-by G.K. Sydney (photos and column)
Adventures abound in Sooke and the south coast. We know that, even given our status as newcomers. Therefore on a typical morning, depending on the weather, the big question in our house is: What can we do today?
And yesterday, to my delight, our favourite activity was on the table – kayaking.
I mean, think about it. Kayaking to us prairie types is an activity that can be done between June and September (if you’re lucky). It involves gathering up the gear, travelling a hundred and fifty kms or so, paddling for a few hours and travelling another hundred and fifty kms to go home. Or, doing it from the cabin if you should be so fortunate. During that time, you are either having cold weather, good weather (yes!), or extreme heat and thunderstorms/tornados. And don’t forget the bugs. Black flies, horse flies, sand flies, MOSQUITOES AS BIG AS THE BOAT, ants in the food, woodticks, wasps, spiders, etc., etc, etc. And that’s just when you’re loading up.
But here? Wow. Five minutes from our house and we’re in the Stickleback parking lot. Ten more minutes getting the boat in the water and loaded with gear. A minute to hop in. And then, yes- we’re paddling! And how glorious it is.
Yesterday’s paddle (the basin is not exactly seakayaking, I know, but good for a spring beginning) really was in the category of glorious, without a doubt. The air was warm, the sun was in full force and the water was what pilots call “glassy”. Not a ripple.
And as we headed out beyond the bay towards the middle of the basin, a phenomenon occurred. Really, without exaggeration (I may have exaggerated a tad about the size of the mosquitoes, but honest, I’m not now), a natural phenomenon. As I looked forward towards the land on the far shore, my gaze was interrupted. There right in front of me was a visual of water and clouds and land and trees that was so brilliant, so awe-inspiring, that I had to stop right there, in the middle of the Sooke Basin, get out the camera and start shooting. Have a look:
And then there was the sea life. Seals, of course, were in attendance, following us and looking as cute as ever. As we paddled across to the far shore, a big splash occurred behind us. I guess that guy got mad when he didn’t get any leftover fish (sorry, guys, we aren’t fishing today), and he suddenly dove in a loud, rude fashion. Oh well.
But it was the underwater life that was the highlight today. Monstrous sea cucumbers (how come those guys look so….indecent?) , dozens of seastars of orange and purple, oysters, mussels, crabs and on and on. All of which, to us from the land of trout and pickerel, was endlessly fascinating. We paddled, then drifted. Paddled and drifted. I almost fell out of the boat while exclaiming and taking pictures. Every turn was a delight and every rock was a beauty.
And then, finally, there were the Canada geese. We do have Canada geese in the prairies, in fact, we have many more than we see here. But we don’t get to see them as we saw them yesterday. On the islands on the far side of the basin, there were sentinels. That’s right, guards. Most often in pairs, these magnificent birds were guarding their nests and they did it so bravely. We would drift by a rock and look up, and there would be a pair of birds standing as tall as they could manage and looking as fierce as ancient warlords. If we paused, they screeched. If we went in their direction, they took off, daring us to follow them. And if we got too close, they threatened. And I was left with no doubt they would follow through. Without further ado, we moved on.
But all in all, our day was a fabulous collection of gorgeous images and experiences. Tired and fulfilled, we paddled back to the parking lot, loaded the kayak and came home. Ten minutes to load, five minutes to drive home. Ah, Sooke, I love you.