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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Kennewick-Man Expedition, DAY 28


I woke up at 1 a.m. and prepared for departure. At 4:40 a.m. before dawn I paddled the kayak into the darkness in the Columbia River relying on only a narrow light of a headlamp.



The night sky tinged with a glimmer of light, and told that the dawn was on its way. It was cold. Although I wore a fleece inside a jacket, cold wind above water pierced me and froze me to my bones. Because to land the kayak on shore briefly for taking a cloth out from the kayak were difficult, I wrapped a jib-sail around my body and patiently waited until the sun rose and sunlight warmed up my body.



Crow Butte Park, which is located on the north side of a large island around 3 miles in length, was a destination for camp. I took a course along a branch to the park. However, to my surprise, what I believed a bridge on a map, actually, was a causeway constructed by laying earth into the river, which blocked a stream of the river completely. Therefore I had to backtrack and wasted two and half hours. To approach the park along another branch on the other side of the island was only one way.

When I came back to the main stream, it became windless. In combination, 5 p.m. of strong afternoon sun whose position was still high, and reflected light from water surface, roasted my body. The air clung to the skin, and did not draw heat from the body. It was unbearably hot. Already I spent twelve hours upon the water from departure. I started feeling sick with a dim consciousness caused by a heat accumulated in the body. As I traveled down on and on the river, I could not find a landing point. And, even if I had been able to land on some shore, a dry land would not have had a shade of a tree for a shelter from strong sunshine.

After I traveled down the mainstream for one hour as I endured the heat somehow, I reached a fork in the river connecting to a branch to destination, Crow Butte Park. But, in this hot weather and in this my physical condition, I felt that more paddling on still water for one and half hour might be dangerous. I spread a map. I decided that it might be better that I would take a course to Quesnel Park laid 6 miles downstream of here, and would endure the heat calmly on the kayak for more three hours while I was just swept downstream without paddling. As the sunlight did not grow weak, I got worried that I was going to be collapse on the kayak.



I finally reached Quesnel Park at 8:20 p.m. when the sun began to set. “Oh . . . I’m still alive!” I felt a surge of pleasure in setting foot on soil alive again. I watched that the sun rose and then the sun set on the rocking kayak upon the river for fifteen hours and forty minutes for 38 miles.