Monday, March 18, 2013

EC2013 Day 4

Wide awake far too early from the thrumming roar of the fishing diesels (an engine sound I normally enjoy), I trotted around to the Rangers Station for a pit stop. Thankfully, the Rangers leave the toilets open 24 hours. It was around 0530, still dark, and very cold, and I got the shock of my life. Two chaps were already standing in line for their permits, ready for the 0800 opening of the station! Fully spooked, I went back to my tent, grabbed my breakfast (one Ensure, seven apricots and a Luna Bar) and fleece liner, and wrapping the liner around me, made two new non-WaterTribe friends over the next couple of hours; very sensibly—and I must try this one day—they were meandering through the Wilderness Waterway on a 10-day kayak paddle.

Over the hours, a couple more WaterTribers showed up, and not as spooked as I, trotted across the road for a more civilized breakfast. I hate being in charge of the permits.

While I cannot for the life of me fault the Rangers at this station—they truly are committed to WaterTribe and helping us through the Wilderness Waterway as efficiently as possible—their booking system for chickees is downright archaic and utterly inequitable. Without going into too much frustrating detail (but I must say that even Google docs could help in this respect!), SandyBottom and I ended up with Lostman's Five for the first night, and Watson River for the second—the latter being out in the middle of plurry nowhere; in fact, I'd never even heard of it before. I normally also pick up permits for Seiche and KneadingWater, but had no idea where they were.

Permits in hand, I trotted back to my tent, packed up the boat and changed out of my dry clothes into damp. While the night sky is out of this world in this part of the world—a Milky Way to salivate over I only remember from my nights in NZ—the dew is not damp, but downright wet.

Just about to paddle off, and who should turn up but Seiche (above) and KneadingWater. They headed off for permits, and returned with Lostman's Five (yay) and Harney River, a chickee I'd asked for but had been told was full. I headed back upstairs to the station and was granted another two berths for Harney River—not ideal, but, hey, I'm on holiday now!

Mid-morning by now—having surpassed all previous records for obtaining permits—off I paddled up the back creek to CP2. This route is a find from years back—it means you don't have to portage your boat over the road at CP2, to start the Wilderness Waterway.

Arriving at CP2, I found that SandyBottom had left a half-hour earlier, as someone in the know had leaked to her which chickee to paddle to for the night. Thankfully, she had left a fried egg and bacon sandwich for me, and all was forgiven.

It's always a glorious paddle through the Wilderness Waterway —I never seem to tire of it. After an hour or so, I caught up with Dawn, who was paddling with Macatawa and his dad, Passaic Paddler. Good company. They were headed for Roger's Bay chickee, and then Joe River—perfectly spaced, which effectively put them about 24 hours head of us to the end, but, hey, I'm on holiday now!

We mostly paddle sailed the 24 or so miles to Lostman's, arriving an hour or so before dark, waving Macatawa and Passaic Paddler on. Dawn and I chose the best campsites and set up a brew of water for a freeze dried dinner. Just before dusk, Seiche and Kneading Water arrived, with HammerStroke for company. The pack was together, again.

One of the many reasons I really like Lostman's, not just because it's a ground site, is because of the marvellous sunsets. With not a breath of wind, and just the sound of porpoises feeding, it's a very special place.

And in the dark of around 2100 hours, AlexO joined us.

Not a lot of sleep my end this evening, as per usual (our fellow male paddlers do snore somewhat), but a very restful evening, and gratefully, my first warmer night. I've come to appreciate that my annual EC fix, while not only feeding the rat, is the only time I have to actually day—or night—dream, while I'm awake.

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