Farewell canoe, hello SUP

Posted by Ken Campbell July 2, 2011 0 Comment 869 views

Stayed in Aberdeen last night, in a motel that advertises itself as “Aberdeen’s Finest.” Which must be a bit like being the tallest leprechaun, I suppose, although the shower was good and it gave me a place to get gear ready for the next phase of the trip.

The swamp got the best of me, I’m afraid. Not only was it almost impossible to discern the course of the Black River while up to my knees in mud and the visibility choked with green, the stout new growth was too much to break through with my machete. I spent close to seven hours in the muck, and made it a total distance of about 450 yards. Nowhere. I eventually pulled the plug and backtracked to Kennydale Park, on the lake’s eastern shore.
I hoofed all my kit up to the main road and hitched a ride in surprisingly short order. Larry took me, the canoe and everything about 5 miles down to the next access point, the 110th St. bridge, and I actually got on the river at about 8:00pm. Not much of a river yet but it was sure nice to see open water.
From there, I had to get through another swamp on the way to Littlerock, and then multiple logjams (some of which were pretty precarious), before getting to the point where the Black opens up for good. It’s a long, slow river and it took most of the second day before I made it to the Chehalis.

I only went an hour or so on the Chehalis before finding a gravel bar and stopping for the night. Yesterday’s 13 hours on the river brought me into Aberdeen, where Mary and Micah met me with a beer and the aforementioned motel room. It’s been difficult so far, but rewarding… it feels like the really hard stuff is just about to get started.

It’s the wind I’m most worried about. It’s been brutal at points during the past couple of days and if it’s anything like that once I get to open water, I’m going to be driven into shore early each day. That, and being able to carry enough food are my two main concerns right now. Oh, and I apparently forgot to pack a leash. Idiot.

Not getting through the Black Bayou does rankle me, but only a little. All these months of planning and getting ready, to quit the task in just a few hours. Given a few more days, I probably could have done it, but success there would have come at the cost of the rest of the trip. Sometimes you have to make the best choice available, rather than the choice to which you are the most attached. It’s called life. I’m more concerned now with the rest of the way… I’ll have time to look back when it’s done.

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