Monday, May 27, 2008
As we made our way up a gentle, tiered slope, the large raincloud mass had disbursed into little raincloud masses, but we still managed to outrun it towards the blue skies in the North-East, even though we could not out run the shadow it cast. Once or twice we had to stop on the side of the road, and just lay down on the shoulder for a short nap. I knew we were almost out of water, but I didn’t want to use the swampy stream that crept alonside us. It looked like trouble. I thought about what to do as I got to the point of just about falling asleep before I felt droplets of rain, and had to wake Mark up so we could get back on our way and stay a step ahead of the real storm.
We had discovered the day prior, when walking a bit into the woods, that the forest floor was covered in a spongy, springy layer made up of moss, pine needles, leaves, and twigs. Out here, it was just the same, except that the trees were packed so close together that moving through the trees was not practical without a machette. For the most part, twenty to fifty feet on either side of the highway was cleared of all trees, but there was a distinct tree line where the forest is cut to, held at bay from overtaking the road creating a seemingly solid wall of tangled branches and bristles. If we needed to move into the forest to answer nature’s call, we needed only move a few feet into the tree line to be completely concealed from the highway. Of course, moving at all past the tree line was slow and difficult because of the strainer effect of the tight-packed trees. I felt like an ant trying to crawl through an air filter.
Similarly, I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which we would have much luck of making it down to Vancouver in time to meet up with our dad if we continued to have headwinds like we were having that day. I figured if we could only last until Tok where we start to head South, then we would finally have the wind to our backs.
We descended a gentle slope, and noticed that in the bramble on the sides of the roads that there were bunnies galore. We saw bunny after bunny after bunny dashing into the thickets. We started to make jokes about not having to worry about running out of food. Just have to keep on laughing…
We took a break at a rest stop near a crystal clear river. I don’t remember for sure, but this may be where we filtered some drinking water. We had been slowed down enough that we knew we wouldn’t make it to the town of Slana as originally planned. The next target was Chistochina, which was only several miles away.
We rode through town on a little paved path that led just alongside the highway scoping out areas that we thought we could stay. The idea of a bear wandering into our camp still had us spooked, so we didn’t want to camp too far away from help. We considered setting up a tent on the school playground which was surrounded by a fence, but thought we might end up in trouble the next morning, so we kept on riding. We found a campground, but it was either not functioning any more, or simply was not ready for the tourist season that would begin the next month. It was a mess, so we decided to pass it by.
We found a little general store that had a picknick table set up on some grass in front, and stopped to grab some supplies and also ask if we could set up our tent there. The lady inside was just getting ready to close, but she let us grab what food we needed. We asked if there were any campgrounds aside from the closed one we had already passed, and she said that there wasn’t anything. We could pay for showers there at the general store if we wanted, but we couldn’t camp there. As coincidence would have it, her mom runs the Chistochina B&B, and so we asked her to see if she could pull some strings for us. We told her that we would only need to set up our tent in the yard, and her mom ended up letting us stay for $20.
Our sense of security was worth at least that much, but the people at the B&B were really great and let us each take a shower, and invited us to watch TV with them. We had our showers, but were too tired to even watch TV. I prepared a basic little dinner for us, and then we hit the sack. It was still so bright out that Mark had to use a blindfold to fall asleep. I was so tired that I didn’t even have to bother.
I thought about the fact that we had been lugging around these ukuleles, but never had time to play them. That was a bit dissapointing to me. The whole day had been rough. It was one of those days where it was easy to think, “WHAT WERE WE THINKING!?” as it was more endurance than enjoyment. I had just enough time to dread the idea of a trip filled with headwinds before settling myself down and thinking, “Nah, it will be fine. Everything will work out…” before I drifted off to sleep.
52.6 Miles in 9.5 hours