Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cape North

I got up to use the outhouse around 5:30 and the rain was still falling. This was doubly sad: I was awake at 5:30am and rain meant that the paddle around Cape North was in jeapordy.
I woke up a few hours later and the sky was clear. The paddle was a go!
Mike, our guide from Eagle North Kayaking, wanted to get an early start, so we had to be quick about eating and gathering our gear. We were supposed to check in with him at 9am.
He drove by the camp site around 8:15 to tell us we would meet at Eagle North in a half hour. We scurried about and got down there in plenty of time.
We launched out of Bay St. Lawrence on the west side of Cape North. It is the only place after Pleasant Bay on the cape that offered reasonable kayak access. The next possible extraction point along the coast was our eventual take out 15 miles away. The coast between the two points offered a few pebbly beaches that could offer a respite in calm conditions and one haul out that was possible in rough conditions.
Fortunately, the weather looked like it would be kind to us. The ocean also looked kind.
Given the extreme exposure and possibility of nasty conditions, H decided to sit the paddle out and enjoy a placid, sunny day at camp. Mike tried to coax her into going along to offer some level of sanity to the group. I think we made him a little nervous. (As he later explained, he has seen plenty of paddlers show up with nice kayaks and big talk. Once he gets them out on the water he realizes that they can barely stay upright in ocean swells.) H was firm in her decision and decided to stay behind.
Once beyond the harbor sea wall, we were in the open ocean. The swells were not big, but they were powerful. It was perfect conditions.
The conditions also convinced me that H had made a good call. She could have handled the conditions with ease, but she would have been anxious the whole time. Based on Mike's description of the route, it would have been 15 miles of torture for her. For the rest of us (the crazy ones) it would be 15 miles of heaven.

The shoreline was tall rugged cliffs pocked with waterfalls. There were plenty of rocks to play in and plenty of swell to ride.
Over the course of the morning Mike seemed to relax and started playing more than guiding. That was perfect as far as I was concerned. We had hired him because we wanted his knowledge of the area, not because we needed to be babysat. Paddles are more fun when everyone is enjoying themselves.

We stopped for lunch just the main point on a beach that looked like it could offer some protection from a storm. It was a long hike over the mountains to get back to a road though. Mike told us that 30 odd years ago a freighter carrying dried peas floundered on this beach and as the sea water flooded the cargo hold, the peas expanded bursting the hull and turning the ocean green for many days. To lend credence to his story, the beach was littered with flotsam.

After lunch we explored a couple of large sea caves and played in the rocks some more. BH nearly died several times, but always made a beautiful escape.
I played a little bit. My mojo is still off this season though. Everything seemed to be slightly off. So I didn't push too hard.
It was an awesome trip. Mike did a fantastic job pointing out stuff to us and telling us stories about the area. I was glad he enjoyed himself. I definitely enjoyed the trip.

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