Beautiful and wild. Mysterious and remote. Rugged Point is located on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island and near the southwest end of Kyuquot Channel. This place is incredible!
In the Fall, 2016 edition of Wildcoast Magazine, editor and publisher John Kimantas ranked this as “the real best beach!” Above all the other contenders! John knows what he is talking about too.
On September 11th, 2014, a lone kayaker stopped on this beach for a break and was attacked by a Cougar, Wildlife abounds here! vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/video
Documentary filmmaker Paul Novy icebergfilms.com and I ventured to Rugged Point by kayak between September 1st and September 4th. (I’ve been assisting Paul on an upcoming documentary film about nature, my part being the relationships between nature and photography.) We both thought that Rugged Point would be a suitable location, where we could immerse ourselves into our surroundings and allow for our sense of creativity and exploration to prevail. We were right.
Loaded up and ready to go, we started out by departing Courtenay around 10:30 am. After a late breakfast at Tammy’s Cafe, just past Campbell River we carried on as far as Woss before stopping to get fuel. We arrived at Fair Harbour Marina and Campground a little after 4:00 pm. gatewaytokyuquot.com/fairharbour Along with The BC Marine Trails bcmarinetrails.org our hosts at the campground, Sheri and Marcus were our next best resource regarding information about the area. The Marina and Campground has been revitalized under their leadership and made more “kayak friendly.” We set up camp and enjoyed hot dogs and beer by the campfire.
We were both woken the next morning to the sound of rain, even though it wasn’t really in the forecast. This delayed our departure and we almost completely called off our launch. The rain stopped and we were able to depart Fair Harbour at around 3:30 pm. Quite a late start but we were confident we could paddle the 21 km to Rugged Point before dark. The water was incredibly calm, even when crossing Kyuquot Channel there was only a gentle swell. We arrived at Rugged Point a little bit before 8:00 pm, stopping just once for a very short break.
I’ve pulled my kayak up on many remote beaches on Vancouver Island but I can’t say I’ve ever received this kind of welcoming. A group from Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island vancouverisland.surfrider.org had been at Rugged Point for several days already and were working very hard to clean up the beaches. We were greeted by a gentleman named J.F. who immediately offered us spaghetti and the warmth of the groups campfire. We set up our camp and accepted their offer graciously. Many thanks to J.F., Lynn, James, Chico and the whole gang for both your hospitality and environmental stewardship.
The next morning, instead of rain we woke up to fairly heavy fog. As it turned out we were going to be treated to the full spectrum of light during our stay. I was eager to start exploring the outer beaches. A short trail behind our campsite lead to the outer beaches. This is rugged west coast wilderness at it’s finest. Signs of wildlife are everywhere and everything just feels pure and raw. After a couple hours exploring, the sun started to break out and the clouds, fog and mist began to clear off, exposing Remarkable Cone which was quite a spectacle and an unforgettable experience to see the landscape completely transform.
We were informed by Lynn later in the day that a wolf had walked through our campsite just before we woke, we didn’t get to see it but bear, cougar and wolf do frequent this area and signs were everywhere. To beat the afternoon heat I mostly relaxed in the shade at the campsite. Later in the evening I hiked back out to the outer beach, hoping to see something but all was still. The moon rose over Remarkable Cone and the sky lit up as the sun set in the west. Once again we enjoyed the campfire with our friends from Surfrider. Just before going to sleep we noticed the wind start to pick up. We figured it would pass but it howled all night long and well into the next morning. We weren’t able to launch from Rugged Point until about 11:00 am once the winds died down. Halfway down Kyuquot Channel, a baby humpback breached in front of Paul’s kayak, very near to shore.
The waters were incredibly calm, even more calm than the paddle out to Rugged Point. This made up for the little bit of rain and wind that we had to contend with at the start and end of our journey. We paddled the whole way back to Fair Harbour, not even stopping for a break.
I’ve always paddled solo, this was my first time paddling with someone else. I was impressed with Paul’s navigation skills, endurance on the water and how much stuff he could fit inside his Delta 18.5. Thank you Paul for your companionship and our continued collaboration.
Martin Ryer is a director of the BC Marine Trails Network Association and photographer. You can follow his blog here.