Friday, May 11, 2012

Lava: Thirteen.

By morning our bedsteads of heaped grass with auxiliary boat lift had sunk to within millimeters of the waterline. Lean a bit too far to pull something out of your pack and you'd be elbow deep in soup. So it was a grim progress we made in packing up and getting going.

Once you accept that you're going to be sodden and filthy for the foreseeable future, then the struggle to stay clean/dry can end. The sooner the better--not even a duck's ass could stay dry out here.

We crossed the Meshik, even getting a tiny bit of current-assist before grounding out. We chased the receding tide to some avail, but at some point you just have to accept your fate and get back to the shoreline. We'd been stranded 1/2 mile out a few times in the past ~week, unable to reach floatable water, and scarcely capable of making it back through the muck to semi-solid earth. Truly no-man's-land.

There wasn't often a clear 'right answer' with respect to line choice--and as such we'd rarely be on the same line. 4 guys fanned out and searching for the firmest surface gets to be comical when there's no good line to be found. Dave and Brian floated better than Pete or I, and as such could make some pedal progress in places where we didn't bother swinging a leg over our bikes to try. Trudging along behind, we could see when their tracks rode high or cut deep, and would be able to adjust our course from that--where to be and where emphatically not to.

The wind had vanished, replaced by drizzle that morphed into a full-on cold rain, causing us to wonder if our foot-slogging could have been avoided with a bit more patience out at Point Stroganof.

At Birthday Creek the outflow was strong enough to dip a bottle and drink--our first sweet water in better than 3 days. Not that drinking had been critical--I felt like just breathing was nearly adequate hydration.

Early afternoon we found rideable stretches of black sand beach, often interspersed with muck of some sort, but the balance had shifted to mostly riding. Derelict structures and abandoned boats began to appear, signaling a certain proximity to the village. We popped up off the beach and found a rough ATV track, that may or may not have been any better than what we'd left behind.

Maybe an hour of increasingly frustrating travel popped us out here.

And then, yes Virginia, the rain came down hard. With less than a mile to go to "town" Pete flatted his rear tire. And the rest of us pulled full on bastard moves in an effort to save our own hypothermic hides: We just kept riding. He needs to tell that story from his perspective--here or elsewhere.

Moments later we found the hub of All That Is and Will Be in Meshik: Jack's New Meshik Mall.

Inside Betty tended to us like the needy kids we were, feeding us hot ramen and White Castles, loaning us the phone and coming up with any and every number needed to make flight reservations to get back home, even interpreting byzantine airline rules and regs. While this was happening a steady stream of locals darkened the doorway in search of processed white sugar in liquid, solid, and even gel form. (Licorice is not a big seller, Monster is).

We made friends at the school with teachers and administration, crashing there for the few days it took to get all of us and our gear out on the tiny planes that touch down briefly when the weather allows.

Brian won big on many levels, selling his bike, paddle, and PFD to some stoked locals, then getting a seat on the first flight out in order to make it back to work *almost* on time. B--you need to tell, at minimum, the story of your flights in and out, and all the shenanigans along the way.

Pete, Dave and I stayed another ~2 days in the quiet of the school, decompressing before re-entry by napping, reading books (remember books?!) and magazines, checking and answering some email, and using the gym to play round after round of H-O-R-S-E, floor hockey, and dodgeball.

In sum, we rode, paddled, pushed, and dragged for roughly 280 miles in the span of 13 days.

The photos above were shot primarily on a Canon T1i with a 60mm macro and 8-16mm UWA. Supplementary shots/clips came from a Canon SX230 IS, and a Contour POV with waterproof case. Read between the lines here and you can safely assume that yes, there is a full-on video to accompany all of the above stills and text.

Dave is currently working on his writeup and pics. Keep an eye on the Surly blog for that sometime in the next few weeks.