Van Isle fun
Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
57Trip End May 2010
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Madison's birthday (actually it was Max's, but you know how it goes!)
Lindsey getting a ride in our family friend, Mick's, Triumph
Det and Savanna goofing around
We took the chance to babysit Ben's brother's, Max's, two daughers: Madison and Savanna, and brought our Aussie friends, Dale and Kim, with us. Lindsey, Savanna and Madison (left to right). Dale and Kim, two wonderful Australians we met back in California and continued to travel with in Salt Lake City and Jackson, also visited us in Courtenay, BC.
Dale and Kim made us the famous and dedicate Australian desert: Pavlova Thanks again D and K--the Pavlova was truly a treat for us!
Working Around the House/Max’s Shop
It's all building and renovation at Max's house, all the time, and we partook in the fun! Lindsey got to use the trowling machine and we helped pour concrete for Max's new shop!
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park and Bamfield Marine Station
Welcome to Carmanah!
Sally headed with us to the Caramanah Provincial Park to see the famous giants of the West Coast rainforest. Though Carmanah is home to some of the largest cedar trees around (many of them older than 1000 years!), what really makes Carmanah unusual is the towering groves of virgin sitka spruce. Canada's tallest tree, the Carmanah Giant, at 96m, lives here along the lower reaches of Carmanah Creek.
Sally is a tree hugger
These three enmorous Sitka spruce have grown together over the centuries they've been alive. They have thus named them the Three Sisters.
Carmanah Provinical Park was created in the 1990's as a result of three-way disputes between conservationists, logging companies and the BC provincial government. During this time the last of Vancouver Island's unprotected contiguous tracts of low elevation old growth forest were being imminently threatened by clearcut logging. This sparked intense public debate over the future of these forests. The campaign to protect the Carmanah valley, spearheaded by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, garnered national attention until a decision was made in 1990 by the provincial government to protect the lower half of the approximately 6,000 ha Carmanah watershed. This disappointed conservationists who in 1995 succeeded in getting the entire Carmanah watershed protected, along with the majority of the remaining unlogged lower Walbran watershed.
Awesome nurse logs line the forest floor
The road to Carmanah is a grueling 70+ kilometers on rough dirt road. Since most of the dirt road is shared with the road to Bamfield Marine Sciences Center (and the North start to the famous West Coast Trail) we thought we might as well make a stop in at Bamfield on the way out to see the fascinating Marine Station and pick the brains of some of the world-class marine biologists who are stationed there.
More photos from the Carmanah/Bamfield trip can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benkunz/sets/72157622047576356/
Fishing the Quatsino Sound on the Northwest Coast of Vancouver Island
One of our highlights on this trip was going salmon fishing with Det on the Quatsino Sound.
Heading into the cabin
Det gets really excited about fishing! It's hard to keep him under control!
This was a major highlight for us on this trip. Therefore, we couldn't help ourselves but to recount this experience through more descriptive, creative writing.
We stretched our legs on the dock leading to Det's friend, Mike's, cabin on an inlet near coal harbour. Were' here! We hurried back and forth with load after load of stuff into the cabin, our feet clank-clonking on the metal dock walkway. Food, baid, giant orange survival suits, and more food. We turned on the cabin water and electricity, put on the kettle, and cooked up dinner--our innogural night of BBQ'd moos donglers and piles and piles of veggies--Kunz style! Det actually drank wine, and two glasses at that! It was an auspicuous start.
We awoke gradually and peacefully the next morning...NOT!! Det's 4:45am call, "OK guys! Get up or I'm leaving with out you!" sent us skyrocketting out of bed. Already dressed, we made breakfast: yogurt with fruit and oatmeal, and filled one thermos with coffee and another with hot water for tea and cocoa. We wormed into our oversized survival suits like giant diapers for the whole body and marched out the door like three Michelin babies. The florescent pathway lights welcomed us down the clank-clonking walkway to the dock.
That first trip out to the lighthouse was just magical. Our open-bow fishing boat seemed like the only thing that was awake and moving for miles. Not even the water was awake; it was as smooth as glass. In the dim dawn light, one could just barely make out the shapes of steep, densely vegitated islands and the abrupt line where the trees came right down to the waterline. Our bodies warm from the survival suits, only our exposed faces felt the cool, thick air of sea, salt, and fish.
Quatsino Sound sunrise
Within forty minutes, we arrived at our fishing cove. Det killed the motor to a troll and eagerly rigged the fishing lines. Before we even got the downrigger to the right depth and let out the line we welled, "I think we've got something!"
Ben and Det with one of the amazing coho beauties
This was to be the course for the morning. One after another, salmon nibbled at our bait of anchovies--non-native to the area. It was Lindsey's first time fishing this way, but she had ample opportunity to practice reeling in one big fish after the next.
One fish in particular really excited us. Shortly after Lindsey started reeling it in, it ran out massive spools of line.
"Let 'er go!" Det cried out, urging Lindsey to let the fish pull out as much line as it wanted so we didn't break the line. "It must be a spring!"
We soon discovered that whatever fish initially took the bait, it wasn't a fish on the line now--we were now fighting a harbour seal that was also interested in our fish! We already lost our gear on one snapped line this morning so Det was determined not to lose another flasher and setup to this old scavenger of the sea. He took control of the rod from LIndsey and instructed Ben to follow the seal ever closer to the rocky shore. Lindsey watched in nervous anticipation as the rolling waves bobbed us within twenty feet of the cliffs.
"There's the bastard right by the shore there," Det exclaimed. "Do you see him? And he has our fish!" After forty minutes or so of wrestling with the seal, the seal finally got the fish off the line and we got our gear back.
We trolled the erily calm waters into the early afternoon until Det pulled in our first spring (king) salmon--well over 30lbs! We proudly picked up and sped for the cabin with six coho and one spring decorating our fish bucket.
The second day of fishing wasn't quite as hot as day one, but it was steady indeed. Lindsey kicked off the morning by reeling in a gorgeous 33lb spring.
Lindsey was barely able to lift this huge spring (chinook, aka king for those readers in the States)!
We were more selective the second day, but still kept the spring, three coho, and Ben brought in a little cod for fish and chips.
Ben's expensive cod, which cost us a cannon ball on the ocean floor
Det caught a little too much wind in his hair! He also caught a hook in the finger, line and flashers wrapped around his head, and the fishing net pole to his noggin', all thanks to us greenbeans!
Between bites, we were entertained by the unbelievable numbers of bait, the schools of herring all leaping from the ocean at once, hundreds at a time, glittering a patch of sea as bigger fish taunted them from beneath.
We got the true island harbour experience. Thirteen fish, bomber weather, island deer greeting the snuggly cabin, apple crisp made form apples picked in the back, and native remains from an ancient burial site.
Indian sacred bones
Sea otters were lazing all over the Sound! These guys eat about 1/3 of their body weight every day! Sea otters on their backs clakcing together shells for food. The otters are making a terrific comeback in B.C.
More photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benkunz/sets/72157622026452451/
Hiking in Strathcona Park
Lindsey and I had two free days pop up so we packed up quickly and jetted off to explore Vancouver Island's prodigious Strathcona Park. On a whim, we picked the hike to Cream Lake (which we later found out is one of the island's more coveted hikes!).
Lindsey and I have been packing for our upcoming hunting trip to northern BC and our Asia trip (which will be directly after) so our packs were sort of out of commission. Here's Lindsey with a pack she borrowed from Det! Thanks much for lending these to us!
Ben stoked to have arrived at Bedwell Lake. Ben had been burning the midnight oil: clearing logging roads, late night babysitting, mild debauchery with Aussies, racing off to Strathcona Park, etc., that by the time we started the Cream Lake hike, he was pretty burnt out. Uncharacteristically, he dropped way behind Lindsey's solid pace.
By the time we had the tent up at Bedwell Lake, the rains so common to the West Coast afternoons (even in August) had started! Though it would have been nice not to have to spend the rest of the day and night in the tent to stay dry, Ben was relieved to catch up on some serious sleep - like 12 hours worth!!
But we woke up to this! (Tom Taylor mountain 1778 m/5833 ft)
And this! (Big Interior Mountain 1857 m/6093 ft)
Lindsey is so pysched she's styling some one-armed push-ups!
From Little John Lake
Mount Septimus in the distance
More photos from our hike: http://www.flickr.com/photos/benkunz/sets/72157622001632453/
Where I stayed
Chez Det and Sally