Departing from Canada towards the US is a little harder than going the other way around. You have to file a detailed eAPIS manifest online, call customs the morning of your flight, and give them a close estimate of your arrival time... which makes it tricky when you have to do your flight plan from Tsuniah Lake. I had some satellite internet so was able to look at the winds aloft forecast the night before, get an online flight briefing, etc. - anyway, it seemed that there was supposed to be a 20 knot tail wind and the flight should take about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I planned for calm/no wind just in case, and put in a 3pm arrival at Friday Harbor airport, planning to depart at 1:30pm after lunch.
We ended up taking off at exactly 1:30pm... and the flight was absolutely spectacular. I took a video of our take-off from the airstrip and we did a quick turn to take a few pictures of the lodge on our way out. From there, we flew over Chilko Lake, which is mind boggling... somewhat reminiscent of Lake Tahoe but much more remote and wild, of course. From there, we flew by Tatlayoko lake, and then followed the Hamathko river to Bute Inlet and out to Campbell River, BC. The views of Mt Waddington and all the other mountains in the area was just spectacular to say the least... this 1-hour flight is definitely one of the coolest and most unique ones we've ever done. I got in touch with Canadian ATC (Pacific Radio at first) as soon as we were over the Bute inlet, where I figured they can see us on radar... and from there, they gave us flight following all the way to the US border. Our flight plan was following the terrain from Tsuniah Lake (CAF4) to Campbell River, then direct from Campbell River (CYBL) airport to Friday Harbor (KFHR) which basically follows the eastern shore of Vancouver Island. The weather was perfect blue sky.
Of course instead of the forecast tailwind, we had a 20-30 knot headwind the entire time. We were 12 minutes late landing at Friday Harbor, and even though there wasn't anyone else around, the border patrol agent decided to be really grumpy and give us a hard time for being late. Some people...
Friday Harbor airport is confusing and there was no airport diagram online, but I had seen on the satellite image where customs is. I couldn't tell where transient parking was, but we figured it out - it requires crossing the runway and is on the northeast corner of the airport. We planned to take a taxi or uber to our condo that was ~1 mile away, but uber showed no cars available. I called two taxi companies and both said they were really busy, one said he couldn't do anything, the other said it will be a 1.5 hour wait. Ugh. Normally walking a mile wouldn't be a big deal but we had two 2.5-year olds, plus a ton of bags, and it was 90 degrees F. Luckily, there is a rental car agency near the airport, and when I phoned them it turned out they had a car available - so that was our ticket!
We went for dinner in Roche Harbor, and walked around the dock - very cool place. There is an airport right there too. The next morning we went to False Bay - there was low tide (-3 meters) and really cool tide pool/beach walk. The kids loved seeing all the little crabs and splashing around in the water... even though it was really hot inland, it was breezy and downright cold! We wore our fleece jackets when eating lunch. :)
The rest of our time on the island we drove around the south area, ate dinner at Downriggers, hiked around Lime Kiln state park, and did other touristy stuff.
On our 3rd day we had to wait to depart until after 2pm, because there was an airshow in Truckee and the airport was closed until 6pm. The flight back took 4 hours and while the beginning was smooth and beautiful, the last 2 hours were hot and bumpy and we had to dodge a couple of thunderstorms over Susanville at the end (no big deal, everywhere else it was clear so we flew over Quincy a bit to the west). A successful trip was in the bag!
|Out the Bute inlet||Arriving Friday Harbor airport||Dinner at Roche Harbor (which also has an airport)|
|Roche Harbor||Tide pooling at False Bay, San Juan Island|
|Leaving Friday Harbor|
|Seattle on the left||The dead trees are from the St Helena eruption?|
|Mt St Helens||Out.|
|Mt Jefferson, Oregon||Sun River/Bend||Little cells are popping around Bend|
|Thunderstorm over Susanville; we gave it a wide berth||Big thunderstorm over Stampede reservoir just north of Truckee||Independence lake|
|Turning base to final in Truckee for 29, behind a WWII bomber (part of airshow giving rides to people) :)||We're back!||So much stuff..|
|We missed the airshow by 1 day...||Smoked Tsuniah lake trout for lunch!|