Desolation Sound 2022: Day 6: Prideaux Haven to Squirrel Cove | NW Explorations


Desolation Sound 2022: Day 6: Prideaux Haven to Squirrel Cove

Coming out of Prideaux Haven we were greeted by lifting clouds and blue skies. Our adventure into Squirrel Cove will be a quick two hours, full of open ocean to search for marine life and vivid shorelines to observe the warm fall colors setting into the deciduous trees around us, complimenting the dark evergreens charmingly.

As we turned the south end corner of West Redonda Island towards Cortes Island, we poked our noses into the historic Refuge Cove and chatted a bit about its impressive history. Refuge Cove and Redonda Bay are the two main settlements on West Redonda Island. Refuge Cove’s character as a popular stop started as soon as it was purchased in 1913, with enough families and children building homes in the cove to open a school in 1914. Shortly after, in 1918, the famous Refuge Cove store opened and to this day is a place of refuge for visiting boaters and locals alike. Quickly jumping into a booming reputation by the 1920s the cove was coined, “Social Centre of the Sound”, acting as a site of convergence for folks both exploring and calling Desolation Sound home.

Anchored and cozied into Squirrel Cove we scouted a local trail, the Norway Loop, and gathered a shore party to venture into the welcoming forest. The loop was a little under a 4-mile trek but with fun company and a vibrant environment, our time seemed to fly by.

Cortes Island’s Squirrel Cove showed signs of old logging practices that date all the way back to the 1850’s, seeing that many fallen cedar stumps were scarred with notches, as pictured above. These notches were cut into the tree by loggers to place a springboard at a preferred height from the tree roots to collect the straight grained wood they were ultimately after.

Desolation Sound is no doubt a rainforest, with a slight rain shadow from Vancouver Island the sound is considered to be a temperate rainforest with mild climates and seasons of heavy rainfall. However, in experiencing very little rain this trip (don’t get us wrong, we have been so thankful for the sunny weather) we have found ourselves increasingly excited when we spot signs of fall flora tucked beneath the forest canopies.

As we scampered along, we came across a family of tiny Fir Cone Mushrooms, gathering around and sharing smiles over the miniscule wonder. These little fungi tend to be indicators that the fall mushroom season is among us as local “mushroomers” have spread the word that the presence of this species leads the first flush of the Chanterelle mushroom season by about two weeks. Oh, what a happy hunting season is among us!

Furthering our excitement for such wonderful forest finds we came across an Artist’s Bracket mushroom that was bigger than the size of each of our heads! This ‘conk’ is a woody, semicircle shelf mushroom that bruises a dark brown when you scratch the underside, we like to test this when we are confirming the identity of this very well disguised fungi.

Nearing the end of our hike we spotted what looked like berries from a few paces back, but as we approached, we were all pleasantly surprised to see what we identified as a species of beautifully bright red rose hips. With the leaf structure and size of the hips, we were able to identify this species as a Baldhip Rose. Baldhip Roses are also known as a Wood Rose or Little Wild Roses. This species is known most for the affinity bees have for the fragrant and attractively pink flower, while the hips are a brilliantly tasty snack for birds and small mammals.

Back at the raft most crews were out exploring the neighboring coves atop paddleboards, dinghies, and lovingly quiet kayaking sessions. With the sun setting and the shade trickling over us, warm dinners were prepared, and folks tucked in, excited for our fleet to touch down in Octopus Islands tomorrow. We all felt ready for the feat of crossing a famous narrow, Hold in the Wall, at perfect timing to safely arrive in our next anchorage for another stunning lay day, looking forward to all the possibility of adventure.


Tiny grocery stores

Slugs are everywhere we go

The days are lovely

– A Squirrel’s Cove, by Captain Annie


P.S. Is Desolation Sound on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Desolation Sound Flotilla. 

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