Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Great Bear Rainforest Stand Up Paddleboard

This was an incredible trip to a place that i have worked in for 10 years. This place continues to amaze me but what truly makes it special is the time we spent with the gracious people of Hartley Bay. I have guided in the Great Bear for a long time and it was one of my goals this year to stand up paddle this place with hopes of bringing excited clients up here next year. As Masa, the writer for Explore Magazine, stated at end of this expedition, "the trip exceeded my expectations." 

Here it is: 

July 15-16th, Jen and I drove the 17 hours to Prince Rupert from Squamish where we met Masa and Taylor. Masa was covering the story for Explore Magazine and Taylor was taking the pictures. Both guys were true professionals and a pleasure to spend 5 days with. Here is what our itinerary looked like.

Day 1:  We took the Tshimshian Storm ferry down to the small native community of Hartley Bay to stay with my adopted family the Hills, Cam, Eva, Rachel, Morgan and Brother Max. Cam had just gotten in from sockeye fishing on the Skeena River and that night we had an incredible meal of fresh sockeye salmon, dried seaweed, halibut and coho and oolichan grease. 

Day 2: We loaded up Cam's boat early in the morning and got a boat transfer down to a secluded inlet. It was our first chance to test out our gear and see how everything paddled. Jen, Masa and I were on SUP's and Taylor was shooting out of a kayak. I was paddling a custom built Andy Lambrecht Red Cedar Board while Jen and Masa were riding a tricked out Southpoint Kalama. I had attached NorthWater attachment loops on the rails and bonded with contact cement. I then attached our 115 litre dry bags with bundgy cord. The whole system worked really well and it was quite easy. We paddled to the back of this beautiful fiord and spent our first night in a GitGaat Longhouse. We saw a black bear in the estuary and we explored a stunning river at the back of the inlet. Incredible perspective from a stand up board. The weather was typical GBR........wet, rainy and misty. Just how I like it.

Day 3: It was a big day as we headed back out of the inlet and worked our way south to another Gitgaat Watchman Cabin. We found out for the first time on our paddle how difficult it was to paddle against the wind and chop. We managed to grind through and got to our destination. Jen was doing all of the cooking on the trip and she put together a killer menu plan and did an outstanding job with healthy delicious meals, essential on long paddling trips. I could have used more chocolate. We decided we were going to stay two days at the watchman cabin so that we could just go on a day trip the following day.

Day 4: This was our day trip and with an early wake up we were off to explore this magical area. The conditions had changed and we awoke to blue skies and flat calm conditions. Just perfect for SUPing. We took advantage and headed out to see the Stellar Sea Lions on Sea Lion Rock. Up travelling there we also encountered a pod of resident killer whales. They were a little ways off but very impressive. We also saw Humpbacks Whales who are here feeding in their traditional areas. After all of this wildlife we stopped at Hartley Bay's summer camp called Kayel. It is here that they collect and dry seaweed and harvest halibut. We were fortunate to have Brodi Danes accompany us on this paddle. I have worked with Brodi in a student mentor program and recently taught him and a number of the highschool kids their Level 1 Paddle Canada certification. Brodi helped to lead today's excursion and took us on a tour of Kayel. Afterwards we headed back to the watchman cabin for a late lunch. After lunch we headed over to King Pacific Lodge , a place i had worked at for the 7 years and continue to do contract work with, for a tour of the impressive adventure/fishing lodge. We ended the day with a hike into the rainforest to check out some incredible Sitka Trees.

Day 5: We awoke at 5 am to take advantage of flat conditions for our big push north but our trip was stopped cold when Taylor realized the tide had taken his kayak for a long ride. After the Mountain Surf Search and Rescue Team were unsuccessful we headed back for breakfast and waited by the radio. Shortly we got a call as a Seiner had picked up a floating red kayak and another boat was kind enough to drop it off for us. We got going and stopped at Herman and Janey's. They are whale researchers and have been working up for 8 years. I know them quite well and it was great to see Janey again, Herman was out helping a Seiner with his nets. After a short visit we headed west and started to work our way up the west side of an untouched island. Conditions again got choppy and challenging but that was what we got for a late start. When your paddling on the coast you have to get up early and get off early if you really want to go anywhere. Travelling by SUP you have to take advantage of the good conditions when you have them. That night we stayed at another watchman cabin in yet another beautiful inlet. 

Day 6: This was our final day. We had yet another incredible day of weather and flat early morning conditions which we spent exploring the vast intertidal life. This last day was spent mostly apart since i had to go back to the cabin to pick up something i had forgotten and by the time i got back my team had left. They were not at the spot we had agreed on to meet so I was way behind and spent the rest of the afternoon searching/catching up. I was finally picked up by Marvin, our boat transfer and taken to meet the group who took advantage of great downwind conditions. All was good and we were stoked to have completed this fantastic trip. Our celebration was again at Cam and Eva's as they put a feast on that I will never forget. We had halibut, crab cakes, sea cucumber, octopus, fried seaweed and Dungeness Crabs. Unreal. I was on a high from the trip and really excited that Masa and Taylor loved the trip so much. I was also very happy to have brought Jen up here for her first time to experience both the rainforest and most importantly the people of Hartley Bay. She said it was a trip of a lifetime.....and she has raced everywhere. Very cool and special for me to be able to share that with someone. 

Day 7: We spent the final morning having fried bread(yum,yum) and maple syrup at Lynne and Ernie's house(Cam's parents). From there we packed our gear, headed back onto the ferry and up to Prince Rupert. We said good bye to our friends Masa and Taylor and Jen and I got back into the Jeep for our 17 hour trip back to Squamish. 

The article for this trip should come out in Explore this spring. I am looking forward to seeing it and to seeing the pictures that Taylor took. I also want to thank Meg Chun, and Kialoa Paddles for supporting us on this trip. They gave us paddles, tshirts and paddling shirts for this trip and I am very grateful. The Kialoa paddle is the best out there and were amazing to paddle with over 5 days. More to come on the Kialoa paddles. I also would like to thank Ryder Eyewear for there polarized sunglasses which were a huge help on the really sunny days. It was amazing to have a pair of glasses that fit well, stayed on your face, and allowed us to clearly look into the water at the intertidal life and fish. If anyone is interested in this trip for next year we are going up in September when the salmon are in the rivers. It will be even more spectacular than this trip in terms of wildlife including Spirit Bear, Coastal Wolves, Humpback Whales and more. I will only be taking 6. If you have other questions about this trip or if you have a group that would love to see an incredible slide show just let me know.......now.......on to the next adventure.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Stand by for the full report on an incredible 5 day expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest. 

Friday, July 17, 2009


After a 20 hour drive to PRince Rupert, a 4 hour ferry ride to Hartley Bay an incredible meal with my adopted family, Jen, Masa, Taylor and I are ready to head out early tomorrow morning for the first ever exploration of the Great Bear Rainforest by SUP. I will be paddling the most beautiful board i have ever seen. Andy Lambrecht from Pemberton custom built me a Red Cedar Stand Up Paddleboard. It is a stunning board and paddles incredibly well. I will be sending pictures and updating the whole trip when i get back to Hartley Bay on the 22nd. It should be amazing. I can't wait to tell you all about it.....stoked.....norm

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stand Up Paddleboarding the Queen Charlotte Islands

Stand Up Paddleboarding the Queen Charlotte Islands

For the last two weeks i was up at the Outpost Fishing Lodge guiding salmon fishing tours. Manager and great friend, Ken Beatty had an old Bic Windsurfer that he brought up to train on and explore. The Outpost Fishing Lodge is located on the remote west side of Graham Island. It is a stunning shoreline with vast amounts of power and energy emanating from the ocean. It is a goal of mine to paddle this shoreline and SUP into some of the untouched big reef breaks. Till then Ken and I have been working on our downwind paddling on the very unstable Bic Windsurfer. I have a new line of Imagine SUP's arriving in the next couple of weeks Kenny B already has his name on the Eco 12 foot SUP. Kenny's goal to salmon fish off the SUP is not far away........nor is the goal to explore this shoreline by SUP.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Monster Charlotte Halibut

Just back from my 2 weeks of Salmon fishing in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Check out these halibut taken a few days ago. These halibut were 198 and 175 pounds. There are a lot of these fish up there but we really need to think about conserving them. Killing these big fish is like chopping down big trees. It's a really old way of thinking and we have to be putting these fish back. All of the big halibut are females and have exponentially larger numbers of eggs as they get bigger. It's all about education. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paddlefit Explore

It's time to get back on the SUP and hit the water again. This will be the first PaddleFit Explore class in a series that will run sporadically throughout the summer. Here are the details: 
When:    Monday, July 13th 
Where:   Edgewater Outdoor Center, Green Lake, Whistler
Time:     7pm - 8:30pm
What:    A combination of on water exploration & on board fitness
Pre-req: Completed a previous PaddleFit or Learn to SUP class. Essentially, you need to be proficient and comfortable on the board!
Pre-Registration Required
To register, please RSVP to this email and we will give your further instruction. If you know of someone who you think would love to try the SUP and especially the PaddleFit Explore class, have them email us about taking a Learn to SUP class prior to Monday. We are around all weekend and will be teaching.

Queen Charlotte Island Chinook- Caught and Released

Just one of the beauties caught and released this week. These fish are becoming rare.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Back to Haida Gwaii

I am back up on the west coast of Haida Gwaii salmon fishing again for The Outpost lodge. The past few weeks prior to coming up here were great. I was over on the island with Jen and we did the Kusam Climb. Really tough 23 km race as the first 8km were straight up, 4500 feet. I managed to place 5th out of the 400 racers. Last week i ran Comfortably Numb and thats what my legs felt like in that 25 km trail race. They did not quite seem recovered after the Kusam but it was fun to run anyways. I only race so i can pig out at the junk table afterwards. I placed 11th which was okay since there were some pretty good runners. One of these days i may train for these races but for now they are just fun to compete in. 

So this monday i came up to the Charlottes to fish. Fishing has been a little slow but it picked up today. I had some nice fish this afternoon. Yesterday everyone did well on the Halibut. I released a hali that was 6 feet long which puts it at around 180-200 pounds. Another guide brought one to the dock that banged the scale at 225. Unreal. Weather has been pretty good considering its the charlottes. I see a nice sunset right now so tomorrow looks promising. I will try to keep updated on the fishing up here and i will try to send some pictures.