The 2nd half of the day I took more leisurely, falling behind J & J an hour or so. Once we reached the lake-like pool above the lock, the current was still, and I was distracted, taking photos of the moon, the pelicans, and the lovely sky as the sun started to set. I realized I wasn't going to make the lock before sundown and opted to camp on the the nearest island, however uncomfortable it might be. I bee-lined over to the nearest island, a pile of rocks, and was delighted to see so many white egrets and pelicans roosting in the trees. I circumnavigated the island, looking for a decent spot to pitch my tent for the night, but it was all rock except for one very steep, very tamped down area on the north end of the island, which was covered in guano and ghastly huge dead pelican corpses everywhere. It smelled so bad. The sun had already set, and I had gotten a text from Julie that they had locked through, set up camp, but that there was a large barge locking through northbound that would mean I'd have to wait a few hours before I could lock through. In addition, a small barge passed me going southbound. I was in a pickle. Stay on this horrendous rocky, bird-poop-filled island and risk some sort of upper respiratory disease from the stench and airborn dust of the dead pelicans and guano? Or paddle at night like I said I never wanted to do, face waiting for a lock for several hours to meet up with Jake and Julie? I figured it was probably safer for me (on this flat, moonlit night) to paddle in the dark, and wait out the barge.
Paddling at night was peaceful and tranquil (except for my nervousness at doing it without proper running lights). I had a headlamp, and I made sure to stay just outside the channel until I reached the lock to try and stay out of the way of any traffic. There was no traffic except the southbound barge in front of me, so that was lucky. When it neared the lock, it anchored for the night, and was no longer a navigation threat. I was much further from the lock than I realized, so by the time I reached the lock, I only had to wait 30-40 minutes for the northbound barge to lock through. There were so many moths under the lamppost that it looked like it was snowing. The lockmaster had a lovely handlebar mustache and joked that I should hitch a ride from my faster friends next time. As soon as I got through, I saw the lovely warm orange glow of a campfire that Jake had built, and dove for it. I arrived to camp around 10pm, tired, cold, a little wet, and hungry. Julie boiled some water for ramen on the campfire for me, I was able to dry and warm myself by the fire, and I was never so happy to have my river family friends there to greet me as I came in. The site was sandy but flat, and spacious. They had seen a beaver earlier, and there were raccoon prints all over the place, so we were extra careful to put away our food.