Monday, June 11, 2007

Paddling Mushaboom / The Bawleen

So that’s kayak camping eh? I’ll take it. And as much more as I can fit in.

Wayne and I made the short portage from the Provincial Park on Taylor Head to the shore of Spry Bay, where we launched in unusually calm conditions. On the trail to the water, we saw several patches of fiddleheads unfurling under the firs. I fervently hoped we’d find some near our eventual campsite, as there’s nothing better than fresh fiddleheads pan-fried in butter.
We headed for The Bawleen, a beautiful sheltered enclave within a C-shaped island complex, where we hoped to find a good campsite before nightfall. Crossing Spry Bay we encountered a dirty, pushy swell that played havoc with my kayak, stuffing the bow under and slewing the stern at alarming angles. At my muttered expressions of distaste, Wayne allowed as how conditions did indeed “….require your full attention.” Abandoning plans to explore a small drumlin island due to the swell, we skirted the landward side of the Bawleen to a point near the centre of its axis where a narrow portage trail gave us access to the inner sanctum, sparing us an hour’s paddling time.
As we re-entered our boats to continue on, 4 osprey circled above us, screeching and whistling. At a leisurely pace we followed the Bawleen’s inner shoreline, watching for potential campsites. Of three possibilities, we chose an elevated cobblestone point with lots of room for boats and a kitchen, and adequate space in the trees for two tents. There were no mosquitoes. That’s right, none. Woohoo! Wayne found a bare seal skull on shore with four vertebrae attached, which I promptly bungeed to my foredeck.

The fog that had been hanging offshore like a purple wall all day moved in, and it became pointless to try and get wet gear dried out.
Instead we heated up supper, scarfed it down and jumped in the now unladen kayaks for an evening paddle. The wind was low, the water calm, so we spent an hour just enjoying the sights. Two large otters popped out of the water right in front of us, but one look at our fearsome visages was all they needed to bolt for shore and scramble to safety. We returned to our home beach at dusk, and got set up for an evening around the fire. The wind then picked up of course, tattering the fog but not removing it. Wayne hauled out his ingenious home-built woodstove, made from an old cooking pot and some scrap metal from a junkyard. We fed it twigs, which it consumed voraciously. The payoff was a nice soft glow and even a little warmth in the gloom and fog.

During the night the fog condensing on tree branches dropped on our tents like rain, and the distant sonorous moaning of foghorns had a soporific effect. Just before dawn the yowling of coyotes heralded the start of a new day, and we struggled out to the kitchen beach for hot coffee and grub. While there, a lobster boat hove around the point, its crew cheerfully cursing and whistling. “Get up! Get up!” they hollered at our empty tents, not realizing we were already well under way.

In mist and fog we paddled a beeline across the Bawleen, exiting on the ocean side after exploring a great little island with future camping potential. Seals grunted and barked at us from low rocks as we passed. A big grey seal kept a wary eye on us from the water, spy-hopping to keep us in view. Ignoring him, we dashed across Spry Bay, late for our Rendez-vous with other club members who were to meet us on the beach for a day paddle.
Repeated radio calls to the daytrip leader went unanswered, and a lobsterman hauling traps in front of us at an unmotivated pace, further hampered us. Even though we were pushed for time, we realized that this was a crew earning a living, and we were simply recreating. We gave the boat a wide berth and crunched ashore at the narrowest point of Taylor Head.
The boats were hauled ungraciously back up the portage on one of Freya Hoffmeister’s indestructible carts, and we threw mountains of wet gear in my van on the way past it to the sandy beach on the opposite shore.
Conditions were not great on this side of the Head, and we set off into a steady wind and a good chop. After an hour or more of slogging, we caught up to the rest of the gang on Mushaboom Harbour near Salisbury Island. Wayne pointed out the soggy seal skull lashed to my bow, and I mentioned the GREAT barbecue we had the night before… Lunch was eaten in a cold rain on a bouldery shore, and all expressed a certain amount of misery. Many of us changed into dry clothes before venturing back into the increased swells.
In the lee of the islands, we ventured further inland before re-crossing the harbour in an effort to escape the pushy swells and wind waves. Two of us elected to run before the wind to a small beach, where the others agreed to pick us up later on their way by in their vehicles. This turned out to not be such a great idea, as the beach’s cove was a cauldron of lumpy water and dumping surf. We landed safely, although I had a close call with a one-in-a-million occurrence. A swell from behind pearled the bow of my boat underwater to the deck bag, snagging the guy rope of a lobster pot string. What luck. Good thing no one could hear me. I got the rope unhooked from my bow toggle after repeated attempts with my Greenland paddle, but not before getting swung beam to the waves. All ended well, though, and we huffed the kayaks up to the road just in time to meet our drive.
After giant sundaes at an ice-cream stand, I felt human enough to make the drive back through the Game Sanctuary to civilization on Nova Scotia’s (warmer) North shore.
Coffee, hot shower and warm dry bedding awaited!

Pictures may be seen at:


Blogger Wendy Killoran said...

Great to see that you had a kayaking adventure, Glenn! Thanks for sharing your story and photos.

10:36 p.m.  
Blogger Michael said...

I agree Glenn, good to have you posting again. Sounds like a good outing in spite of the snagged landing! That must have brought some colourful words to the surface!

I'll try giving you a shout next week on my way by!

12:25 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Wendy, looks like you had much better weather at the Pinery than we had on the Bawleen!

Michael, please do call, my local number is 755-BEER.

9:10 p.m.  

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