It’s 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.
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 predominantly 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. It’s 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.