Something New, Something Blue, Part Two

November 12, 2014

Back in March of this year, I had the chance to paddle a P&H Hammer in the tidal flow of Surge Narrows, comparing it side by side with my P&H Delphin 155. In short, I disliked the Hammer. I could not get it to hold a line when paddling up an eddy, the bulbous and boxy hull felt like a chore to roll, the foot plate did not feel right and on and on. I did not understand the boat.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

Then in June, I attended a kayaking course at Skookumchuck taught by Costain Léonard and Rowan Gloag. It was there that ideas about rough water kayaking were shared, techniques learned and a new foundation applied. The change was on.

Recently at Jordan River, I jumped into my friend’s Hammer and quickly found that a few things I was attempting to do in the Delphin, were now second nature to me in the Hammer. I had a very different experience than back in March.

What does my new Hammer offer me that the Delphin did not?

In reality, not much. Both kayaks come from the same production facility in Cheshire, England. Both carry about the same amount of camping gear for surf expeditions and both are outfitted nearly identically. The Delphin is a bit faster on flat water but I simply prefer the Hammer in steeper, more aggressive surf.

The big difference between the Hammer and the Delphin is me.
I look at a wave differently these days so I made the change.

Dear Brent

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Just a quick letter to say how much I enjoyed this summer paddling with you at Surge Narrows.

I looked forward to Thursday evenings because I knew that you were calling. A quick look at the tide tables meant it was going to be you on the line.

I looked forward to the travel up to Campbell River, this time it being me to dial your number to confirm that I was on my way.

Brent, I enjoyed our mini-tradition of stopping at Cafe Aroma on Quadra; Two Americanos and two Bagels with Smoked Salmon enjoyed out on a warm, sunny patio.

Our drives up to the boat launch let us talk about the intracacies of kayak design. Did we even have the radio on? We sure enjoyed the topic.

I recall one of the trips that you and I made into Surge. There were a lot of kayakers up there; a busy day for sure. You quietly paddled away to the "Quadra Wave". When nobody was paying attention, I followed you. We had that hidden spot all to ourselves. Boy, that was a lot of fun.

I know we never got out to Tofino like we hoped but we did have this summer at Surge. For the times that included Paul or Jonathan and for the times when it was just you and I,
I am forever grateful.

My friend, you will be missed and remembered fondly.

Brent at Surge, April 13, 2014. — Photo Credit: Camillia June

King's Peak Trail - part 2

Sunday, September 28, 2014

To the east, a clear sky is becoming lighter as dawn approaches. I am awake before my alarm with a more than a bit of anticipation about the day. The arid alpine air almost has my wool socks dry. I wish that I could say the same about cold wet boots. I walk over to my food cache to find that a marmot had attempted a raid during the night. It had a go at my feed bag but I have enough left to salvage breakfast and snacks through to lunchtime. Breakfast is a couple packets of instant oatmeal. With water on the boil, I notice near my compact stove, a small plant with some late season berries on it. Looking wider, I see an entire blueberry patch with ripe wild berries. Oatmeal never tasted so good!

Strangely, on my mind is the trek out. It shouldn't be. Three ridges, the Ramparts, Queen's Ridge and King's Peak are backlit with the rising sun; they should be what I am excited about. At 1,450 metres, I contemplate the energy of adding another 600+ metres of elevation to my solo adventure. How could this even be a question? The weather is perfect. I put together and hiked a a good plan to get this high up so far. It is probably not knowing what the trail is like ahead of me but climbing down that ravine now should not be on my mind.

I gather myself with a familiar promise. Continue upward for an hour if I am not seeing progress toward King's Peak, then I can turn around.

With my camera bag and a full Nalgene bottle of water, I took a deep breath and started up the hill.


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