On April 11th 2017, the Discovery students headed out on their last journey before the looming Year-End Trip; a three day “immersion” into sea kayaking in the Sechelt Inlet. We arrived at the Field House at the ungodly hour of 5:30am, burdened with our IKEA bags and full of excitement for the day to come. We hopped off the bus onto the shores of the Sechelt Inlet to the warmth and loveliness of a bright sunny day – a rare luxury for the Discovery group. After we had thoroughly pet the two friendly dogs that greeted us onto their beach, we gathered in our groups to learn the basics of Sea Kayaking and the jigsaw puzzle that is packing our items into the two or three hatches available to us in the kayaks. At around 11:30 we hopped into our kayaks to begin the journey to our respective campsites, with Ms. Bell’s group at Nine Mile Point, and Ms. Lutes’ group at Oyster beach, about 2.5 and 2 Nautical Miles away. Our first kayak was one to remember; the sun shined, spirits were high and we laughed all the way to Nine Mile Point. As Ms. Lutes’ group set off on their first paddle, they got the exclusive opportunity to see Ms. Lutes’ childhood summer home. They had the chance to see an ancient petroglyph and a very relaxed seal (he was adorable!). Ms. Lutes’ group decided to stop, before reaching camp, and enjoy an afternoon meal on a nearby sunny beach; where, I might add, they beat BOTH instructors on getting packed up and on the water (the first time all year!). The final task of day 1 was practicing wet exits in the ocean! We only could watch from the beach as every one of our group members voluntarily flipped themselves into the frigid ocean — and it certainly was cold. The anxiety of flipping was probably the worst part of the exercise! By the time that it was time to flip, everyone mentioned how refreshing it felt!
For this trip only, we were tasked with cooking meals for all 11 members of our group — which turned out to be a greater challenge than some of us expected. Notable meals in Ms. Bell’s group included Julien, Mark and Ryan’s ‘real’ cheesy bacon spuds breakfast, which involved the packing and preparing of around 20 real potatoes, and Arjun’s “birthday” cakes after every dinner.
Day 2 was a cloudy/rainy day, but at this point in the year that weather is the norm for the Discovery Class of 2019. After an early morning breakfast, both groups set out to explore an abandoned bible camp about 4-5 Nautical Miles from our respective campsites. After a relatively short paddle, (and a couple of seal sightings!), we made it ashore to the eerie looking campground. Cracked windows, rusted machinery, collapsing buildings, this camp did not follow Leave No Trace principles! It felt like the beginning of a horror movie, as a group of unsuspecting students ran through the abandoned campsite — under an ominous blanket of clouds. To our relief, our kayaks had not been untied by the ghost of bible camp, and we enjoyed a couple games of “Ha So Wa” before moving on. Ms. Lutes’ group did not have the same opportunity to explore as extensively as the others did because the instructors were worried about the wind and decided to turn around early, with only time for a quick peek. Even though the wind cut our trip short, it also provided an unexpected opportunity to go surfing. The wind had raised the waves just enough for the group to try kayak surfing. Unfortunately, it was not very successful, though very fun. Throughout the day we learned more important kayaking strokes and were introduced to the complexities of nautical charts and navigating on the open sea. At open share, the realization that this is the last trip before the year brought up a lot of reflection. It was incredible how quickly the year has passed, and a lot of us reflected on how much these trips has meant to us this year.
Overall, our three day trip to the Sechelt Inlet was an excellent introduction to sea kayaking, and prepared us both physically and mentally for the Year End Trip. We now feel a lot more confident about being out for three weeks as we have now had experience in both sea kayaking and hiking trips.