Gray morning paddle

Posted by Ken Campbell March 27, 2011 0 Comment 808 views

On some weekend in March, near the end of the month, some random foggy morning. There is a light rain falling, off and on, nothing that we don’t take for granted around these parts. Wispy clouds, falling tendrils of mist, undulating through the sky between me and the Gig Harbor entrance. To my right is the sand cliff, with Point Defiance Park on top. Not sure how many people will be up there today, on such a gray morning.
I’m bringing a kayak around the point again, so much easier and more enjoyable than carrying it up the trail. Perish the barbaric thought, eh, bringing a boat overland? I’ve got a class this Thursday and I need the kayak for that, probably. I think I’m going to sell it after that… it occurs to me that this may be my last for-pleasure outing in this particular boat (depending on when the lucky buyer steps up.)

Just ahead of me, a kingfisher dives into the water, completely under for at least a couple of seconds, then comes up empty. I don’t know whether he’s wrestled some herring and lost or inhaled the fish while he was out of my sight. Most likely the former. He wings ahead of me and lights on an overhanging branch, building up strength for the next go-round.
Rain starts to fall, softly at first, but soon becomes a deluge. I can hear the pebbles sliding down the cliffs in places, little rockslides hastened by the falling water. In some spots I see evidence of larger slides that have happened recently, trees tipped on their sides into the water, cone-shaped piles of sand and gravel on the beach. This is a dynamic environment.
At several places along the way, little shacks made of beach timber have been constructed. By whom, I have no idea, although I have always assumed it’s mostly kids down-climbing the trails from Five-Mile Drive. The construction varies, and some of it can be ingeniously whimsical, but none of these rustic shelters last very long.

There is plastic on the beach almost everywhere I look. I know it is probably that I am overly sensitive to the pollution – it’s been on my mind lately – but seriously, it’s everywhere. There are swatches of netting and bottle tops, surveyor’s tape and bleach bottles. I pick up a few things, but mostly paddle on, feeling overmatched.
I get to Owen Beach a little early for my shuttle. Mary’s coming in the van to get me but not for another 25 minutes. I sit in the shelter of the bath house, drinking steaming tea from my thermos and watching the falling rain until she arrives.

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