Wind Walking

By , March 8, 2010

Saturday, we hiked out to go to town. Aly had a library meeting, we had a dinner date with friends, and in between, a whole lot of laundry to do.

We’ve been very lucky this year. Our bay crossings haven’t been as windy as they usually are at this season. Normally, because of the bay’s high sides and low passage over to the Chilkat River, bay winds tend to be stronger than those we experience on the edge of Lynn Canal. We’re often confronted with more wind on the crossing than we’d expected. This year, more often than not, we’ll gear up for the wind we’ve got on the canal only to find (to our relief) that the bay is calm.

Saturday was not one of those days. Mud Bay was getting every bit as much of the windstorm we had on the canal side, if not more. The forecast said it was 50 knots (over 57.5 mph). We didn’t stop to measure the actual wind on the bay.

We cross roughly east-west, and wind funnels through south or north, so if it’s windy, we get it coming and going. Sometimes one crossing will put us slightly more back-to-wind than the other, but mostly it’s just a question of which side of our face is going to get blasted with cold air and rain.

Each of us carried a pack overstuffed with laundry. Fairly light, yet bulky, they catch the wind well, yanking us around as we try to keep our footing on the rocky parts of the beach. We had to secure all strap ends so that none of them whipped us in the eye.

As we crossed, I’d stumble every now and then. I couldn’t figure out why that happened, until I realized that Michelle walked on my windward side. Each time she drew abreast of me she blocked the wind for a second. Leaning into it to resist the pressure, every time she shielded me I overbalanced momentarily. Once I figured this out, I moved to Aly and Michelle’s windward side. That gave them a better crossing, and mine, if colder, at least stayed consistent.

That evening, sitting snug and well fed in our friends’ home, we dreaded the night crossing home. They invited us to spend the night, and we almost accepted before finally deciding to go. Lucky for us, the wind had eased, and the rain and snow had stopped. Always, but especially on days like this, Dorothy said it best: “there’s no place like home!”

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