Day 14 - Monday June 9 - Butedale to Gribbell Island
Looking back on Butedale as I paddle off in Fraser Reach.
After a good nights sleep in Lou’s guest room in Butedale, I was up at 5am and getting ready to go. Lou was up already stoking his wood burning heater to get the morning chill out of the air. I had some coffee and conversation with Lou, then said good-bye and was launching into a light rain at 7am.
This section of Princess Royal Channel is known as Fraser Reach and is one of the prettiest sections of the Inside Passage in Canada. Along it were dozens of big waterfalls, swollen with runoff from all the rain that had been falling the last few days.
A waterfall on Fraser Reach.
The current in Fraser Reach was supposed to flow northward on a falling tide. Today’s low tide for this area was at 12:30pm so my first 5 ½ hours of paddling should have been with a favorable tide. The current for some reason was flowing against me slowing my progress. At around 10am the wind started picking up and blowing right at me from the north creating some large waves. I was now actually glad the current was flowing in the same direction as the wind because if the two were opposed, the waves would have been much higher and steeper.
Paddling in the rain on Fraser Reach.
I reached Kincome Point where Fraser Reach and McKay Reach meet at 12 noon. There were now two to three foot waves coming at me from two directions. A 15-20 mph wind was blowing from the north producing waves that would hit the vertical rock face of the shoreline and refract back at me creating a washing machine effect. From 11:00am to 12:30pm, I could not stop paddling for even a second, or risk being overturned by this angry sea. There was no place to land so I had no choice but to keep paddling.
Entering Mc Kay Reach after rounding Kingcome Point.
As I rounded Kincome Point, I had decided to cut my day short and look for a campsite where I could rest and get out of the wind. I headed for a cove just west of the point hoping to find refuge. This spot had been noted as a potential campsite in a guidebook but I could see no suitable place to spend the night. It had recently been used as a logging staging area and the ground was all torn up by heavy equipment. Just as I was contemplating my situation, the wind started to die down and the waves disappeared. My luck had just changed.
Approaching Trivett Point on Princess Royal Island on the left with Point Cumming on Gribbell Island visible in the distance across Mc Kay Reach.
If the weather held out, my original campsite destination on Gribbell Island was now in reach. I made a beeline to Trivett Point halfway down the south side of McKay Reach reaching it at 2pm. By now the wind had unbelievably dropped to almost dead calm so I confidently headed diagonally across McKay Reach 4 miles to Point Cumming. This was the channel that both the BC and Alaska ferries use to traverse the Inside Passage so I kept a constant lookout for any distant ships approaching.
My campsite near Point Cumming on Gribbell Island.
As I rounded Point Cumming and entered Wright Sound the strong wind that I had been fighting earlier was back. Apparently, Gribbell Island had been acting as a windbreak for me as I paddled McKay Reach in complete calm. Luckily, my intended campsite was very close by and it ended up being the perfect spot to stop for the night.
Drying my gear in the sun on Gribbell Island.
This turned out to be another of my favorite campsites of the trip. The beach here is composed of smooth rounded pebbles that are comfortable to camp on and are easy on your kayak and other equipment. It is high enough to keep a tent above high tides and boat wakes from the many ships that passed while I was at this site. The view from here is also spectacular looking out across Wright Sound and Whale Channel. The afternoon was sunny and breezy so I took the opportunity to dry out all my wet gear and clothing at this beautiful spot. This campsite is 24 miles from Butedale and I reached it at 3:30pm after paddling 8 ½ hours.
I left a cairn here high up on a big boulder. Try to spot it if you use this site.
A cruise ship passes in Wright Sound.