Level: Difficult

Distance: 77 km o/w

Time: 7 day min

Warning: High Winds

Tide Table: Blind Bay

Marine Chart: Jervis Inlet 3514

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Access: Via Egmont

Seasoned kayakers may want to paddle the length of Jervis Inlet in order to reach Princess Louisa Inlet, taking the Malibu Princess or a water taxi out again when time constraints prevent paddling both ways. High winds along Jervis Inlet are common while places to pull kayaks out of the water are not. Unless setting out during slack water expect strong but not perilous currents from the get go at Egmont. Aim for the Sutton Islets in the center of the channel, taking a new bearing on Egmont Point after passing the funky island community. Seals have established their own community on the Miller Islets, 4 km from Egmont. If seas are calm skirt the islands to exchange gawks with the basking brutes. Stay well offshore though to avoid needlessly stressing them.

From the Miller Islets to Vancouver Bay 17 km further on hug the eastern shore of the Inlet. If you happen to see a spot to land and stretch take it, the next one could be hours away. The mouths of rivers and creeks in particular may offer a sliver of gravel on which to pause depending on the tides. The first suitable camping area you are likely to encounter along Prince of Wales Reach will be found at the muddy mouth of the Vancouver River. Though once an important settlement of the Sechelt Indian band, there are at present no full-time residents though land hereabouts is still designated as reserve land. A camp has been set up in the bay however for inculcating native values among band youths. Visitors from outside are discouraged.

A hiking trail follows the Vancouver River inland providing a good opportunity to stretch the cockpit cramps out of leg and back muscles. Continue hugging the shore of Jervis Inlet as you resume paddling inland. A windless, early morning start on incoming tide would be ideal as you can expect to cover 34 km before reaching Deserted Bay where the next best camping will be found. In a pinch, the Indian reserve at the mouth of the Brittain River should yield a suitable site for camping. Brittain River, formerly a permanent settlement famed for crafting dugout canoes, is 15 km from Vancouver Bay on the opposite side of Princess Royal Reach.

An uncharacteristic lowland stretching from Stakawus Creek to Deserted Bay and beyond suddenly provides numerous opportunities for pitching a tent. Once again the land belongs to the Sechelt Band though no-trace camping is permitted. Deserted Bay, a once thriving community of Tsonai Coast Salish, had been abandonded by the time it got its name.

From Deserted Bay the steep-sided fjord resumes as Queens Reach. Malibu Rapids is a mere 11 km further on. Just 2 km beyond Malibu a pictograph can be seen at cliff side. Another important Coast Salish settlement, that of the Hunaechin, was once situated at the head of Jervis Inlet, 11 km further on in a northwesterly direction.

When Captain Vancouver reached the head of the fjord he was overcome with despondency, tersely noting in the ship's log, "All our hopes vanished." The good captain was of course pursuing that elusive chimera, known as the Northwest Passage. Princess Louisa Inlet evaded him as well. Likely he mistook the Malibu Rapids for the mouth of a river.

The End



Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying baskets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.

Illustration by Manami Kimura