Today's excursion reminds me why every time I visit portage inlet I just keep coming back for more with an even bigger grin on my face. With it's tributaries snaking all over Victoria and Esquimalt, there's so much to see, and all added together, it can make for a rather lengthy paddle. It's been nearly two months since my boat's hull was wet in local waters and nearly that long since I've met with my friends from kayakyak. I've been out and about doing all the things I love: scootering down to California, hiking the mountains in Banff, riding the MS bike tour, experiencing that odd smell in Manhattan, flyfishing in gold river as well as rewriting one of my side project sites. It's been an insane summer!


The whole gang was at the beach promptly at 9 and we all gazed out over a serene sea in the morning light - all of the colors of autumn mirrored on the surface. The tide was just finishing it's ebb to low tide and John and I launched to have a go at the Tillicum bridge while Paula and Louise got ready for paddling. We regrouped back at the kayak club beach and headed up to portage inlet caching a brief deer sighting in one of the vacant lots along the Gorge.


Portage inlet was shining with sunlight muted and yellowed slightly by a light fog. People were just waking up and milling about their yards along the waterfront. The eelgrass that was there earlier in the year is nearly all gone save for a few pieces that stuck to my paddle here and there. Over the last two days, there had been a fairly good rainfall which had left a lot of water for us to explore in the watershed that feeds into portage inlet. We started by paddling Colquitz creek.


We were able to get much further up the river than I had been last time I came out this way. these little creeks are amazing fun to explore by kayak! all the little hidden bridges and meandering waterways take you to unexpected places. Colquitz River was not navigable around Tillicum Mall - too many branches sticking out across the creek. We turned around and headed back to the inlet passing all the sunken docks and lower rent waterfront housing along the shore.


Back in Portage inlet, the group paddled straight down the center to the far shore to the west. We met a group of adult swans and their juvenile swanlings (no longer chicks and showing the beginnings of adult plumage). Craigflower creek was our next stop, another place that's very difficult to pass at low water. I kept noticing fish thrashing around while we were paddling in the creek, but it wasn't until we got under the highway's drainage tunnel that we realized that the salmon were migrating up the creek for spawning.


The others held back a bit but I decided to paddle a little closer to the falls and watch the fish. They were interesting looking salmon and the CRD website confirms this is a coho habitat, "Coho salmon regularly spawn in Craigflower Creek, sometimes as far upstream as Prior Lake." In these shallows, the fish's dorsal fins and back would clear the waterline. a few swam around the boat and then back upriver - I dared not move while they were around.


The paddle ended with a beautifully scenic and technical navigation back out to the inlet. The wind had picked up a little from the south and the current was coming in fast as expected. With little to say, the group paddled quietly back to the Kayak club clubhouse to take out. We headed up to John's place for some of Paula's handmade cinnamon rolls and coffee :) What a great way to kick off a Sunday!

Trip Distance: 16km

YTD: 264km

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