In a little more than a month - it hardly seems possible how fast the time is going - we'll be starting our trip down the roadless Olympic coast. Foremost among the purposes of the expedition is the search for tsunami debris and the surveying of remote beaches that are difficult, if not impossible, to access any other way. In addition, we'll be doing some data collection on floating plastic particles by pulling a trawl net behind our boats. It's all very scientific and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't very cool. I am enjoying the preparation and I am getting a charge out of the learning that's happening for me personally, and the chance that I'll have to extend that knowledge to others later on.
But the trip will also happen on another level, and as the departure date moves closer, I can't help but think of the actual locations we'll be paddling in. The caves of Cape Flattery will come first, during the initial leg of the journey. Soaring chambers of water in motion, a mix of other-worldly light and noises, as well as tight passages in the rock, quiet as midnight, where the sun has never shone.
After that comes the broad reach of Shi Shi Beach, where the hippies once lived in driftwood shacks on the edge of the dawning age. Where, centuries before them, the native Americans gathered shellfish and whales, lived in longhouses and wore cedar bark. The thumping drumbeat of the waves on the sand echoes in my head even now, as I write this. I can picture the campsite already, tucked up into the trees above the tide, above the tangle of driftwood.
South of that, well, I see stacks. Father and Son, Jagged Island, and scores of others with no names yet. I see the arches and the blow holes, the caves and the sheer faces. I can hear the oystercatchers and the eagles, the rush of the wind across the stone.
The Ikkatsu Expedition will be a chance to increase scientific knowledge, and I am looking forward to that. But it will also be so much more, and I can't wait for it all to come true.