I don’t quite know what to write or how to write it. If you could see my face it would say it all at once. A massive ear to ear Outen grin and shining eyes, emotional with tears just sliding out from time to time.
The final 48 hours to land was huge and exhausting and very challenging. I didn’t sleep for 30 hours but just emptied the tank. Again and again. I didn’t see land until I was less than a mile off – through thick white fog. There was a point at around 6.30 in the morning where I wondered if we could make the final 4 miles in. My muscles had nothing left and the current was taking us away from the original landing waypoint. I sat in my cabin and cried and wondered what to do. With incoming rough weather I couldn’t carry on indefinitely. So close after so long… I drifted for an hour while I made hot food and warmed up and as the dark white turned to white white with day, we got back out there and pushed on to a different target down the coast. Into the now headwinds and into the fog, going only by GPS. Rowing into the bay in the fog and rain and wind now whipping across us, escort boat alongside was exhilarating. Relief. Emotion. Grins. People. Golly. We then fixed up a tow and ‘the boys’ towed us to the other side of the island, to Adak Port. Tony suggested I stay onboard – at first I thought that was a bit off telling me to stay alone – and then I saw why. Inside I could ring home, get dry and warm up and snuggle down for a snooze.
Then we were there.
Looking out I was rather overwhelmed. The mountains reminded me of Wales and Scotland. I felt at home. At peace. Happy Socks and Chimpy – stand down my friends, we’re here. And we rowed the final bit to a little jetty, waved in by some locals and hugged and hello’d. Such a warm and gentle re entry to land. Thank you Adak. Thank you team.
I am sitting in my pyjamas on perhaps the most delicious bed in the world (which is warm and dry and doesn’t move), wrapped in duvet, looking out to the mountains and across some buildings. There is a rooster saying hello to the world and a changing parade of moody clouds. Tony and James are pottering about with breakfast things downstairs amid banter and chat.
It is all rather surreal and has been for the last 48 hours. But wonderful too. Our welcome to Adak was so special. Surrounded by lush green mountains, to row those last strokes into a little port with some of the local community there to wave us in was very emotional. I sat in Happy Socks just out of the harbor for some minutes crying and laughing and not quite believing it all. That mix of tears and giggles and a flash show of memories has been happening for a few weeks as we get used to the idea of the end of this chapter.
All is going well with the re-entry process. I feel calm and happy and very well looked after by my team and very well supported and welcomed by the local community. Very relievd to report that the clinic gave me the all clear with the sugar test – Doc Caroline had been rather worried about this lately. Happy Socks comes out of the water today for a good clean and sort and Chimpy is now safely ashore too, resting up and chattering away about everything happily. The island is beautiful. Absolutely stunning. We went out to watch sea otters playing in the bay yesterday, and saw bald eagles messing about in the (very strong) winds. Seals watched us as we stood on the sand-blasted beach and all the while the mountains and sea and space just made me feel so deeply happy. There was a big storm yesterday so it just enforced how lucky we were to have that weather window stay open just long enough for me to get in – or I would still be waiting 100 miles offshore.
I am going to visit the school (of 27 pupils) on Thursday and give a community talk at the weekend before flying out on Sunday. Lucy booked her flights yesterday so T-1 week and we will be together again. Meanwhile, we will sort Happy Socks and some plans for next year’s return with the kayaks (which, by the way is going to be epic and beautiful).
Physically I am exahausted but calmed, although still wired at night so haven’t slept more than a few hours these last two nights. I am sore and walking is a bit wobbly at times and ears are aching from the balance thing , but know that things are settling. It is so reassuring to be well supported by my team and folks at home, and here on the island too. It has also been wonderful to read some of the messages of support – I will catch up with them once I have caught up with myself – and to see the charity donations rising.
Emotionally and psychologically I am relieved to be ashore safely and so happy to be in Alaska. A few people have asked if I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to Canada as originally intended. I just grin. Not a bit of it. Adventures are all about the journey and being open to what’s happening. To me it feels even better than the original plan. Alaska…. Next year’s onward journey will be fantastic and I am looking forwards to coming back to this wonderful place and learning more of its interesting past and present.
Thank you everyone for whatever part you have played in this chapter of L2L – supporting messages, charity donations, sponsor, local fixer etc…family, friends and team.