Day 13 - Sunday - June 8 - Green Inlet to Butedale

Heading up the Graham Reach section of Princess Royal Channel on a calm morning.

The rain came down hard overnight on my campsite in Green Inlet. I was using just my pyramid tent with a blue plastic tarp spread out for a floor and it worked great. All my gear stayed completely dry including my sleeping bag, which was inside a bivy sack. After waking up at 5am, I had packed up and was shoving off at 7:40am.

A waterfall and steep valley wall on Graham Reach.

So far, on the trip I had been paddling with a short sleeve nylon shirt under my wetsuit and a Gore Tex paddling jacket on top. Until yesterday, this combination had been working well but the wind, rain, and now colder air temperature conspired to make me uncomfortable. Today I added a fleece underwear top to my paddling clothes and this made a big difference. I was easily able to regulate the warmth by adjusting the neck zipper and the wrist closures on my paddling jacket. This fleece top became standard attire from here on through out the rest of the trip.

A following wind from the south helps me paddle up Graham Reach.

As I paddled up Princess Royal Channel staying close to the mainland shoreline I saw a pod of Orcas far across on the west side. These Orcas were most likely the same ones I spotted yesterday in Green Inlet. The wind was calm until around 10am when it started to pick up out of the southwest. This, along with a favorable current going my way, helped me to make good time. Today’s weather was characteristic for this area, heavy clouds and a light sporadic drizzle that continued from morning to night.

Princess Royal Channel was one of the prettiest sections of my Inside Passage trip.

I have heard other paddlers comment that they did not like paddling in the long straight channels that make up this area of the Inside Passage. For me it was some of the best paddling on the trip. When the clouds would lift, the scenery was spectacular with waterfalls and snowfields visible among the forested slopes. Wind was seldom a problem as it is sometimes in more exposed areas. The concentrated boat traffic in the long channels always assured something interesting to view and the comforting thought that you were not completely alone in this remote wilderness. The only negative thing I noticed about paddling in the channels was that when a BC ferry would pass, its wake could sometimes be very large. This required constant vigilance while paddling as it was necessary to face the kayak into oncoming wakes to maintain control. Campsites with additional clearance had to be found to compensate for big boat wakes hitting the shore in the middle of the night. This was the time when ferries frequently passed and tides were usually at their highest. It seemed that when the Alaska ferry would pass, its wake was never as big as a BC ferry. This was possibly due to the difference in hull shapes or the faster speed of the BC ferry.

I spotted this Brown Bear feeding on grass about three miles south of Butedale.

About a mile past Khutze Inlet, I crossed over to the west side of Princess Royal Channel slowly making my way toward today’s destination, Butedale. Just before reaching Butedale, I spotted a large male brown bear feeding in a grassy area next to a stream. My presence did not seem to affect him at all and he just kept feeding as if I were not even there.

My first view of Butedale and the falls.

After paddling 22 miles, I reached Butedale at 2:30pm. The dock here is very kayaker friendly and it is easy to get all your gear and boat completely out of the water and secured. The caretaker, Lou Simoneau, greeted me at the dock and set me up with a place to stay for the night. Accommodations here are perfect for a kayaker passing through. Lou has two bedrooms in his house set up for the weary traveler. Although they are not fancy by any measure the price is right, only $20. After taking a shower and then cooking dinner in Lou’s kitchen, he gave me a tour around the grounds.

The bunkhouse in Butedale.

One of the most interesting things Lou showed me was the water powered generator hooked up to a bunch of batteries that provides him with all the electricity he needs to live comfortably in this remote location. Lou walked me through some of the houses that workers lived in when Butedale was an operating fish cannery from 1918 to the mid 1950’s. At its peak, Butedale had 400 workers living onsite working in the salmon cannery and involved in fishing, logging and mining. The buildings are now falling into disrepair, and unless the site it rehabilitated in some way, it will not be long before this quaint, historical, Canadian outpost is just a memory.

One of the old cannery buildings in Butedale.

Lou is from Quebec and speaks with a French accent that is very similar to the Cajun French accent that I am so familiar with in south Louisiana. We stayed up late talking about life in rural BC and even watched a good video Lou had about the Kermodal bear. For anyone paddling the Inside Passage, a night at Butedale is a definite must.

My kayak on the dock at Butedale.