Monday July 16th
Got up early, had the alarm set for 4:00 am but the cabin mice kept us up most the night making quite a cacophony of sounds. Chewing, scratching, clattering, climbing all around us as we slept on the dirty floor. So we got up around 3:45am in the dark and I fumbled around trying to locate my head lamp. Then packed up for an early day of light paddling without wind and current, (we hope). Since the tide was way out we had to drag/roll our loaded boats out over the gravel between the boulders and down through the muck. Traci lost her shoes, sucked down into the muck a couple of times. I think we must have awoken the entire harbor, from the dead screeching whale sounds our noodles made as we dragged our kayaks over them. (it is a terrible sound!)
The seas were calm, just a nice big oceanic swell and we were escorted 2 times by a giant pod of white sided dolphins. I sure hope that some of my video turns out it was just amazing to see them. How powerful they are and how they just fly in and out of the water.
On the water we passed 400 miles. We are both tired. I had a busy day yesterday on land since I climbed into my kayak 2 more time to catch dinner, (rockfish) and attempted to locate a fresh water stream in addition to the usual hours of packing and unpacking and moving gear. Today our goal was 12 miles to Shelter Bay. The ocean air here is quite a bit cooler so you get cold. I think I will try my dry suit in the morning. Traci C has been wearing hers. Oh joy, got my period again so I have to deal with that now for a few days. There goes any good night sleep for a while. So I am glad to get in some nap time today. We arrived here at Shelter Bay around 9:00am. There is a really nice protected beach with a campsite and sign warning of cougar sightings and how to deal with them here. Bears worry me more. I would fight off a cougar by now. I am a lean, hungry, black belt, grouchy menstrual women right now with a small but sharp knife by my side at all times.
Tonight we will have to sleep here in the woods, I would rather be on a rock, but there really are not many good choices. This beautiful beach, white sand, nearby stream, sunny skies at times, and fantastic view still makes me a bit nervous. Oh well, just got to deal with it and see what happens. Every day is a new surprise on this trip.
Our plan is to rest all day then depart early again in the morning to take advantage of calm seas and current. We are just going 8 miles in the morning to rest again and set up for our 24 mile day around Cape Caution. My leaky day hatch will have to be duck taped closed beforehand in case it gets nasty.
Update – after finding fresh cougar tracks on the beach we decided to keep the tent on the sand. Set the alarm for high tide, see if we have to move it or just sit up and wait for the tide to go down again around 1:00 am. Sleep intervals. Our food is down the beach on a high log out of the water line and we are upwind a bit. I have 2 knives in the tent and 2 big sticks outside. The tent is situated with no way to sneak up on us. I always have a backup plan.
I forgot to mention the memorial for the young girl who was killed by a cougar where we camped in the old native cabin last night. We heard a large creature go by outside the walls at night as well. But that is normal out here.
The Good from Today:
Rinsed off in a stream.
Napped in the sun for several hours.
Cleaned out my Kayak.
A Beautiful Beach
Called home and talked with Tore before I lost the call.
The Dolphin escort this morning was totally amazing!
Total miles: 410, Shelter Bay
Conditions: turned into a sunny day, low to mid 60s, barometer 1014
Mice in the cabin were active all night. At first we weren’t sure what was making all the noise… I turned on my headlamp and saw the scampering little rodents. Noisy buggers. Better than bears though.
We started early in the dark, a thin crescent moon in the dark sky with shades of grey and pink. Stepping out to a low tide, the beach was long and sloped, and the last 50-100 yards before the water was pure mucky, shoe-sucking, bug infested misery. Hordes of mosquitoes. I pulled out my bug-net for my head, donned my gloves, and was grateful to be otherwise completely covered. Rolling our loaded kayaks on the foam rollers, they squealed like a frenzy of wildly mating whales. I’m sure we woke every boat moored in the bay.
We paddled out into the calm, smooth grey, as quiet as the view was featureless. As we rounded the point of the harbor we could distantly hear a sound like a river or waterfall, but it was coming from the sea, not land. What could be disturbing this stillness? Faintly, small fins appeared ahead of us, far away. Pacific whitesided dolphins were out feeding. At first they were headed away, and the speed and power of their passage sounded like a tidal rip. Then they spun around and came right through us, thirty or forty dolphins surrounding us on either side. What amazing power and grace, and I was too stunned and in awe to even think about my camera – until they were nearly past us when I managed a few blurry shots. They came around behind us and swam with us briefly, but we were moving at far too slow a pace to provide any fun, and they took off again on their own purpose. We met them again just before Shelter Bay, where they delighted us with acrobatic displays.
At Shelter Bay we found a lovely sand beach. Unfortunately, signs indicate cougar have been spotted. Official signs at the beach head, and paw prints in the sand. Be nice kitty. A fresh stream provided water for our empty water bottles. This was the first use of my gravity filter, I like it.
Cougar was one predator I had not been prepared for. Bear yes; I don’t think I’ve read or heard of any inside passage trip without at least one bear encounter. Cougar numbers have been growing recently though –as well as bear numbers – probably due to hunting restrictions. I have always been, and still am, a staunch supporter of animal and environmental rights, but seeing as we are definitely NOT top of the food chain here, I can see where the desire to remove the predators for an illusion of safety could develop.