The Kennewick-Man Expedition, DAY 52

I woke up to an alarm at 4:00 a.m., downed to a sandy shore of the river at 5:00 a.m. before dawn, and packed up to kayak. Although the Pacific Ocean was still far away downstream 40 miles on the Columbia River from here, the tide of the ocean already influenced river water around here. As the sea level was rising, the river water was flowing back from downstream to upstream. If possible, I preferred to avoid enormous effort to kayak against the current. Therefore, I had checked a tide graph that is shifting daily, and started to paddle with the current at 7:50 a.m. It began to rain shortly before a departure. I could not have departed forever if I had waited for the rain to stop, because the west coast of Washington State has rich rain.

Glamorous forest embracing the rain stretched out on both banks endlessly. Vast sand bars covered by woods became to appear ahead frequently, so I could see that I came near to the mouth of the river. Realizing the end of the trip down the Columbia River by seeing the sign of presence of the ocean, I felt a mixture of great joy to come this far and anxiety about next leg.

Chill wind and rain became gradually stronger. Although I wore fleecy jacket and pants, and wool socks under a dry suit, I shivered with cold. The kayak having a tail wind accelerated slowly and reached the maximum speed of seven Mile/Hour. Drawing a V-shaped long bow-wave, a sharp bow bounced up and down with waves and cut through a water. Keels, which was shaped like wing and was inserted into the water from both side of the kayak, was not able to resist water pressure produced by its fast flow, and was gradually pushed up into the air; it forced me to push keels back frequently.

The wind grew stronger. I turned the kayak right for a riverbank in order to leave a windswept center region of the river, and sail along forest on the bank of river to avoid the wind as much as possible, when I sailed around the middle of the river width of 1.2 miles. Then, the wind fanned the kayak from the right side and disrupted the balance of the kayak. Heading the kayak in a straight line became difficult, because a rudder on the kayak that was steered by foot pedals and a paddle that was inserted into water as an auxiliary rudder were not good enough for steering force. Fear of a sudden attack of stronger wind-gust crossed my mind.

The weather seemed to be worse. I decided to land on anywhere I could pitch a tent regardless of its environment and to finish today’s leg because I felt that it would be dangerous if the wind picked up. However, at 12:30 p.m., at the first landing sandy beach, I gave up pitching the tent and returned on the river because there was only a low ground where high tide water probably would wash the tent.

Sailing the kayak along forest on the right bank for more one mile, I found a beach with a shed where was obviously private land. I landed on it although I did not know if I could get a permission to pitch the tent, because I thought that I could not find easily some beach where somebody never set foot on even if I continued to kayak ahead for locating some place, and thought that I had no other choice in such worsening weather. It was 1:10 p.m.

However, a landowner was away from home. I decided await his return although I did not know when he came back, because of the tough situation to move the kayak more ahead. While I was waiting for him, the weather was getting worse further, and I was surprised that the tail wind changed into a head wind before I was aware. Waiting two hours, finally I could get a permission to stay from Leon Gollersrud who returned to home, and felt relived. I set to work immediately to break up the kayak and pulled up those from sandy beach with helps from Leon and his friend Sam Valdez.

I soon know that Leon is a very kind-hearted person, although the first impression of him wearing sunglass was tough looking. Leon and his wife, Linda, were astonished that a man surprisingly on the kayak landed on their beach suddenly. They fed me a beer and lunch, gave me a hot bath, and offered to stay in the comfortable shed with an old sofa bed beside the beach. Here again, I am wrapped up in warm affection, and my heart is brimming over with happiness and peace despite the demanding journey.

I kayaked for 5 hours and 20 minutes for 21 miles today.