Day 18 - Monday - June 25 - Cordero Lodge to Hardwicke Island
The Cordero Lodge.
Today’s route involved paddling through two areas where tidal rapids are created by swift flowing tidal currents. Just two miles from Cordero Lodge was Greene Point Rapids and then thirteen miles further on would be Whirlpool Rapids. If the timing of the passage through these rapids is done correctly, a paddler will not even know there is a hazard in the area. The strategy for running Green Point Rapids, is to go through at slack before ebb. From here, the falling tide will provide a push all the way down Chancellor and Wellbore Channels to Whirlpool Rapids.
The dock at Cordero Lodge.
Although we were ready to go early in the morning, we had to wait until 12:45pm to launch to be at Greene Point Rapids at slack, which would be at 1:45pm today. We paddled slowly along the north shore of Cordero Channel and were able to sneak through the small opening between Cordero Island and the mainland. We continued hugging the north shore all the way to Loughborough Inlet. Taking this route at slack tide allowed us to completely avoid any rough water altogether.
The Cordero Lodge.
Guidebooks for this area indicated that there were few if any possible campsites along this stretch of the route. The only campsite that would be possible to reach today, was in a small bay near the western end of Hardwicke Island. This meant that it would be impossible to wait for slack tide to make the run through Whirlpool Rapids, as we would not be able to reach this campsite before dark. These rapids were also noted to not be as bad as the others we had encountered already, so the decision was made to approach cautiously and see what the water looked like before heading through. No standing waves or rushing water was present, but there were many spots where the water was boiling to the surface as it was deflected off submerged rocks. By just keeping a steady stroke, with the paddle constantly in the water for balance, we made it through with no problem.
We turned the corner into Sunderland Channel at 6pm, still riding the falling tide and with the wind at our backs. Just as the guidebooks had said, there was no place to camp anywhere along this stretch of the Hardwicke Island shoreline. We kept paddling close to shore hoping to find our home for the evening at any moment. At 7:45pm after paddling 23 miles in 7 hours, we finally reached the small bay, which held a nice campsite located on a gravel peninsula between a small island and the shore.
The campsite on Hardwicke Island.
This campsite was fine for this evening because the tides would be in the low range. If high spring tides had been due overnight, the beach would have been unusable. A few spots in the trees above the beach could provide a passable campsite if necessary.
Since Hardwicke Island is so big and remote, it was the first place I had camped on this leg of the trip that actually held the possibility of running into a Brown Bear. Since there were no trees nearby suitable for hanging a food cache, we placed our food far away from the tents in accordance with good bear avoidance practices.