You wouldn't think, with my 2-week unshowered body in the way, that I could smell anything at all anymore. But my sense of smell feels heightened here. Each of our foodstuffs perfumes the air as I stuff them into our Ursack, and I can't imagine now a bear could miss them, or the dry bags the bear came out of. Even the vitamins have their own peculiarly strong, mediciney smell. Sitting here in the tent, with the wind gone, I can smell the particular odors of the plants we've tromped to set up this tent. Even the paper I'm wringing on has a scent to it.
Last night in our rainfly-less tent, I watched the clouds roll in. We were trying to sleep early, but I wasn't tired, and the wind that stopped our paddling blew steadily north. Scattered grey clouds rolled quickly across the pinkish sky until it was solid-covered and darkness blocked my view.
We woke up to dew, a cool breeze, and a low gray mist that muffled the world around us. A few sprinkles of rain fell. The grey mist had replaced our blue haze and the mood of the world had changed. It was an early morning for us as we set out paddling at 7. The ocean was a rough steel grey, reflecting the sky. No float planes zoomed overhead, and only the wind made noise. It was the kind of morning that made me want to whisper. A sailboat sat silently moored, asleep as we passed it. The few motorboats in the channel seemed further away, and quieter.
We could see the Asian kayaker paddling ahead of us, in the distance. It was calmer weather than yesterday, but not so calm as we'd hoped. The wind blew against us and sideways, and the waves were messy. Confused by the rock walls, they popped up, small mountains upon bigger peaks of water, weaving in every direction, jabbing and pushing at the boats.
We passed the Asian kayaker in Smeaton Bay. He didn't return our hello, but paddled parallel to us for a few minutes. In all this space, the one other kayaker just looks at us silently with no expression on his face. I found him a little unnerving.
Smeaton Bay is to be one of our last side trips of this voyage. We have 5 days left to paddle, if we do not want to be stuck in Ketchikan for too long. Smeaton bay seems empty, next to where we've just been. Empty, but for seals, birds, and our silent companion.
When we woke to clouds, we were sure they would last forever - that the mist had returned to Misty Fjords. But the clouds burned away by afternoon, the wind grew stronger, and our blue haze evaporated with the clouds. We are left again, ever more improbably in clear sun and blue skies.