The events that occur in this story happened on the second day of a 4 day paddle trip on the Sechelt Inlet…
It was the first camping trip that Maelys and I had together and we were planning 4 days canoeing and camping up the Sechelt inlet. The weather for the Canada Day weekend was looking promising so the excitement was flowing.
The first day was everything we expected and went without a hitch. We saw a black bear sitting on the shoreline, there were eagles flying above us and the wind was favourable. Once in camp (Nine Mile) we had a great evening eating around camp and watching the sunset. It was the perfect way to start our trip.
Day 2 – The Sleepless Night
The plan for Day two was to head to the abandoned Bible Camp that’s situated a couple miles inside Salmon Inlet and then camp at Kunichen Point for the night.
Not long having turned into the Salmon Inlet we could see a clearing in the woods at the edge of the water. Once we got a little closer we saw a big building poking out.
“This has to be the Bible Camp” I said. It looked like it, and it certainly felt like it.
We paddled towards the camp and soon found ourselves on the beach. We were keen to check out the area so we left our stuff in the canoe and went for a walk. We had hardly started when we began to get the creeps. A little deck chair was just sitting in the sand, the water lapping at it’s legs, looking as if it hadn’t left this spot for quite a while. Heading straight into the woods we could see rows of old dorms for the kids that attended camp. There was no glass in the windows and the doors were hanging off, and what paint remained was flaking . Although it was a bright summers day, the darkness hung inside. We couldn’t taper our curiosity and took a look inside.
We slowly stepped up to the door and as our feet were about to enter the room the silence was broken by the sound of a bird flapping in panic. It rushed from inside and flew away, leaving both of us startled. “fuck that” if we were going to take another look.
We turned on our heels and quickly moved on, nervously laughing feeling a little silly but also scared!
The main building that we saw in the clearing was empty but it was clear there had been some parties here in the past. Empty beer cans, charred wood and graffiti. Another was clearly a play house with a tall slide coming from the top window.
We decided to head back to the beach and get some lunch and do some sun bathing. It was a beautiful spot despite the creepy camp peeking through the forest.
After a couple of hours we decided that it was probably time for us to head off to Kunichen Point . We didn’t really want to leave, but where we were wasn’t one of the “designated” camping spots so we thought it would probably be better to paddle on.
The wind had got up a little and the water had turned a bit choppy but it wasn’t anything that we felt was beyond our abilities. As we left the protection of the shore we really felt the wind as it hit us head on. It made paddling and turning difficult. It was actually quite exciting as the nose of the canoe was bobbing up and down over the small waves. It took us about an hour to cross the Inlet and we were quite relieved to be at the camp. We could see that there were a couple of boats there already. We tied up and went to find ourselves a spot. Looking around and all the designated areas had already been taken up. We went for more of a wonder and still there wasn’t anything and there was no suitable place for our tent. There wasn’t any fresh water for drinking either. We looked at each other and tried to figure out what we should do next. I was conscious that this was the first trip out together so I wanted it to be fun and perfect but the current situation wasn’t ideal. I knew that the only real option was to get back in the canoe and paddle back to 9 Mile camp, where we had stayed the night before. I was searching for an alternative as that would require crossing the inlet again plus paddling for another hour after that. We were both tired from the adventure of the first crossing.
We both agreed that we had no real option and so we got back in and pointed the canoe to the point on the opposite side of the mouth of the Salmon Inlet. We left the safety of the cove where we had moored and we felt the wind again, this time a little harder. When we left, the point was on our right. After 10 or 15 minutes, we look to our right again, and was disappointed to see that it was still there, just a little smaller. The wind was blowing us further into the Salmon Inlet, away where we wanted to be. We were paddling through treacle. I was at the back trying to keep us in a straight line with Maelys at the front. Every stroke we took used 100% effort to keep us going forward just a little. As we were blown further and further away from where we wanted to go, we got closer and closer to the bible camp. There was a point during that paddle that we admitted we weren’t going to reach 9 Mile Camp and accepted that our only option was to go back to Bible Camp!
The winds died down as we got closer to the shore and we could take a bit of a breather. We were exhausted. We pulled the canoe up as far as we could and set-up camp. The sun was still warm out of the wind, so after the tent was up we tool a much deserved rest for the rest of the afternoon, eating in between. Despite the trials of the double crossing, the mood was good, and we were lucky to be in a pretty spectacular place. Soon enough it was time for bed so I went and tied the food up in a tree down the way, and got ourselves comfortable.
Middle of the Night
“What was going on?” I thought as I was slowly waking up
“do you hear the noise?” Maelys whispers to me.
Another hard squeeze of the hand notified me that THAT was the noise I needed to listen to. It was breathing. And it was heavy.
*Snort – Snort *
The noise didn’t seem to move on.
We laid on our backs, still, holding hands. With my free hand I quietly and slowly moved to an inside pocket of the tent to find my knife and bear spray. They were there. The breathing didn’t fade but now there was the noise of it’s body rubbing against the tent. Maelys squeezed harder. She could feel it through the material that separated us.
I could feel my heart was pounding inside my chest that I am sure it could hear it outside. I found it difficult to keep my breathes from being heard.
Maelys could feel that it had moved away now and the breathing could no longer be heard. It was replaced by a sound coming from water. It’s the kind of sound you get when a big, round rock is thrown into deep water, a satisfying “Kabouup”
This kept us guessing what it could have been. A goose … maybe it could be a goose … or maybe a seal. no no, geese don’t sound like that and the seal wouldn’t have made it’s way round to the back end of the tent. a…deer… we had hoped. The noise finally left and what felt like hours, was probably 10 minutes only. We couldn’t sleep after and all that kept going through both our minds was … that was definitely a bear.
An hour or so later…
Over an hour later, I needed to pee. I had been holding it in for a while but you can understand why I didn’t fancy a trip out of the tent. I’d rather not know. I couldn’t wait any longer so I told Maelys that I needed to go, but I’d be right outside.
To my surprise, I was greeted by the high tide. After evaluating our tent’s position and agreeing we were certainly above the tide mark, i took a look of our surroundings and couldn’t see any bear or the like, in sight. What I could see was 80% of our canoe floating in the sea. I didn’t bother tying it up as I thought it was brought high enough, clearly not. A little further down the beach I could see our food hanging well above what was now ocean.
I hoped that come breakfast, the tide will be low enough to retrieve the food [I knew that it would be as it would be in at least 5 hours time]!
I whispered back into the tent that I was bringing the canoe up before finally going for my pee. The water was as still as a pond, which is why I didn’t see what was coming next. As soon as I my pee hit the water it shone a bright luminous green.
I stopped mid-way and though not for the first time that night, “WTF?”. I continued and I felt like a child. The bear was forgotten as I was captivated by what Google later informed me to be bioluminescence.
“Porcupette – you have to come and see this! The sea is GREEN!”
The rest of the trip
The rest of the trip was bear and fear free. The day after our midnight visitor, would provide us with another strenuous paddle however. More winds and tired bodies from the double crossing the day before, kept us going no further than 9 Mile camp, but we and gave ourselves a long afternoon off to rest and recoup.
The final day was a walk in the park and we were surrounded by thousands of jelly fish in the last couple of hours in our trip.
This really was an adventurous first camping / paddle trip together and it was certainly a stress-test for us, but we passed with flying colours. And out of it came a story to be told many years to come.
Scott & Maelys