Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Life On the Diablo, Part V

To be honest, I'm getting tired of even reading about my boy Nick and his frequent requests, even demands, to go home from a trip that was heaven for me.  It's hard to have fun when a member of your group on a trip like that is so clearly struggling, but I managed. 

Saturday.  Is it August 4th? I'm not sure what day it is.

We made it another night at Thunder Point.  I'm not sure how that happened, but it was gorgeous again.  Nick wanted so badly to go home, we finally relented just as it reached the hour beyond which we'd be stuck there because of the dark.  I'd like to paddle in the dark on a moonlit night, but not with a sick boy, not with a novice paddler fighting wind and waves, not with fifty degree water, and not with loaded boats.  We'd spent an hour negotiating, Mike and I on the fence about what was the right thing to do for our boy.  We finally gave up and were furiously packing up our stuff when Nick said he could struggle through another night because we wanted so much to stay.

Mike and I had gone through all the reasons between each other.  Then, we sat down at the end of the dock as the sun lowered in the sky and went through them with Nick as well.  We don't hide much from him. 

We should go home because he was sick.  We should stay because he was sick and the struggle to first paddle and then drive almost three hours home would feel much worse at night. 

We should go home because he's had enough of this challenge.  We should stay because we want him to feel pride in enduring something this difficult.

We should go home because we don't want him to hate all canoe trips since we forced him to go on this one.  We should stay because if this is homesickness, he needs to fight back against it, to feel the fear and do it anyway.

We told him the story of a trip we took with a guy who obviously didn't have enough experience with the kind of canoeing a trek required.  This guy made himself sick by not drinking because he didn't like the taste of the filtered water.  It was a horrible and shameful trip that I'll tell you about sometime.  Only Mike retained his dignity on that trip.  I learned a lot about myself, a lot that it will be hard to tell you about.  I promise that I will, just not now.  Nick liked that story, especially since we painted him as tougher than this guy. 

I have to tell you that I am amazed at how Mike kept Nick going along every day.  "Let's just do this next thing and then we can talk about it," he said more than once.   It was a beautiful thing, an analog of the backpacker's mantra:  Our camp is just around that next bend. 

I was also very proud of Nick, to be offered the choice, knowing how badly that Mike and I wanted to stay and deciding to stay just for us.  The four days were full of negotiations, packed full, but Mike and I got our anniversary present.  It was a beautiful trip.  Nick found joy in waves breaking over the bow of his canoe and the love of good food when you've worked for it.  It turns out that I have a job dehydrating black olives when we get back. 

Today, Nick is a cheerful little bird, squawking about everything.  He's packing up all of our sleeping bags.  He's in a good mood.  He even wants to sit and play rummy with us when he's done. 

The sky is cloudless.  The sun has just come over the ridge.  I can feel the heat from the Peak I as it boils water.  We're having chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  We'll have a headwind on the water later. I guess we expected it to stay calm until afternoon, but it isn't.  Yesterday, the water was so calm it was like a picture.  I actually like the challenge of it since this leg of the trip is so well-known to us now.  We know we can paddle this section, along the shore, through the log boom, under the bridge, Thunder Point to the boat launch at Colonial Creek.  It's two miles.

Basically, we paddled two miles on Wednesday evening to Thunder Point.  On Thursday, we paddled, battled, really to get about a quarter mile to a point where we turned around and paddled to the boat launch.  That's another two and a half miles.  Then, on Friday, we paddled back to Thunder Point, another two miles.  And today, we're going to finish with a good, you guessed it, two mile paddle back to the boat launch.  Coop has just participated in a four day, eight and a half miler!  It had all of the elements of a canoe trek except for the distance.  He could have handled more distance except for the circumstances that held us up.

I'm cold.  I'm wearing a tank top, my long sleeved Under Armor thermal, my fleece vest, my fleece jacket, and my sleeping pants.  I'm going to put on my rain jacket and my quick-dry pants for a wind break.  Then, I'll be wearing all of the clothes I packed except for a couple of pair of dirty underwear and socks, my silk long johns, and my hat, gloves, and scarf.  That's pretty tight packing if you ask me.  You just don't want to know what those clothes smell like.  Actually, the outer layers smell like a campfire.  We had a good one going last night after we decided to stay.  It was sweet.  We told stories and tried to think of all the songs we knew the words to.  Nick talked about sleeping by the campfire and I even dragged his sleeping pad outside.  I didn't set it up very well, because ash blew onto it and it deflated.  Bummer. But then, before the moon had a chance to rise, we doused the fire and dragged the sleeping pad back into the tent to sleep.  Nick admitted that he'd be okay sleeping on the dead Thermarest.  I was glad because I have bruises on my hips where I've been sleeping on my side.  It sucks to get old. 

I'll miss not knowing what time it is.  I'll miss getting up when I'm done sleeping.  I'll miss the energetic lifestyle, the way the food tastes just so good, the way you can be a little cold but the sun warms your shoulders.  I'll miss the rocking of the kayak.

At least until our next paddling trip.

Thank you for listening, jb

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