Sunday, July 10, 2016

Around Brooks Peninsula

After an awesome stay in Sea Otter Cove we had a 20-30 knot wind sail downwind through six foot waves to Klaskish Basin where we shared the anchorage with both boats we had seen in Sea Otter. We spent two rainy nights trying to listen to the broken radio weather report on our VHF and staging to go around the dreaded Brooks Peninsula. We had a full day of steady, soggy rain. We still managed to rouse ourselves from the boat to paddle up the Klaskish River through the pouring rain and blustery wind. I have only a few iPhone photos to document the day. We paddled up tiny fingers where grass towered over our heads and I secretly worried about startling a bear. We plucked salmon berries from low-hanging branches and watched ripples dance across the water with each down-draft that gusted from the steep mountains surrounding us. Along the way I gathered bladderwrack seaweed which I boiled when I got back to the boat to make a gooey facial mask Nikki had told me about. I've never done a facial before so I'm not entirely sure I got it right but it was fun to try.

The following morning we compared notes from the staticky radio report with our anchorage buddy before setting out. Winds were predicted to be light in the morning allowing us a window of opportunity to jump around the Brooks before the winds shifted to a southeast slog fest. We decided the weather looked good and we ventured out into open ocean. It was one of those super beautiful, moody mornings with clouds caught in the mountains and the ocean shimmering like liquid mercury. We watched puffins float by as Solander Island looked ominous and foreboding in the distance. Winds were light but we had two separate set of swells coming from different directions so I was super seasick the whole day long. Even Jason was green by the end. Blech. Not fun, but better than getting the tar beaten out of us.

Our reward was that we anchored in a West Coast favorite from last year, Columbia Cove. I have been dreaming of returning ever since last summer. I have awesome memories of glorious warm, sunny weather with lots of swimming and exploring the big, beautiful, super-remote beach. Upon our arrival the weather cleared enough for us to sort-of dry out all of our wet rain gear left over from our paddle up the Klaskish River. We enjoyed crackers and cheese on the foredeck while we watched four sea otters float around on their backs munching on their dinner. A couple hours later our buddy boat from Klaskish pulled in. I relaxed on the foredeck while they brought their dog to shore. Just as they started rowing back I looked up and saw a huge black bear trot along the shore. It was beautiful.

The following day we paddled into shore where we talked to a couple from the Netherlands who have spent the last ten years sailing 100,000 miles around the world. They were super hard-core, like the kind of sailors that just hang out at Cape Horn. For fun. For two years. When Jason asked where their favorite spot was, without hesitation they both said the Falklands. Like I said, hard core.

We parted ways and headed through the gorgeous, old-growth of Brooks Peninsula to a ginormous, wind-swept and weather-beaten beach. It was a different experience to be there in our fowlies instead of swim suits but it was still beautiful nonetheless. We walked over to a river and hiked up to a little waterfall and ate salmon berries. Back on the beach we sifted through Asian junk washed up on the shore, pretended to play Japanese drinking games with sake bottles we found and played on craggy rocks before heading back through the ancient forest to our kayaks. Along the way we gathered sea asparagus and arrow grass to add to a soup I was cooking for dinner. Yum.

When we got back to the boat I had it in my head that I needed a shower. The weather had been so cold so we hadn't been able to swim, and my hair felt so greasy I couldn't handle it any more, so it was time to go in. The air temperature was probably fifty degrees and the ocean was, as you might imagine, not warm, but I put on my bathing suit and, twice, I lowered myself into the water and dunked my head to get my hair wet, with all of the squeaking, shuddering noises you might imagine would accompany such activity. Then I stood on the swim step with my baking soda and vinegar and scrubbed my head. I used the solar shower (I swear the water was colder than the ocean) to rinse clean. By the time I finished I was shivering like crazy and my hands and feet were white and numb. that's desperation. Oh. I forgot to mention that during a crazed moment of wild pummeling between Sea Otter Cove and the Klaskish Basin our furnace broke off the wall so we no longer have heat. Brrrrrr.

Click here for photos.

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