Midnight Rambler

Posted by Ken Campbell October 27, 2008 0 Comment 481 views

It is the middle of the night. Or more like morning, I suppose. I don’t know. It’s dark and a little cold, and although the wind is crashing through the tops of the trees behind me, the air is calm here where I am, standing on a little strip of grass above the sandy beach. It is the end of October, I am out on an overnight kayak trip with a group of college students (paying customers – always hard to find), the stars are splashed thick across an inky sky, and I can’t sleep.

I’ve been this way for a few years now, up hours before sunrise more often than not. When I am at home, it is the time to get caught up on bills, writing and emails long past due for response. “Old man-sleep,” is what I’ve come to call it, this inability to enjoy the slumber, this need to be underway. Out here, far from the glow of my computer screen, an early rising is the best reason to take a walk. I brew a cup of strong coffee, raise the zipper on my jacket and start off to the east, toward the flat, marshy tip of the island.

We are camped on the island’s south side, tents clustered together, kayaks pulled high onto the drift logs that line the shore. Tucked in below a steep hillside, we are in a small pocket of calm snugged away from the wild winds. As I near the end of the island and the trail starts to wrap around to the north, I am slammed by the gales that blow uninterrupted, a north wind that rises and falls, between strong and stronger. I can see the lights of Seattle across the water, clear and sparkling in the cold, frothy air.

As the trail winds up a rise and off the beach, the wind falls. In the woods, it is quiet. I have a light with me, but I follow the dull sheen of the trail in the darkness, working on that ol’ night vision. I climb through postage-stamp meadows and stands of fir. It isn’t long before I’m topping out on the little hill, the spine of the island, and tracing the trail’s arc back to where I started from.

Old man-sleep. It has its benefits.

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