Monday, October 19, 2009

Spawning on Sunday

Yesterday, after a couple of weeks off, we returned to kayak the waters of The Gorge.
Gorge Pano 1
We are deep into autumn now. Many of the tress on the We(s)t Coast are evergreens so we don't see the dramatic changes in leave colours that occurs further east in Ontario and Quebec, but if you look carefully you see some shades of yellow and a splash of red here and there.

Richard returned after a summer of sailing, bike riding, and scootering. Something had to give and it turned out to be kayaking, but he's here today under a cool but sunny sky, putting his boat in the water and about to discover if he remembers how to do any of this kayaking stuff.
While Louise and Paula got ready, Richard and I took a quick paddle down to Tillicum Bridge to check out the current.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 061

We rejoined Paula and Louise and started down towards Portage Inlet. It wasn't long until Paula spotted....
2009-10-18 The Gorge 024
...a deer on the shore. Louise and I saw a deer in our backyard a couple of days ago, and now there's this one across The Gorge on the edge of a house construction site. I'm not sure if it's the same one; this one seems to have a bigger rack on it. Although there are lots of trees, shrubs and green space in this area, it is an urban area so I hope these deer are able to find their way back to a more suitable area before they become someone's hood ornament. And I hope we leave enough land undeveloped so they don't have to come wandering into urban areas looking for food.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 018

And soon after that we saw cormorants in a tree. One was posing in a very seasonal Hallowe'en style. Was he trying on his bat costume? Maybe he thought he should go as a cat this year and was trying his best to make himself look big.
Most likely he was just drying his wings. But they must have been very wet because he kept them outstretched like that for the entire time it took us to paddle by him.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 025

As we moved into Portage Inlet from The Gorge, we noticed how high the water was. We were on a flood tide, plus we'd just had a couple of days of monsoon rain. So conditions were right to try to paddle up Colquitz Creek.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 078
Richard and I pulled a little further ahead, but soon the way was blocked with brambles and bushes...
2009-10-18 The Gorge 086
...and since none of us had machetes handy, we headed back.
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Back in Portage Inlet, we found the swan family, two adults and three juveniles, enjoying the lovely morning.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 056 copy

With the water high, we decided to head to Craigflower Creek and see if we could get around the tree trunk and into the tunnel. We had tried a couple of months ago, but our big boats couldn't sneak through the narrow channel between the tree trunk and the shore. But it appeared that since then part of the bank collapsed just enough that we poke our way through. Richard made it through...
2009-10-18 The Gorge 109 did Louise.
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Then the tunnel awaited.
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It goes under the Trans Canada Highway just east of Helmcken Road. The highway is about six or seven lanes wide at this point.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 116
We made it through to the other side....
2009-10-18 The Gorge 118
...when Paula said that she saw a fish swim by. Louise saw one, too. I saw a splash. Oh crap, it's a salmon stream! Coho salmon were taking a break here before heading further upstream to spawn. We quickly turned around...
2009-10-18 The Gorge 121
....and headed back down the tunnel.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 125

As we paddled back towards the inlet, the surprise discovery of salmon in this stream (and it is a surprise -- 40 years ago The Gorge was so polluted you would rarely find any fish in it, let alone salmon) also solved another mystery we were seeing -- harbour seals. We'd seen four or five seals in The Gorge heading into Portage Inlet. Seeing the occasional seal in The Gorge is not unheard of, but Sunday it was almost like rush hour. We realized that they were chasing the salmon. In fact we saw a couple of seals splashing around hunting down some salmon on the far side of the inlet. No pictures, alas.
2009-10-18 The Gorge 127

2009-10-18 The Gorge
Trip Length: 16.11 km
YTD: 336.25
More pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

1 comment:

  1. I just randomly encountered this post and wanted to say how much I hate you. These pics are awesome, especially the third from the bottom in the tunnel... the colours, the shapes. I'm hating you right now. And not just a little.

    If only I liked living in Victoria! ... and my spouse and I could get jobs there.... and I had the consitution for as much kayaking as you guys do... and and and :(