Monday, September 14, 2009

Admiralty Island 5% Chance to Live

This is my buddy Nick and I in an outhouse moments after a NEAR DEATH kayaking experience.

On the return trip from Admiralty Island (home to the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the world) we suddenly started getting hammered by 6 ft swells in Stevens Passage after some near roll's we made it to shore and could easily portage our way to the seemingly much safer Gastineau Channel.

After a bite to eat and some rest we jumped in our kayaks for the last 4 miles of our 15 mile journey home. Then about one mile into Gastineau. SPLASH! Nick is in the water!!! A 4 ft wave had rolled him and he was in 48 degree water! I immediately start turning around and with the first pass I had to make a tough decision, grab his paddle which was floating away or grab Nicks favorite Bass Pro Shop hat also floating away. I grabbed the paddle however I still get crap about not saving the hat to. By the second pass I reach him and try to stabilize him. After many failed attempts to get in the kayak and pump enough water out to float over the still 3 to 4ft waves, I grab the pump and managed to get 3/4 of the water out. At this point Nick was in the water for about 10 minutes starting to go into Hypothermia and still needed to kayak 50 yards to shore with out rolling again.

We managed to come ashore near some summer cabins (that you can only access by boat) and of course they where all locked. We found shelter from the rain in an Outhouse where Nick fogged by Hypothermia needed some convincing that it was a good idea to change out of his wet wool clothes and into dry ones. Then I fired up the Jetboil and we sat and sipped hot water for the next few hours thinking about how dumb we where and how we almost died. I'm not going to lie, there may have been a few "I love you man's". After some time had passed and the waters calmed down Nick unfazed by the experience jumped right back in the kayak and paddled the three miles back to Juneau. I've never seen anyone paddle so fast in my life.

Come to find out there was a small craft advisory out that day, that of course we didn't know about. And the next day we heard that a 28ft boat sank and one person died of hypothermia in the hospital. Its amazing the kind of perspective a life or death situation brings to your life. Like how the small things just don't matter.

Remember to keep your loved ones close, and do what makes you happy not what makes you rich.