Day 40 - Saturday - July 5 - Blake Island to Wrangell

I did not get much sleep last night waiting to see if Yogi showed up. Luckily he was off somewhere with Boo Boo, maybe at the rangers station.

Heading up Blake Channel early in the morning.

At 3am, the tide was at its highest and only a few feet from the tent. It was light enough to see so I decided to pack up and go. At 3:45am I was on the water and heading north up Blake Channel. This was the earliest I had been on the water yet and it was actually very nice. What light there was came in at a low angle and made the mountains in the distance take on a completely different appearance.

The Narrows between Blake Channel and Eastern Passage.

There was an island just past “The Narrows” that I was heading for that was supposed to have a campsite on it. It was only 16 miles from Blake Island, and although I would arrive early in the morning, I could spend the day resting after the long paddles of the last two days. When I approached the island at 9:20am, there was only one spot to land so I pulled up and went to check out the top of the beach. I could hardly believe my eyes. The whole area showed signs that bears had been feeding on Skunk Cabbage within the last few hours. The leaves that had been broken off had not even wilted yet, and the dirt was turned over as if it had been plowed. I was not about to spend another night worried about a bear encounter so I immediately got back in the boat and took off.

Looking up Eastern Passage toward Wrangell.

There were 19 more miles to Wrangell but it was still early and I felt good so I decided to go for it. If conditions did not prevent it, I would be in Wrangell by 4pm. I headed up Eastern Passage hugging the western shoreline, which had plenty of beaches suitable for camping. With my sights now set on Wrangell, I passed dozens of potential campsites without a thought of stopping. The weather cooperated with only light winds coming from the southeast and the current was of no consequence. My shoulders and arms were now beginning to hurt a little more each day and it was necessary to take ibuprofen to keep the pain manageable.

The muddy waters of the Stikine River cloud the waters of Eastern Passage.

Just as I rounded the north tip of Wrangell Island and was within a mile of the town, a strong squall hit with 30 mph winds and heavy rain coming out of the southwest. All I could do was keep my head down and try to make headway against it by staying close to the coast and out of the strongest gusts further offshore. Luckily, it only lasted about 15 minutes, and by the time I reached town, it had stopped completely. When I landed, I looked at my hands and saw that my fingers were soft, white, and smashed flat from holding the paddle for so long.
My plan was to land on a beach near the Fennimore B&B and see if I could get a room there for two nights. I tied up the kayak and walked about 100 yards over to the B&B. No one was there and calling the phone number gave me a recorded message. It was 3:00pm and I had just finished paddling 35 miles in 11 hours and 15 minutes. It was raining and cold and all I could do was to carry all my gear up and hope they had a room for me.
This was possibly the most dangerous place on the trip over which I had to carry my gear. The head of the beach is composed of broken slabs of cement interspersed with re-bar, broken glass, and other trash along with tall weeds throughout. Carrying everything up, and then two days later down, this twenty-foot high obstacle course was a feat that I luckily accomplished with no damage to equipment or myself. It could have ended much differently with just one missed step.
I called the phone number repeatedly for the next two hours until at 5pm, I finally reached the owner who told me there was room and she would be over in a little while. By 7pm, I was in the room, taking a shower, and getting into some dry clothes. Later, I walked into downtown Wrangell and got some dinner then called home to report my adventures of the last few days.