Thursday, June 12, 2014
Day 4: Midnight Assault aka the Portage and Tenakee Inlet
The GPS alarm sounded at 12:30 am and we emerged from a six hour slumber to hurriedly pack up our gear. When we hit the water at 1:20 am I was shocked to see the explosion of light and color in the inky water. We had enough light to make out the mountains, rocks and shoreline, but plenty of dark to appreciate the bioluminescence glittering off our paddles and the wakes of our boats. Suddenly a midnight assault seemed like the only way to do the trip.
We had five miles to go to the portage and wanted to hit the high tide at about 3:30 am. Fortunately, this area is shallow and the water was glassy. The reflections in the water were amazing.
We had a little trouble finding the last pond, simply because 1) we didn't choose to go right enough and 2) with only a 14 foot tide, the portage looked like the shore instead of a marsh. If you stay far to the right, you'll be able to see the break in the trees and find the route to the final pond. We meandered back and forth a little before we found where we needed to go.
Eventually we found another beach on which to eat our blueberry oatmeal.
By now the tide had turned and was rising. Along with the rain came a bit of wind and the waves were growing. I was starting to get frustrated with how challenging the travel was becoming, and a little scared of the waves. Mr. X took the lead and got me through some white caps. Eventually, I landed on a beach and suggested that we either camp or continue on foot. By now we'd been in "go" mode for more than14 hours and so Mr. X recommended that we skip dinner, and pitch the tent where we were. I agreed and we set to work.
Tenakee inlet has more wildlife than Port Frederick and although we were on the north side which is not known for lots of bears, it still is Chichagof island. We have heard of bears gnawing on packrafts so we dissembled the boats and used them as ground cloth under the tent. Mr. X stashed the bear canister with all food and scented items down the beach and then he climbed a tree and stashed our packs with the rest of our gear including dry suits. And then I turned around and realized that there was a bear trail on the beach and deer scat in the fragrant and soft pea plant around the tent.
By 5:30 we were bedded down and shortly later asleep. I got a nice nap and then the rest of the evening, I heard animal footsteps and crashing waves. At one point I was certain there were at least three deer outside, but later the snuffing and stomping on the beach I convinced myself were bears.