Paddling with Porpoises and Sleeping with Otters
June 20, 2019 – It rained last night and into early this morning but was sunny when I got up at 7. As I made breakfast and struck up camp I had deep anxiety. I knew this would be hard – that’s why I practiced, mentally visualized. What I didn’t practice or mentally visualize were the blisters on both hands and feet, the sores in my right armpit from the seams in either my paddle shirt, my hydroskin jacket, or both, the tight pain in my spine just below my neck that no amount of perfect paddling posture will avoid, how almost all my dry bags now leak, and just how very much I miss my easy life back home. I feel weak, old, worn out.
I imagine that the blisters will become calouses, I’ll get the right dressing down for the armpit, eventually I’ll figure out what I am doing to create the spine pain (which I have never experienced except last year and this year’s IP journeys), I will continue to find the leaks in the dry bags and patch them, and I will learn, like all kids who leave home for some grand adventure, to better cope with the homesickness. In the meantime, I just want to go home and cuddle with my little fluffball.
I paddled over 16 miles today, or better stated – I surfed over 16 miles today. Had the wind basically at my back and the current in my favor, so I mostly just bobbed up and down and steered. There were times when I got some sprints in to increase my speed, and ended up averaging 4.5 mph. It was all in Grenville Channel which, by the way, is almost as busy as the lower Columbia! Most of the ships/boats have little to no wake. I did have one yacht today but was ready for it. Luckily by that time I had gotten used to just bobbing over the windwaves and could focus on the huge yacht wakes coming to the left of the windwaves. There are also planes and helicopters going overhead every half hour or so. Mercifully there were many moments when it felt like just me and the ocean.
Now I have caught up to my average for the time since leaving Prince Rupert. Hope the trend continues and I can catch the rest up by Bella Bella. If not, I decided today that I will take the ferry from Bella Bella to Port Hardy, getting me there around the first part of July.
Highlight #1 of the day was one very small harbor porpoise about 30 feet from me coming up out and going back in over and over. Maybe feeding? Second highlight – I’ve been rereading Jennifer Hahn’s Spirited Waters while on this trip since she covers the same route between Ketchikan and Bellingham. In the part between Prince Rupert and Bella Bella, the part I am on currently, she talks about finding little openings through the forest to otter sleeping dens and the calls they make at night gathering everyone in. After I landed on this beach, I did my usual exploration of the forest next to it. Some beaches the forest is impenetrable. This one I got back into quite a ways, even found a huge crop of wild ginger. I also found little holes coming off the beach going into a low open area under a large cedar. I thought maybe that was what she was talking about. As I type this I can hear the otter calling its family in for the night. Just like her on this segment, I get to sleep with otters.