This weekend we made last minute plans to go up to Tofino for a little surfing and catching up with friends. As I was driving up, I started getting a small cough and by the time I had the tent set up at camp, I had a full-on cold. Wonderful. Surfing was more or less skunked out by small waves - there's almost no wind to speak of in this heatwave. But seriously, bitching aside, this weekend ruled. I spent Saturday laying around the beach and absorbing sunshine. Went back to camp and successfully made some pretty huge steaks on my really dodgy new hibachi. Sunday I paddled.


Despite being a bit on the sick side, I dragged my ass out of bed, dropped my friend off at Cox bay and then headed up to the launch right downtown. Beautiful bright sunny morning, light wind from the west and pure wilderness all around. Can't ask for much better really. The object was to explore Lemmens inlet, the famous mudflats in Clayoquot sound. The tide was heading out, so I guessed I'd probably be getting to the lagoon as it was emptying. The charts show no depth at all in most of the inlet.


I launched into off a fairly rocky beach after parking up in town and running back down in my kayak booties. The current was running a little here and there as I crossed over toward the reserve area to the north. Lots of water taxis were out tonight and creating some nice big wakes to jump in the kayak. The scenery out in the sound is beautiful, just trees clinging to every edge of all the rocks and large, muddy sand dunes that sit just slightly above the surface of the water. The water was a bit disturbed in the morning from the gusty wind that would come and go as it pleased.


As I got close to the small village, I started to realize how run down the place was. The buildings look stapled together, covered with plastic sheeting, tin siding and shingles. A small motorboat roared by me with a new delivery of planks for the dock and it was carefully surveyed by an older fellow while he barked orders at his dogs and teenagers. A large and conspicuous radio tower rest uneasily against huge stands of old growth cedar forest just behind the village dwellings. I circled around the edge of dock and found out where fishing and pleasure craft go to die.


The huge trees reaching down to the ocean dwarfed 20-30 foot defunct vessels littering the shore line, a place only reached at high tide, even my kayak couldn't get close to this boat graveyard. Just a bit further on from the village is a small float home resting on giant swaths of eel grass. Eagles were absolutely everywhere, some beaches had 6 or 7 eagles just standing in the open on the beach - probably mid meal or something. The water was very shallow in the areas close to shore, offering barely 6 inches of water for navigating.


I entered the inlet on the deeper side, and a number of dinghys and flat bottomed aluminum motorboats past me on their way up to the fish farm units in the interior of Meares island. Not long after the past, everything went dead silent and the wind died right off. It was so quiet, you could hear yourself breathing. I had a bit of a zen moment as I paddled around the Arakun islands. The sun was blazing down and I found myself in a maze of shallows around the islands. Eelgrass touched the top of the mountain reflections in the water and trees covered in seaweed and moss drooped down to the shoreline. Many areas of rock had been eroded into rocky water paths lined with cedar and pine - roots left exposed to the air.


The lagoon eventually became impassably shallow. I had to turn around and head back to the car if I was going to make it in time. Funny I forgot all about being sick or anything and just paddled gingerly back out the way I came. The wind was back and blowing quite stiffly across the channel between Meares and monas island to the south. Small whitecaps had formed, but it wasn't that wild. More and more treasures dotted the coastline of these inner island groups, too.


Monas island had another wonderful little shack of a house sticking off the rocks. Adorned inconsistent images like a large beware of dog sign and a giant hippy sun emblem, this house looked like a gazebo turned into a house. Like all other things in the area, it was being fixed up from the years of harsh weather. As I got to the tip of the island, I decided to cross over to the next islands before Tofino harbour.


The current on the crossing surprised me. The first part of the crossing was nothing and then as I got to the shallows, I had to ferry nearly perpendicular to my course and paddle as hard as I could to keep going across. This island was another maze of mud flats and dunes and I found myself backpaddling out of a dead end again and again. Any shrubs on the islands around here were shaved down by gale winds in short order, so it was interesting to see any new growth on the rocks trying to grow upward and how frenetically it grew.


I was finally on the last leg heading back to shore and all of the sudden I noticed a hell of a lot more kayakers in the area. The kayak store was open for business, with nearly 10 boats lined up on the shore with the excited tourists pacing the beach getting ready to follow the leader out into the sound. I pulled my boat up on the beach as a huge trailer full of sea kayaks pulled up with Washington plates and hobbyist boats. I took my boat out and got out of there just in time for them to move their trailer before getting on the water.

Trip Distance: 10km

YTD: 162km

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