We had a long paddle ahead of us, so when I heard Keith 1 telling Keith 2 (through my slumber at 6.30am) “get the tent down, it’s going to rain soon”, I was up and out like a shot.
It was exactly what we all didn’t want to hear after the sunny reprieve of the previous day, but we knew it was coming and the last thing we wanted was to miss the honour of packing away dry tents for the first time that week. Pulling on my totally dry paddling gear was a joy and the tent was down double quick. We all got busy packing the boats and having breakfast in a massive effort to be on the water before the rain started!
Keith 1 was first on the water (not unusual) and disappeared around the corner in the direction of Meares Glacier and we were not far behind him, all wanting to grab a few more photos and say goodbye to that awesome spectacle. I found it mesmerising and could have stayed there for ages, but of course the rain had started, and people wanted to start paddling because they were getting cold.
It was my day to lead so I started getting everyone together to tell them what they already knew – “we’re going THAT way”! Shamefully, I didn’t have a map as I wasn’t aware we’d each have to lead one day, so I borrowed one from a friend and tried to get my head around the whole navigation idea that I had previously been ignoring, knowing I was in very capable hands.
Thankfully we were just following the coast of Unakwik Inlet to Olsen Cove, where we hoped to find a 5-star camp site for the night. The weather was grey, murky and obscuring the view. All the wildlife had decided to take the day off so there was little to distract from the greyness, wetness and dullness.
Long, wet paddling days like this are physically hard going and some people had very uncomfortable boats, leaky boats, leaky spray decks and leaky clothing. Of course, the other very real challenge on such a long trip is psychological. You spend all day, every day with the same people, take breaks under a tarp together, cook under a tarp together and camp in crowded areas trying to stay above the high-tide level. In normal life we have much more space, privacy and comfort. The biggest challenge can be to stay happy and optimistic when conditions are less than ideal.
That said, there were a few gripes throughout the day about fairly unimportant things and I tried not to take any of it too seriously. I felt that everyone was a bit glum after the high of the glacier and the beautiful weather the previous day. Apart from that, the day was very uneventful and what Stevie Wonder would call a necessary day. Thankfully the rain eased-off in the afternoon and actually stopped to let us pitch our tents and cook on the beach.