Sunday, August 14, 2011


Sunday, August 14
It's a grey Sunday morning as we break our camp on Toboggan Beach. Barbara organizes our gear while Tim and I bring the kayaks down to the shore. At low tide and in a light rain it is a long slippery trip. Tim grabs the bow handles on two of the kayaks I take the sterns, walking between the boats, my eyes scanning the ground for large boulders and slippery rockweed.

Several more trips back and forth are necessary to bring down all the gear which we stow in the bulkheads and then we slip our kayaks under the clouds which hover in serpentine shapes over the fiord.

Somewhere on the opposite shore is an old gold mine and a small A-frame shelter constructed by miners or hunters. Barbara and Tim scan the shore for the landmarks they have been given and make their best guess as to where to pull ashore. We secure the kayaks and walk down the beach. Tim dips into the woods a few times, stopping to point out a slightly matted section of grass where he says the river otters sleep.

We haven’t gone far before we spot rusted machinery embedded in the hillside and Barbara and Tim enter the woods and begin climbing past huge spruce trees draped with lichen. The slope is steep but soft, thick moss underfoot cushions our climb. I follow as closely as I can, the fact that Barbara is calling for bear makes me want stay a part of our noisy group. 

We find the mine, a slit between rock walls in the greenery. The entrance is covered in a huge wire net and a sign warns of Danger! Unsafe Mine Shaft! Deadly Gas! Unsafe Ladders! Unstable Explosives! We peer in but can see only mossy timbers and darkness. We scout around looking for the A frame and after a bit I hear Barbara call out that she has found it, a pile of rubble no longer A shaped. At some point the Forest Service will burn it to naturalize the area so we look to collect anything non-burnable. Only a bit of metal is left but I find a piece from a fishing lure that I will later make into a pendant.

We head back, paddling close to the shore and passing noisy groups of oyster catchers. Tethering our kayaks to the back of the Dora Keen we unload and stow our gear. The next leg of the trip will be by boat so we paddle the empty kayaks to a little island in the cove were we hide them in the tall grass and shrubbery, making sure they are well above tide line. As we secure them I look down to see a pair of birds wings in the grass. Tim shuttles us back to the boat in the inflatable Zodiac and we head to our next camp.

As the Dora Keen roars down the fiord I step out of the cabin into the wind and see we are approaching a thin sliver of land, a black line in the grey distance. From the sliver a row of dead trees stab low clouds.  I start taking photos, hoping we get closer so I can take more photos before I realize that this spit of land is actually our next camp.

As we approach we scare off a couple of Great Blue Herons which are perched on the pinnacles of the spruce trees which died as a result of the 1964 earthquake when the land sunk more than 6 feet and exposed the roots to the saltwater.

Barbara rows me to shore in the Zodiak as Tim stays behind to secure the anchor. After setting up the stove Barbara goes back to bring Tim over, leaving me to tend dinner. After we eat, we sit under a tarp Tim has strung from the fallen trees as he explains to me the difference between the National Parks, National Forests and Wilderness Areas. It's so interesting that I'm wishing I could record the conversation, but my audio recorder never recovered from the dunking in the Sound, which in this spot is lively with tadpole like creatures and sea urchins which adorned themselves with small rocks in an attempt at camouflage.

We choose a spot further down the point where the land is a little higher to set up camp, but Tim will sleep on the boat tonight to ensure it doesn't slip anchor and leave us stranded.  My tent is on a patch of gravel barely large enough to pound the stakes.  I settle into my sleeping bag but just before drifting off remember I have some trail mix in my tent. Although I doubt bears would come down this narrow bit of gravel I don't want to take chances, nor do I want to walk 200 feet in the dark to where the other food is stored in our bear proof cans, so I put the bag of trail mix into my small red dry bag and stash it about 20 feet from my tent, then pull the sleeping bag over my head and fall asleep. Rain wakes me and I close the window flap and fall asleep again to the sound of waves, sounding so close, I could almost think they were lapping at my tent.

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