About a year ago, I was talking with a good friend of mine that had settled on Cortes Island, in British Columbia. She was planning a kayaking trip in Desolation Sound with Ajahn Viradhammo, the abbot of Tisarana Buddhist Monastery. Dhamma and kayaking together? Where do I sign up? So I recently joined some friends in Canada for some kayaking and camaraderie. Ajahn Viradhammo gave several talks and wise teachings in this smaller group setting. Several “Cortesian” friends generously offered the use of their homes to our group, and we spent a relaxing week enjoying the atmosphere. The surrounding scenery was truly awe-inspiring, and led to a quiet stillness.
Following this, we went on a kayaking trip on Desolation Sound, east of Cortes. We loaded a mountain of gear into a mix of double and single sea kayaks, and set course for across the sound to the Martin islands.
Landscapes that looked so far away from the shore of Cortes soon became more familiar. We set up our base camp, and over the next few days explored the Curme islands and Kinghorn Island.
We enjoyed spotting seals, deer, and numerous eagles, and took advantage of warm enough weather and water to go for a swim on most days. The cooler water was a welcome relief for sore muscles, and was clear enough to spot starfish and other sea life below.
Our return trip was a little more challenging. The sound crossing was pretty choppy with winds at 12-15 knots and waves crashing over our kayaks at times (yay for spray skirts!). Yet the kayaks felt secure, and paddling through the waves was quite fun, even if we did feel like we were still at sea for a few days after our return.
During a weekend retreat in Victoria the following weekend, Ajahn Viradhammo recounted how Luang Por Sumedho would describe an event as a “peak experience “; acknowledging that something was enjoyable, yet subtly pointing to its effervescent nature without being a downer. I would definitely describe this trip as a peak experience, and am thankful to Ajahn Viradhammo, my friend Sobhana, and many others who made it possible.