Long, slow days

Grassy pullout at our camp

Its been a rough few days. If you’re tracking our progress you may have noticed that we haven’t gotten very far very fast the past week. But that’s ok.

I’ve done a lot of endurance sports, and one thing I know for sure is that at one point on almost every long run, long paddle, bike, backpack, climb, trip, etc, it stops being fun- it’s too hot, too steep, too much wind, too boring, or that old injury starts acting up, and for a brief minute, most of us wish we could just stop and go home. We think “Why the hell am I not on my couch, in my pajamas, eating ice cream and watching a bad romance movie right now?” But most of the people who pursue these things are too stubborn to ever let themselves stop. We’ve been out for 43 days and this past week has been rough.

Calm waters

Despite getting enough sleep, we woke up tired. We had headwinds most of the time. We couldn’t make sense of the currents which always seemed to be against us despite the tide changing. It was hot. We lost our patience with each other. And, to be honest, it was boring. We saw very little wildlife and the scenery did not inspire. Forest fires put everything in a dreary haze. I longed for my couch, my dog and a big bowl of Cookies and Cream.

It seemed like we woke each morning hopeful to have gotten out of the worst of it, just to have that day beat out the last in its ability to make us feel defeated. We kept paddling, because that’s what we set out to do, but it wasn’t fun.

Later, when we arrived in Petersburg, I chatted with a fisherman about our trip. He said the outflows from all the rivers we had passed overwhelm the tidal currents and make the waters flow predominately South. I should have felt better after hearing that, but all I could do was kick myself- I knew that. I shouldn’t have been confused or surprised by the currents we experienced. I walked up the dock frustrated that this simple piece of knowledge hadn’t come to me earlier. Even after that leg was over, it was still finding a way to bring us down.

But all of this is fine, maybe even good. I look back on those hard, defeating days and I’m happy to have experienced it. Its easy to push the focus of life to the big moments where joy or fear overwhelm. But really, we spend most of life just getting through, doing what needs to be done for the day. I’m happy that was a part of this trip. Happy that I can be down, tired and grouchy and still sleep soundly next my best friend knowing I am forgiven for my attitude and that tomorrow still holds the possibility of great adventure, great accomplishment, deep experience and as Edward Abbey put it: where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon wall.

In Petersburg. Thanks for the photo David!

10 comments

  1. A note of fatalism, “it will get worse before it gets better.” Sometimes it seems like it but it won’t last. You two are strong and determine so you will soon be on top again, stronger than ever.
    Good kayaking!
    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Take comfort In this running or biking piece of wisdom; the best thing about going up hill is there is always a downhill coming. May the currents flow for you two in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems there is always a reward after difficult times such as knowing your best friend will love you even when you are at your worst! I have a feeling your best friend feels the same about you, that love and forgiveness is there for him as well. Thank you for sharing the good times as well as the difficult times with us. That is how this life works, it is amazing and difficult.
    May the wind and the current be in your favor soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was great meeting you guys in Anan Bay. You are an inspiration. Hope you enjoyed the cabin and the Bears. We just got back from Glacier Bay and are flying back to New York today. Some musings for Glacier Bay: The Beardslee islands were amazing. The sheer volume of marine life in the bay around Spider and Eider islands was almost overwhelming. Great camping on the northern half of Kidney Island and the western Beardslees. The Glaciers in the West Arm are incredibly humbling and beautiful almost to the point of being oppressive and foreboding. Good luck on your journey.

    Like

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