Kayaking + The Skagit River



"What good is living the life you’ve been given if all you do is stand in one place?"

-Lord Huron

As my wife helped me unload the Kayak I could see some trepidation in her eyes.  The launch isn't ideal, in-fact a good fall or sprained ankle could have happened by the time I got to the bottom.  Monochrome slabs of shattered concrete are strewn about the descent.  I lowered my kayak down slowly while I navigated the precipitous and loose rock around me. I made it.  Cars roared and rumbled overhead on the bridge above me.  I pushed out into the teal water, over even larger chunks of rock underneath me.  I was on my way. 




The river had a steady current about her and carried me to a small unnamed island just west of the launch site in no time.  I paddled hard at a 45 degree angle to get over to the island before the current carried me past. The water grew shallow while rocks scraped the bottom of my kayak as I pulled up upon the sand and pebble mixed shoreline.  The heat became more apparent as I stepped out onto the island away from the cool of the river. 



 My feet sunk in with every step and with it searing grains of heat from the sand covered me for a second. As I stepped out, relief, and then back in again.  Hulking pieces of driftwood lay silent on the edges of the island just waiting for the next swell of rain to carry them further downstream. Raccoon footprints dotted the sand along the shore and leading into the trees. The thick vegetation and trees kept me along the shore without penetrating the interior too deeply. 



The bleached and parched soil was cracked everywhere like a patchwork quilt. Yet somehow life managed to spring forth from it.  Slippery round pebbles lined the shore and sounded like they were in a rock tumbler with every step on them.  Small pools of water separated from the river teemed with life, though cut off from it's source.  The wind blew gently, providing a temporary, albeit welcomed relief from the heat. 



The high-pitched treble of birds in the interior of the island and high in the trees remained prevalent and auricular as I explored the shoreline. As if an explosion happened, silver, white and gray feathers sat in a pile on the sand along with a few dots of blood here and there. You might say some bird got it's feathers in a ruffle. Literally. Wildflowers bloomed in the soft sand a short distance from the water.    



The island faded into the haze as I paddled further away.  An opposing wind along with the river played a game of push and pull with my kayak and made the going slow.  A mother and daughter laughed and played on the shore. They gathered driftwood and slowly constructed a make-shift shelter on a sandbar as I floated by.  While peering into the water I could see that river was getting shallower and shallower.  A rest was due.

A large piece of driftwood sat beached on thousands of small stones and sand in the middle of the river.  It's brittle and scale-like skin crumbled off like a ritz cracker as I stepped upon it to check it out. I soaked my weary self in a pear shaped depression of water just to the left of it. The cold water reached into my bones and provided succor to my fatigued body.  I must push on however. 



The trees began to fall off on my right, being replaced with semi-landscaped grass and vegetation. I had reached the  beginning of the levy in Burlington which I would parallel off and on to the end.  I passed by a ramshackle dock twisted like a DNA strand, half in the water and half in ruins hugging the side of the bank.  Several boats resembling those cars you find camped out in a Wal-Mart parking lot late at night were moored up.  Blue tarps covered them and flapped in the wind. Dirt and scum build up encased the outside of the boats while the owners no doubt slept the day away or were out hustling for a better future than this dock provided. 

The sound of a train ahead signaled that my journey was coming to an end. It rumbled over it's ancient steel tracks and then halted as if to let me by. I pulled up onto a fine sandy beach. The dirt blew in the wind as I dragged my kayak out of the river.  The welcome sight of my wife on the shore greeted me.  We quickly sped away, onward, to replenish my calorie deprived body.   

Be sure to check out the short film below on the trip.

-Jefferson


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