Submitted by Kevin A
On a sunny Monday morning in March, 7 of us met at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Colleen, Helen, Jayne, John, Kelly had signed up for Nick’s trip to South Thormanby Island for 5 days. I had been to Thormanby and stayed at Buccaneer Bay for the Weather Course a few years earlier. However this was one of Nick’s trips. These aren’t just kayak trips. They are always a bit of unexpected explorations and adventures.
The plan was to drive up to Redroofs Road in Halfmoon Bay and launch from Coopers Green park and camp at Simson Park. So we all took the ferry to Langdale and drove up to the launch. The plan that Nick suggested, was to do a bit of coastal exploring before making the crossing of Welcome Passage over to our campsite. So we headed over towards Jeddah Point checking out the coast and a potential camping area Nick was interested in checking out. Just as we all were doing this, John just realized he hadn’t packed his sleeping bag. When I heard this, I was thinking of all the scenarios we had done on the Trip Leaders training a few years back.
Luckily for John he had packed a wood burning stove that he was trying out on this trip. He had left his sleeping bag at home, but decided he could continue without it.
After that bit of drama we landed at our campsite. I don’t think any of us were too enthusiastic at first. It had lots of logs to walk over and to me had a slope. Nick read the lack of enthusiasm of the group and offered us a choice to paddle on to Farm Bay. After a discussion the group decided to stay.
So we all found a spot and setup our tents for the next couple of days. We setup a kitchen with a tarp and Nick made a latrine. Now, this latrine was something of an obstacle course to say the least. You had to walk up to the end of the tents, walk through a small stream, up a mossy rocky embankment over two logs about 3 feet high. Just so we didn’t get lost there was flagging tape. We also put a system in place whereby an old bilge pump was put on the trail when in use. So your trips definitely had to be planned.
The first night was a cold one. This was an early season trip, but seeing frost on our boats in the morning wasn’t something I had expected. However we survived.
Nick spoke with the group that morning to see what they wanted to do that day. The idea was to circumnavigate the islands. However there was some concern about the winds. The plan was to head towards Buccaneer Bay and if the winds picked up, the group could turn around. John & Kelly decided they wouldn’t join the paddle.
The rest of us got in our kayaks and paddled towards Buccaneer Bay. The conditions were good so we paddled around North Thormanby and stopped for lunch on the W shore of the Buccaneer Bay camp site. It was a nice spot to stop and enjoy the sun. After lunch no one was really itching to go. However we were only about half way around the island. So we got back into our kayaks and paddled the rest of the way back. The conditions were great and everyone enjoyed the paddle.
Once we got our gear put away, we all found a nice sunny spot on the beach and Happy Hour kicked in. The group heard the day’s events of exploring by John & Kelly. It was so nice on the beach we continued to make dinner and have a small fire until it got too cold.
The next morning we once again met on the beach and had coffee and made breakfast. The plan was to hike to Spyglass Hill. However there were old logging roads and trails that were unmarked. As well there was private property with stories from Nick of an unwelcoming caretaker on an ATV. However Nick as usual had a plan. He had brought gardening tools to do trail maintenance and flag our own trail. So we headed off with garden loppers and clippers in hand and cut a trail with some guidance from our phones, smart watches and good old maps. Some of it was easy going and some was just plain old bushwhacking. At one point we got to a knoll where we all regrouped and decided to stop for lunch as there seemed to be no easy route to our destination.
After lunch we decided to back track a bit and eventually we found a nice trail sign to Spyglass Hill. The climb was fairly steep and we had to take a short break to drink water and take off a layer of clothing. At this point I saw John take some Arbutus bark and put it into his water bottle. I am thinking is this some sort of Gatorade beverage or is he running low on food?
Well the story John told is that he watched a Survivorman episode where you use this bark. So he wanted to try it. Gotta give to him for turning this trip into one of survival. He wins hands down.
We made it to the top of the hill and had great views of the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. It was well worth the trip.
After we had rested, taken photos and had snacks we started the descent. We took a bit of a different trail back to our campsite. However we managed to find a well maintained trail that required minimal maintenance. So next time no trail blazing required.
That evening at dinner we had all been looking at the weather for our last day on Friday. It was supposed to be a change and it was predicting rain. So the group decided we would cut our trip short by one day and head back on Thursday.
On Thursday morning we all got up and made our breakfast on the beach and packed up our boats. Nick had suggested we head down to Farm Bay. This was a campsite he had led a small group to last year. So we paddled down to this site and packed our lunches to go check out this former farm. Now, this farm was something else. There was not a farmhouse any longer, but a small lake with a few fruit trees around where the house used to be. There was a trail and a bridge that you may have been able to walk around the lake. This place was a birder's dream and was so relaxing as we enjoyed lunch in the warm sun.
After lunch Nick had suggested we paddle over to Merry’s Island and circumnavigate it. So we headed over and checked out the weather station and a nice house that the lighthouse keeper lived in.
We continued toward Welcome Beach and up the coast back to Coopers Green Park where our cars were.
As is typical of the end of a trip, a whirl wind of activity occurs. We packed up our gear, got changed and said our goodbyes. The next Ferry from Langdale was at 5:25 pm. If Google Maps was correct it would give us about 10 minutes to spare. We all made it and fortunately the ferry had a slight delay. So we had time to spare and we all got on the ferry.
We all went to the cafeteria and grabbed some food and chatted. It was a nice way to end a fun filled trip. As usual Nick’s leadership took us to explore some new places we may never have discovered.