Each summer we head to Nitinat for a couple of weeks camping, kite & paddle boarding, fishing & exploring. It’s probably our favourite place to be. There’s a special energy here, the trees, water, sun & people make it almost magical. It’s raw, rugged & beautiful, there really isn’t much here if you aren’t into wind & water sports, a few outhouses, a tap, oh and now wifi, but am pretending it ain’t so.
The way in is a rough 1 1/2 hr drive on an active logging road. Camping is run by the local first nations people. With nothing for miles you have to pack everything in & out. This pop up, seasonal community of wind sport lovers have been migrating to the lake for the past 40+ yrs. Back in the day it was the windsurfers dominating the water, today it’s all the pretty kites. Those windsurfers turned kiters, their kids grown up and returned with families of their own.
Packing is no small feat. Weather on the West Coast can vary greatly. Standard attire is a down jacket, shorts & t-shirt, flip-flops & blundstones. We have enough 4 season clothing each, with multiple changes for the kids. All our equipment, kites & boards, SUP’s, zodiac & motor + fishing gear, bikes plus toys for the kids. Not to mention all the camping gear, food, drink & firewood. The camper easily holds enough water for 2 weeks, but it’s the sun we are always seeking to keep the solar charging the batteries. We have an ARB freezer in the back loaded with food, so power consumption is monitored.
We see many of the same faces each summer, lots of families with kids of all ages, together they play on the beach, camp or up at the river. Here the kids are free. Yesterday a friend commented that they were experiencing “a 70’s upbringing”, I love that, no tv, wifi or devices, free to explore, the only rule is not to go to the river or leave the campground. Not forgetting where we are, and the fact that cougars are a very real threat. Black bears are also around, but thankfully we haven’t had any problems with them. It’s pretty much just the crows that are scrounging for food. So anyway, the kids are out the door and don’t come back till they are hungry or it’s dark, here the days are long, dark is 10pm.
The mornings are calm, perfect for a quiet cuppa on the beach before heading out for a SUP. The kids take turns at riding with me, giving an extra workout. The water is like glass, sun is warm and we get to see all kinds of wildlife. Eagles, seals, jelly’s & sea stars. I am in awe of the surrounding beauty and our special ‘National Geographic’ moments. The kids have no idea how lucky they are to live here, free with clean air & fresh water. Perhaps they will come to appreciate as we drive further South.
We’re here for Windfest, the camp is full. People come from all around for the strong & consistent world class wind/kiting here. Enjoying the races, freestyle & big air events from the beach, then live music & massive evening bonfires. The next day Mother Nature is happy, clean up done. Everyone is respectful of the environment, except the dogs who love to poop where we prefer to rig the kites!
Bringing the Zodiac was a bit of a hassle as the motor is so darn heavy & there isn’t any great way of transporting all 180 Lbs of it. But it sure was worth it. The lake is roughly 24 km long ending at a narrow tidal passage to the Pacific. One morning we cruised up the lake, thru ‘the narrows’ to the ocean. It’s easy going on the flat water, plenty to explore on the way. The tide was going out, the current extremely strong, Tim carefully navigates our way thru the narrows, once clear the vista is even more stunning in the early morning light. We bob on the calm waters rolling with the swell and putting around with the lines in, hoping to catch a fish. Quickly we have our first catch, the other 7 followed in good succession. We kept 2 for dinner, Ling & Rock cod, both delicious.
The days fly by & before we know it, we’re having our last kite session, run out of food & packing up for home.
The next 8 weeks are focused on finishing up the to-do list, prepping the camper & hitting the road by Oct 1st.