Puget Sound Challenge – Day 4

Posted by Ken Campbell March 25, 2009 0 Comment 537 views

My internal alarm clock (apparently located near my bladder), woke me right at 6 AM. Forty-five minutes later, I was packed and ready to depart. I rode the river out to salt water, until it got too shallow where it fanned out toward the canal. I spooked a couple of dozen harbor seals from their slumbers on the flats – didn’t see them until I was almost on them – and they flopped out toward deep water, eyeing me curiously. The wind was already blowing hard.

The first course of action for the day was a crossing to the south tip of the Toandos Peninsula, that narrow strip of land that divides the larger expanse of Hood Canal from Dabob and Quilcene Bays. The main problem with the plan was the quartering headwind that was building by the minute, pushing me further into Dabob Bay as I slowly approached the Toandos. It took me about 80 minutes to make the crossing, but my landing spot was almost a mile further in than I’d wanted to be and I was beat when I got there. 8:15 AM and I felt like I could sleep another night right then.

The second day of any trip is the hardest for me, especially when the first day has been tough. To leave the beach and progress along shore would have meant that I’d have been headed directly into what had become a sustained 25-knot wind, with gusts that were even stronger. I didn’t have it in me.

The day was sunny and warm, once I got out of the shade, and I set up camp on the beach where I’d landed. I rigged up a line and finished drying the gear that I hadn’t finished drying the day before, took a nap, then went in search of fresh water.

There was a steep, wooden staircase that rose from the beach about a quarter-mile from my camp, ascending the cliffs and disappearing into the trees above. I climbed it, and came out on top in a cluster of vacation cottages, none of them occupied. The wind was light up there in the woods and although I could hear the gusts ripping through the branches high above me, there wasn’t much movement at ground level. I walked on until I found a water spigot that was operational – most of the ones I tried had been turned off for the winter and hadn’t been turned back on yet – then headed back down.

All along Hood Canal I found these vacation homes, no one there, empty buildings that might see use occasionally during the summer, but that’s about it. I don’t know how that works. I’ve never owned two homes at the same time. It’s hard for me to rationalize how it’s not hoarding and wasteful, selfish and unsustainable… when so many people are without a home at all. These hundreds of empty buildings, some of them quite luxurious, stand vacant and unused while thousands of people have no place to sleep at all. They are beautiful places, but there’s something about the situation that just makes me sad.

I stayed on the beach all day. At one point, between naps, I took another walk out to the tip of the peninsula, just to feel the full force of the wind. Later in the trip, I would paddle into gales like this one, but on day 2, I just wasn’t ready.

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