursday the 16th, Pierre went to have his coffee with Kevin at 6:30. It was still dark. This was a habit that Pierre had developed since our arrival at the marina, to have his coffee with Kevin. But this time, it was the last morning that the two would spend together. It was raining hard in the morning, but we were all very happy. Even Jasmine was overexcited. It had been a long time since we had seen her so resplendent. She did not even care about her raincoat that we had put on her. She knew that the day had arrived.
We filled the canoe and had an easy portage to the water (see picture). We said goodbye to our friends, Kevin, Betty, James, Joseline and Reg (who came to see us). Thank you all for your generosity and hospitality. A special thanks to Kevin and Betty. Thank you for everything.
The departure in the rain was pretty and sweet. What a joy to be back on the water! Jasmine did not hesitate before stepping onto the deck of the canoe. The smell of the salt water and algae permeated the air. Finally, the water was clear! A huge difference from the Peace River. Sometimes the water was turquoise, then emerald. We could not see the mountains and their snow-capped peaks, which we had so long contemplated from the marina, because of clouds and mist. This gave a mysterious atmosphere to the day, especially when we crossed bays and could barely distinguish the valleys and the hills. We also saw a helicopter carrying tree trunks from the top of the mountains and dropping them into the water. This method is widely used in British Columbia for tree harvesting as no roads go to the sampling sites.
At the height of Kildala Arm the wind and waves rose. Our progression became slow. It was not expected. Nevertheless, we quickly found our ease in these conditions. With the wind, the mist dissipated and the rain stopped. We were finally able to enjoy all the beauty that nature had to offer and the beautiful landscapes. Really amazing! We saw seals and otters in abundance (unfortunately too fast to be able to take pictures of them before Jasmine chased them).
At sunset, we arrived at Weewanie Creek. At this location, there is a trapper cabin owned by Sammy Robinson (internationally recognized Haisla sculptor and artist). The cabin is made available to all by the Haisla Nation, which takes care of it, as well as all other trappers' cabins set up in the territory. The place was ideal for us. There was even a wood stove to keep the cabin warm and to dry our clothes.
The next morning, while Pierre was playing with Jasmine on a secluded beach, Jasmine could not resist the call of nature and fled. She was gone so long that we had to change our plans. We had planned to leave that morning and enjoy the good weather to move on, but due to the late hour, we decided to stay. This gave us the opportunity to walk through the forest and get to the Hot Springs. The forest was magical! Everything was so green and oversized! Moss grows everywhere. It smells good and fresh. From the rocks along the shoreline, we could see how calm the water was. The sky was clear that day and we could see the mountains overlooking the Douglas Channel. The sun made the snow shine.
Saturday was a rather difficult day. It began with calm water. Then, in the Devastation Channel, just after passing the arm going to Kemano, we were hit by gales and the waves suddenly built, waves and standing waves of 10 feet. We had a bad 15km in that stretch before the calm returned. We began to develop sore necks, because we spent our time looking everywhere and mentioning out loud all the wonders we saw. From the bottom of the water to the top of the mountains, everything was beautiful! We saw sea urchins and starfish. The motto on the British Columbia license plate is "Beautiful British Columbia". Well, we agree!
On Sunday, February 19, we arrived at Monkey Beach after an improvised escapade on Gribbell Island. The Monkey Beach cabin is a bit harder to see, but is in a great location. We were not aware, when we arrived, that this place was going to become our home for the next eight days. The weather has not cooperated with us at all. The temperature is too cold to paddle with Jasmine (too risky for her); Gale warnings; Strong waves; Snow and low visibility, we were treated with everything. Nevertheless, we took advantage of our stay by walking everyday in the forest. This forest seems to come straight out of the Avatar movie. The trees are big, tall, green and their branches are twisted. Unfortunately, the pictures do not represent the atmosphere that emerges from the forest. So, if you really want to see what we mean by Avatar forest, you will have to go see for yourself :)
Our day-to-day life consisted of finding dry wood for the stove, splitting it and fetching fresh water from a stream on the other side of the cabin, at the end of Monkey Beach. We were lucky to have been able to stay so long and warm in the cabin. A huge thank you again to the Haisla Nation for the access to the cabins and their magnificent location.
Monday morning, February 27th, we finally left Monkey Beach after spending 8 nights there. There was no gale warning in effect and it wasn't too cold. It was our chance to move. We left at 9:15 as the tide was still rising. Despite the fact that we had the tide against us, we progressed very well. We made more than 7 km/h of average speed in the morning. Then, the waves and winds returned as we neared Goat Bay and McKay Reach. We add lunch in the canoe and continued our journey through the Princess Royal Channel. At that moment, the tide had begun to recede, but we were still paddling against it. Our average speed was slower this time, but despite all the elements, we arrived at Butedale around 4:00 p.m. Cory Lindsay, the guardian of Butedale, was already waiting for us. He was on the dock with his dog Buddy. Reg had advised him in advance of our arrival (thanks Reg!). We received a wonderful welcome from a very friendly man.
Cory lives here permanently since 2012. Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, he fell in love with the place in 2009 on a trip. For him, no day is alike. Each day reserves its share of surprise and wonder. A fan of photo and video, he regularly updates his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cory.lindsay.7?fref=ts) and his Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUva1Y2to1M_PNhuV1Fbe2g). We spent the evening of the 28th with him watching his videos. Very impressive. He shares his discoveries with passion. He is in the front row and sees, before his eyes and those of his faithful companions, the flora and fauna flourishing and changing with the seasons. He also had the chance to see a Spirit bear or Kermode bear. He made videos of his encounters. You can watch it on his Youtube channel, as well as the whales coming into Butedale harbour.
Butedale was once a village in full effervescence. Formally founded in 1918 on the island of Princess Royal, Butedale was occupied, among others, by Canadian Fishing Company until the 1950s. The fish canning plant provided employment to more than 400 people during the good years. The town had been set up at a strategic location. He was completely autonomous. The pure water that descends, via a series of falls from Butedale lake, supplies electricity thanks to a turbine. Even today, the site still uses the same facilities for its electricity needs. The owner of the place has great and interesting projects for Butedale. We wish the success for the future project and a long life for Butedale. And we hope that Cory will continue to share his story through the social networks, because his life, far from being monotonous, is fascinating and inspires the respect for the nature.
Today, March 1, we are still in Butedale. It snowed heavily yesterday (more than a foot of snow) and still today. Cory showed us pictures taken on March 9 last year. A huge difference from this year (see picture below). The weather forecasts still show a lot of snowfall and abundant rain for the next week. Therefore, there is a good chance we will spend more time here. We cannot complain because the company is very pleasant. We are also very comfortable. Cory lets us use one of the houses. We are sheltered from the bad weather and warm. Cory, a thousand thanks for the hospitality and great generosity.
Finally, I would like to share a link for a video created by Cory about Butedale in the old days, titled: Butedale Remembrance by Cory Lindsay (pictures from the old days).