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Misty Fjords
Around Revillagigedo Island - June 2004

Journal - Page 6

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6/27/04 - day 19

Fog and rain

On our beach now it is dry. I have finished off all of our $1 books and am writing here at 7:45 PM under a grey and textured sky. The barely-present waves are lapping at the rocks, and Niki has taken it upon herself for some reason to arrange things around the campsite.

Last night we lay down to a storm of thunder and lightening. I lay awake for a long while listening to the crashes of thunder and the rain pounding against the rainfly of the tent. Each flash of lightening made the fabric glow, illuminating the coating of hungry insects on the outside of the fabric.

It seems rain has come to us at last. We paddled today in fog and mist and a light spray of rain. As we rounded the point into more open waters the land across the way receded into the fog. We had rocks and shore on our right side, but to the left was nothing but white-grey sky and greyer water. Land could have been a hundred miles away for all that we could see.

Here in the shipping lanes boats cruised by, distant and grayed out. Floatplanes buzzed low under the weather as we paddled on the flight path from Ketchikan. It was a calm day, and the point held none of its promised larger waves, only a view out into the bleakness. For the first time in over a week it's been cold enough to paddle with fleece on.

The beaches are littered with more human trash, logging scars some of the hillsides, and rounding a rocky point we could read all of a local high school's graffiti. There were names, proudly spray-painted graduation years, and the occasional tag or crude drawing. We are entering civilization.

Kayaking is a lazier wilderness existence than I am used to. Stopping so soon before bed, I hardly know what to do with all these hours on the beach.

6/28/04 - day 20


Ketchikan is around the corner and across the way. We walked around the point to this side just so that we wouldn't be looking at Ketchikan all night. But I can still hear its boats, humming and droning in the channel just a short hop away.

We are almost there. We woke up today to little motorboats cruising past our beach, with their roaring engines and their graceless slaps of the water. We watched an enormous block of a cargo ship make its way into Ketchikan, and listened to float planes and helicopters zooming back and forth overhead.

After lunch we crossed over to paddle past town. We waved to fishermen cruising slowly with their poles bending over the side of the boat, and listened to cars whizzing along the road just a thin screen of trees away. We looked at houses, watched people, watched boats, crossed a channel that felt more like crossing a street, and came to camp on a beach, just out of sight of the Ketchikan lights.

I'm sitting by our last campfire, and I've eaten the last gooey mess of peanut butter, jam and pilot cracker crumbs. We still have deer prints on this beach, and the splashing of a seal to contrast with the intermittent sounds of motors.

The trip is almost over, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm not as hungry or as filled with food cravings as I sometimes am, but it will be nice to be in town, eat different food, and take a hot shower. I'm not eager for this trip to be over, as it has been great. And I'm not sorry for this trip to be over, since I'm headed next to meet up with Hig for more of our adventures. I guess I am perfectly satisfied with just the way things are working out.

Tomorrow we paddle all the way around to the far side of Ketchikan to meet back up with our van. We will paddle right past all the city things we long for, and then drive back for them. And I will have to eat no more fruits and nuts.

6/29/04 - day 21

Urban kayaking

Today the daily ritual of map line drawing and journal writing takes place under an overhead light, in the comfort of a padded seat, in the camper van. The van moves fast. After 3 weeks of 3mph kayak cruising speed, even 20 feels like lightening. We hurtled down the road the way we came, flying by things we'd spent the whole day paddling past, and trying to make sense of the whizzing colors of signs. We wanted the Wal-Mart. We wanted shampoo, showers, and food. But it seemed like we were going too quickly to see anything we passed. It seemed ridiculous that the van could even stop and turn at that speed.

Before the van, we had our day of urban kayaking. And it almost seemed like there ought to be traffic lights. The Ketchikan waterfront is noisy with the roars of float planes, bustling with boats, smelly with exhaust fumes, and choppy with their crisscrossing wakes. And we were the two smallest things in it. Four enormous cruise ships (they're all enormous) were in port today, and all the tour busses, tour boats and tour planes were out in force, serving the docked city of money-holding tourists. We had not only returned to civilization, we were trying not to get dive-bombed by it.

And then we left all the bustle, paddling into industrial areas, then into the realm of beachfront mansions and occasional B and Bs. Ketchikan is long. And we were parked at the far end of Ketchikan, so around the whole city we went. We stopped only briefly along the way. We wanted to get there. Sea stars still clung to the rocks, even here, but all I was watching for were the docks and boats of Knudsen cove marina.

We met another Japanese kayaker there - more friendly. He was living in Canada and here for a 3-month solo voyage. Either kayaking is popular in Japan, or I am making entirely unwarranted speculations out of a coincidence.

And now I am clean, and sitting in a van surrounded by dirty gear. Twenty one days is longer than I have ever been out between towns, and fish and crab cakes tasted better tonight than they have ever been before. We've paddled 311 miles by the GPS. It was a good trip.


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Last modified: 6/2/2005