Saturday, August 4, 2012

Life on the Diablo, Part I

Hi! I'm back on the grid.

Since I was out of range for the last four days, since I didn't even have my phone or even any cell phone service on Mike's phone, I've been disconnected from the wire.  Still, I did write, so I'll give you a recap. 

8/2/12  morning

Last night, we arrived late, but we did arrive.  At about 6:30, we put our boats into the Colonial Creek boat launch on Diablo Lake.  Then, we paddled.  We put Nick into the bow of the canoe since a wind had kicked up and we didn't want him on his own in the kayak.  Mike was in the stern.  We figured that in a pinch, Mike could paddle the boat by himself from the back of the boat.  I took the kayak.  From the beginning, I could see that the kayaking I was doing took much less effort and was much more stable than the canoe. 

We paddled in our loaded boats for two miles through a tough headwind to Thunder Point camp.  It was a little dicey for Nick and Mike because of the waves kicked up by the wind.  It was challenging for them, especially since Nick is a novice paddler.  This is the first year we've expected anything from him except occasionally dipping his paddle into the water.  Before this year, I was always in the stern and he only paddled from the middle of the canoe.  Nobody becomes a proficient paddler from the middle of the boat.  I was barely breaking a sweat in my kayak.  Okay, it's not my kayak.  We rented it from Moss Bay on Lake Union.  They were great!  The worst part for me was when the wind would lift up the water and splash it over my boat, getting my pants wet. I didn't want to get chilled in the evening air and I hadn't used the spray skirt.  Being close to glaciers water in these deep lakes is about fifty degrees year round.

It was too easy to paddle ahead of the guys, though I didn't because I figured that I was their safety net, being in the more stable boat.  You take fifty degree water, a novice paddler, and standing waves set up by a headwind, and that could be a recipe for disaster.  We even had to paddle through a log boom.  The gap for the motor boats was out in the middle of the lake closer to the opposite shore and with the chop, we weren't going near it.  There was a narrow gap on the left shore that we'd been hugging.  It was made more difficult because the wind was pushing rows of waves up against it.  I was bounced hard against the boom as the wind caught the nose of my kayak when I went through and when Nick and Mike came through, the chain scraped the bottom of their loaded canoe, but we all made it.  Not far from the log boom, we reached our first camp, Thunder Point.

Thunder Point is up off the water and faces Southeast toward three overlapping ridges.  (This is where I drew a dumb picture in my notebook.)  Late in the evening, just after Nick doused the campfire with his bailer, the moon rose over the ridge.  He looked across the water and started talking about four hikers coming down the mountain.  Then, when the light grew, he said it was more like fairies, but it was the moon instead.  Moon shadow!  It was so bright it took away my night vision when I looked at it.  Later, it went up into a bank of clouds and formed a corona, looking something like a tunnel bored through bubbling clouds.

The problem, the one that might end this trip is that Nick's stomach hurt him until 1:30 in the morning.  He got chilled too, but he put on his fleece jacket and opened up the space blanket he keeps in his backpack for emergencies.  We told him it would never fit back into a nice little package again and today, it's a wad of foil in a quart Ziploc bag.  Since he couldn't sleep and needed a distraction, I read six chapters to him from my book, 'So Brave, Young, and Handsome' by Leif Enger.  It was really kind of sweet, sitting outside at that picnic table with the bright moon, except that Nick was feeling awful, poor kid.  He really didn't get a fair deal when it came to his health.  This was probably something to do with his fructose intolerance, but we need to take him back to the doctor to make sure. 

Teddy - remember Teddy? - is a natural.  He was good in the canoe and curled up in his bed last night at my feet.  He like having his head on my sleeping bag and didn't seem to mind that I kicked him by accident now and then as I slept. 

So, the question of the morning is:

Can we keep going today or will Nick need to bail out of the trip?  Will we have to go home?  Oh please, Nick, I want to keep going.  I really do.  You can do this honey.  We can take care of your diet and you'll be okay. 

Okay, this trip was totally worth it, even if we have to paddle out today.  The waves, the log boom, the ease and balance of the kayak, the fire, the moon, even reading six chapters at the picnic table in the night. 

Will Nick's illness be the demise of our trip?  Will Mike be able to give his wife her anniversary present?  Stay tuned for another episode of 'Life on the Diablo.' 

Thank you for listening, jb

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