After the last few days of fall weather, it was incredible to wake up to a blue bird day. This is our second day in Waiatt Bay in the Octopus Islands, but it truly felt like we woke up in a totally different location than we floated into yesterday afternoon. Waiatt Bay is tucked in Quadra Island, and something about this cove like bay holds such a peaceful cadence with the calm waters and protected shorelines. The Octopus Islands were established in 1974 to provide opportunities for marine recreation and to protect their fragile coastal western hemlock ecosystems, alongside the local habitats for a vast variety of their marine species.
The morning glow drew most of the crew to their bows in awe, having that much more gratitude for the rising sun after having missed it for a few days. As we spent the morning soaking up the sun, most of the crew got into their kayaks and explored around the extensively stunning shorelines. Deception crew scouted the hike and fell in love with the visual history of the Small Inlet trail having once been an old growth forest. There’s a bittersweet reality to seeing the ghosts of the forest’s past, all the at least one hundred year old stumps catching out eye under the mosses and lichens, acting as nursery logs for the new generation of planted evergreens.
Once the hike was scouted and deemed welcoming for all experience levels, dinghies came in at their own pace and families and friends meandered into the forest at their own pace. This trail system offered us a few options of hiking, letting us chose a path over to a neighboring inlet and connecting us up into the more dense forest leading us to Newton Lake, or a fair turn around point back to Waiatt Bay.
Taking a second trip back into the forest with crew members from different boats, the sun had reached over the tall peaks of Quadra Island and was illuminating the rain forest with such a radiant glow. Rain and dew were evaporating off the tree lines from the sunrays that broke through the branches and the ferns seemed to dance under such rich light. This forest gave off an energy that we had all yet felt from all the hikes we had done thus far. We discussed that maybe it was due to the very apparent history of the forest, the old growth stumps scattered around the forest floor like fallen leaves, the visual change throughout our hike as the sun crept higher and higher into the sky, or maybe that our time here in the British Columbian wilderness had awoken a presence in us that we have started to fully acknowledge.
We chatted about the forest life and what it felt like to be alive in the forest, little details catching our eyes here and there. As to my surprise it was the first hike, I had seen a plant most people know by the name of, Horsetail. Looking at a horsetail is like looking back in time, this plant by the scientific distinction, Equisetum hyemale, is a very ancient plant with genetic relatives dating back to 350 million years ago. With the earlier relatives extinct now, 15 differing species still exist, and as a group of, “living fossils”, these plants are found virtually worldwide except for Antarctica. A nickname is has acquired over the years is, “Scouring Rush”, as its historical usages proved beneficial to the Indigenous communities as an abrasive and an ingredient in medicinal remedies.
Our vertical venture was that of a fair feat, getting acquainted with trails covered by lake run off and slippery rocks covered with local algae and mosses. As we climbed higher and higher, we noticed the ecosystems shifting, a great example of microclimates and their strict boundary-like transitions with changes in elevation. Once we made it to the lake, it was hard to resist jumping in. The water was a few degrees warmer than the ocean, but my oh my how the bright sun made the idea of a cold dip and drying off on a warm rock hard to pass up.
A few of us ended up jumping in or wading out past our shins, cooling off and warming up simultaneously. Dragon flies as long as our palms circled around us and the quiet atop the peak was almost meditative. The group ate their snacks and reminisced on all their successes this week, conquering this hike being a very small portion of such. We turned back and hiked back down, giggling about the similarities of us on the incline and the balance of Billy goats. We all worked our way back to our vessels and tidied up, preparing to wind down for the night, saying our thank you’s and goodbyes to our company for the last few hours. It’s been so very incredible to watch us all grow together and as our own selves these past 9 days, feeling that growth in our interactions and attentiveness to our moments spent together. The energy of our flotilla is astounding to be around, it’s incredible to consider our next 5 days and what their adventures will continue to bring.
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