An Ocean Adventure

Thursday, October 05, 2017 - By: Hannah R, Mackenzie ‘18; Photo by Mr Norman

While shirt sleeves and tent flies dried in a brisk September breeze, students and trip leaders explored Wallace Island or sat on its west-facing ridge, watching the sunset, waves, and seals.

Outdoor Pursuits’ annual autumn circumnavigation of Salt Spring Island is a highlight of the year, and something that returning students every year anticipate. To ensure that students do not outnumber spaces in kayaks, Fall Term enrolment is limited to 12 senior students. This small group size allows the group to become immediately close, and the sea kayak trip furthers this bond.

Starting out from the school docks after classes on Thursday, September 21, we had beautiful clear weather for the paddle to Portland Island. The island has no inhabitants, but was once occupied by Indigenous people and, later, Hawaiian settlers; it is now a provincial park. The island still has an orchard planted by the homesteaders, which is quite productive in the fall. The apples we gathered from it were delicious!

The next day’s paddling took us to Prevost Island, east of Salt Spring. There, a huge tree perfect for climbing offered the monkeys in the group a chance to reach for the skies. Competitive card games also took place that evening, providing an opportunity to learn new games and bond as a group while having fun.  

With gorgeous weather, an exhilarating experience, and island exploration, the third day was the most exciting. Undoubtedly, its crown was having three orcas swim and surface in the small distance between our boats and the shore. For most, it was the first time we had seen orcas; we were extremely fortunate that they came so near. That afternoon and evening, some group members investigated the quirks of Wallace Island while others watched the beginning of a beautiful sunset before cooking dinner.

With the largest distance to cover, Day Four was the toughest of the trip. A slight headwind made the paddling harder but, fortunately, the sun and warm weather held out. As we neared the campsite at Sansum Narrows – the place where the gap between Salt Spring Island and Vancouver Island is smallest – students who chose to went cliff jumping.

That night, at Sansum Narrows, we ate s’mores to celebrate the birthday of Ms Bell, our terrific RFA, played classic ODP games, and sat around a campfire. If there were any remaining doubts about camping food, they should have been dispelled by the time we paddled away on the rainy last day of the trip: breakfast that morning was delicious pancakes, cooked on the campsite!

Back at the docks, we cleaned our gear, hung it to dry, and reluctantly returned to normal school life.

On behalf of everyone who went on the trip: thank you, Mr. Norman and Ms Bell, for taking us out, and for running the program that is a favourite aspect of the year for many of the students in it.

Hannah R, Mackenzie ‘18

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