we launched on Friday the 13th, and we’re cursed.
How many people does it take to get out a splinter? The answer— six, at least, and it’s still in there. Consider it an active riddle.
After our first “real” paddling day (mileage and conditions covered) we landed on lovely Lopez Island at our first campsite with running water, bathrooms, electricity, and a town within walking distance (six miles). Wind bound yesterday, Ebba and I walked into town, got cappuccinos, restocked a few small items, then walked back to find Andy hunched over his foot with a pair of tweezers.
While we were drinking lattes and eating bagels with cream cheese, he had steeped on a twig and solidly lodged a teeny tiny splinter way up in the ball of his foot and was limping around camp. Both me (cursory Wilderness first aid training) and Ebba (EMT) tried to get it out, but with no luck.
With the narrow tidal window we were working with the next day, the increased possibility for infection, and the fact that Andy couldn’t really walk, we opted to stay an additional day on Lopez— a second unplanned layover that none of us was particularly happy about.
The next morning, I promptly spilled freshly boiled coffee on my ankle giving myself a healthy second degree burn, blistering and all, and we decided no more ignoring omens— be it dead fish in the water or a Friday the 13th launch date— and called for a ride into town to get some help with Andy’s condition and to peruse the local apothecary shop for some positive talismans.
Ebba will be trying ocean magic. I got lip balm.
It took three EMTs/volunteers plus Andy, me, and Ebba to take a good old poke at the splinter, now accompanied by a splinter hole, to deduce that the splinter was indeed deep in the footbed, and was not coming out without local anesthetic and a scalpel, or a healthy does of patience and Epsom salts. We opted for the cheaper option.
After we widened the foot hole, we walked on our damaged feet to the pharmacy in search of Epsom salts, iodine, more burn cream, second skin, and wart cream (no one can escape the Friday the 13th curse of the foot).
After restocking our Med kits and procuring some curse-breaking items (bay leaves??? Idk ask Ebba), we taxied back to the place we were camping.
(Huge thanks to Della with Lopez Island Taxi for being available and beyond helpful.)
So we’re about a week out, and so far we’ve had a delay for boat repairs, a torn drysuit gasket, all of my gear getting drenched due to being a dumbass, one extremely gnarly splinter in the most inconvenient of places, an incredibly unlucky burn, blisters, warts, beautiful sunsets, seals, starfish, and luck so bad you can’t help but belly laugh over a bowl of ramen under the tarp at dinner playing the “at least” game—
At least it’s not raining right now.
At least the weather tomorrow looks good.
At least we don’t have to hike in for water.
Hey, at least we’re here. Life could be worse.
All in all, this first week is about getting into the rhythms of paddling again, feeling out our group dynamic, and finding out what works and what doesn’t. It’s been a slow week, but that’s pretty unsurprising. We’ve got the whole summer to find our pace, and I think in the end we’ll be grateful we took this time in the beginning to calibrate.
If you’re feeling generous and want to contribute to our in-town coffee money (first aid kit restocks), smash that button below to become a paying subscriber! In addition to my unending gratitude, you’ll also get access to a backlog of exclusive essays & a download of my book!
View out a historical cabin window
Sunset in Lopez Sound
Tides are the wildest and I’m reading more about them
Blue hour looking toward Orcas Island