First Presbyterian Church, Wrangell, AK
Wrangell, Alaska is home to ten churches and two bars. Probably the only town in the state able to boast that kind of ratio. Becky and I are in the Presbyterian Church of Wrangell today. The Catholic Church is right next door, but this place has a hostel and our room is in the bell tower, overlooking the harbor, with an intriguing rope hanging through the ceiling. I keep egging Becky in, hoping she'll pull the cord and wake up the town. Not only is this church the oldest continuously functioning Presbyterian church in Alaska, it also has a neon cross on the steeple that shows up on nautical charts as a navigational aid. We're here resting and resupplying for the day. Its nice to have a little break from the paddling, do some laundry, shower and rest the shoulders and backs. Although Beck and I are by now muck stronger than we were three weeks ago, joints and muscles are a little sore.
We've fallen into a bit of a routine having been on the water this long. Days are structured around the tides, we plan to make the most of favorable currents. Not that we always guess the water's mind correctly, but it is nice to pick up a knot or a half if we can. The trick is to decipher the weather forecast to predict what the wind might do. Having a sleep-in to catch a favorable afternoon tide might backfire if the wind picks up. Nothing like paddling a loaded boat into 15 knots of wind to kick your butt in a hurry!
Some mornings, like the one we crossed Chatham Strait, dodging the wind might mean waking at 5am to be paddling by 6:30. Most days we're awake around 6am. One of us will retrieve the food bags (hung out of the reach of Yogi Bear), set up the kitchen, pitch the megamid if its raining, and cook brekkie. The other will pack up the tent and related gear, and do dishes. Once camp is packed and our engines are fueled with farina or oatmeal we schlep all our gear and boats to the water's edge. This is trickier than it sounds since the water's edge is always moving. Its a bit of a bummer to spend 15 minutes loading your boat only to find it left high and dry by a falling tide.
After a brief warmup stretch its into the boats to paddle away the day. Breaks are determined by out hydration level and its a common occurrence to sprint to the beach for a snack and a much needed pee. Around 3 to 5pm we start looking for a nice steep pebble beach to camp on, we reverse the morning routine, have time for a swim, walkabout, or just dinner than bed. We usually cover about 15-17 miles a day.