Hoedown

Posted by Ken Campbell October 4, 2010 0 Comment 799 views

I rolled out of town around 9:30. “Early mid-mid morning,” as Steve Martin might say. It still takes a long time to get to Neah Bay. There’s just no way around that.

I’ve learned to love the drive though; you sort of have to. Up through the Kitsap is nothing special, most of it anyway, but once I get to 101, I start to feel like I’m actually getting somewhere else, getting away. Even more so after passing through Port Angeles, and turning right onto Highway 112. Through Joyce, Pysht, (past that riverfront property I’ve been eyeballing for years), then Clallam Bay and Sekiu, and finally Neah Bay. The farther west you go, the wilder it gets.

The road ends this time at the Hobuck Beach Resort, which is nothing so much as a rolling grassy swale above the bunchgrass dunes, an open field with campsites where you make them, and no particularly vexing campground rules. Some of the nicer sites are tucked into the trees near the sand, better sheltered from the onshore winds, but they are all good spots.

The turnout for this year’s hoedown was a big one – at least it looked like there were a lot of paddlers, anyway. (I think there is a significant number of posers who like to be around kayaks and surfboards, but not necessarily riding on them. They must have their reasons.)

The paddlers who were in the water were pretty impressive wave riders, however. The Saturday sessions featured good waves – they would turn out to be the best of the weekend – and I was out on the water from about 7:30 on. On Sunday, when most of the contest heats were scheduled, the weather had turned cloudy and cold, and the wind kept the number of spectators small. The judges, perched in the bed of a pickup truck there on the sand, huddled inside warm coats and dictated points and standings to the scorekeepers standing below them. Packs of friendly – very friendly – rez dogs patrolled the scene at all times.

I surfed all morning, then tried to rest up for the race that afternoon. There were only 9 kayakers and 2 SUPs (including me), for the two-mile out-and-back around the closest rock garden in the bay. By the time the race began at 4pm, the wind was blowing about 10 knots out of the southwest and the swell height had gotten considerably larger. I got caught in some huge dumpers right as the race began and I lost about 3 minutes of precious time just trying to get outside the surf zone. One kayaker in front of me got picked up by a wave and was sent flying backwards toward shore – and toward me – until gravity and hydraulics took over, sending his boat end-over-end and ejecting him from his cockpit.

I finally got out to the course, but by this time I was hopelessly behind. In retrospect, it probably isn’t good race prep to spend 6 hours surfing right before race time. But then, I never claimed to be a racer. Good thing, that, as I finished dead last. Wasn’t even that close, actually. Apparently there’s more training to be done.

Or maybe it is simply that I am not a sprinter, maybe 2 miles is too short. Perhaps, from now on, I should only compete in races that are at least 20 miles in length. Yeah, that could work.

Maybe.

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