Dist: not yet finished!
Start: 10:15 End: 00:00
I liked to be on the water this morning as early as first light allowed, if the rising tide would allow me to get off this beach and out of the entrance. Yesterday afternoon, the entrance looked clean even on high tide. This early morning’s low tide was at 1.15 am, and I was aiming to be on the water at least at 3 am if not earlier. I had already packed my bags besides taking the tent down, as I only wanted to walk out of my tent into the drizzling rain in my dry suit to have a look on the beach to make my final decision.
The beach break still looked all right to get out 1,5 hrs after low tide, but my exit now looked much more confused than yesterday, even from a higher spot. I was pondering to give it a go or not, walked twice back and forth and had already plucked out my tent pegs, when I finally decided NOT to leave today. The soaking wet gear and continuous may have added to my decision to find shelter again inside my tent and to unpack my bags again.
I got warm and cozy once more inside my sleeping bag and fleece line (a very important piece of gear to me!!!), and went straight back to sleep, the rain dropping reassuring on my tent wall that I did the right decision.
Surely, when I woke again twice, I once more stuck my head out of the tent, especially when the tide was dropping again. It had also a brief spell of no rain, and I walked out to have another look around 9 am, 2 hrs after high tide. Now it looked like I could get out safe! I had only planned to paddle those 35 km to the Akwe River, or I may land again on the open coast somewhere it may look doable. I could also check on Dangerous River in 50 km, both distances I could still do from launching at 10 am within day light. And if nothing works, I simply keep on paddling to the next river mouth through the short night, or even head straight to Yakutat…what is another 100-km leg? I have done many longer ones…and the night and next day’s forecast would be even nicer than today.
I packed for the second time today, and was on the water easy on 10.15 am eventually. When I paddled along the breaker line to find the calm exit, I once more experienced that from a high dune or even only from standing on the shore, things look different than from the perspective of sitting low inside a kayak. I could not say I was spotting a clean unbroken line out now…paddle a bit more back east…this must be it…I turned out, noticed the main current increasing my speed, and was hoping for the best. True, it was not really breaking, but still quite lumpy on the exit! Especially when I decided I need to turn west now, it took me a while to get free of the intimidating waves, still breaking here or there. But am I not used to paddle through those kind of “minefields”, even at night??
I made it to clean unbroken water with no problems, and relaxed. Still, the seas were as forecasted double the size of yesterday, and things were feeling and looking quite different today. It was also amazing that I felt paddling in confused lumpy river currents a dozen times every so often on the way up to the first open river, the Akwe River mouth, despite there was only a continuous sand bar and no outflow at all. But I know, rivers can also reach the sea subterranean, and this will be the case here.
Unfortunately for me, the Akwe River mouth with the smaller Italo River mouth inside was not looking open at all. I had already donned my helmet and was ready to go in, turning already into the coast, when I decided NO, this is not worth the risk! I will simply keep on paddling, and see how the surf break and the next river mouth will develop. I have not much to suffer out here! Especially when I discovered for myself how much warmer it was on my head to have the helmet on. Sure, I know, when you have cold feet, put a hat on, but I might have not really been aware how really soaked my head gear was? My Gore-Tex dry suit hood does not cover all my scarf pieces, so like with a wick effect, the rain water slowly soaks it all.
And I remembered I had another treat waiting in my day hatch – a whole fresh fluffs dry set of even brand-new scarfs I have not used yet! The forecast was saying it would be a dry night and next day, so when I thought now this was the last rainy bit, I removed the warm helmet, changed into dry headgear, and it felt like I have jumped into my dry cozy sleeping bag. My feet warmed up to a degree I could stand, and I could even leave the helmet away which is not extremely comfortable on the long run.
Ready to tackle the short northern night!
Well, I should have carried an over cag, and should have kept a new breakfast bag and even more drinking water handy? I knew I may have to stay out?? The night is in these latitudes here in the time of the year only two hours where it is gray-dark, and this already is feeling very different to the southern nights in Australia or South America where I had to stay out quite often. And it was half-moon. I knew, as soon as darkness comes, I must fight mental tiredness not to fall asleep. My body can keep on working for so much longer. My method to stay awake is to sing, loud and mostly stupid made up texts, thank goodness nobody is around! What are two hours of half-darkness, it was a dry night, I was warmish, I had enough to eat and drink (so far), and at the end, even to Yakutat fully, it would be “only” 100 km. I had done 160-180 km more than once…not on this trip, and not with my current age though…
But I was fine. I was calling Peter once at night for a mental boost, and pondered to try to go into the calm looking Dangerous River mouth around 10 pm. I was approaching a bit from my quite offshore position to have a better look, but also realized my GPS speed dropped down to 1 km/h on about 2 hrs after high tide, so this would also not be a clever idea now! And this river name…a bad omen.
So just keep on paddling!