Loc: past Cripple River
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 24,5 km
Start: 14:20 End: 14:35
The first day paddling with Ross! We got settled already last night on the beach, and I helped him pack his kayak this morning. We had plenty of space left in both kayaks, though as usual, the gear bag load looked huge! But my kayaks swallow everything just easy. We did not even have to store all four water bags per person in front of the footrest but could take two or three each inside the hatches. All normal and easy for me, but Ross never had paddled such a heavy loaded kayak! And it was loaded only to 80%…
We had fitted his seat, back- and footrest already at the house, he sat inside the cockpit once more and felt it was good! I helped him to get inside afloat the first time, it always feels strange to jump into a different kayak than you are used to. Thank goodness the harbor beach was dead calm. He paddled one round inside the harbor, felt comfortable and we were ready to go!
The harbor exit under the bridge was blocked by sand, so we had to leave offshore around the harbor wall. Two big barges were tied up, one got continuously loaded with the big rocks coming from the quarry from point Nome, the other one had a bunch of heavy machines on top. It was some low swell offshore, maybe a meter, and I was worried Ross might get seasick too soon…but he was fine. We had the wind from our back first and made easy good progress. Ross slowly needed to get used to the sitting position in my kayak, with open knees and the lower and smaller back band he was used to having. He used the same paddle Fylkir was using, as he said he was used to paddling a mid-size wing. He was still happy to get some hints on how to best use the body and not the arms on paddling.
We came past two noisy mining-dredging boats offshore, a smaller one and a huge one. A caterpillar on each boat grabbed a shovel full of sea ground, dumped it on a 45 degrees conveyor belt with water where it somehow got sorted and searched for gold. No idea what the output is, but it must pay off somehow to run these boats and machines…
A small village lurked us to stop for lunch. The landing through low swell and small surf went fine, I landed first and helped Ross to get out of his kayak. It said “Cripple River Mining” on the signs on the village, which was all shut down and no one around. We were wondering how old this village was? It looked almost like out of a movie, it was too even-built for a slow-grown mining village? And too carefully shut down, all windows and doors nailed or screwed close. Or did a huge company erect the village for the miners, when they found some gold? We need to research that…
We launched again, Ross felt better with elastic wrist support around his right hand. Ok,…I helped Ross to get in his kayak and off the beach into the low surf, and sure I got a wave running into my cockpit when I started by myself with my heavy kayak…Meanwhile, some low headwind 12-13 knots have come up, and I noticed Ross became slower and slower…I was asking him about his wrist he said all is fine, but it should not become more headwind than this…I gave him my own paddle first which I thought was easier on the hands than the one Fylkir has used. But soon I better thought of the weeks to come and decided we stop for the first day, just behind a small rocky point. The landing was easy again, and we found a camp spot just on top of the gravel. All good! We made almost 25 km!
Ross puzzled a bit around with his footrest position in his kayak, adjusted this and that, got familiar with his gear, while I was reading my e-book. He said it was “overwhelming” this first day paddling with me! All was new, paddling in a dry suit, a new kayak, a new paddle, a new country, cold water paddling…he will get familiar with everything very soon!
Later, we went for a walk to check out a cabin at the rocky point, which turned out to be a river outflow! The river had plenty of salmon trying to go upriver, many many of them died on their way and littered the shores. That’s nature! We could have caught some tired ones on going upriver just with our hands like I would have been able on that other river a few days ago. But neither Ross nor myself had the ambition to catch, gut and fillet a fish tonight – and to smell like a fish…At least this gave also plenty of bear food…as we have seen some of the bear tracks on the beach. A very dead half-skinned walrus without tusks was sitting stinky on one side of the river.
Yummy dinner with some Mexican rice with fresh peppers finished our day. Tomorrow will be even calmer weather! Hope all will be good.