Loc: Geographic Harbor
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 35 km
Start: 07:20 End: 16:15
I had just sent last night’s update away, when Catriona said she has heard voices…and me too…here, in the middle of nowhere? Yes, voices…coming from a small catamaran with an inflatable kayak at it’s side, loaded heavily with gear and three men. We stuck our heads out of the tent, waved and shouted “Hello!”! The guys first landed on the other side of the river where the sand is very soft, jumped off and investigated the area, but with explanations over the rushing river, they understood our side is the better place to land and camp with firm sand and nice company!
They motored around the river mouth, and landed their inflatable small catamaran on our shallow white beach area. And it turns out – like in all sections of the world – that those guys you meet in the middle of the bush are most likely Germans…Mike and his crew were already two weeks on the way, but with no clear mission like us. Just enjoying Alaska and the bears! They were planning to stay in the harbor for two or three days, but we would be off again tomorrow morning, very sorry! We checked mutually our gear and plans, some new stuff to learn on both ends, and Catriona could charge her camera. Some more nice talking, and thanks for the offer of booze and smoke, but we prefer to rather go to bed early…we have to paddle tomorrow, and it was already close to midnight now.
Next morning, Mike waved us off, thanks for the bear watch, guys! We felt safe…
Today’s headwind was barely existing, the sea was back to millpond, and we could eventually enjoy paddling harder again with our bodies having recovered from the crossing. We hugged mostly the coast, stuck our head and kayak into a narrow deep cave with bright red lichens almost allover the cave walls and nesting birds inside who were close to shitting on me going inside first.
On top of a grassy cliff, it was again Catriona who spotted our second bear of the trip! And around the corner, another furry pile began to move once we called him, and to emerge into two smaller bears. It looked like the first one was the sow, and the other two her tow cubs. They were safe on top of the cliffs…or rather we were safe down here with our kayaks…
A very old rusty shipwreck was decorating one nice sandy beach, including bear prints as usual all over. I landed for better pictures, Catriona preferred to stay offshore and to use her binoculars for exploring…
Across the big Dakavak bay, we spotted a large white spot, first thinking it would be a boat, then it turned out to be a massive water fall! I found my way into the reef of the out flow, and climbed out to investigate the fall. Catriona refused first to get out for exploring, too much effort, but I could convince her, which proved to be well worth…it had a wide shallow sandy area upfront, with some steps with smaller falls running down. We could hide behind the main falls going over an overhang, nice game! Sure I needed my regular waterfall headstand picture…
Our beach for today was wide with a mix of sand and gravel, including many, many bear tracks and fresh poops. After a long decision making process, we decided not to go on the very bouldery gravel where we could easy hear the bears approaching, but we camped on sand close to the high tide mark to give he many ear trails some space.
It was lightly raining, I would have easily boiled the water from the vestibule, but Catriona insisted to sit in the rain away from the tent. So sorry I lost may brand new tipi cooking tent on the ferry to or later on Vancouver Island!
Catriona ….. yes this evening proved our only opposing opinions so far… most important anyway. We landed our kayaks and as Freya quickly unloads her kayak, I decided to explore the beach for tracks etc and sure enough lots of fresh large and small bear prints all going from one corner of the beach to the other in a line. All going only one way… are they due to return soon???? Or just have another return path in the grass above. We do know bears tend to use the same tracks and follow the same path most days. These track were certainly fresh, as was the bear poop!! I felt quite unsure about putting the tent right beside the trail…. but after much looking, the best flattish surface was in fact about 3 ft from the bear prints. We agreed our spot….. Then came the cooking, with the light drizzle. Freya was keen to get changed as quick as possible and settle in tent for the evening, but I was insisting on cooking outdoors and a good distance downwind from tent, this would mean Freya staying in her dry suit until after we ate.
Freya was happy to cook beef flavored noodles sitting in the tent vestibule with the stove outside in reach, and the wind to blow any odors away, may well be safe enough but that does go against all the guidelines about bear safety. She is so confident the bears really aint at all interested and even if they came they would just be scared of by us and with noise bear spray and bear bangers. While I am not expecting bears to attack spontaneously, I just know the advise given by all the professionals, and this time I did insist.. I wish I had a tenth of Freya’s confidence and surety. I am not near as travelled as Freya nor as worldly wise or wilderness wise and I follow her lead in so much….but I can be somewhat careful and just take the extra precaution…or two…lol…for Freya, I did take too many precautions…lol. So all was good. We cooked and ate dinner away from tent, and quickly settled down for the evening… only to hear more voices. This time from and fishing boat which decided to anchor about 10 meters off shore with loud music. Naturally this was not what we wanted for this evening! We want the wilderness where no one shows up…lol…personally I thought the music was good to keep the bears away, but they soon moved off aagin.
This morning was nice being seen off by German Mike. It was nice for Freya to mix and socialise with some home speaking natives. They laughed and expained the jokes then in english for me lol mike allowed me to charge phone and camers on his battery pack and in return I gave them three fresh big apples…. I was more than happy to share …the weight with them…lol…Freya let me know.later…I can’t believe you gave away our “one apple a day keeps the doctor away” lol But I always feed friendly passers-by fresh fruit..as she well knows.. from herself…from me attending her paddling around Ireland… lol but all again good. It was another good laugh!
We barely left the beach when we spotted our first wildlife of the day, porpoises hanging about the entrance to the archipelago. Then otters, in fact, we seen about 50 beautiful otters. I just love the way they hug each other while sleeping on their back in the water. They are just the cutest. Next lots of eagles, puffins and oyster catchers, some seals and yes, the bears. Beautiful, especially the cubs, maybe only one season old. Thankfully they were enough away from us. We cruised another beautiful day, perfect weather no winds at all, we could easily have done more miles again today, but landing also sounded good. I was ready to eat also.
I have to say I am really enjoying the new Lendly Paddle, thanks to Cathy at Lendal and Jamie Sharp. I have been using the Lendal Candice, really is a beautiful paddle to use I will give a full review of it when I am back in coverage but for now, I can only say good about it… afterall I managed to halfway keep up with Freya using it. That in itself says alot for the paddle. Today I also tried freyas wing paddle. A beautiful paddle it is too. Many have told me I just try some wings, David Horkan especially. and I agree, it really was easy to adjust to it as my paddle style does seem to suit it. I did notice a slightly different muscle group in use and realise quickly my shoulders got a bit sore when used it at first. I then had to improve my rotation and core usage to ensure I used less shoulders. Great learning. I will be trying her wings more. Just maybe for short periods initially. Also I do love the lendal Candice and I have yet to try the lovely 4 piece they gave me. Maybe that can be tomorrow.
The waterfall that Freya mentioned was amazing. She is spot on, I was being lazy and opting to stay in boat while she explored….. but she wasn’t having it… she went on and on, directed me in more than once and despite my refusal, no interest, determined *NO*…. she tied our boats together and I eventually gave in, she’s a lot more stubborn than me, and I think used to getting her way…. at first I found myself getting irritated, but boy was she right. It was super special. We had great fun up and around and under the waterfall. We got behind it and it was basically a waterfall curtain. She did her traditional waterfall headstand below, and I was super glad she insisted. A great evening. She can be right a lot of the time…and hopefully, also about the bears..lol
Again lots more hits and tips. Some that popped up this morning was how she leaves a full clothing dry bag at the tent door, so she can sit on and it makes it easier to get to standing position, another when putting on her dry suit, having a full dry bag so she can lye back on it while pulling up her bottoms or dry suit when inside tent. All age friendly tips…
Two other terrific gear bits are her bow line and her skeg release line. The bow line is fixed to tip of our bows, with a hangman knot so it slides up and down. This she attached to her spray deck on all paddle trips, and only releases before landing. She uses a paddle leash also on all trips, maybe especially important when solo paddling, again this is released before landing to reduce any risk of entanglement.
The skeg release rope is a new one on me. Never seen it used before. It is basically a thin rope, threaded through a small loop on end of skeg, each end of the string comes up either side of kayak and with a quick release knot, attached to either side of kayak just behind cockpit. Once afloat and away from any breaking surf, if the sgkeg does not release because of gravel and sand, the rope is then pulled both sides to release the skeg, once released, the rope is pulled through completely and stored away.
Lots other learnings too, but now the eyes are closing. Tthe fishermen out front appear to have returned and are playing their music quite loudly. It may keep the bears away so a good time to grab some sleep lol