Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good Camp/Bad Camp

When the time comes to get off the water for the day, and a campsite has to be created, there is a great deal of thought that gets put into all facets of the site. The first is location. Is this a place that I can easily get off the water, with space for three things. A good site for a tent, level, and flat. A site for a kitchen, a good distance from the tents, level and flat would be nice but it isn't necessary. A place for the kayaks to sleep, preferable above the tents - in terms of tide height - but if not above the tents then at the same height, and regardless of height above tide they must be able to be tied to something stout. It wouldn't do for a wave to come in and take our boats away while we slept warm and dry in our bags. Keep in mind that most of the foot traffic in a campsite is in the kitchen area, so it should be on the most durable of surfaces. Rocks, gravel, dirt. No grasses or mosses, nothing fragile that would be impacted by our trampling feet. The same goes for the location of the tent and the kayaks, but because there is less traffic to those locations we need the kitchen to be on the most durable surface.

Our new home may take on the look of a yard sale while we are setting up, cooking and eating dinner, and relaxing afterwards. People tend to try and hang things to help them dry and food bags get their contents strewn about during dinner preparation. But once it is time to call it a night and climb into a warm bag with a good book, the yard sale has to be put away. Everything is packed. Food is stored safely with Animals in mind. All our gear is packed and stored well above the tide line. I like to put things back in their dry bags, and then back into the kayaks. In Alaska I would put my gear in their two large mesh duffel bags and put those on top of my kayak (over turned so the mesh was down and the waterproof bottom was facing up) and then I would carabiner them to the kayak. 

The thought process behind this is that we need our gear, and we need to take care of it. Just as it wouldn't be beneficial to have our kayaks wash away, it wouldn't do to have any of our gear wash away. But what could wash away our gear, you ask? Well, besides the fact that we may make a mistake calculating the next high tide, there are also storm surges that can create higher tides than predicted. It could also be something as simple as a ferry or cruise ship a dozen miles away. Its wake hits the beach and pushes way above the predicted high tide line. We were very careful in Alaska.

So you can imagine our surprise when early in the morning we came around cape fanshaw - it was probably seven AM and we wanted to be some unpredictable weather around a point known for big water - and saw the epitome of a 'bad camp'. We could see tents in the trees way above the beach - which in and of itself is fine, but the rest of what we saw was a little scary. Click the image below to see what scared us. 

A tarp that was about to be blown down and away. Thirteen kayaks, that didn't look tied up, or to each other - they may have been but as far as some kayaks were from others led us to believe otherwise. A vast amount of gear on the beach, just above the high tide line. And as incredible as all that is, someones red jacket on the grass, waiting to be blown away, washed away, or just simply rained on. The number of dry bags and water bottles waiting to disappear was very disturbing. This is poor leadership, and poor role modeling. We never saw this group again, we suspected that they were heading south while we were heading north. I hope their trip ended well, but honestly, they were setting themselves up for disappointment.