Loc: Colville River
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 33,2 km
Start: 9:05 End: 17:45
On Lilja’s rudder broke the central pin just after our launch. I could easily fix it even on the water again, but am glad shore is still close. Everything fine again, we paddle straight to the coast for seven kilometers, and hit some very shallow beach with a yellow floating rescue pillow or such. The whole following coast is shallow, and we have to stay far out not to get stranded on our crossing to the river entrance. We spot some tower already from a far distance – a lighthouse? An antenna? A ship? Later, when we are inside the river, it turns out to be an oil drilling tower belonging to a large oil site. We also see a huge flame were they probably burn the excessive gas we could now use well in Europe these days. A small plane is turning endless circles over the land and the bay to our right. We are not sure what they are doing there, maybe some oil related survey. The do not see us offshore, or do not care.
I have to believe my waypoint where we should turn into the extensive delta system of the Colville River. Despite today’s perfect visibility, we can only see the low mudflats when we are almost five-hundred meters close. Sure, I am impatient for my waypoint to arrive and paddle into the shallows too early. We have to drag our boats twice back to deeper water which I thankfully can spot by the color. Finally, I can feel the channel running, and some drops in my face tell me we reached sweet water. Constant probing with my paddle keeps us in the deep water. Lilja has no clue how I find my way here. While we are chatting and I am bragging about my delta and mudflats navigation skills, I lose the deep water and we have to walk for some minutes. For me this is kind of normal, Lilja is wondering what we are doing here. Soon, it is deep enough again to jump back in, but no channel to find anymore nowhere. Still, we reach the main river delta arm just afloat and turn slightly right to find the corner with some cabins. Will we meet people out here on the weekend?
Caribous greet us again after landing, but the housing site is abandoned, the cabins are all broken down. In one hangs a calendar with a 1996 date. Another construction, almost like a tent but with plastic segments, is of newer date but also broken in many places. We find some still fresh food cans, tea boxes and milk tetra packs, but do not really need something besides a roll of paper for Lilja. In some fully-torn and broken by the wind solid canvas tents construction, we surprisingly find a lot of fresh-ish food in cooler boxes from this year and a lot of expensive equipment like a new-looking generator and a Bushnell binocular. The last people using this camp simply left everything careless behind to wind and nature. It is a strange habit but nothing new for me to see, as I have seen this in other sites.
We make camp on a sandy flat on the beach, but resist a bath in the fresh river water. We are hoping to find some shower and laundry facilities tomorrow in the village of Nuiqusut. So glad we found our way inside here, to navigate offshore and outside the delta is a nightmare of shallow water and land.