Ikkatsu daily report – Wedding Rocks – Cedar Creek

Posted by Ken Campbell July 16, 2012 1 Comment 780 views


It’s hard to believe, as I sit here at my table on a cool and damp Northwest summer morning, that there are significant parts of the country that are literally burning up under a harsh, red sun. It’s not gloating and I certainly feel for the suffering ones, but I am very happy to be here. Sure, we complain about the gray skies, about the fact that we never really put our rain gear away… we’d still rather be here. If we didn’t feel that way, we’d be somewhere else. Which brings me to…
July 7, 2012
We’re up at 4:00 am and on the water by 5:10. The gray morning light is pained and meager. The weather has changed, or is at least beginning a change from the sun and warm breezes we’ve enjoyed for the past three days. It’s not cold, but the clouds are menacing and the mists along the shoreline are white and sinuous. The water is flat as glass and the puffins and gulls swoop over our heads in the almost stagnant air. The moon is still visible, high in the sky above White Rock, and we paddle towards it.
We cover the eight-mile distance in an easy three hours, less than three hours, actually. After the rocky reefs that we’ve seen almost everywhere so far on the trip, coming ashore on the sand of Cedar Creek felt very fine. We were already planning on staying here two nights and the beauty of the place – with the rushing creek fanned out on the sand and the geometry of the stacks and boulders all around, the gut-wrenching beauty of the morning beach – assures us that it had been a good idea.
After we get camp set up and some filming done, we hike south around the arc of the shingle beach to the site of the Starbuck Mine. Rusting gears and engines, rails and cables are all that is left of this doomed and long-ago effort to find a golden bounty in the Olympic soil. In the velvety green of the ferns and the tall, damp grasses, the old iron oxidizes silently.
We’ve decided that this day will be an “off day,” in that there aren’t any surveys on the calendar. With the early morning start, I opt for a nap and then we all get busy at building the sweat lodge. The big MSR tarp is perfect for the job and we build a frame for it to set on, and go about getting the fire going to heat the rocks. We add cedar sticks and a few splits of fir and watch as the coals glow orange and white, the river rocks beneath them heated all the way through. 
When the fire subsides, I gather the stones – two and three at a time – into a metal pot we found up at the campsite. I carry them up to the sweat lodge, about 40 feet away, and drop them into the wood-lined pit that Steve had built earlier in the day. We secure the walls and clamber inside, pulling the door closed across the open wall. The sweat starts to flow and we are warmed all the way through. Once in a while, we drop water onto the stones from a supply we’ve got on the rocky floor, sending clouds of steam up to our heads, into our lungs.
Truth be told, I’ve made better sweat lodges. The rocky beach presented some problems that I didn’t design around very well and there were a few spots where the cold air got in. It was a good sweat lodge, not a great one. Just means I’ll have to try it again.
Tomorrow, we’ve got a side trip up to the Norwegian Memorial as well as two complete surveys to attend to. Today, we’re just kind of taking some time off.

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