Loc: wide sandy mainland beach
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4
Dist: 58,2 km
Start: 6:20 End: 18:00
I refilled two of my waterbags yesterday at this very convenient clean stream next to my camp. I never know where I will be landing today, although water is likely to be found in many places. It is a moderate offshore wind, giving calm seas. It is raing the second half of the night, and still does when I wake at four o’clock. Not really inviting to get going, I think, cuddling back into my sleeping bag for an hour. But I need to ge going, the sea is calm, and who cares about rain when dressed in dry suit and stormcag? I can don both inside the tent, before I start loading and packing the tent with my waterproof packing gloves on my hands. One of those goves stays on my right hand that I do not have to reach into the cold water to pull out my rudder fin when I am too lazy to attach my launching string or worry the fin might be stuck with pebbles anyway.
When I manage to more or less dry out my neoprene finger gloves over night and to keep them dry at least for the first hours, my hands stay halfway warm for longer in the neoprene pogies. Those are better than no pogies, and I managed to get used to the wearing them almost all day. But they are heavy when wet. I notice the difference in the afternoon when my hands are warm and I switch back to my old open palm mitts for a while.
I rail close to th coast to avoid the offshore wind, but it is not too bad. I can cut across via the outside of the island in the deep Port Epworth bay where the Tree River comes out. My curious look inside the wide bay from far outside does not reveal any signs of civilization in there.
Suddenly, I spot a boat coming my way. They are about a kilometer offshore from my position, but I can see them slowing down, and stopping, to have a better look at that bright orange dot of my stormcag railing silently the coast. I wave, they wave back, but I continue paddling quickly but calmly, not to appear in need of help. I would not have minded a chat, though, but when I am obviously not in distress, they keep on driving west. There were no cabins anymore once I mounted the peninsula west of Port Epworth, and the scenery became rocky with either towering cliffs of gently sloping cliff ledges. But there are always enough landing gravel spots in between.
I was pondering to cut straight across to the tip of a big peninsula, twenty kilometers more or less open water, but fanc the slightly longer but more sheltered and scenic way between the islands. Soon, I can enter the channel between a long dark towering island and the mainland, and I find myself in a secluded area. I once land on a tiny gravel spot where I suspect a wonderfilly located lake on top of the tundra meadow, and I climb out and up for a look. It is a nice spot of sweetwater, at the bottom of towering dark cliffs. I have my bearspray in my hand, but I have not seen any traces of bears since Kugluktuk. What should they live on here in this rocky area, with very few green meadows like here?
I exit of the island channel to cross three kilometers to another calm island channel, and exit again to cut once more across a bay for three kilometers. There, I would have the choice to try a not fully open channel to shortcut this ugly big jutting out peninsula with two tiny and one maybe hundred meters long portage, or to paddle around which is in distance about five kilometers longer.
I ponder while I am crossing, but the wind had died fully by now, and for my estimation, it looks like it will stay calm for quite some hours. The sea has no ripple, and decide in the middle of the crossing to head north and leave the portages aside. Who knows what would expect me there, and an hour more paddling around this peninsula will make up for unloading and dragging over ubown conditions by myself.
I made a good choice. For the rest of my pddling day, the sea stays dead-calm with not a single breeze, and it even becomes a little foggy before the evening sun clears the sky. The peninsula is rocky allover, with towering, intimidating black cliffs at the first and last point, but sloping cliffs in between. But gravel beaches for landings or even campig are also here. I feel a ligh swell, and can only imagine how this stretch might look like when it is a rough north-westerly blowing. I am so glad I had these last two calm days for these rocky areas, as I assume and see soon, when I am back to the mainland, the scenery and cliffs are again more mellow and green. Hepburn Island towers similarly black and steep to my left behind while crossing to an inviting sandy cove.
It is a long day, but I do not like to stop until I reached the mainland and camp on a wide sandy beach where I feel much better to have covered this ugly unfriendly rocky area. No animals to see nowhere besides the regular geese, ducklings, seagulls and the rare seal head popping out of the water. No signs of bears nowhere, what should they live on here in this rocky landscape?
Even when I land, my sandy beach is bare of any bear or caribou tracks, only geese feet marks and a small furry critter paws. I am dead tired after this long day, skip my writing but send only a text via satellite phone with my position and distance covered. I will definitively have off tomorrow, and the expected strong north-westerly will confirm my decision. It starts to rain soon, but I am safe, warm, dry, and satisfied with my progress and choice of campsite.