Hakai/Bella Bella - recommendations?

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by stagger, Dec 13, 2017.

  1. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Hey, all - just beginning to plan 2018's big trip next August. Launching and returning out of Shearwater, most likely.

    It looks unlikely that we'll be able to cover all the ground we want to in the time we have (as always).

    North Calvert is pretty much a non-negotiable destination for us. Other than that, we're kind of torn between a SE Namu/Koeye/Fish Egg/Penrose leg vs. one that includes the NW region (Athlone/Seaforth area) with maybe more time in the Hakai Luxvbalis area itself. What are your "must visit" spots in the area? Thanks for any info/perspectives.
     
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  2. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    stagger,

    How many days do you plan to be out?
    How many weather days do you plan into your trips?
    Do you like to to plan any days off?
    What sort of average daily mileage are you thinking of paddling?
    What day are you getting off the ferry?

    Jon
    http://3meterswell.blogspot.com
     
  3. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Good questions, Jon. Not looking for an itinerary - more like “hey, site X is incredible, place Y was underwhelming” - recognize everyone’s mileage varies - I’ve been reading all the trip reports I can find & of course Kimantas, the BCMTNA site, the Nanaimo Paddlers’ guides, etc - requesting some more subjective data points. The planning & dreaming is half the fun but any rigid itinerary is out the window as we ride what the world throws at us. We’d have missed an incredible experience at White Cliff Islets this summer if we hadn’t been prodded that way by a local guide (and we did miss camping there, more’s the pity) so I’m asking this question in that spirit.

    McMullin, Goose, Koeye, Namu, Penrose, Triquet, and north Calvert all sound like amazing destinations in their own way. I’ve always been intrigued by Fish Egg Inlet - maybe it’s just the name.

    Been considering outer Price and a pilgrimage to Denny as well - your description (and others’) of the campsite near Higgins passage is tantalizing! - and the Nanaimo Paddlers’ description of outer Price has got me fired up.

    But you can’t do everything at once. Obviously this area has a lot to offer & we’ll just have to save some of the gems for future trips!

    We had originally thought of the traditional Port Hardy to Bella Bella trek and a ferry back, but this time round we’ll probably do a Bella Bella ferry in/out loop and try to see more of the area this year.

    Likely schedule is landing in B.B. on the afternoon of the 12th and ferry back on the 22nd of August - flexible by a few days either side of those dates. We tend to average 30k per day (sorry, can’t think in nm yet) with some days 20 and some 45, or 20-25k if we’re touring an area and returning to base camp. Probably something like 2 weather/flex days in there - were definitely planning 2 nights on north Calvert - put on more miles toward the start of the trip with campsites closer together toward the end to ensure no rushing/stupid decisions trying to make a ferry.

    Opportunities for hikes/land-based activities welcome too!

    Thanks for everyone’s input.
     
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  4. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    I've only paddled outer Price once but it became a favorite place that I will return to again and again. Great shoreline. The decision of what to do once arriving at the south end of the island keeps many paddlers from going there. The east side of the island is relatively uninspiring with few decent camping options and the crossing to Athlone can be daunting so most folks just stay away. I think that a down and back is a great plan that I mean to employ next trip.

    Calvert's Choked Passage and the entire shoreline down to Grief Bay is wonderful. While you may run into other paddlers at Wolf and North Beaches you are pretty well assured solitude at No-Name that is nestled between them. That whole pack of beaches large and small just around the corner offers so many choices and paddlers so seldom explore them. The Nanaimo Paddlers spent quite a bit of time documenting them in their guide which I'm sure that you have but may be news to others. Free download here: https://issuu.com/glennlewis/docs/west_coast_of_calvert_island_with_a

    Something that I was thinking of that would fulfill many of your wishes could be a paddle down the outside of Calvert then crossing to Penrose and north to Koeye. Just a thought
     
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  5. pls_dave

    pls_dave Paddler

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    Hey Stagger,

    With some ideas from following Chodups' blogs on his Hakai journeys along with info from the Wild Coast book, I did a 2 week trip with a couple paddlers in this area in 2013. We did a wet launch from the Queen of Chilliwack (no longer an option, and pretty sure the new Northern Sea Wolf won't be doing wet launches anymore). From there we did a sort-of circle route from Nalau Passage to Wolf Beach on the north end of Calvert then muddled our way up to the McMullin Group (the highlight of the trip, beautiful sand beach in a tidal lagoon) then to the north to Seaforth Channel and spent another couple days just in the area of the cabin at the north end of Gale Passage (another highlight) then back to Shearwater.
    Hakai is definitely my favourite place to paddle ever, and am dreaming of going back one day to visit some of these spots again as well as find some new treasures!
    There were a few other spots I'd have to pull out charts to get the locations. I see you are in Calgary - if you are interested in hooking up to chat and look at charts, shoot me a message.

    Dave
     
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  6. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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    We're planning a trip similar to yours in mid July. We're starting at Bella Bella and doing a loop down Joassa Passage, then working our way south to Wolf Beach and back up through Hunter Passage to Bella Bella. We're planning to time our trip mostly to coincide with morning ebb tides as we move south and morning flood tides as we head north. Of course, our schedule and destinations could (will?) change with weather. We expect abut 10 paddling days.
     
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  7. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Hey, Dave - I kind of went dark on this site for a while. I’d love to get together to talk about Hakai. PM me & we’ll arrange a meet. Thanks!
     
  8. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Getting together with Dave this weekend to look at charts & have a chat. Looking forward to it!

    Sounds like the timing of the trip might be pushed into early September, which concerns me a little; I’m not necessarily that keen on being that far north after mid-August or so, but maybe I’m worried needlessly. Obviously conditions can be challenging any month of the year, but I do like to play the odds to mitigate risk.

    Has anyone got September paddling experience in the area and can speak to our likelihood of running into really bad weather? We don’t mind some rain, fog, etc, but I’m concerned about real storms. If it starts to become a roll of the dice, we might shift our sights (and sites!) further south this year and try for Hakai next time.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  9. a_c

    a_c Paddler

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    I can't speak to paddling experience, but I spent many years (commercial) fishing in that area from September to November - Hakai, Fitzhugh Sound (Rivers Inlet), Chatham Sound and north up to the Nass River.

    Generally speaking, early September is pretty nice but definitely keep an extra weather eye (and VHF ear!) out. You're right to be leery; the low pressure systems start to show up anytime from September onward.....and after the autumn equinox (September 22 this year) the weather patterns would predictably take a turn for the worse.

    On the plus side, if a low did occur it would usually sweep through pretty quick (with predictable strong/gale force NW in its wake); still, at the wrong time (like crossing Fitzhugh) it might be enough to throw your plans into disarray.

    Paddling that area in early September wouldn't be my first choice, but it wouldn't completely deter me, either. Just build in a healthy contingency plan, and enjoy.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  10. dave

    dave New Member

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    stagger - we spent 10 days out of Shearwater in late August/early Sept 2008. I'd agree with a_c regarding Sept weather and pls-Dave regarding Hakai area.
    We arrived Shearwater and had short paddle to Rainbow island for 1 night. Windy night w/ stronger wind forecast for next day. Anyway, quite windy for next 2 days. We stayed put for 2 nights at shearwater (Whiskey Cove B&B) with gale force winds blowing. Winds finally stopped after 2+ days and we did get out for 8 days of great paddling in fine weather in Hakai towards Calvert. Went to N Hunter island cabin, then to Cultus Sound campsite(near superstition pt) then Triquet for 2 nights. Serpent looked like great campspot for small group. Back to Cultus Sound site, N to Miles and to cabin in Dale passage near Quinoot pt. Next day to shearwater. Approx 70 nm. Highlight was Hakai area from Superstition pt to Triquet/Serpent area and past McNaughten group.
    Missed N Calvert/Wolf beach area and McMullin-- next trip we'll have to get there!
     
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  11. stagger

    stagger Paddler

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    Just back on dry land now — 13 days’ paddling out there. Will write up a trip report this winter but I just wanted to check in & say thanks to everyone who provided their recommendations and recollections in this thread and in person, as well as those who’ve written trip reports, blogs (and books) about the area. Your documentation made our trip a lot more enjoyable — and safer. Cheers!
     
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  12. jefffski

    jefffski Paddler

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    I'm looking forward to reading it!
     
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  13. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Likewise!