Can You Say Low Brace?

June 8, 2019 – I got up at 5:40 am, hustled with making oatmeal (note to self – use only 1/4 sea water next time), got everything packed up, loaded up BABS in an outgoing tide (remember, high tide was at 4:45 am, water going different direction now that I’m so close to Dixon Entrance), and was paddling by 8:40. Two hours 40 minutes is a great improvement over four hours. The cove was lovely, calm. The minute I was out of it was a whole different story. Five hours of basic surf training. Not as big as the surf out at the beaches of Washington, Oregon, or California, but still constant, disorganized, inconsistent, pattern and chaos.Just as with a couple of days ago, I started out scared. After the first hour or so it got to be where I was taking pictures of birds, scratching my nose, singing, and generally annoyed that I am getting such big water so early on. After two and a half hours, I got out on a not-so-pretty and definitely-not-a-camping beach for a lunch break. The textured water seemed to just keep building even though the tide had turned and was going in the same direction as the wind, which was only maybe four knots. I couldn’t stay at that beach, so back into the fray I went. BABS was completely confident about it all, like she was made for it which, come to think of it, she was. I think she was even enjoying herself.Another two hours and six minutes later we pulled into Foggy Bay (which was not foggy by the way) and into a lovely sand and pebble beach on the south side, with fresh water no less. The tide was pretty far out when I landed, so I hauled BABS and the three IKEA bags and all the other gear up far enough above the water that I had time to scope out a campsite.I started to the area right of the fresh water stream, as there were nice big drift logs that would make a good cooking countertop. As I walked toward them and looked down I saw a fresh set of the largest mountain lion tracks I have ever seen. They were following a fresh set of deer tracks off into the forest. Just a few steps beyond the cougar tracks were a set of older black bear tracks leading off into the forest. I was so very tired after that 15 mile gauntlet. I looked at the area to the left of the fresh water stream. No tracks – at least none that were new enough to be identifiable and even then there was only one set.So here I am having paddled through 15 miles of 3′ seas and am camping on a beach with bear and lion tracks because I am just too pooped to go on. Even if I did, this is bear and lion country. There is nowhere I can camp that will be guaranteed bear or lion free.For those of you who are freaking out right now know this:1) mountain lions are more afraid of you than you of them even though that is hard to imagine. They love to eat deer. I don’t look like a deer. In fact, I look more like a bear, especially in my bright orange storm cag or big nylon drysuit. The one mountain lion I have seen, I only saw its tail because it ran as fast as it could away from me when we came upon one another.2) I cooked my chicken soup on the other end of this side of the stream from my tent. It’s about a 50′ wide area. I then placed all my sealed, water/smellproof kitchen bags inside a driftlog with a hole in it lying on its side. I then, in my exhausted state, dragged another 90 lb. wet driftlog that fit perfectly on top of the hole in which my bags currently reside. I can’t imagine a black bear can lift that log but, if he can, more power to him. The most important food bag – the one with all my breakfasts and snacks in it – is in the kevlar bear-proof bag Constance and Andrew H. gave me before I left.3) I have my horn and my bear spray on my person or next to my sleeping bag, along with my Garmin. If the first two don’t deter a predator, I can use the last to call for a rescue.And last but not least:4) Much of this expedition is about learning to trust myself, to trust my judgement, to fully understand that I am responsible, competent and capable. Today’s paddle gave me the opportunity to see myself in action and I did so very well. I have never been so proud of myself and how far I have come in my decision making and physical abilities as I was today. I continue to have confidence that I will make good decisions if and when it comes to encounters with predators. If you really know me at all, you will feel the same. No ands, ifs, or buts about it.Most important of all on this day: I saw my first Alaskan Orca! Well, I saw it in Alaska. Not really sure if it’s from Alaska and didn’t have the chance to ask it. First it flung its whole body out of the water, like they do. Then it just waved to me with its dorsal fin. That makes three whale species thus far.

Written by

kyleenaustin

I am passionate about outdoor exploration. In the recent years I have discovered how much more I can experience from a kayak. I am a professional musician and own a dairy where we produce raw milk, butter and cheeses. My son tells me I have "too much on my plate". He is correct, but I wouldn't live life any other way.

One thought on “Can You Say Low Brace?

  1. Kyleen, I LOVE hearing that you are proud of yourself after today’s challenges. 15 miles in lumpy water! You should be proud. Relaxing into challenging conditions and actually finding a way to have fun in them…….that’s impressive.

    And I was also impressed with the good cheer in your voice when we spoke tonight and you were in a wet, wet tent with another inch of rain projected. How do you do it?

    Keep leaning into the fear and then righting yourself again…and again…and again. And keep up the wonderful writing and photos that let us know both your journey and your growth.

    Love,
    Con

    I’m thrilled to hear that you’re using the bear bag Andrew Hughes and I gave you. 🙂👌🏻 May it never be tested.

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