Ikkatsu daily report – Mosquito Creek

Posted by Ken Campbell August 15, 2012 0 Comment 886 views
August 8, 2012
This was an “off” day, more or less. We’d decided that we didn’t need to cover any more coastline – we were just 6 miles or so from our eventual take-out at Ruby Beach – and we had some other things we’d rather be doing. There was another survey to be accomplished and I had a hankering to paddle out toward Alexander Island, the rocky chunk of land that sat about a mile offshore, and see it from a closer vantage point.
The first item of business, however, was to determine what was going on with the backpack that sat on a log near our camp site. It had rained during the night and still no owner had appeared. We shot theories back and forth as we drank our coffee.
     – The hiker in question had arrived at Mosquito Creek hot and dusty from the trail, had decided to go swimming to cool off, and had been swept away by the current.
     – He had gone up the creek to get water or take photographs and had broken his leg and was unable to get back to camp.
     – He had been killed by a fellow hiker and his body was buried in a shallow grave nearby.
There were other theories, none of them particularly likely, but we figured that the least we could do would be to open the pack and look for some identification, some sign of who the person was that left his gear and disappeared. We made another cuppa and began our investigation.
And found no answers. The tent fly had been pulled out of the stuff sack but the tent itself was still inside. It looked new, as did a number of other items in the pack. Long johns were new (size XL), and there was a new survival knife in one of the side pockets, along with a saw that had obviously never been used. In the lid pocket were food items, a strange mix of energy bars and raw sausages in a ziploc bag, but nowhere was there any sign of who the stuff belonged to. No wallet, backcountry permit, keys, nothing. We put everything back where we found it and thought about it some more, each of us putting together new hypotheses.
We left the detective work behind and took a short walk up Mosquito Creek to see what it looked like beyond the beach. Like Goodman Creek the day before, it didn’t take long before the feel of the ocean environment changed into more of a forest and backcountry feel. We couldn’t get as far into the woods as we did at Goodman Creek but it was still a fundamental change in the sensory experience.
Steve wanted to get some filming done, so Kiwi and I took advantage of the calm waters and extra time to paddle out to Alexander Island. On every other trip I’ve made out on the coast, the emphasis has been on putting the miles together, getting from one point to another (and then the next), as fast as I could. With this expedition being different in that respect, we had the opportunity to visit some of the places I never would have had the chance to see otherwise.
Alexander Island is home to puffins and pelicans, seal and otter. The wildlife in the air and the water made the paddle go by in what seemed like a matter of minutes. We kept our distance from the furs and the feathers, enjoying their company without being any more intrusive than we needed to be, and made our way around the steep-sided rock. There are no beaches on the island, no way to get ashore even if we’d wanted to, at least not easily. The tide was fairly low and a rocky bench surrounded the island like a collar, a protective slab covered in barnacles and mussels.
Coming back, conditions were ideal for surfing, even if the waves were a little small. Two-footers, three-footers at the most, but the glassy faces and smooth breaks made for a decent session and paddling empty boats seemed so easy after days of navigating with heavy craft.
We did a survey after lunch; not much debris in general, at least compared to the volumes we found further north. Styrofoam was, of course, everywhere.
Dinner was lasagne, courtesy of Steve and his Dutch oven. Unbelievable how good it tasted, and how fast we made it disappear. We sat for a while around the fire as the sun set and the stars came out, enjoying the warm summer night and the steady sound of the waves.

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