The usual preparations had kept me busy for weeks before the trip, with days getting progressively longer and nights shorter as the departure was approaching. The last night prior to the departure was occupied with packing and preparing everything for my extended absence. At the end, although I had managed to finish in time for my departure, I did not get any chance to sleep. Much worse, I had violated my own unbreakable rule of going through the checklist at least twice to confirm that I had not left anything behind. Sure enough, a cursory just-in-case glance over my packing area, when I was about to step out, had revealed a pile of charts and maps that I had forgotten to pack! Finally departed, with my usual load of five duffel bags containing everything from my inflatable kayak to six weeks of food, plus two small carry-ons with camera gear and electronics.
Arrived to the bus depot with some time to spare. While paying for the extra luggage, I asked the ticket agent if it would be possible to drop me off at the Port Hardy ferry terminal, some distance away from downtown. This was not a problem, and all my luggage got the corresponding tags.
trip to Port Hardy was uneventful. I had used the travel time to get
some sleep, possibly a few hours in total. A short stop at Wasp, with
the bus driver warning everyone not
to venture far off: bears seen in the neighborhood. Back on a
bus, now passing through the areas where I had paddled before: a
turn to Telegraph Cove, a bridge over Nupkish
River, and a stop at Port McNeil. The bus was running late and I was
glad that I had decided not to try my luck with arriving to Port
Hardy downtown first and trying to make it into the outdoor store
before the closing
time. I would have had no chance at all.
I was dropped off at the ferry terminal, an employee had immediately
helped me loading my luggage on a cart labeled “Klemtu” and
directed me to the ticket office where I had pad the $10 stowage fee
covering extra pieces. Once all official procedures were over, I had
settled down outside to study the map. A gentleman from Bella Bella
stopped by to look at my map and we had a nice chat. Meanwhile,
it was getting windy making an outdoor stay uncomfortable, and I had
decided to move back into to the terminal. It was filling up
fast. Most passengers seemed to know each other. Everyone was saying
Hello to an old gentleman in a wheelchair, likely a well-known elder
from one of the First Nations communities on the ferry route.
On the ferry docked at Port Hardy
The ferry was Queen of Chillowack, a smaller vessel made in Sweden and running this route in summer months. Its main advantage was that, due to the size, it could dock in downtown Klemtu. The main and much larger ferry Northern Expeditions had to dock at a new remote ferry terminal, two kilometers away from Klemtu. It was already well past 9:00pm and I was getting hungry. I headed for the cafeteria. The only food available was some snacks. I had asked if any sandwiches were left: none, but the staff was happy to make one for me. I was about to accept this kind offer when I saw a sign announcing that dinner would be served at 10:00pm. Got a tea and decided to wait for a hot meal. While waiting, checked out the ferry, already underway.
On the upper deck I had discovered a neat place called “Solarium” with a rounded roof filled with windows, looking like a greenhouse. It might have well been used as a solarium on sunny summer days. This time, however, it was nearly full with tents and people sleeping on the floor on their camping mats. A mental note: next time, have my sleeping gear with me and head strait for the solarium. One couple had even pitched a tent outside, on ferry's bow.
The dinner was ready. I got well-made chicken fingers and fries, and appreciated a good meal in calming surroundings. Returned to my seat close to 11:00pm and settled down for a night.
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