OHE September 30, 1998 (e)

Date: Fri, 2 Oct 1998 15:06:54 -1000
From: Grant Oka (goka@ns00.phnsy.navy.mil>

Day 5

We are up and much of our stuff is wet from the foggy night. We conserve water as the next water source is 12 Km from here. Our destination is Klanawa River, 14 Km from Dare Beach. We cross the Cheewhat River, aptly named as translated it means "river of urine". Soon we are crossing Indian Reservation land. In the past, native Indians lived and fished and hunted here. Now, only a small population still live here in two villages. We are not allowed to leave the trail while on Indian Reservation land. Much of the trail is boardwalk or otherwise well graded. Some sections of boardwalk are rotten with broken slats and look to be very slippery if wet.

Once at the Nitinat River, we wait on the floating dock for a water taxi run by a native Indian and his family. Meanwhile we snack and watch the salmon jump out of the brackish water. Soon, a boat with a young Indian lad with his dog and some younger children arrives and transports us to the other side of the Nitinat and we are back on the trail.

By early afternoon, Joyce and I catch up with Sandy at the top Tsuisat Falls. We all rinse off in the cold water and sun ourselves dry on the rocks. Sandy and I take a short hike down the cliffs (by what else but a series of ladders!) to see the Falls from the beach. The beach is fairly crowded as this is a very popular camp spot.

We continue on to Klanawa River just 2 Km down the trail. The cable car to cross the Klanawa is the longest crossing of all. Joyce and I and our packs squeeze into the box and we zing down the cable to the center of that cold swift running river. I start rehearsing how I would bail out if we fell and decide on a spot I would swim for. Once in the middle of the cable, my only thought is pulling us to the other side.

We find a beautiful campsite overlooking the ocean. I find a piece of shipwreck (a rusted circular ring) to decorate the driftwood log that blocks the ocean breeze. The waves crash on the rocks off shore. A gorgeous sunset and a crackling campfire make for a wonderful evening. We are all getting used to the routine of camp chores and are starting to really enjoy and savor the experience as we can already sense the end is coming. The stars are out in full force. The air is cold and clean with the smell of the ocean. A crescent moon shimmers its reflection on the ocean. Off to the east we see a white slowly swirling blade of light. It twirls itself into a funnel and looks like a fluted top. It is the "northern lights". We are all excited and cannot believe our good fortune. The light unfurls itself and unwraps like a ribbon going across the sky. It seems to flutter and elongate across the night sky. The light show lasts for about 20 minutes. Sandy says the lights are green in Alaska. I feel strong and healthy and lucky and very sane. A good nights sleep at Klanawa.

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