Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lava: Five.

We were all up early, largely because the incessant drone of bugs never let us get too deep into sleep, but also in hopes of catching a rising tide. The onshore stumbling was slow going, and high water would help us float further out/along the bay.

Working through (under) a set net that seemed to span the entire bay. The fog added a wonderful dimension of gloom to an already spooky, uncertain morning.

As the sun got higher the fog got thinner, occasionally even breaking enough to see blue above. This right here was about the high point of the day--floating in deep water, riding a receding tide in our intended direction of travel with light winds and no bugs.

Didn't last long--matter of minutes, maybe.

Then the water started to get shallower. And shallower. Before long we were in maybe a foot of water, still floating, still moving great. But then it was 8". Then 6"--and our butts started to drag. It happened so fast I assumed we'd just come up on a sandbar or similar. So we angled further offshore, not yet grasping that the tide was pouring off a giant shelf, and there was just no way to keep up with it.

In the span of a few minutes we went from smooth sailing to bumping the bottom, and in the time it took us to get out, stand up, and survey the scene, we went from about this:

To this:

We were starting to get it.

We dragged laden boats across the slick muck for better than a mile, aiming for a pool of water that seemed to remain static. The boats slid along better than you'd think.

When finally we made it to that pool it was maybe 9" deep. At that point we could see dry land less than a mile off. And though we didn't yet know if it was rideable, it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would be better than *this*. Pete worked his way around it while I made use of the boat. We ended up in the same place, but Pete got there a few minutes quicker.

We derigged and packed up the boats, had a snack, enjoyed some company, then moved along the headland--sometimes riding but mostly walking.

Shortly after rounding the headland we were harassed (lightly) by a fella on an ATV, telling us that we were about to enter private land, and were not welcome to do so.

Private beach? We explained that we wanted only to pass by and would be gone before they knew it. He hemmed and hawed and said he'd go ask the owner, then buzzed away. Seemed silly to us--they can't own the beach. So we just kept plodding along and when we arrived the 'owner' was genuinely interested in our bikes, boats and trip plans. We chatted a few before moving on.

Pete schlepping along with the private cannery behind.

We powwowwed and lunched, consulting the maps and deciding to alter our course to head over Cape Rozhnov at it's narrowest point. Our reasoning was that we needed to get to Deer Island regardless, and since riding and paddling seemed unlikely on this side of the cape, we might as well see how the other side looked. Worst case we'd end up walking through tidal mank in Mud Bay--but would at least save some miles along the way.

We followed bear trails when possible, but they rarely seemed to be going our direction.

Clear skies behind meant scorching temps and stunning views of Pavlof.

We swapped leads and fanned out when bogs halted progress, called to the others when wild berries presented themselves, and did our best to keep moving (however slowly) when it was so much easier to do anything else.

The low rise a ~half mile ahead of Pete is the "high" ridge of Rozhnov, the peaks beyond form the head of Herendeen Bay.

Late afternoon we made it across, having been assisted by a thick blanket of scud that blew in and cooled things down. The light breeze removed most of the bugs, too.

Alas this side looked no more promising to ride or float than where we'd come from.

Looks rideable. Isn't.

We did what we could--kept schlepping along the path of least resistance. Sometimes this was onshore, as much as it can be called 'shore', other times we pushed bikes as much as 1/2 mile out in the 'bay'.

We pushed on into the evening, circling the wagons when we found 2 uprooted trees that had floated here then been stranded in muck by the receding water. We broke limbs and dragged them to this small 'island', set up mids, had a brief fire with our dinners and light conversation. Truth is we were all too tired to talk much--sleep called and we answered.