Our plan is to kayak up the coast from Vancouver, Canada to Ketchikan, Alaska over a period of just under 3 months. We're going to start in Lions Bay, close to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, then cross over to Gambier Island before crossing over to the Sunshine Coast and following up the shore. We roughly predict that we will be in Powell River in about two weeks and then ready for a well deserved little break in Desolation Sound, just north of Lund. Desolation Sound is reputed to be one of the best spots up the coast of B.C., with warm, calm waters, plentiful fish and mussels, clams, oysters and etc. We will relax here for a few days, maybe a week, before heading up the coast once more.
At this point, the distance between Vancouver Island and the mainland of B.C. narrows to a series of islands and narrow passageways. Our first here and probably our biggest overall is the Yucata Rapids. However, these rapids occur with the tides and it is well documented that it is very safe when you time it right to go through on a slack tide. We go through the Discover Islands and up Johnstone Strait, staying on the mainland side. Soon we are very near the tip of Vancouver Island.
We then enter the wild Central Coast of B.C. where roads and people become fewer, though there are still many First Nation coastal villages we go by. The Central Coast is famous for the beautiful channels of the Inside Passage and most of our route is skirting between close coastal islands and the mainland. We will probably pass through Namu, Bella Bella, Klemtu before swinging around Princess Royal Island, stopping at the town of Butedale and then a final hurrah up the Grenville Channel that will put us up by Prince Rupert. We might take a detour and swing out to Goose Island, which is said to have a tropical microclimate since it is a point where the cold currents from the north meet warmer currents. The cold currents drop and the island is supposedly a little slice of paradise with warm water and beautiful sandy beaches. We also heard about some hotsprings almost up at Prince Rupert that we may investigate. If anyone has any more information or suggestions of places to stop, please let us know! :)
From Prince Rupert, Alaska is a stone throw away (abet a stone throw by a huge giant...) and we will follow the coast up to our final destination of Ketchikan in the Alaskan panhandle, completing a journey that involves paddling over 1000 km powered by nothing more than human force. Arm wrestle, anyone?
The following is a map detailing the route in the black line along the coast. Unfortunately, the map apparently doesn't think Ketchikan exists or at least, has not labeled it. Strange, because it is one of the main centers in the Alaskan panhandle! Anyways, Ketchikan is simply in the bay where the little black line stops.
Food is a central theme of our trip and we plan to forage and eat off the land as much as possible. We are planning to eat a lot of fish and talking to some local fishermen (who just happen to be our wonderful neighbours in Ladner) and my friend who is a fishing guide up in the Queen Charlotte Islands, fish seem to be very plentiful on this coast, especially if we are willing eat rock fish/cod. Apparently, we just jig for cod by kelp beds and it is very rare to not get a fish. We're going to troll for salmon as we are kayaking and if we haven't caught any by the end of the day, we will investigate some kelp beds close to camp. We are also going to eat shellfish, seaweed and any edible plants around.
The bountiful resources of this area has not only been discussed in the present day but has been a part of the discussion of the coast's history.The Northwest Coast is famous in anthropology for the rich cultures that have been found here. Previous to exploring the First Nation cultures on this coast, it was generally believed that a foraging society could not be very sedentary and could not develop complex societies. However, an anthropologist named Boas found during his work here in the late 19th and early 20th century that the resources of salmon and berries was so rich that people were able to live quite sedentary lifestyles and the cultures on this coast was amazingly intricate and complex.
That being said, finding the occasional restaurant at one of our town stops also "technically" counts as foraging!