Monday Sidetrack: 11

(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up and see the photos or go to https://www.lavendersidetrack.com/story-catchup to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)

 

The entrance to our campsite was an inlet that was only noticeable when we were already coming in to get out of the water. Like the rest of the Sound, it was wooded and rocky, but a small path was visible from several meters away. We floated in and my eyes stayed fixed on each new section of the path, hoping to see something to help explain the ferry.

We pulled into watery parking spots and began to relax.

“Well done, team. I’ll show you where the kayaks will go. Then, while you’re doing that, I’ll get things set up, including hot drinks for you after you’ve had a chance to settle in.”

“Mmmm, hot drinks.” Malcolm went to the front of the first boat.

“Yes, indeed. We’ll have hot chocolate, tea and coffee. 1 – 2 – 3.” Katja led five other people to lift the first kayak and three followed to the kayak shack.

We all took turns pitching in to heft the remaining three full kayaks over wet rocks, down a muddy path, over tree roots and onto wooden beams that would hold them away from the rising tide while we slept that night. Most of that work was easier than I had expected and everything went like clockwork right from the start. There was one point where the wider middle of each kayak barely fit between two trees, but my petite stature finally became a benefit and I slipped through alongside the boat.

While we worked on that, Katja pulled out the group gear of dishes and everything else we’d all share to setup the bug-free tent next to the kayak shack. She also freshened up the “bathroom,” an elevated port-a-potty close to the end of the neat path that wandered through the campsite.

I was thankful for my end of that bargain.

By the time all of the kayaks were out of the water, Katja had also laid out the tents, their corresponding footprints, and sleeping bags for those who hadn’t brought their own. There were about ten sites to choose from, each covered with gravel very well pressed into the ground and succumbing to moss. I chose a site toward the last curve before the path veered left to spill out onto the rocky shore of the Garnet River. It seemed like a logical place for me to explore the area from after dark. There was also a tall plant next to it that looked like a short cousin of the palm trees I had seen in Florida and it was nice to see something so familiar. The branches started at the base and surrounded the stalk with row after row of emerald green, finger-like leaves.

I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that traipsing around in a foreign forest in the middle of the night was not something I had ever done before. It wasn’t even something I would have imagined myself doing, but at that moment it seemed like the most logical thing possible. I thought about how I might approach the investigation the whole time I was unpacking my tent, laying down the footprint, feeding the collapsible poles through the fabric sleeves on the outside of the tent, and arranging my sleeping bag and pack inside.

It would be dark. I’d have the sand flies to content with. I’d have no idea where I was going or what I was looking for. That would be a challenge for sure, but I wasn’t actually worried about it. I had a strange sense that all I’d need to do was follow my instincts and curiosity. There was no real reason to believe that and I half-worried that it might have been a textbook case of wishful thinking.

 

When my tent was all set up and I had dressed in warm, dry clothing, I made my way back to the common tent where we’d all eat dinner together and enjoy the lack of sand flies. Halfway there, I turned my stroll into a jog. I felt light and healthy, a little like in my high school track days when running was such a natural part of my life. The gravel crunched under my feet and I smiled, jumping over the occasional rock or downed tree.

A few minutes later, I seemed to have jogged a lot farther than I had expected and I stopped to get my bearings. My new paranoia pulled my imagination into a fantasy of running too far, getting lost and discovering yet another new place that made no sense.

Laughter. I heard laughter to my right and followed it.

(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up and see the photos or go to https://www.lavendersidetrack.com/story-catchup to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)