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Wave Length Paddeling Magazine
Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying bakets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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Nelson Island Circumnavigation E-mail
(10 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   
Level: Challenging
Distance: 60 km
Time: 2 - 3 days
Warning: Winds & Currents
Tide Table: Blind Bay
Marine Chart: Jervis Inlet 3514
Access: Via Egmont

Squeeze three days of freedom from urban reality and you have enough time to explore Nelson Island at a leisurely pace. Those arriving on the last bus of the day can find shelter and sustenance at the Backeddy Pub in Egmont. Be forewarned however that the campsite is a rowdy, noisy fisherman's camp; little more than a parking lot. There will be no guarantee of a good night's sleep in the great outdoors but an early start the next morning is possible. Depending on the drunken cacophony the night before make as much noise is possible when you get up. Keep in mind however that should you get into trouble out on the water these are the guys who will most likely be in a position to help.

Click Image to Zoom

West coast mists cling to the steep-sloped forests of Nelson Island, imparting sodden, somber tones to even the Sunshine Coast.

Set off early on a calm, sunny day with a receding tide and life couldn't get better. Let the riffles pull you around the corner to the west where you can anticipate turbulence at the best times. In the waters off Captain Island three separate tidal streams converge with equally fuddled air flows often meeting above the water. Go with the flow and it will suck you 16 km through Agamemnon Channel, the narrow but deep passage between Nelson Island and the Sechelt Peninsula. Did you remember to check the Marine weather forecast before setting out? The currents of Agamemnon Channel will deposit you into the open waters of Malaspina Strait where, on a gusty day, white caps will be waiting to greet you. Whatever the conditions you have little choice but to turn right at Fearney Point and make for Quarry Bay. If tides are incoming, set off around Nelson Island in a counter-clockwise direction instead of bucking the currents in Agamemnon Channel.

Quarry Bay was once the source of the finest masonry granite on the coast. Stone from the abandoned quarry found its way into many of the neoclassical buildings of Vancouver and Victoria. A short trail leads from the bay to Little Quarry Lake, ideal for a dip or drink on a hot summer day.

Let the prevailing southeasterlies push you 6 km further on to Cape Cockburn for prime coastal camping. The sunsets overlooking Texeda Island more than compensate for the sometimes blustery location. Once around the cape take a moment to explore narrow Cockburn Bay before proceeding on to Hidden Basin. From the head of the lagoon a hiking trail cuts across the narrow isthmus to Blind Bay. During inclement weather portaging across may be preferable to paddling around. The reefs and islets of Blind Bay are sure to offer refuge during even the worst of weather. Camping can be found next to Hardy Island on tiny Musket Island.

An escape hatch, in the form of Telescope Passage, provides a hasty exit from Blind Bay on an incoming tide. On your explorations of the north coast of Nelson Island a wide indentation, Vanguard Bay, has been provided to poke around in. Captain Island will be the last stop before paddling once again across the confused waters at the convergence of Sechelt Inlet, Jervis Inlet and Agamemnon Channel. Camping will be found on Nelson Island just across from the western tip of Captain Island. At the opposite end of the Captain Island a short forest trail leads from the shore to a stand of ancient cedars. Take the opportunity to stretch out here as the next stop is Egmont.



Copyright © 2007 Brian Grover. Content Distribution is Prohibited
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