A day off in the Ralston Islands set us up for one of the best days of paddling on the trip. Both of us were well rested and did our best to avoid thinking about the food shortfall the day off in the wilderness might cause.
Setting off in thick fog had Lauri and making a game of staying "found" as we glided past Islands and rocks beautifully muted by the ultra low clouds. Around Angry Island we made a few short, blind crossings to make our way to Petrel Channel. I love my compass.
The first part of the channel was clear of fog... at least the part we were paddling in. As the channel narrowed we were prepared for some turbulence from the ebbing tide, but there was very little water movement until we made the big turn west... then the fun began. The channel started to do some serious ebbing at speeds we could only sprint against for a short time. So Lauri took the lead like a pro and did some serious eddy hopping to take advantage of the current very close to shore going our direction. Pure fun... game on.
Rounding a tight bend just inches from the vertical rock shoreline, Lauri surprised some sun bathing seals and they almost landed on her kayak as they dove for the safety of the water. All I heard was Lauri scream... I thought she startled a bear, but her nervous laughter let me know it wasn't that serious. Easy for me to say.
Type one fun all the way to camp!
The next day we headed further up the Petrel channel and headed for Oona River on Porcher Island. We were hoping that a B&B we'd read about would have room for us for a night. As we pulled up to the dock, we were greeted by Lutz, the harbor master and long time Oona River resident. After helping us get the loaded kayaks on the dock he made on phone call and we had our accommodations and transportation arranged. I don't think 5 minutes had passed and we were set.
We stayed at Lemon Acres, the home of Jan and Mike Lemon. Jan was raised in the historic logging, fishing and boat building community. While Mike grew up in Prince Rupert and came to Oona to join his bride over 50 years ago.
Conversation came easy as we feasted on Jan's fabulous meals of fresh seafood, homemade pies and biscuits. With Mike making a living at sea and the experience of building his own 50' fishing trawler and Jan's fish hatchery and second generation Oona experience their stories and perspectives were priceless. We were not the least bit disappointed when the following days weather would keep us off the water and in Jan and Mike's care.
Oona River has a rich history of growth and contraction and Jan is the perfect ambassador to share stories of the people and industry that shaped this little community. These are self reliant people. I guess that happens when the nearest grocery store is 25 miles away... by boat... across water known for its cantankerous moods. You can feel how the community of 25 ( plus or minus, depending on who you ask) supports each other and works together... and enjoys each other's company.
The community has a tradition called "CoffeeBreak" that has people gathering at various homes in the town for coffee at 10AM and 3PM. Jan, hosted the first of the three coffee breaks we were part of, with Winnie, the matriarch of Oona and Lutz and his wife hosting the other two. I can't begin to share how warm and wonderful these gatherings felt as we met more of the residents and travelers like ourselves.
When we first arrived at the docks in Oona, Lutz shared that there was another couple traveling from Skagway to Bellingham (the reverse of our route) in a sailing/rowing 18ft Dory. We got to meet Max and Addie at CoffeeBreak and we soon found ourselves making plans to swap stories, review routs, campsite locations that evening. Kindered spirits for sure.
Max and Addie gave us great suggestions for marinas to select, forestry cabins to visit, camping locations and shared the highlights of their trip so far. Addie also gave Lauri a gift of advice about "dealing" with the upcoming Dixon Entrance and the inevitable ocean swell of the Pacific as we paddle away from the protection of channels and islands and the wave fetch grows to, well, Asia? Addie talked about the gentle, rolling vertical movement the ocean would have with favorable weather. This really helped hearing it from a woman who had just completed this challenging section of our route.
The following day Lauri and I walked Max and Addie through our route and did our best to share possible camp locations that would fit their unique requirements as a result of their boats weight. They couldn't hoist their dory up into the woods or carry it up a beach the way Lauri and I could with the kayaks.
It was very therapeutic to have the day off and enjoy conversation with another couple that understood exactly what physical and emotional challenges we'd been through.
Jan also took the 4 of us up to the fish hatchery to show and tell how she and her team of interns helped re populate and bring back the salmon to the Oona River and how they are expanding on their success. Hearing about survival rate, genetic diversification, best logging practices to protect rivers and her efforts over the years was as enlightening as it was amazing.
Early the following morning, Jan gave us a ride to the harbor and we said our goodbyes. Of course Lutz was there to offer any help we might need and gives us advice about when the tide would be high enough for us to navigate out the harbor. (Oona is tidal locked at low tide)
Onna is a special place with special people and we can't wait to host CoffeBreak if any of you make it to Chicago.
3/7/2019 02:42:35 am
Coffee can be enjoyed best with a nice view. In my opinion, Oona River is a terrific view that can have a huge positive impact on our coffee drinking experience. Well, aside from the naturally amazing view, Oona River also offers some nice air. Breathing some nice fresh air is always good, especially in today's environment. I cannot think of a better way to start our morning than to drink a cup of coffee along with your friends and family.
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Denny and Lauri