Glamping with Whales
05.09.2019 - 08.09.2019 18 °C
As a group of 10 long time friends we decided that we would celebrate our 65th birthday close to home on Swanson Island. Our 60th was spent on a 7 day Alaska cruise so decided to stick with the ocean theme. All of us have been friends for at least 50 years or more.
One of our original crew, Katie, had a bad accident a week prior and couldn't come which made us all very sad. A last minute replacement was found through one of the ladies, and even though she was was a few years younger we let her come anyhow..
We overnighted on Quadra Island and had a 6PM briefing at the local hotel from our tour company, Spirit of the West Adventures
Day 1. We left our cars at the ferry terminal at 8:15 AM and then transported our luggage down the ramp to wait for our boat. I packed more for this four day trip than I did for six weeks in Africa and Europe! As there is no electricity things won't likely dry when they get wet, and the fog and ocean air will make your clothes feel damp quickly. Not to mention the possibility of capsizing your kayak.
Our small boat arrived and we loaded on not only our own luggage and beverages, but also the food and supplies for the camp as well . Our cook Sara was joining us on the trip had a snack prepared for the journey. She was also a 1954 baby which was terrific. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a wonderful mystical fog resting on the top of the water and islands until noon. Whales, black bears sea lions and seal spotting just added to our excitement on our three hour journey to camp.
Having 10 of us meant that we would have the camp all to ourselves.
In the distance we can see a hot tub on an rock outcropping sheltered by Flower Island in front. Guests on the beach with their belongings are waiting for the boat to take them home after we disembark. After our captain Dave anchors we wait for the small tender to arrive and transport us to shore, taking two separate trips, followed by our luggage and supplies.
Everyone forms a human chain to pass the luggage and totes from the boat to the bottom of the trail up to camp.
Once everything is brought up we have an orientation and then proceed to check in to our tents. Some of us have singles and some doubles. The tents are on platforms and have two twin beds with small tables inside. Solar panels provide us with lights and plug ins for recharging our camera batteries. All are nestled in the forest with ocean glimpses but close enough to hear the whales blowing during the night.
There are two outhouses and two out door showers with hot water on demand. Creek water is used for washing, but fresh water is brought in each trip from Quadra for drinking
Lunch was served in the dining area and then everyone , except me, went for a short kayak lesson and paddle. I had a short sleep in the room before dinner.
Happy hour was enjoyed in the Freshwater Lounge where we were served a beautiful assortment of cheese fruit and nuts with wine. My friend and I brought birthday hats and leis to start off our celebration in style.
An amazing dinner was served, along with a birthday cake and then followed by a hot tub for some. A long but wonderful first day.
Morning coffee on the deck was followed by a delicious breakfast in the dining area. We suited up for a day of paddling, with a skirt, rain pants, water shoes and life jackets donned. Some of us chose doubles and others in single kayaks and off we went to explore the area. The different skill and experience levels meant that we travelled at a fairly leisurely pace with one guide in the front and the other in the rear.
The water was flat calm and after a short time the fog lifted and it was a very warm and sunny day. There have been some grizzly bears in the area so our lunch on the beach was canceled and instead we had a short snack visit on a beach and then a late lunch back at camp. Some of us switched from a double to a single kayak or vice versa after the snack. Black bears were seen close to where we had our break but all of us are used to them so were not too worried about it.
A tradition from our 60th birthday, we wore our Fascinators for the paddle today.
A few went out for a kayak again after our late lunch but the rest of us hung out at the hot tub and spent time socializing until dinner.
Day three. An early kayak trip this morning was enjoyed. Once again the weather was great , around 18 C but no rain which was a bonus.
After lunch we were picked up by another boat and a local man, Bishop, took us whale watching for a few hours. And what a trip it was!! Orcas everywhere around us. At one point we were getting sore necks trying to look in every direction at the 35 or more surrounding us. They were mostly resident but we also saw some Biggs (transient) and humpback as well. Even our guide and Bishop were getting so excited to see so many in one place. It was a real blessing for sure and so very exciting.
Lots of babies as well.
The scenery around us was breathtaking with all the mountains as well.
Day four, departure day
A pre breakfast paddle was arranged, but the rain last night was so loud on the roof over the tent that I didn't get much sleep and no one else went either. Our guides boyfriend had arrived the day before so the two of them were able to get out on a romantic early morning paddle. We let her think that it was the plan all along and his idea.
We enjoyed a leisurely morning taking in the last few hours of this island paradise. The rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds.
When the next group arrived, five couples who were college friends from the 70's, we put our leis around the neck of each of the men to welcome them which they found fun.
Once again the human chain brought all their gear in and ours went back into the boat for our journey home.
What an amazing place we live in! The weather co-operated, great food, friends , paddling and whales. What more could you ask for?