A very easy day today. I left late and paddled slowly down the shoreline watching Wrangell fade away. I has planned to stay on a previous island to the one I'm on and paddled right past it because it appeared low enough to flood right out in tonight's high tide. I saw one whale and so many ermine today. I have a martin very interested in me and my bags so I will stow most of my things in the kayak tonight. This island has so many monster trees inland and a fabulous inter tidal so I must go now and explore it all.
Day 13 Village Island to Niblack Islands 30 km
Woke up in the middle of the night to check the tide level and thought I had plently of room so I went back to bed. I woke up dry and figured everything was good until I went to get water. The tide had made it into the trees and floated my water bladder away! I was some upset with myself and wasted a good hour checking in the trees and rocks to see if it had gotten caught up nearby. Later in the morning I was lucky enough to paddle by some canoeists from the Crossings Program out of Wrangell, who were kind enough to give me a spare water bottle. I could at least carry 5L of fresh water with me using the containers I had in my boat.
I made my way out of Zimovia Strait and into Ernest Sound. The winds were strong from the west southwest so I was working hard. I managed to cross halfway doing some island hopping and found an ok bay to rest in. I was too tired to consider zipping around the southern end of the island and working up the eastern shores to check for a campsite so I settled. I landed at low tide so the bay was pretty drained out. Due to my upset at losing my fresh water in the morning, I had messed up my morning routine and forgotten to do a camp sweep. I had forgotten a tent pole at my last site and needed to make a ridgepole out of willow so my tent would be waterproof if it rained.
The bay was very deep and the logs at the back prevented me from getting my kayak up high. I scouted for a tent site and ended up climbing a cliff and using my hatchet to cut out an area. I had to tie my kayak on both ends with two different ropes and hope that when the tide floated it, that boucing into the rocks wouldn't hurt it too much. There was no other option. I didn't have the strength to lift my kayak up the cliff. I set my alarm for 4am to get up early to finish tthe crossing to Deer Island and hopefully make it to Meyers Chuck in a day.
Day 14 Niblack Islands to Meyers Chuck 54 km
I could hear a whale sleeping between the islands last night; every 20 minutes or so I could hear her breathe! It was like having a guardian angel. I'm almost positive it was the same one I sat and watched feed at sunset.
When I woke up at 4am Sedna had been floated 20' up the rocks and had been bounced against them. I inspected her for damage and found a small dent in her starboard side from a rock, nothing more. This hard plastic is sure holding up well. Both ropes had held her into the bay and I was so thankful. The challenge was in sliding her back down to where the water was draining out of the bay.
I made my crossing over to Deer Island and continued down to Vixen Inlet.The cliffs along the way were populated with starfish and sea cucumbers I had not seen before. I went slowly to take in the view. Suddenly I spotted dozens of the rainbow ringed snail I wanted so I plucked one off the wall and put it in a ziploc for safe keeping. Soon after I found some amazing conch as well.
The cliff walls along the shore continued for miles. At one point I really needed a bathroom break and was scouting for a beach when I saw a whale spout. My Dad had asked me to make him some video so I got into position and put the camera on video. The next seven minutes of my life were such a thrill. The humpback whales swam right towards me and the cliff wall. They were feeding and circling. It was all I could do to brace and continue filming. At one point one of the whales came up 10 - 15' from the port side of my kayak and really scared me. I paddled away once they were not in front of me and I had the coordination to do so. The film is one of my favorite memories of the trip. I will post it on its own post once I have edited it.( I forgot to turn it off in my excitement so there is about five minutes at the end that needs to be cut.)
I continued down the coast and hoped to cut across Union Bay however the winds had come up and I had to stay close to shore. When I thought I had paddled into the bay far enough and tried to cut the end of the bay the winds blew up and created confused lumpy water with whitecaps coming from two directions that forced me to shore. I retreated and continued to paddled along the shoreline. At Lemesurier Point I paddled out enough to see huge whitecaps in Clarence Strait at 4pm and decided to tuck into a tiny cove off the point on the north side. I tok off my dry suit and went for a wander to stretch. I checked out the Meyers Chuck side and after glassing big whitecaps I sat down with my book for an hour of reading in the sun with a snack.
When the waves stopped crashing violently against Lemly Rocks I started paddling to Meyers Chuck. The channel between Misery Island and the point funneled some decent 3' waves right at me. I had to focus and work to get into the harbor.
Once into the harbor, Tim greeted me and pointed to the public dock. He told me I could use the green lawn for tenting and a neighbors porch and picnic table and the fresh water hose. Soon after I docked his partner brought me two fresh eggs from their chickens! Those were the best eggs I have ever eaten.My phone had service so I made a call home with the little bit of voice I had.
Day 15 Meyers Chuck - Rest
I am not feeling good today at all. The antibiotics I started taking in Petersburg are helping but today I am feverish, headachy, coughing and exhausted. It is raining today and I am taking the day off to rest. I have decided after talking to my husband that it is probably wise to end my trip in Ketchikan and figure out what is in my lungs. I have had this cold the entire trip and it has become some kind of infection in my chest that steals my sleep when I lay down. Today I will rest with the plan to get to Ketchikan by Sunday to catch the ferry home. I am satisfied that this is a good choice for my health as I am just getting sicker out here and for 15 days I have paddled through it.
The other kicker in this choice, is my forgotten tent pole. Without a proper ridgepole the tent is not waterproof and the geography of the area I am headed to next begs for big storms from the Pacific. I need a reliable stormproof tent for shelter. Using my willow stick is not reliable because it could tear my fly. So I go back to sqaure one with these lessons learned, and know that if I am unwell I need to postpone my launch next year. I also remember next year to do a camp sweep everyday no matter what. I just don't want to be a liability in the big water and very remote wilderness section that is next so I will add that bit to my trip next year.
Day 16 Meyers Chuck to Caamano Point 43km
The idea to paddle south against the tradewinds was crazy! Headwinds are no fun. Today I had a solid 10+knot wind in my face all day from the southeast that would have been lovely to surf. Instead I worked the waves created by this wind all day. Next year I think I may drive south to paddle north.
I am tempted to bivy on the sand tonight as I will be gettig up at 3am to pack and make my crossing of Behm Canal. It won't be a great sleep but it will be an adventure sleep. It will be good to keep the kayak loaded for a quick departure.
Day 17 Caamano Point to Ketchikan
Awake at 3am and it is really dark. I can see that Sedna is barely above the high tide line on her log perch. I am so tired again as I have been coughing. My bivy is wet from condensation but I lay back down for a few more minutes of rest anyway. At 3:22am I get up and pack the kayak. Sedna is in a difficult place to pack her so I move her off the loga nd float her to the other side of the beach. I am dressed an paddling out by 430am. The light is starting to lighten the sky. The crossing starts easy and fairly flat with no wind. Suddenly I am caught in my first rip and being pulled south out past the point. I paddle fast and ferry hard to vector towards the big island and make up ground. Finally I can see that I have crossed the line and am back into peaceful water. I enjoy the sunrise to the northeast.
The waves start to build from the southeast when I am about a third of the way across. At first they are only a ripple, but soon build until they are 2-3' and very regular, giving me a nice push. Suddenly I see a huge rip coming from behind the big island where I know Naha Bay is hidden from my view. I lose a lot of ground as I ride the waves backwards on the river in the ocean. When I look ahead I see a small island and know that the calm will be short lived as the rip will continue on the other side. Finally I reach the eastern shore north of Point Higgins and am proud of myself for not being ripped out into the shipping lane. I look for a calm corner of water to sip a cup of tea.
As I paddled into Tongass Narrows I could see a park full of totems and so I pulled up on the beach and visited Totem Bight at 7am. Then I paddled intoKetchikan's Bar Harbor where I met Andy who helped me unload and store my kayak beside his boat. He then drove me to lunch and my hostel while we chatted about fishing and astronomy. I spent the rest of my day cleaning up and doing tourist stuff.