Hesquiat Harbor to Estevan Point, July 13th 2009.


Since I skipped the day paddle the day before, I got up early and launched by 7:00 AM. I crossed over to the other side of the harbor and meandered down the shore. There is a shallow bar across the entrance to the harbor, called the Hesquiat Bar. This is supposed to be dangerous in big seas, we have had calm water and mostly clear skies for the whole trip so far. As I approached the end of the Hesquiat Peninsula, two gray whales where working the shallow water just offshore. I thought I was safe from being bumped by them, but they seemed to come up between me and some of the kelp strands! I moved closer to shore to give them all the room they wanted.

I arrived at Matahaw Point two hours before I was supposed to meet everyone else there, so I used the extra time to paddle across the bottom of the Hesquiat Peninsula. John Somers had really wanted to see this area. But the outer coast here turned out to be uninteresting to a rock gardener. Large boulders came out from under the trees to make a beach you would never want to land on. This continued as a shallow bottom with kelp extending half a mile offshore. I pushed through the kelp and made it to Estivan Point to take pictures of the lighthouse there. But a long boulder-strewn spit prevented me from seeing what the coastline looked like around the corner.

I turned back farther offshore to try and avoid some of the kelp and made it back to Matahaw Point just as everyone else arrived. After hearing my scouting report they were happy to turn back and skip this next piece of shoreline. We started across the mouth of Hesquiat Harbor with gray whales everywhere around us feeding in the shallow water.

When we made it to the other side, I got a wild ride in surf and was set down on a shallow field of boulders. Most everyone else went a little farther and had an uneventful landing. Ken Kelton decided to go surfing and had one ride that was a bit too wild. He ended up out of his boat! This boat has no front bulkhead so a lot of his gear got wet and sandy. He got himself back together and rejoined us before we noticed. (The only way I found out about this was because I asked him at diner why his pot and pan set was all full of sand!)

We had chosen this spot to land for a break, but found that it had a roaring river coming out of the forest next to it. This river disappeared into the large boulders without visibly making it all the way across the beach. We were able to sit on the boulders and filter or purify more drinking water.

The next stretch of coastline was the one Don Barch and I had explored in a thick fog on the trip out. The sky was overcast this time but the air was clear near the water. I was finally able to photograph the dramatic cliffs with trees growing at the top and stony beaches below. We had a glorious day rock gardening and going into every crack and cave. This is my favorite section of the coastline we have seen on this trip. We stopped for the evening at a gravel beach but I paddled on for twenty more minutes to photograph the coast in good light. (Also to arrange to get back to camp precisely at cocktail hour).

On the west end of our beach a dark cave entrance lead all the way through the point and came out as one of the sea caves we had looked into earlier. With a good flashlight I walked in the gravel floor, then tip-toed on a driftwood log (most of a tree) jammed inside. When that ended there was a shelf of rock just wide enough for my boots to grip on. This lead to a wide flat platform in the middle of the cave. Water surged below the platform and light came in through two entrances on the other side. Across one entrance a driftwood log had been wedged in horizontally ten feet above the water. I donít think you want to be in here in a storm!


All text and images Copyright © 2009 by Mike Higgins / contact