Tue 28/08-2018 Day 280

Pos: 58.7276,-157.0051
Loc: Naknek
Acc: Trident Seafood bunk
Dist: 52,7 km
Start: 09:20 End: 18:50

I finally arrived at my “finish line” for this northern leg season – at Trident Seafoods in Naknek. Thanks so much to Clyde Pedersen from Trident Seafoods in Chignik to “forward” me to their Naknek destination, where Luke Forrestor, Randy, Chris and Ferdinand with his wife Lilibeth were eventually looking after me nicely. Only that Clyde was a bit late to “announce” my arrival, and nobody knew I would be coming…but no big deal in Alaska. Great hospitality anywhere, thanks so much!

I started the long last paddling day into a lovely sunny calm day. The previous evening was performing a perfect sunset, a wonderful last night’s show! No bear visit, though I was camping right on the local resident’s “highway”. A bird, I assume one of the eagles, was continuously warning all fauna about my presence. Good mood, I was setting out, expecting the in-going current would carry me along easily…but I forgot the headwind around 12-15 knots which was unfortunately overpowering any current I might have had with me. And the current happened anyway far away from the coast…and I paddled as close to the coast as the tide allowed me. Just nicer there, and I felt much better.

My elbow was hurting the first hour, which made things additionally hard – against wind and pain, with 116 glass balls as extra weight. I could eliminate the pain, but the wind (and the glass balls…) stayed. I was starting one hour before low tide, and had to give the very wide shallow tidal belt a wide berth on low water. Again and again, I was forced to go around another sand bank, before the water reaching the beach was deep enough to paddle close. deep enough, but no current on the mud flats.

I felt like racing a crane, the crane-barge I met close to Egegik was driving far out there and was finally winning the game. No wonder, they were floating in the river current… I kept on pushing hard and harder, as the tide was running up quicker than I was expecting to paddle – and would leave me with the outgoing tide in the river mouth entry close to North Naknek. Not to talk about I was announcing my arrival between 4 and 6pm, and my ETA showed finally around 7 pm.

But the miles were counting down, and I had some entertainment seeing more and more cabins close to the coast, but not a single person. When I turned into the Naknek River mouth, the crane barge and tug boat was anchoring in the middle. I took it was a reference point when I finally had to cross those 3 km over. I didn’t know the current, ans was giving myself enough headway up the southern coast not to get drifted into the barges.
I ferry glided in a diagonal angle across – this is where I was pointing to, but my GPS track showed a rectangular river crossing. Actually, that was what I wanted! The current was acceptable, and I did not bump into anything. Still, I paddled continuously hard, the last day, who cares about stiff muscles…and I finally reached my GPS point with the Trident Seafood buildings. Where to land? to the left, the access was not easy, the small beach to the right had a small motor boat and a ramp reaching down. Perfect!

And now? I simply walked up to the hall, it looked like some major construction work was going on, also this evening. I bumped into Chris, the foreman of the evening working crew, he called Luke and Randy, nobody knew about my arrival…but my explanations sounded “trustworthy”, and he arranged everything with Ferdinand, the house keeper, to get me a room. So nice! With the help of Chris Four-wheeler and truck, my luggage found it’s way to the room, and we carried my kayak to a secure spot. All good! Thanks to everyone involved helping me to make myself at home! I had a long shower session, first my dry suit and myself, then everything rinse-able went under the shower also. The heating was running on full-power, which I liked to take advantage of this evening to dry my gear as quickly as possible. Plenty of hooks in the bathroom and aisle helped me with the drying job. Finally, I fell asleep…

Next day, I met Luke, the manager of the destination, and Randy, chief-engineer, who also gave me some space in his house to work online to book my flights. Quite an ordeal…I had booked, could pay and got confirmed, got checked in and issued a boarding pass – and then the agency Seat24 decided they had “Technical problems” and canceled my booking…F…them…I was hanging in the Iceland Air call line for over an hour to ask if that’s possible and not spam as I did not like to book twice…unfortunately it was…never again Seat24. I could book the same flight directly with Iceland Air, but wasted a lot of time and spend a little more money…

But I was keen to go home! Ferdinand drove me to the airport on Thursday, funny to see all those men dressed in camouflage gear, coming from the sport-fishing or sport-hunting man’s holidays…but there was also Hunter (yes, his name was like that…) who had been waving at me from the tug boat I met in Egegik. We had some nice chat on the flight! Alaska is small…

But Alaska was even smaller when I ran on the Anchorage airport, waiting for the Iceland Air counter to be opened, straight into Eyal Saiet, my paddling partner from Cordova to Kodiak of 2017! Coincidences…another group of twelve paddlers from Liverpool in Britain were also queuing up and were wondering if “this is really Freya Hoffmeister”…LOL…!

A short stopover of two hours in Iceland brought me some nice memories back to my Iceland circumnavigation 2007 – and to the expensive Icelandic prices! Soon I was back to my home-airport in Hamburg, back in Husum – and back to the arms and kisses of my then-and-again partner Peter since 2010. 8 years now… – no, actually 7 1/2 years only, as when I left for this six months paddling section, we did the stupid mistake to mutually agree to split our relationship…

“Home, sweet Home!” And home is for me where my Peter is…I will always love you!