There were, sadly, no orca whales on this year's trip, but it was still memorable and awesome in its own way. We got ambitious this year (or rather, Porter did, since he is our kayak party-planner), and decided to kayak through the san juans. We left from Anacortes and paddled something ridiculous like 17 miles to Clark Island. It was tortuous and horrible, with moments of absolute awesome that made up for everything else. We kayaked through thick soupy fog, paddled against the tide, and made it through the large and choppy channels of the Sound (with half of our group spray-skirt-less, no less).
I spent the entire trip eating dust, figuratively speaking. Most of the group paddled forward with seaming effortlessness while I fought against my screaming deltoids to just keep my arms moving. I try to blame it on the lesser quality of my boat vs the pretty kevlar boats of my friends. But truth be told, its probably just a difference in strength and/or fitness. Fighting the tide and your own body's weariness is super hard. Add on the emotional component of watching the boats in front get so far ahead that you actually can not see them anymore, and it is easy to feel melodramatic emotions like despair. Thank goodness for the friends that took turns waiting behind with me, who helped kept the melodrama (mostly) at bay. Eventually... we all made it safe and sound.
There is a special power in doing hard things that doesn't come from anything else. You hate it in the moment, but feel infinitely empowered when you succeed. Here's to next year's trip - I'm crossing my fingers for the Broken Group off of Vancouver Island. And thinking I need to join a gym so maybe I can keep up with the group next year.