Thursday, January 31, 2008


Still in Sayward, waiting for my ride. I've gone through all my gear, dried the wet stuff, repacked what needed to be put away. A lot of busy work mostly, filling time.

The story with my shoulder is that I have what appears to be a tear in my left rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a collection of four different ligaments that comprise the shoulder and although it's a very versatile connection, that versatility is its weak point. I've torn it before, and the repetitive motion and stress that kayaking places on this part of the body leaves very little room for weakness.

I have been aware of the shoulder since the trip started. The longer days usually had me in pain for the last few miles, even on flat water and in good conditions. Once I left Sayward, and encountered the toughest paddling conditions of the trip so far, I realized that there was no way I could continue. My bracing strokes on the left side were weak and ineffectual, and each attempt at a brace was accompanied by searing pain that seemed to stretch from my neck through my arm and into my rib cage. The bracing strokes were enough to get me through the windy tide race where I found myself paddling and I made it to shore ok, but it was with the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to do it again very soon. That night, lying awake on my right side, I reluctantly made up my mind to quit.

It was a hard decision. It's hard to quit something like this, hard to see the planning and the training that have gone into it be rendered uneccesary. For a while, I am sure, it will be difficult to look back on this trip with any feeling other than an empty, wistful sense of loss. But time, as they say, wounds all heels... I will survive just fine.

And so will this island. The idea of kayaking around Vancouver Island in the harsh weather of the cold season is still out there and someday, someone will be the first to do it. It's just that, this year, it won't be me.