Chris got us all up at 5.30 as his feeling for the weather dictated – it was a go for the trip North. We packed the camp in a record 2 hours and the Spirit Dancer was proudly carrying our lightened load. In the sheltered water between the small island and the camp Chris set sail while I took the helm to steer us clear of the shore. The wind caught the sail and gently pushed us round the West of the island with the help of the crew’s paddle-power. Then we left the lee of the land and the water hissed past as we sped North. I felt kind of sad leaving the camp that had been home for so many days. I looked down at my grubby hands and cold feet and remembered the calm sanity: the place my mind arrived at when I accepted the uncertain future in the camp with the knowledge that we could have survived for a long time. Now we were rushing back to civilization, electricity, and everything man-made. Still, I was yet again a changed man – nature had taught me valuable lessons: a continuation of the shattering revelations of last year on the West Coast.
We left behind the snow covered (it was clear that more snow had fallen during the night) mountains and cold South end of the lake. The day was crisp and we were moving on – I realised that I had moved on in more ways than one: another evolution. A peace had settled in me regarding my fellow humans. I had been taught how to be alone, and therefore how to tolerate the faults of others around me and my own faults, how to love, enjoy in the company of others, and relax without feeling threatened. We are all animals; and all part of the Earth who is the source of all. All of our faults are natural: animals lie, steal, kill, and fight for territory and power. It’s just that we as a species have become arrogant – and, not to forget, overwhelming in our numbers. The Earth is bending under our demands.
I thought of all this and how I would relate to others once I got back. I concentrated on steering back to Nemiah to clear my mind. The wind was stiff and unpredictable making it important that I didn’t lose concentration. The gusts would try to push the canoe around: dangerous if the wind caught the sail sideways on – a capsize would almost be inevitable. I needed to apply quick and strong corrections to keep us downwind. The paddle was buzzing most of the way with the speed of the canoe through the water. It was exhilarating but tiring. I was aching all over, and grinning all over.
Finally we reached the gap between Canoe Point and : a high piece of land that juts out from the mainland. Canoe Point causes the wind to strengthen just to its West and the canoe picked up even more speed as we turned into the channel between the point and Duff Island. Docking at Nemiah was hard due to the strong cross winds and miscommunication. It took about a half hour to get the canoe onto the trailer with two of us holding a rope connected to a submerged post to keep her straight, and the rest of the crew pulling from land.
Wasted no time securing the trailer and driving to Nemiah, first stop was the Band Office and the shop then we sped off to have a ‘normal’ dinner at Lees Corner: Chicken burger for me, and for one of our crew: pizza with cream and jam (Yes, pizza with cream and jam – back to the real world).
As a gentle easing into civilization, me, Chris, and Marylin camped in the truck at Becher Pond camp site before the bright lights of Williams Lake to meet the others who would be roughing it in a hotel.