It is just eight weeks until Justine and I fly to Alaska ready for the start of the Aleutians kayaking leg. Gulp. It’s an excited gulp mind you, and one that comes with a huge grin at the moment and a satisfied sigh, too. For it is only in these last couple of weeks that I have finally felt confident that I shall be healthy enough to shred some serious daily mileages in a kayak for a few months in the challenging conditions of the Bering Sea. The pneumonia back in October and allergic efforts by my body to thwart plans challenged me right through the autumn and winter. I now feel back on track physically and more like a Tigger than I have for months. The allergies are still there but they are manageable and my immune system finally seems to be doing useful things which is pleasing.
Across the pond
My recent two-week trip to the US and Canada was a great test of stamina and my immune system’s ability to cope with travel and hoards of people. It was also a great chance to connect up with sponsors and friends, meet interesting people, finally meet Canada and also get in some useful kayak training in one of my now favourite places in the world – the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Having never been especially happy about being upside down in boats or in surf since crash-landing onto the reef in Mauritius at the end of my Indian Ocean row in 2009, a thrashing in the waves in my kayak back in January really knocked my confidence. It was starting to wind Chimpy up into a bit of a frenzy about the challenge of the Aleutians and all the potential surf landings ahead. Before heading out I was a bit daunted by Tofino and the reputation of the Pacific rollers roaring in across the bay. When we arrived on that rugged forested coast and saw and heard and felt the waves I was daunted some more. It was impressive to look at and I knew it was fun to slide along waves onto the beach and pick my way in and out of the surf; I just had to get Chimpy in on it.
I’m happy to report that after a tentative first couple of days Chimpy and I loved it, especially after getting our hands on the sit-on-top kayak. Having nailed lots of useful hours in the waves, improving skills, pushing boundaries and letting Chimpy see that all is OK, I am really looking forwards to the Aleutians and happy to have made good progress in the surf. That’s a relief all round, for I find there’s nothing like a chattering Chimpy to hold you back from performing well in challenging situations.
Time together on the west coast also provided Justine and I with a chance to chat about plans for the journey ahead, make lists and more lists of kit still left to order and the logistics of food resupplies. Since coming home I have picked this up and also started to look at onwards phases of biking and rowing too, which feels a bit surreal and mind-bogling at times. Pulling off a big expedition like L2L with all these linked phases makes for a huge mission across the board – logistically, financially, emotionally, physically. For a while lately it had all felt a bit much and I questioned whether it was all worth it. A run on the beach and some time sitting watching the waves and letting them become me, helped me find peace and remind me that the challenges of late and the painful thought of leaving my fiancee Lucy again are just hurdles to find a way round, not reasons to call it a day.
I just want to end this post by giving a big Yeeeha and Hooray to everyone who is helping make it all happen. Family, friends at home and abroad, my team, my sponsors and everyone who supports through this blog. You rock and I cannot wait to share this next chapter with you. T-2 months until we fly. Tick tock, tick tock…
Until next time,
Sarah & Chimpy of the Surf x
P.S For those of you bemused as to who Chimpy is – check out my blog from the Pacific in 2013
P.P.S Thursday March 27th, Stamford Arts Centre – Join me for my talk *Pacific 2.0* Tickets here.
P.P.S I look forward to introducing you soon to the new 3-piece Rockpool kayak who will be my boat for the Aleutians. She is nearly ready and very sparkly.