Hemingway’s First Overnight Kayak Trip, Blackberry Point on Valdes Island

In Activity, Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, Kayaking, Regional Districts by Explorington2 Comments

GPS route with photographs
GPS Route with photographs in place

Total Distance: 30 km

I’ve made this trip many times before in the company of my good friends (you can find a previous trip here). The destination is not far from where I live, nor is it particularly challenging to get to. However, it is one of my favourite locations to visit. Its an idyllic paradise which is reachable by a variety of routes and can work as a way point on a longer trip or launching point for mini adventures. Each of these opportunities  offer their own unique views of what the gulf islands have to offer.

This is the first time Hemingway, my son whom is only 12 months old this month, will do an overnight kayaking trip. It is not his first time in a tent, it’s not even his first time in a kayak. When he was just one month old we camped at San Joseph Bay for 5 nights and you can read about his first kayaking experience here. 

We left home around 11 am and with only a few quick stops we had the kayaks loaded up and we we had the kayak loaded up and ready to launch, from cedar by the sea. The conditions were as the forecast predicted, mild winds from the south, with dark clouds creating overcast conditions.


The tide was flowing as we departed cedar. By the time we reached Hole in the Wall, between Link Island and De Courcy Island, there was just enough water in the gap for us to fit through, about 8 inches. Some other boats were also waiting for the tide and their turn to make it through the passage, when we arrived.

At Hole in the Wall, waiting for another boat to pass througgh
At Hole in the Wall, waiting for another boat to pass through

For most of the paddle the sky remained dark and cloudy but the air temperature was pleasantly warm. Hemingway was a little stinker. Impatient, as a 12 month should be, he moved back and forth between his mother’s cockpit, the center hatch and my cockpit. He is becoming very curious about his surroundings and has the makings of a great mariner.  He was leaning way over the edge of the boat, dragging his fingers, placing one hand and finally both hands in the sea; including his rubber ducky. Fortunately he didn’t fall out!

I'm not sure who is happier in this photograph
I’m not sure who’s happier in this photograph

Once through the hole, we followed the De Coursy Island eastern coast between all the smaller islets. Ones we approached Pirates Cover we cut across the Chanel to Valdes Island and quickly made it to one of the only gaps in the cliff sides of Valdes. Somewhere after the hole Hemingway fell asleep,  just as we reached this gap, he awoke.

Passing through an oyster farm

We exited the kayak to stretch our legs and explore the area. On a previous trip I spent a night here with Michael P. Kim, Hemingway and me wandered around inspecting the area. I still wish to return to this area in the future, though I will definitely bring wood.

One of Valdes Island's many magnificent cliffs
One of Valdes Island’s many magnificent cliffs
Hemingway and mom from above

We took a few photographs up on the ledge and then carried on our way toward Blackberry Point. The paddle took longer than it should because we were heading into a southern wind. As we approached we could see the beach had a lot of kayaks on the beach, possibly up to a dozen. Fortunately many of them were together on a tour offered by Adventuress so we were able to sneak in beside them and put up our tents. We setup camp right away. Kim took care of Hemingway, changing, washing (his dirty dirty feet!) and feeding him, while I put up both tents and the tarp. It didn’t take long and since there sun was still hot, even though it was after 6 pm Hemingway and me went for a little dip, he skinny dipped!

Hemingway exploring Blackberry Point's amazing shell sand
Hemingway exploring Blackberry Point’s amazing shell sand
Hemingway hangs on for dear life!
Hemingway hangs on for dear life!
Just one more pass!
Just one more pass!

After the swim Hem was getting cranky. The long day in the sun, short nap and teething combined to make for one hard to please little monkey.We put him to bed in the tent. He lay down almost immediately, spending little time on his feet in his unfamiliar cloth prison. For 30 minutes he cried but eventually after only one visit with mommy the juice factory and a little baby Tylenol to ease the teething troubles,  he went to sleep. While Kim was doing all this, I built a fire and roasted some smokies and toasted a few buns. We sat together, ate our sausages and watched the sun slowly descend. Enjoying the fire and each others’ company, Kim reviewed the videos and photographs from the day, while I recorded the notes in my journal.

Pylades Island from Blackberry Point with the much smaller Tree Island in the center
Pylades Island from Blackberry Point with the much smaller Tree Island in the center

Day 2

I woke around 7 and set about pulling camp down. The night had been warm and there was no condensation on the tents so I was able to strike camp almost entirely before Kim and Hemingway awoke and even eat breakfast. As Hemingway woke, I collected him and fed him, in this way Kim packed her tent and eventually it too was packed. The morning went well but eventually Hemingway needed another nap and as Kim and I packed up the kayak, he dozed on the beach.

We left the beach around noon, the sun was high in the sky, the tide was just reaching slack,  at its lowest point. We launched the kayaks and paddled west toward tree island. This was my first trip to the island. From Blackberry point I would often admire its structure and it was curious to find that there was a private residence upon it. We paddled along the west coast of Pylades Island, Ruxton and eventually cross to the east side of De Coursy.

Tree Island From Blackberry Point
Tree Island From Blackberry Point
Tree Island
Tree Island

It is right before the crossing to De Coursy that we had a bit of excitement! Hemingway, who of course on the entire trip was playing in the water, decided to test out his safety equipment. He made a break for it and took a header into the sea! Fortunately our research and preparation for his safety held true. He was only in the water for a few seconds before I was able to fish him out, his life jacket/PFD kept his face out of the water — the PFD forces him on his back. Though some water made it past his rain suit, his wetsuit kept him warm.

Hemingway modeling his wet suit while on Blackberry point
Hemingway modeling his wet suit while on Blackberry point

We paddled the coast of De Coursy within feet of its eastern shore, I scoured the sea floor and discovered several large rock crab! With some finagling I managed to use my paddle to fish 2 out and put them into the boat for dinner at home. It was during this harvesting that Hemingway started to struggle. His teething and poor sleep the night before made him extra needy. He would not ride in the center hatch so Kim held him most of the day. I paddled the remainder of the distance home. We made it to Hole in the Wall as the tide was beginning to flow. On our trip in I had though it low at 8 inches but now it was only 3 or 4. I stepped out of the kayak and pulled the kayak through with Hemi and Kim inside. The rest of the trip back was a quick paddle. We were at the beach and had the kayak unloaded and into the back of the Subaru without delay.

By all estimations the trip was a great success. Hemingway fared exceptionally well and Kim found camping with a baby manageable. It takes extra planning and great teamwork but it is possible to make more trips like this possible. Though we were out only for one night, spending 3 or 4 nights would be little extra work, providing the seas are forgiving and the campsites well suited for tenting and playing with a little one.

View the entire album here. 





















    1. Author

      I'm not sure to whom I write these posts. I suppose that I hope Hemingway reads these posts in the future but I suspect that Google will wipe them before that could occur!

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