Loc: Kvichak Bay west
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 52,1 km
Start: 09:10 End: 18:40
We’re off!!! Another section of my North American circumnavigation began today.
Our Odyssey started by driving at 4 am with Fylkir’s car to Sonderburg where Fylkir’s daughter Anna Jona will take care of his car during the next three months. We jumped in the train to Copenhagen airport, there on our plane to Anchorage via Iceland. It felt very strange to Fylkir to land in his homeland and to stay those few hours at the airport without meeting any of his people!
All flight fine with a bit of delay and all luggage arrived in Anchorage ok where Jutta picked us up and gave us a home for two nights in her apartment. Thanks so much for that! It is so much nicer when a (kind of) familiar face is expecting us at the airport!. We “met” Jutta just online looking for contacts.
We went food shopping, the usual heap loaded shopping cart, and already started in front of the supermarket to unbox most of the products while waiting for Jutta to pick us up.
We met my sister Charlotte, who is an US-citizen, for dinner, and found a willing helper in her to purchase a shotgun. US-regulations are a foreign person is not allowed to buy a gun from a shop, but to buy or borrow it from a private US-person if the foreigner has purchased a hunting license. Fylkir has one for small game and waterfowl, and he purchased another one for fishing. The shotgun can be also loaded with blanks, and used as a bear deterrent, especially in polar bear country. Then, there might be slugs loaded in the 7-shot barrel, following 4-5 blanks…or we will have even a second gun.
But it is not a polar bear country yet, and my fear level is not high yet. Bear spray against the brown and black ones is much more important and useful.
Next job was to fly from Anchorage to King Salmon with our new purchase…they required a hard shell case and declaration. The former we didn’t purchase (yet) and hoped to get around with a tight bundle of the gun, two paddles, fishing rod, bear fence poles and other gear up to 50 pounds of weight, wrapped in multiple layers of bubble wrap. Jutta waited for standby if we would have to present and unwrap our “hard shell” case (and maybe had to go and buy a real one…), but the check-in lady was just happy we declared that there was a gun inside and took the bundle as it was. We got one half of a ticket, which we should present in King Salmon before we would be allowed to get our gun-bundle…no one cared about that when we picked our luggage…that’s Alaska!
I could call and reach in the last minutes before our flight started my contact in Naknek, Randy Johnson from Trident Seafoods, where my kayak and gear is stored, to remind him we would arrive tonight…he organized also in last minute that the driver Fernando would collect us with some other people at the airport. Thanks so much for that! And so much thanks to Trident Seafood to have hosted me and my paddle partners in Chignik, False Pass, and last year and now in Naknek! Fernando and Randy have stored my kayak and gear dry and safe. Randy also arranged the free shipping of my spare kayak for Fylkir on a Trident barge from Seattle to Naknek and received and collected a bunch of parcels for me. A wonderful hosting place and people! Thanks so much!
We got a room in Randy’s house and worked to reinforce once more the hull on my kayak, and to outfit the brand new one for Fylkir with his stickers and personal preferences. Somehow, the epoxy mixture took longer to dry than usual, and we dared to paint some white gel coat likely too early on it, as the gel coat was not really dry when we launched this morning. I could not avoid to touch it, and my black dry suit is now messed up on the bottom legs quite a lot with a white gel coat. Hope it will be at least better the next day…
We planned to start paddling with the high tide at 9.30 running out. It was perfect timing with the opening time of the post office across the street at 8.30 am, as I had to get rid of two parcels. Already packed before, I was back at 9 am, and we got sent off in best sunny spring weather by our host Randy and Eric Burger, a fisherman and paddler who came out to meet me. It feels so good to be back on the water!!!
Though…the kayak is heavy and loaded to the max, my bum is wider than when we stopped in Mexico, and we opted to paddle every day here in Alaska in a dry suit. But today is really warm calm spring weather, and our dry suit tops went down soon to paddle in shirts only. The PFD’s were strapped to the back deck anyway. Dead calm, sunny, and a good current taking us along! Up to 12,5 km/h in the mainstream of the wide river, we had to cross. Nice!
I was finally aiming for the corner of a wide tidal area. Just behind it, the tidal area upfront the coast showed on the chart to be narrow. At 4 pm, the tide would be low, but we were hoping to be able to land pretty soon after around 5pm or such. We did not fancy a much longer paddle on the first day!
But as it goes, the yearning to have a look at the coast and to find a suitable beach earlier is topping the brain to stay out of the charted green tidal area. And we opted to cut across a tidal flat and surely fell dry…an hour of waiting was the punishment before we could land just at the planned spot with a relatively steep beach. The 7m tidal range is quite something…
A small river mouth provided solid sandy and rocky ground to land, a surface not to find everywhere on this tidal coast! We fell dry about 7 km offshore on the sand and could walk even a bit with the kayaks, but close to the coast, the sea ground became muddy.
Making camp took a while longer, as Fylkir played with setting up our new bear fence, although there are just a few old paw prints to see. Fylkir’s first night in the bear country..we will survive!