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Day 302 - July 30
It's Sunday afternoon, late.

I left Holy Cross(60 river miles ago)last Tuesday night and it's taken me that long to get here. The school principal, Jason was kind enough to let me in the school to send this update. He's also going to feed me tonight and let me crash at his place and shower. Haven't had a shower since Galena. About two weeks. I'm dirty. Weather has been atrocious. Wind and more wind. Light rain as well with heavy periods at times.

Last Friday I thought it might be my time to meet my maker. I'd been on the water for two hours when I saw some big squalls approaching. No pro, right? Wrong. I headed for river right. As I neared the shore the wind was howling and the water was rough and getting unruly. I felt safe as I was stepping out of the canoe. The water was only six or seven inches deep. I exited to port and my left foot did not stop when it hit bottom. It just sucked me in. My right foot was over the gunnels and the next thing I knew both feet werein the muck and I was sinking. I could not pull my feet out. I lostcontrol of the canoe and the wind carried it back up river and left me stuck in the muck holding on to a tree trunk, a big tree trunk(thank God) with my left hand and arm. I sank to a point about 2/3rds between my knees and waist when I hit bed rock or something firm. I could twist and move but I couldn't pull myself out. I was just stuck. It was like my feet were moving a little but I couldn't pull them up. They'd only come up inches (I'm guessing) and then go back down. I was cursing, praying...doing all the things you might expect....wondering how I was going to get out of this and when I did, would my boat still be around. The wind blew it in a little lagoon about two hundred feet up from my site so I wasn't really that concerned. ... For maybe half an hour or so I was just "standing" there in the muck, trying to get out but with no success. And then my prayers were answered in a rather odd way. Looking upstream I saw some river debris coming toward me. A small clump of tree limbs and branches and what not. These ended up being my instruments of survival. I was able to grab three of the branches. All were about 6 to 8 feet long. A couple had diameters of 4 or five inches and one a little larger. I could reach the tree trunk with my left hand and arm but couldn't reach it with my right. I couldn't twist that much around. Using one of the limbs I pushed it down the right side of my leg to the firm bottom and starting wiggling, twisiting, pushing back and forth while pulling on my leg and foot to free it. I was getting some movement but not enough to free myself. I pushed another limb across the floor. It was long enough where I wouldn't get sucked down with me. It resisted the muck some. While wiggling the stick parallel to the right side of my body I was able to raise my right foot just far enough to get my knee on top of said stick. Pushing down on my right arm and pushing as much as I could on the tree trunk I got my knee moving an inch or so at a time to where it eventually came free. I left my right leg on top of the stick laying across my knees and did the same with my left leg. I was finally laying on my side in about six inches of water. I couldn't walk to safety at first. Any step I might try to take would only get me stuck again so I did what I could. (Korsmo can relate to this) I rolled. I rolled about fifty feet or so until I was out of the muck and on firmer ground. I wasso happy...I mean I was howling. Of course the wind was howling more but still I was free. When I went over to the canoe I realized that it was surrounded by the muck.

I ended up spending about six more hours building a road of fairly large logs twenty feet or so to the canoe. I learned through trial and error that logs about ten feet long and 6 inches or so (at least )in diameter worked the best. It took almost seven hours to reach it. Thank God for all the debris from years of high water. On Saturday the storm relented somewhat but by time it was safe to travel it was seven in the evening and I was too tired to go. Plus I was having some mental trauma about what I'd been through.

It was weird and I imagine my thoughts on this particular Friday will always be intense and personal. I'd like to say more but I'm not a writer. I had to talk myself in to getting back on the water Sunday AM. But it was so calm I obviously ended up paddling again. And now iI'm in Russian Mission, dry and recovering.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring clearer weather. It's still sprinkling but there isn't much wind. It's the wind you see that makes it hard and now of course there's the muck. I'll be more careful in the future. Push harder with my paddles, testing the river bottom. I obviously wasn't testing hard enough before. All in all it took about 14-15 hours (of what I consider)of diligent effort to get out. I am so thankful to be writing this now. I'm a lucky guy.

So, it's less than 300 miles to the finish line. Got an email from Mitch in Nome about the fishing boat. It's looking more and more like a no go for the sound. August is crabseason and If I was a fisherman or a crabber I think I'd rather be crabbing than watching two guys paddle across the sound. Plus, now I'm scared. Hopefully the next few days I'll work through that and get back to being comfortable on the water and getting out of it too. I might be even closer than I think.

Air miles my gps tells me I'm only 78 miles from Kotlik. Kotlik doesn't have a canoe dispersal program but Mountain Village and Emmonek does. So I might be pulling out at one of those places instead. Both are coastal communities and are affected by tides so we'll just wait and see. If I get good paddling weather I could be back to waqlking in less than a week. If not, well, we'll just have to wait and see. Can't wait for this part of the trip to be over. Can't believe I'm saying that. When I was walking up the Alcan I couldn't wait for the river and it's current to take me to the Bering. Now I'm looking forward to the relative safety of being on highways again. Oowooooooooooh!

At any rate, I'm hoping to be home by the 4th week in August for sure. Yowser!
There's more to say but I'm too tired.


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