Goodbye Mark and Hello Tara, my spring has been one of visitors and new friends and Tara Mulvaney is both. As I said goodbye to Mark Bardsley, after his great trip to BC, I then said hello to Tara. I meet Tara in New Zealand when camping on 90 mile beach in NZ, she paddled in through the rough west coast surf, and she was in the middle of paddling around the North Island Solo and on her way to becoming the first woman to paddle around all three main islands of NZ. She succeeded at this and now she was sitting in the passenger seat of my bus with a kayak she purchased in Vancouver and she was going to now paddle around Vancouver Island Solo. Before she left I managed to get her to hang out for about 10 days and have some adventures.
SKGABC Guides Exchange
Before I said goddbye to Mark, we attended the guides exchange on salt spring island. This was wonderful way for Mark (a Sea Kayak Guide in the UK) to learn a bit about how things are done on this side of the world, and for me it was also a great chance to give back (by leading a currents and group management class at polier pass). Above all else these events are always fun social times and a great way to network with people in the same industry. This is also where I reconnected with an awesome character I meet last year at the MEC Paddle fest Leenie. Leenie is a most charismatic and Gregarious character and a true joy to be around, he and I lead the Current and group session and of course had great fun shooting the shit and I promised to come see him and his wife Serena in a couple of weeks when the Puntledge River festival was on. Despite the calm sunny weather I had a great weekend with old and new friends and it was great to get out in the water using the TRAK Seeker Folding Kayak for all the guides to see. Soon the weekend was over and being ten years since my last visit, I was sad to leave Saltspring Island, though I needed to head to Victoria to do some work for TRAK Kayaks and send mark on his way to the Broughton’s to go paddling.
Quadra Island and Surge Narrows
When Tara turned up, I was just getting ready to head off to shadow a Level 2 sea kayak guides Assessment, so we prepped together and headed to Quadra Island, where we camped out by a lake and in the morning meet up with Don Webster (Guide Assessor and rock star international guide). Tara was unable to join us on the guide assessment so she headed off on an intro solo camp out on the BC coast, while I enjoyed helping out and learning more about Training, instructing and Assessing Fellow guides. It was a fun challenge and helped me learn how much more I can still learn, it was also fun to work in the fast currents around the area and have people swimming for real. It was a sunny and beautiful weekend and we had a great camp site where, early the next morning during land Nav’ exercises, a pod of Orca Swam right by our camp literally only 50 meters or less away. I love this place.
On the return to the launch site the next day I found Tara sitting by my bus, she unfortunately had not seen the Orca, but had a great time out there. I helped check assessment sheets, joined the debrief of everyone passing and becoming level 2 guides, then said goodbye; Tara and I remained though as the flows at Surge Narrows where maxing right now. I talked Tara into coming back out with me, albeit slightly “kicking and screaming” and without a helmet (I couldn’t convince her she needed it, as she stated “this isn’t white water kayaking!”). Tara quickly learned that a helmet is a nice piece of kit to have at surge, even though you may not need it, it certainly adds a sense of security as you play amongst the rocks on waves and foam piles caused by shallow rock shelves. I Learnt that I had to be a bit more pushy with talking Tara into good ideas, like coming kayak surfing at Surge, wearing a helmet and bringing your Camera and Gopro; all this inforced by Tara recognition that she was having fun, it was cooler than she thought it would be and she wished she had brought her camera and a helmet. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Tara was a natural dispite it being her first time in a skeg boat and intentionally going into swift water to play with a sea kayak. Soon it was getting dark and Tara without a dry suit was getting a bit chilly, so we headed back to our lake side campground for the night before heading back to Van isle.
Puntledge River Fest
The following weekend it was back on the road again to the Puntledge River Festival and, as promised, to meet up with Leenie again. Tara and I where greated inthe street by the Grinning Leenie and the heavily pregnant Serena, as I parked up the ‘Yak Wag’n. Soon we where merilly eating great food in the yard under the tree’s and drinking home brew beer and cider. Leenie and Serena are both sea kayak guides “done good” as could be said. They are now following different carriers though have managed to accumulate two houses between them and maintain a pretty outdoorsy lifestyle, yet another inforcment to me that “there are other ways to lead life and be successful by the standards of society”.
The night went on late with lots of drinking, and Tara and I awoke in the morning with pretty decent hangovers. After a fabulous breakfast of homemade Granola (muesli), Tara and I where off to the Puntledge Festival. Rolling in to the waves and smiles of friends is always great and it was no different as I rolled into the campsite and had Shayne run up to tell me some strange story about him mistaking some other bus for mine and waking them up early to fin it was not me. It did end up being Cody’s van who had come out to surge and to that Vancouver white water festival with me last month. This weekend was a great one and I had Leenie’s P n H Hammer Play sea Kayak 14.5 ft, and Jackson’s Karma RG river ocean Hybrid 11.5 ft. It was gonna be fun to get these big boats out steep creeking.
Despite a totally gumby move on my first seal launch in the Karma RG, where I slid down a path into the water, clipped another kayak, got tipped upside down, got my paddle stuck in some tree roots underwater forcing me to handroll up ,then continue to fight to get my paddle back from the submerged grips of a small strainer, I pulled myself together and paddled on with gusto. Indeed both boats handled the upper Puntledge and its class 4 rapids like a charm; These Rapids consisted of long rock slides and 14 foot waterfalls, despite the skeptics who commented on day one when I placed the 11.5 foot Karma on the shuttle. The next day everyone was asking if I was bring the big boat back down, I smiled and stated, “nope I am bringing a bigger one” and out came the Hammer. Everyone looked uneasy, though both boats just nailed the lines and the run. Tara had an amazing time and as usual was overly modest about her abilities, though was most certainly able to run everything we did with a big goofy smile. You can read about her version of the story here, and about how she almost disowned me for being a total rookie boater. www.tarasjourney.com blog here
I must admit on the first run I was reasonably nervous, though after nailing my line of both waterfalls the first time in the Karma RG, and getting a solid Boof out of her, I was more than happy to run it in the bigger hammer, on later runs. The event was an awesome social event with over 100 people showing up, and the upper Puntledge is an amazing and unique river run for Vancouver island, it is very uch worth visiting. And Thanks to Lendal North America Paddles for Supplying two white water paddles for the raffle you enabled the event to make much more than usual.
Tara Sets off
All too soon Tara was leaving, and a long day working on the computer I soon pulled myself away packed my boat and Paddled out with her on the start of her trip. We started late in the evening and we didn’t go far in the magic hour of light before sunset. We pulled up on nearby southerly Island in the Windchelsea’s and made camp. As soon as I put on the water with her I was longing to be part of her coming adventure, and I was sad to know I would be turning back in the morning as she went forward. We sat up late around the campfire sharing tall tales and I giving her as much info as I could about the coast and what was in store. In the morning we ate breakfast and then pushed off onto the water, Tara complained she wanted to go white water kayaking now instead of sea kayaking, and I laughed at her. We said our farewells, and I hoped to see her again in a couple of weeks and perhaps paddle some more with her, though most likely I would see her mid July when she came near the end and I returned from a work trip to the USA. Tara is a humble, driven and inspiring young lady, I feel honoured to almost be able to call her a friend, despite how much she insists that I am not cool enough.
Follow Tara’s Journeys Here