Ned and I dropped a canoe in the Skagit at four o’clock this afternoon, meandering 25 miles from Rockport, past Concrete’s steel bridge where the channel squeezes into gurgling whirlpools, then beyond the layered cliffs of glacial till where the stream doubles back for a grand view of Sauk Mountain to the east, its high meadows fading now in late August, not tawny yet but getting there. Several miles later, we passed the old ferry crossing at Birdsview and pulled ashore on this gravel bar, its ribbon of beach woven with polished rocks and piles of timber.
The dew is falling thick and fast, making it difficult to scribble on this page. Rising through the cottonwoods, a full moon casts the stone and sand around this camp in a shadow-carving glow. We settle into our sleeping bags on plastic tarps, curling their edges to protect our gear from the gathering mist. It’s no use: we know we’ll wake up soaked.
“It’ll be sunny tomorrow,” Ned says, his last words for the night as he cinches the bag’s hood around his head, the scrape of nylon giving way to river sounds, to rolling waves and eddies curling against the shoreline.
We’re on our way to Skagit Bay, or so we tell ourselves. Come morning, we’ll rise early and shake off the chill like French-Canadian voyageurs, taking breakfast after an hour or two in the canoe. Our plan came together only yesterday as fine weather and mutual days off aligned for the first time this summer. Yet we’re thriving on the spontaneity of this trip, the uncertainty that we’ll reach our hoped-for destination. It’s the adventure of boys.
All told, we’ll cover some 70 miles from my house in Rockport to the Skagit delta on Puget Sound. If the wind and tides will let us, we’ll hit saltwater by early evening tomorrow. Thanks to her cell phone, a friend says she’ll meet us wherever we end up.
But Ned and I agree — without even mentioning it — we want nothing short of the sea. Like salmon. Like the glaciers at our backs.