It rained all night and continued throughout the final day. We decided to spend one more day in the area around camp, and then to spend the following two days heading back home. This allowed one extra day in case we hit weather anywhere and had to wait it out.
Uninspired by the rain, we had a slow morning in camp, but then set out for a half-day tour. We visited another salmon stream during low tide to continue our bear viewing. It was interesting to view different bears – so close to those at the first stream – but this was a very different population. These bears were not used to people and even though we kept a greater distance than we had the day prior and remained very quiet, it appeared that our presence hindered their enjoyment. Some stayed, others moved further down the beach away from us; none of them ran away – but it was clear they were bothered and we didn’t stay long.
We continued along our way, touring a lovely inlet near out camp. We then stopped to pump water again and decided to head back to camp. It had been a few hours, but it continued to rain and rain hard, and changing into warm dry clothes and reading a book under the tarp with a cup of tea sounded delightful.
Close to dinner time the rain let up, allowing us to enjoy our final dinner (at this camp) out on the beach (away from the tarp).
We woke early and packed up camp. Our destination was back to the cabin so we had to hit it at high tide to avoid slogging through mudflats (or really waiting until the next high tide cycle – we had no illusion that we wanted to wade in the mud to make the cabin). High tide that day was around 5:30pm, so we figured we could get in around 4:30pm or 5pm.
We returned the way we came, though after the last weather scare even though the conditions were perfect, we did our crossings at the shortest distance possible.
Shortly into our journey, we stopped at a magic tree. That was the name given to it on one of our maps, the person who had done the same trip many years prior. We had stopped at this point on our way to Pack Creek, but we assumed the ‘magic tree’ was a distinguished looking tree on the point. Instead, we learned from the ranger that the tree was into the woods and was an odd-looking tree worth a visit. We didn’t immediately find a trail to the tree, but eventually found it – and it was worth it. A huge tree that has persevered more than any of the trees around. It was like 5 trees in one, with horizontal branches that then moved back up towards the sky. It’s as though, where other trees would have given up and been normal single-trunked trees, this tree was not content being a normal single trunk. It spread out and then kept heading to the sky.
From there, we continued to paddle. Maybe because we had been out for days, maybe because we were more used to our boats, or maybe we were just eager for a warm, dry cabin, but we paddled more consistently with fewer breaks than we might have before. I was now quite comfortable in the boat, eager for an occasional break for my arms but not necessarily in need of getting out of the boat. The weather also continued to be occasionally rainy and drizzly making us quickly wanting to get moving again to stay warm!
Despite our continued movement, we didn’t need to stop and wait out the tide at any point. As we got close we knew there was no rush because the longer it took the higher the tide would be, but when we got to the cabin we were able to paddle right in.
We unloaded, but our work wasn’t over yet! Recall that there is a portage at the cabin that leads over to Oliver’s Inlet. From Oliver’s Inlet we cross Stephen’s Passage. Right at the mouth of the inlet it is very narrow and this exit must be timed with the tides. We wanted to be leaving at about 9am (it’s also more likely that we would get good weather for crossing earlier in the morning). But before we got to that mouth, we would have to leave the cabin, take the 1.5 mile portage with gear, then load the boats, and then paddle about 40 minutes. After our last adventure on the portage, we decided to take each boat over separately, and then the gear could be split between the two carts.
To save time in the morning, we took the 3 kayaks over in the evening, which meant two trips over the portage, or about 6 miles of walking with heavy loads, after our long day paddling!
We were ready for the warm cabin and a hot meal at the end of the day, and then went to bed early and slept well!