By Land, By Sea
Avoid the urge to run away. If the wolf approaches you and fails to show sign of fear, make yourself as big as possible, be aggressive, make eye contact, show the animal you are dangerous. This is where I drop you off, you’ll want to enter the woods at the tree line and follow the path through the forest to the beach on the other side of the island. Have fun!”
I can safely say, that is the first time I have started a morning surf out with that advice, but I’ve got ahead of myself, let me paint a picture on how we ended up receiving that sunrise exhortation…
This story takes place in northern territory. A land where ancient rain forest meets sprawling sounds, teaming with life. A land where float planes and helicopters are about as common place as a city bus is, in a concrete jungle.
Getting to this tranquil peninsula was a bit of a journey, probably the reason for its general feel of seclusion. There were a few diesel-powered ferry’s, hours of winding roads traveled, that were reminiscent of something out of a Jack London novel and of course a plane ride that felt like we were getting flying lessons, considering our close proximity to the pilot and his control board. But, to quote Andre Gide, “Man cannot discover new oceans, unless he has the courage to lose sight of shore.” Sometimes the places hardest to get to, are the best places to be. That sure was the case with our little expedition. By land or sea, we were going to get to our destination.
We arrived in this little island nestled in the Pacific Northwest, just before its native bear went to rest for the creatures five-month nap. Right at the turn of the season… Something that could be felt in the air, both in literal temperature and the general overtone permeating the sleepy town we took camp in. Though chilly in temperature and a bit secluded, the people we met were warmer than a tropical island breeze. Smiles and tall tales of past adventure were shared by the locals we met at the town’s coffee shop. That evening, our crew stocked up with supplies at a nearby outfitter and shortly after filled our bellies with some local fare and libation.
The next morning, with the rise of dawn knocking on our cabin’s window (or was that the rum from the night before), we rose and started for the dock to meet our captain. Remnants of trash and food scraps from the resident black bear’s visit through our camp, loomed at our feet. An equally fear inspiring and comical site. As we sheepishly ducked around the corner, we saw our noble vessel awaiting us at the end of the dock. We loaded our boards and supplies, as the Captain greeted us with one arm clenching crab traps and the other gripping fishing poles. “If Lady Luck and an incoming tide on are side, we should be bringing back dinner”, he said. What a greeting!
We pulled out of the dock as the sun started to creep its way over the tree rich hills. The boat made its way out of the sound and into the open sea, after dropping off strategically placed crab traps. As we rounded the mouth of the fjord like passage, we passed a raft of sea otters, on the starboard side of our vessel. Only moments later, we saw a pod of humpbacks making their way out to the Pacific. We had yet to even get in the water and yet we were already in awe of our surroundings.
A couple clicks away, we pulled into a half moon shaped bay, protected from the seas sway and attempted to disembark our camera crew to an outcrop of protruding dry rocks. After a less then dry exit from our cameramen, our Captain pointed out our entry point, to the rest of us dry onboard. Clad in rubber and ready to take to the sea and paddle to our intended destination. “Looks like there should be some surf for you around the corner. “he bellowed, “Ill anchor in front of the beach and meet you in the water. Your best-off hiking through the forest here and staying with your two cameramen…Just watch out for the wolves. They're less likely to pay you a visit, if you all are together… See you in a few!” And the boat pulled away and off we were to Wolf Island.
Where wolves lacked, foliage did not. This place was a rain forest! You could almost instantly feel the change in temperature as we stepped foot into the canopy. The cool air hit us redolent of the change in temperature one feels when exiting the hot street of the Vegas strip, into the gust of air conditioning pumped out by Sin City’s casinos. But this was far more beautiful than anything Nevada’s oasis had to offer. We followed wolf tracks through the lush forest until we were met by sand. In front of us lie a pristine untouched beach littered with peaks, dancing down the island’s protected row of coastline.
We collected hours of waves to ourselves. With only an audience of wolves lurking in the woods behind us. With grins cramping our faces, we met up with the Captain back at our boat. Before embarking on our journey home, he thought it advantageous of us to take to a reef about 5 minutes out to sea from where we surfed. There we would drop a line or two and try to bring home dinner. And that, is just what we did! A line would enter the water and a fish would come up. It was like that for every cast of the morning. We had what we needed, so we set course for home, with a quick stop to check our crab traps. We hauled in all our traps and were greeted with a full pots, of the areas delicious, bottom dwelling, shellfish!
There are days that you will remember far past the bloom of your youth and into your golden years…This was one of those days… Hell this was one of those trips.