Skinny dipping in Teakerne Arm


Clouds over Teakerne Arm

24 June 2012

Near the bottom of a deep Cove which obtained the name of Cascade Cove about a mile & a half to the North East of the Ship there was a beautifull Waterfall which issued from a Lake close behind it & precipitated a wide foaming stream into the Sea over a shelving rocky precipice of about thirty yards high, its wild romantic appearance aided by its rugged situation & the gloomy forests which surrounded it, rendered it a place of resort for small parties to visit during our stay. On the Banks of this Lake I found several species of Plants…& in the Lake itself we found some Bivalve Shells which were quite new to me—It appeared to be very deep & its sides were strewd with a great number of fallen Trees.

Observations by Archibald Menzies, Botanist to Vancouver’s 1792 expedition, which anchored in or near Teakerne Arm in June 1792.

As we were eating our pancakes yesterday, patches of blue began to emerge from the clouds, and though dark storm clouds shifted over the peaks all day, we decided to pay them no mind.  We spent the morning reading, drawing, jigging for lingcod—and watching the loon circle the boat and cry out “it will rain! It will rain you know!” Seals approached, dove and swam off, and the tide began to rise again, so we bundled a few things into a bag and lowered the dinghy and engine and set off for Cassel Lake and the falls in the other arm.  Down by the log boom, a whale blew, twice.

The main cascade

A family with a small motorboat, small child and even smaller dog was swimming and lunching on the next point over from the falls, on the rough barnacle-strewn cobbles.  This puzzled us—why weren’t they in the park?—but we zipped by to see the falls up close.  In fact, it has rained so much that there are two falls at the moment—the famous cascade that thrilled Menzies, Vancouver’s botanist, and his men, and another, narrow, supplementary flow over to the side.

Finally we turned and motored towards the spot where we thought there should be a dinghy dock.  But where was it? It was here last year.  There was the sign for Provincial Marine Parks and Teakerne Arm, there was a dock, twisted and worn and flung on the rocks above the tide line, there, in the corner, the barnacle encrusted anchor cable that held the docks and, whoops! below us, the aluminum ramp, sunken, the concrete block to which it had been attached high and anomalous, halfway up the rocky incline.  Heavy fittings twisted apart, a rusted link the in anchor chain….What happened here? Storm or accident?

We scrambled up the incline over oyster shells and barnacles, secured the dinghy and set off for the lake.

Bushwacking towards the lake (Elisabeth ducks under a fallen tree)

But the path was covered in rushing water roaring towards the second falls, so we turned left and began to bushwack up and over the rock, instead of around it, to the lake.  It was hard and slippery going; there was a moment of dropping between the crevice created by a stone face and the upturned root ball of a newly crashed tree—both towering into the air, everything slick with water. We thought we found paths others had made, but then they’d peter out and we were stuck hacking out our own route through the fallen trees and thick salal.  Finally, up and over, then down a steep run through the trees, there was the lake.  We crashed down but the forest floor turned to bog at the edge of the lake—no rocks, no access there, no place to leave our clothing.  So we struggled back up over the cliff another way, came out and found, by patches of wild tiger lilies, the path we’d wanted in the first place.

Tiger lilies

Across a rocky ledge—the falls roaring to the right—around a corner, and there was the lake, and steep rocks dropping down to the edge.  We shed our clothing and jumped in.  The water was silky, delicious—slightly cold, but not bad.  We swam and played in the bowl of the lake and looked at the snow-capped mountains above us (and the slash of clearcut below that).  No one but us there.

Logs in the lake

Then we dressed and returned to the dingy by the usual path, taking off our shoes a few times to pick through the streams that flooded it.

The swimming spot

A brief flare of sunshine before dinner, then the storm clouds we’d seen stacked above Cortes Island blew in and thumped us about. And then they were gone, just a steady rain into the night.

Clouds over Cortes

We slept soundly and woke—clean! and well-rested.

About Karin Cope

Karin Cope lives on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. She is a poet, sailor, photographer, scholar, rural activist, blogger and an Associate Professor at NSCAD University. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein, a poetry collection entitled What we're doing to stay afloat, and, since 2009, a photo/poetry blog entitled Visible Poetry: Aesthetic Acts in Progress. Over the course of the last decade, with her partner and collaborator Marike Finlay, Cope has sailed to and conducted fieldwork in a number of remote or marginal coastal communities in British Columbia and Mexico. Their joint writings range from activist journalism and travel and policy documents, to an illustrated popular material history of the Lunenburg Foundry entitled Casting a Legend, as well as their ongoing west coast travel blog, West By East.
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