Kayaking the Indian Arm:
During the summer of 2015 my uncle, Nick and I decided to go on our first kayaking adventure. We launched from Rocky Point Park, in Coquitlam BC, paddling down the Indian Arm. This was Nick and I’s first overnight kayaking trip. I did a little bit of training for the trip but didn’t realize the difference in paddling with an empty boat compared to paddling with a boat loaded with enough camping gear for three days. It took awhile for my arms to get adjusted to the burning feeling.
My uncle was an accomplished white water kayaker in his day. So, he led the pack most of the way. Nick was in the middle; keeping an eye on me, making sure I wasn’t too far behind. I was last in line. It was hard to keep up with the two boys. I would usually have to take a break and the boys would wait for me, when I would finally catch up to them I would be tired again (needing another break) and they would be ready to go!
We stopped at Goose Island for a break and lunch. My uncle took a dip while Nick and I explored the island. After lunch, we jumped back into our boats and continued on our journey. While paddling we noticed a change in the color of the water. It looked like we could see the ground, but we were in the middle of the Indian Arm, It didn’t make sense. We realized that it was a huge pod of jelly fish under the water!
We paddled to the designated campsite and it was packed. The water started to get a bit rough and it was looking like a storm might come. It was quite funny to see everyone along the beach of the campsite looking at us as if to say “don’t you dare try to camp here”. My uncle paddled ahead, past the campsite to scope out somewhere for us to set up. He found a spot, down the beach.
We were able to just coast right into the campsite. We got changed into our camp clothes and shoes before setting up camp. Nick and I set up our backpacking tent, while my uncle set up his bivvy bag. We also tried to hang a bear bag, but did not have any luck. So we decided to store the food in the kayaks, in compartments with twist off lids.
We ate dinner and started a fire. After dinner we had a few rewarding beers and told stories around the campfire. We were camping along the water away from the designated campsite and there was a chance that we could encounter some dangerous animals. As a safety precaution, My uncle brought his rifle but didn’t tell us. Before going to bed, my uncle pulled out his rifle to show us some safety tips in case of an emergency. I was quite surprised to see the rifle and thought to myself “this shit just got real”.
The next morning, we decided we would pack everything up after breakfast and camp at the end of the Indian Arm. Once we had everything packed into dry bags we started taking it towards the boats. When we got to the boats, the tide had gone down. Way, way down. We had to carry our empty boats down to the water and pack them while the waves were crashing into the shore. It was very difficult, we were balancing on a steep slope and packing a boat that wouldn’t stop moving.
Once we were all packed, we set off. We realized that we were extremely close to the end of the Indian Arm, we would have made it the night before! We decided to travel down a river. Nick and I felt like explorers. When the water got too shallow to paddle, we had to get out and pull our boats with ropes. We found a beautiful spot on the river and set up camp.
Again, we ran into trouble with the tide. We watched the water rise all day. But, we chose a spot that was covered with grass, small trees and shrubs and we assumed we’d be fine. We cracked open a few beers while enjoying the sun. The water didn’t stop rising, we tried to ignore it, hoping that it would stop. It didn’t. My uncle told us we had to move our gear. Nick and I picked up the tent and ran with it to a spot that seemed to have more substantial trees and of higher ground. We helped my uncle and got all of our stuff safely to the new camping spot. So we thought.
The water just kept coming! We had to abandon our beautiful campsite all together and pack up the boats. We raced against the tide. The water was under the boats as we were packing the last few dry bags. My uncle jumped into his boat and set off to find a new camping spot while Nick and I followed.
My uncle found us a new spot that was sure not to be over run by water. We had to paddle into grass as tall as me. We unloaded the boats and set up camp again. This time my uncle set up a hammock to sleep in. We beat the tide; it wasn’t going to touch us. We started a fire, ate dinner and had a few celebratory beers.
Then the rain started, we got hit with a thunderstorm. Nick and I set up a tarp over our tent while my uncle watched the fire in his camouflage poncho. Nick’s rain jacket didn’t have a hood and mine ended up not being water proof. The rain eased off and we went to bed.
The next morning, we packed up early to catch a ride out with the tide; to have it work in our favor this time! After breakfast and packing, we loaded the boats. The tide had dropped down again. To get our boats into the water we had to drop them off a big ledge into the water. This was quite interesting. After dropping the boats in the water, without flipping them, we had to balance ourselves and try to slide into our boats without tipping over. My uncle went first and successfully got into his boat safe and sound. He then held the boat steady as Nick got into his boat, and Nick did the same for me.
We started paddling out to the Indian Arm again. The morning was beautiful, the water was calm and looked like glass. Our boats were gliding across the water. This was a very enjoyable paddle.
My arms got used to the burning feeling a lot quicker this time (might have been the advil I was taking), and I was able to keep up with the boys a lot easier this time. We kayaked to Goose island for lunch again. We were eager to get home. So, we carried on towards the beach.
We were traveling back on a holiday Monday, so the water was very busy. We almost got run over and flooded by a couple boats and almost crashed into a few day kayakers, who didn’t know what they were doing. But, we made it. Safe and sound, on our first kayaking adventure.