Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'It fits' part 2

Today was rations day. Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time going over the ration sheets provided by Claudia at the NOLs Rocky Mountain Branch. Today I rolled into our supermarket with clipboard and papers and started shopping.

I will confess that I got some strange looks, but I spent about an hour shopping, checking weights, and portions and the occasional directions.

This is what it looked like when I arrived home, and after two hours of weighing and bagging, this is what it looked like sorted into 3 groups. Ration 1, 2, and 3. Ration one is a little bigger as it has some things that will last the whole trip like tomato paste, pesto, peanut butter and nutella.

This is it packaged and ready to go in a kayak.

There are still some things that need to go into the ration. "freshies" like onion, garlic, potato, carrots, and I certainly cant forget the cheese. I still need 4 pounds of cheese that I will buy in Skagway. All will hold up well for some time while inside the belly of a kayak. Power food, like cliff bars and the like. will go into the ration. The weight comes in just a touch heavy. As they are in that last photo the entire ration is at 30 pounds. The ration plan called for 36.75 pounds (1.75 pounds of food per person per day) I think I will be over once I add in the freshies. Then of course I need a spice kit, and coffee. And, ahem.... Whiskey. It will probably be right around 42 pounds. A little heavy.

Monday, May 30, 2011

New twitter feed.

This blog now has a twitter feed, @paddlingotaku, which I will be updating once I am on the road. Unfortunately I don't have the resources to live blog this trip, maybe the next one! But what I will be doing is updating twitter whenever I have cell service, which I think will be fairly frequent. Real update coming soon, but I have to finish the shopping list, that's right, it's food time!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The minutiae will kill you.

It's the little things that add up that I think may absolutely drive me crazy.

I found out today that the adhesive I was using to practice boat repairs was the wrong stuff. It worked well. But I would like to try what I am actually supposed to use. I ordered some online.

The wheels for my kayak should be here soon. But I am also going to need a cable and lock to secure my kayak for two days. Do I pack it with me the rest of the trip, or donate it to the Harbormaster in Ketchikan?

I have enough batteries and SD cards for the GoPro for 16 hours of recording at 720P. I have them both (as well as batteries for my Olympus Camera) in a small pelican case, but the SD cards are so small I worry about loosing them.

I got a small piece of fiberglass cloth in case I have to do a serious repair. I hope I never have to use it - donated by a friend who runs a kayak shop, thanks Will!

I love my tent, but hate how big it packs. I need to play with that and see if there is a better way. The biggest problem with it, is the rain fly has a an 12 pole in the center that is permanently attached and makes packing it difficult.

I needed to beef up my fire starting kit, which now doesn't really fit anywhere. I have lots of little odds and ends that don't have permanent places yet. I haven't made any changes to the way I do things, or pack things, but just adding a little bulk for the length of the trip is wreaking havoc with my systems.

My nice insulated coffee mug is making everything taste metallic lately. I need to clean it and sterilize it and see if that changes things.

People keep asking my why I don't bring some form of solar power system to recharge cameras and the like. A) they don't work as well as you think B) We are paddling this route in the driest month of the year and can still expect about 7 inches of rain. But if you would like to donate this to the cause, feel free. I will even return it to you if it survives.

When I bought my kayak a few years ago, it was purchased with this trip in mind. On every trip I have done it has been the 'load monster' in the group. This trip will definitely be the test.

As I type this, the weather in Skagway Alaska is 50ยบ with 8mph winds from the southwest. In other words. Absolutely perfect for paddling. I wish I was there right now.

25 days.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Well, it fits.

Things have been progressing nicely. Both myself and the Rockstar have ferry tickets. She has a SPOT so I don't need to figure out that whole thing. There have been many emails back and forth between myself and her. I have also sent a large volume of emails to various resources in Ketchikan. My dilemma - as there always seems to be one - is this. I will arrive in Ketchikan with all my gear two days before the Rockstar. So I need a place to stay, and a place to stage my kayak. My initial hope was that there would be a campground in Ketchikan that I could go to, but alas there is no camping inside the city of Ketchikan. There is a motel directly across the street from the ferry that would be perfect except that it costs $200 a night.

I finally found that there is a hostel about a half a mile from the ferry, and I got permission to lock up my boat at the harbor masters office.

Today I spent the afternoon packing the kayak with the actual gear that will be going. The important thing is that not only does it need to fit in the kayak, but I also need to get it all - by myself - from the car, to the ferry. Then from the ferry to the harbor masters office. And then after dropping off the kayak to the hostel. And of course back. So it needs to fit into two bags. A large mesh duffel, and a seal line 115 liter boundary bag. Today I learned that it pretty much fits, both in the boat, and the bags.

I also learned that I love the tapered dry bag. It makes it very easy to pack the boat. I am tempted to buy another one for the bow but at this point I am not sure what would go inside it.

I still need to tweak a few things in terms of the gear layout. I am also not happy with my deck bag, and may try and figure out a way to go without it. It sits very high on the deck of my kayak.

I leave a month from tomorrow....

Monday, May 9, 2011

Like Dominoes..

My lack of updates is directly related to the number of changes that have occurred in the last two or three weeks.

Everyone that had said they would take part in this adventure with me has changed their mind. Many perfectly valid reasons have been given, and while I could - and will - write more about this later I think it boils down to this. For most, this is a new and slightly intimidating adventure. The first time you do a trip like this there are just so many variables. It is very easy to say to yourself, I can't do this Because.....

The list can be long. It is the reason that many people can say 'I have always wanted to do something like that!' but in fact they never do. Seth Godin writes about the lizard brain. The lizard brain wants us to be afraid because that keeps us safe. I have written before about the need to push personal boundaries, and I am sure that these dear friends of mine will, when the time is right. I have to stress I have known all the parties involved for years, and care very deeply for them all, and have, and will take part in adventures in the future with them. I have actually already spoken with one about a paddling trip in the fall or spring.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who are no longer going, because my responsibility to them made me do all the planning to get there myself. So as I contemplated going alone, I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. I started looking into a satellite phone rental and making changes to the food list. The biggest hurdle to going alone - besides the drive to Alaska alone, which I am not looking forward to - is that in camp everything that has to be done, has to be done by you. No one will help set up a tarp in the rain, or cook dinner. It's all on you. And it can be exhausting.

As I was making these plans I decided to send an email to a friend. A friend I hadn't seen since 2006. I work for a very well known outdoor school - though I haven't taught for them directly since 2009 - and on my instructor course I met a woman I became very good friends with. My nickname for her on this course was 'the rock star' because she was that good in a kayak. Far better than me at the time. At the end of the instructor course I mentioned I had always wanted to do the Inside Passage and would she be interested in doing it with me. Her response, in classic rock star fashion was that she would be bored. She wanted to do the 'outside passage' on the more exposed pacific coast. A route that didn't interest me.

I sent her an email explaining what had happened, and she replied that while normally she wouldn't be interested, my offer had landed at her feet at the perfect time. She would go. It took 72 hours for all the stars to align. There is now a new departure date, and some small changes in gear. She has paddled in the Petersburg area near where we will be so she has some experience in the area. Her lizard brain knows not to be afraid.

Today I purchased a ferry ticket for the 23rd of June. I won't be home for my birthday, but due to the earlier departure time - about a week - my wife can meet me in Skagway at the end of the trip. Which will be amazing.