Day 39, Wednesday August 1, 2012

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August 1st.   (Not that it matters out here.)

Inside our tent weather. Courtesy of the Kestrel pocket weather tracker:
Humidity 88.8%, Temp. 62.8 Barometer 1018.8
Yesterday’s miles on the water = 0
Miles covered walking on logs = 3
Hours spent in the tent = 16
Everything is damp:
The tent.
My sleeping bag.
My wool socks, jacket, hat, & boots.
My hair –  of course.
Basically everything – but that doesn’t mean it is cold or soaking wet.

Well, August is starting out with a blow. We are still tent bound on Bedford island up on our high water deck. The rain started along with those gale force winds about midday yesterday and continued all night long. We set up Traci C’s small tarp to catch rainwater and channel it into a plastic container that I cut in half that was washed up on the beach. We will have to venture out this morning to see if it worked or if the spring high tide messed it up. I still have around 4 liters of water and we have plenty of food, so its more for security and experience than a desperate need. If the forecast is right we should be able to hit the water this afternoon when these winds calm down. It doesn’t sound like it is raining anymore. Of course, everything we were wearing yesterday afternoon while eating a quick bite and setting up the rain cache is soaked. The only way to dry anything is body heat and that is a long and uncomfortable process even for quickly drying clothing like we have.

Despite the high winds, cracking and billowing blue tarp and the loud pounding of the rain on plastic, I managed to sleep quite a bit. Around 2:00 am I crawled out onto the deck in the storm to pee and retrieve my water bag. A white skinny naked lady crawling alongside the tent underneath the low blue tarp, trying not to fall off the planks. What a sight that would have been!. When I got back in the tent I attempted to massage some of my muscles to get as much rest and recuperation as possible while we are weathered in here. I don’t have all that much left to massage. Even though I can’t see myself, I can feel that every part of me is smaller. Hah, people used to say that I was lean – nope. Now I am lean. Before I was just a safe, well fed, healthy modern athletic weight. I now have a truly lean body. It does make you realize how we as a society are used to a well fed, fat normal. I had plenty of reserves on me before this trip. Now I don’t. I feel just fine however, and eat whenever I can and as much as I can. I sure would like a chance to catch another salmon. That was the best eating I have ever done and I would love some more of that.

7:45 am still blowing.
I think I need to venture outside. Try to set up some things to dry a bit and wipe myself down. Then I think I will switch into my dry suit.  This sort of weather is what I brought it for.

Wednesday 8/1/2012 2:45pm  After the storm and rain.
It is simply amazing how a change in the weather can change life’s possibilities.
It’s not blowing and raining now however we will rest out this day and continue North in the early morning. Probably against a NW headwind and perhaps a tidal current- but who cares. We will be rested and ready to leave our deck on the island. Gypsy’s never remain in any one place.   Some outdoor words of experience come to mind here such as: Wait to emerge from your tent and continue your travels when nature says its OK to go. For instance, when the birds come out you know its ok to be outside and use energy again. Nothing is ever wasted in the natural world. Waste of energy is a unnatural, modern world human habit. In the natural world if you waste energy you die. Thus the animals will tell you when it makes sense to break camp and continue, if you listen.  Traci and I figure that given the amount of energy and time it takes to break down a camp and move and reload the kayaks, then repeat at a new location, its is not worth the energy spent unless you can travel at least 10 miles. This equates to just under 3 hours of kayak time at our average speed.  For me, part of the joy of this experience is to be able to move and live on natures time. This can be frustrating unless you give up the artificial idea of modern western time. You live in a sort of dream time/nature time. Never knowing exactly when you will arrive or what will happen when you get there. How long you will stay in a place, when you will eat, or brush your teeth, if you will be able to fish or build a fire, sleep in your tent or under your tarp. If you can camp on the beach or have to be up in the tree line.  But if you are smart, in tune with what nature tells you- you can be pretty confident that you will arrive when you get there.

The birds came out this afternoon. I will build a bonfire this evening between the high tides and we will leave Bedford island early in the morning.

Last night I awoke at high tide around 2:00 am and went outside the tent. Balancing on the boards of our deck to pee and take a look around. The silence was so loud after being in a gale for a day and a half. I could see light off I the distant North sky, even at 2:00am . All around me, where the beach is was black water, the still water of a 22 foot high tide. Only now it was silent water. Not a puff of wind from the sky or wave to be heard. A truly amazing transformation from the raucous 2 nights before with waves slapping against logs and storm winds cracking the blue tarp and tent along with the pounding of rain drops on the plastic. The silence was so overwhelming that Traci and I had trouble falling asleep. You could hear every crack of a branch that creeping animals in the woods made, every fish jump, and every gurgle of the relentlessly incoming spring tide.

TracyL
Daily Menu
1 dark chocolate bar dipped in nutella.
5 pan sized chocolate chip pancakes in butter.
water.
cashew nuts.
1 landjager peperoni stick.
Lots of cheese.
Dried mango slices.
How to stay in good spirits while weathered out.
Warm coffee when you can.
Dry wool socks.
Traci C reading Tim Cahill stories in the tent.
Reading my wacky journal entries.
Taking care to wipe yourself clean whenever you can (chamois baths in rainwater with Castile soap.)
Eat several times a day in between the rain squalls.
Chocolate Bar count: 31
EXPERT KAYAK MERIT BADGE

Three days in one location – a record

Weather day, Bedford Island

Conditions: strong SE winds; barometer 1018

Tent temp: 62F, 88.8% humidity

I wonder if the barometer is still working, as it is remarkably steady for the high winds in the area. All night long the wind howled, blowing through the trees and ripping through the tarp and tent. Our “stinky cheese tent at high tide” was much more secure in its new location, but with all the sounds we were still wakeful most of the night. The wind was still howling in the morning, and the weather forecast was for it to continue until the afternoon, so here we will stay and rest for another day. T2 is unconcerned about water, but I am such a boy scout that I set up a tarp to catch the rain into a water container we found on the beach. Partial success – turns out the container had a leak, but between that and the water trapped in my cockpit cover I got nearly two liters. That makes me happier.

An interesting thing happened today, which surprised and shocked me. I have exceeded my chocolate threshold. I didn’t even know I had a chocolate threshold. I have always been able to consume copious amounts of chocolate. Preferably, dark, plain, or with hazelnuts… I long ago turned myself into a chocolate snob to put some limits on my intake. Tracy and I have frequently enjoyed sharing good dark chocolate after a training paddle in the winter – we both definitely preferred high quality, high cocoa content dark chocolate. Well, here in the wild we found we both preferred milk chocolate, and even better with fruit and nuts. That alone was a surprise! Well, today we had chocolate chips in our pancakes, and something about the heavy pancakes and dark chocolate chips was just too much. No. More. Chocolate. Done with it.

***

It is now 1:30pm, and the wind is definitely calming down, and the birds we haven’t seen are starting to come out again. Good sign. Hopefully it will be calm in the morning and we can continue. Full moon tonight – spring tides, but they should start easing for the rest of the journey.

T2 is concerned that I am “wussing out” on her, but I am ready to be on to Ketchikan and home. I decided I want to be in Ketchikan by my birthday (the 13th). I am enjoying this amazing adventure, am totally thrilled to be here and doing it, absolutely no regrets, but I am tired of this island and ready to be moving forward to my family, home, and friends. Soon.

I also need to mention the amazing candlefish here (can’t remember the native name for these oily, sardine-like fish…). T2 went to clean/wash in the bay, and the fish were swarming and spawning in vast quantities. A swirling mass of fish. With a scoop of her cookpot she brought up three of them. A little bigger than sardines, fat, oily, and happy. She released them as we have plenty of food, and they are likely very boney as well as oily. Their presence would explain the eagles we saw on shore when we first arrived.

Random Thoughts (three days on the island has me writing more!)

Sounds of the inside passage

• Silence with the sound of water running, made by the passage of Pacific Whiteside Dolphins on a still morning outside Blunden Harbor
• The “African Queen” sound of what turned out to be the David B heading down Mathieson Sound
• The utter silence and stillness of Reid Passage
• Loons in Grenville Channel/Klewnuggit Inlet
• Owl on Bedford Island
• The blow of grey, humpback, and minke whales
• The various sounds of water, always. The lapping up to our camp on Camano Island. The tidy bowl effect on Smith Island, waiting to run the rapids. The relentless approach on Bedford, wondering if we built our platform high enough.
• Sand Cranes! On Lewis, just east of Porcher Island. I took a video simply to capture the haunting, echoing sound. (note: this particular sound was added August 2 – look for the video there)
• Humminbirds dive-bombing us everywhere
• The squawking of a dying seabird carried in the talons of an eagle at Tree Bluff (note: this particular sound was added August 3)
• The early morning calls of morning birds, unseen from our tent, as I wake in the morning. Ravens I recognize, but other sweeter calls, chirps, trills, and songs.

Food

• Chocolate. I am tired of it.
• Mashed potatoes – surprisingly still good. Packed too much though, and I’ll probably not want them for a while after I get home.
• Dried mangoes = AWESOME
• Cheese and venison jerky = MORE awesome
• T2’s salmon with garlic – best of all
• What I want when I get home: fresh fruit – lots of it. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Yogurt.

Gear

• Love my JL polypro top. Wearing almost daily.
• She-skin tights were not a good choice. Not breathable enough. Mostly using on shore for bug protection.
• Lotus capris – very good. Great for paddling, but full leg coverage for bug protection on shore is needed.
• Mysterioso shorts and short sleeve mock-T – also very good, but I should have brought the full-on tights.
• Kokatat jacket and pants, gore-tex light – AWESOME. Whenever the JL top isn’t enough, I pop the jacket over. Pants mostly used for protection on shore, rather than for paddling.
• Kokatat drysuit – either I’m sweating up a storm or it is leaking. I’ve only worn it a handful of times because it is too warm, and not so good for relief while paddling.
• Kokatat cag – this is great. Only worn a couple times when paddling, which turns me into a giant orange pumpkin, but it is great for extra coverage when stopping.
• Keen sandals – working great and good grip on rocks. My standard paddling footwear. Barefoot underneath for the most part, but when it’s cooler I’ll pop on a pair of wool socks.
• Kokatat boots – almost great. If they were waterproof (the neoprene lets a little water seep in at the seams) they would be perfect. I had second thoughts about keeping them initially because they were hard to pull on, but I’m glad I kept them. They have held up well, good grip, and pack up easily.
• Eta Packlight stove – amazingly faithful! Ignition is occasionally overwhelmed by moisture, but it still works at odd times. With a lighter it fires up every time, and it is reasonably fuel efficient.
• North face sleeping back (Cornice model, I think – I’ve had it a while) and silk cocoon – great. I have been warm every night.
• Spot – quirky, but I get amazing peace of mind knowing I am able to update friends and family. Odd worries at times: what if it breaks/gets lost/stops working? Still going strong. Recommendations: should be neon orange! The software sucks! Can only look at options/settings/history (on iphone) if actively connected to the SPOT. Sometimes history doesn’t seem to record a successful message (I send again in this case; David says that’s resulted in dups). Once I accidently deleted all the contact/message info on the iphone when the device wasn’t connected and my cold fumble fingers hit the button saying “I don’t have a SPOT device” by accident. Bad SPOT software!

What has surprised me

• The relative ease I fell into the outdoor life. OF course, T2 is the consummate outdoors woman, so I just supplement her expertise. However, I am not fond of camping in the rain with high winds and tides. Like now. Blech.
• The different, varied, *intelligent* calls of Ravens. I will miss them when I return home to raucous crows.
• How much time and effort it takes to simply load and unload the kayaks, and to move them up and down the beach (chasing or running from the swiftly moving tides). Time to set up/take down camp, cook and eat. Sometimes the effort to even create a campsite – scraping space level, building wood platforms, a new home every night…
• Leisure time = none. Or if there is any, too tired, sore, aching to do anything like knit, sketch, or paint. My hands were a mess for the first few weeks – healing blisters from bad gloves/taped paddle at the beginning of the trip, then swelling, then a couple scrapes and/or barnacle dings. Doing pretty well now, but I still get the white fluffy fingertips of death from cold and wet all too easily.
• How important journaling is. This = my leisure time, and absolutely critical to record each day’s varied adventure before they all run together in memory. Time has no meaning out here, other than tides and currents, and nature’s opportunities – or not – for paddling.

Best purchases

• Tim Cahill’s “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh” at the Refuge Cove used book exchange. Great bedtime reading for adventurers! Although T2’s journal may be even better.
• Deoderant. Has kept us civilized (and able to remain friends while sharing one tent)

What I hate

• White fluffy fingertips of doom!

TraciC
Quote(s) of the Day

(Random thoughts in dream time, aka 16 hours in a tent.)   “New sea gypsy names for ourselves:  “Tracy the damp hair”.   and “Traci the white hyde”.  – TL

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