Loc: Cabin Corner mainland
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4
Dist: 11,8 km
Start: 15:45 End: 18:20
I am awake at seven-thirty, enjoying my breakfast in bed. As the RCMP is only open at nine to look after my charging devices and hopefully find wifi somewhere, there is not much to do yet besides texting with the satellite phone to Peter. Jimmy is still sleeping.
We finally both walk up to the Coppermine River hotel to hopefully get our laundry done, have a shower and maybe get on wifi. We find Ireen, the elderly ownler lady who is just servicing a guest who is stuck here already for a week due to no flights. He is hoping to be able to leave today, but as it shows later, he returns from the airport due to overbooking. No luck for him yet.
We are lucky as I can charme Ireen to take our laundry, and Jimmy quickly picks his stuff from the tent. She also allows us to use her wifi in the friendly and heated lobby, perfect, thanks! I briefly hop over to the RCMP office which is now open, collect all my electronics and have a chat with the officers. It takes another charmining effort to also get a shower at the hotel, as Ireen said she is execting a whole group of kayakers coming in and there are no rooms free where we can use the shower. But finally, she remembers there is also a shower in the communal restrooms, and she allows us to use that one. Now we are all set!
Jimmy finally says he is not keen to continue from to Cambridge Bay. Sure, no problem, I was expecting it, but it took him a while to really finally say it. I will continue by myself then – freedom! Ample space in the tent, no one grumping at me, no one complaining I am paddling too slow. But also no one setting the bear fence or cooking dinner for us. Both things I can do or leave like I feel. As we had agreed beforehand, Jimmy will look into forwarding the second kayak to Cambridge Bay. We pick our food parcels from the post office, all arrived fine. A friendly man drives us to the campsite, as those boxes are heavy.
We split our gear and food with no arguing, both happy to finally separate from our paddling relation ship. Jimmy leaves me his pogies, some jerkey and sausages, thanks. I pack all my breakfasts which are lush, and eighteen dinners. I will not cook every evening, but have plenty snackfood. I will not run out of food anytime soon!
I walk back to the hotel to swap my charging batteries from the laptop and satellite phone, and look a bit into satellite images, the long range forecast, and icemap. Besides a few islands to cross, and finally over to Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, I will mostly rail clise to the coast which will make paddling easy and safe. The weather s a bit of everything, more rain than in July, and definitively more chilly. But likely it will not snow or even freeze by mid-September. I calculate another two to four weeks, likely three, as always, depending on the weather.
When I am looking ut of the hotel window, I see another kayaking group arriving from the river, and alert Ireen about her potential guests. As I need to walk down to the tent to pick my shower utensils, and pass the group. I remember Elizabeth Purdon my paddling partner in Bahia Californs from La Ventana to Bahia Kino was planning a Coppermine River trip with the husband with a guided tour – and ther she is! What a coincidence! And I am so happy to see a smiling face and a person who is happy to see and hug me after all those weeks! We hug each other and cannot believe this perfect timing in the Arctic! I jokingly asks if she just likes to jump in the open slot to Cambridge Bay, but as she has not the right gear and is also quite worn form her own trip, that was only a crazy idea. This group will fly out in a few hours with a charter floatplane, and will not stay in the hotel as originally planned. At least they do not have to worry about getting a flight or not like that single hotel guest. The group of teenage kayakers also waiting to fly out made it today, straight to Edmonton. Yellowknife is still shut.
I introdcuce Elizabeth to Jimmy, and we chat a bit in the lobby. My desire to leave already today is growing and growing, and I think Elizabeth’s smiling face fire up my spirits again to get away from this noisy town and to fully split from Jimmy’s presence. I start packing my stuff, and loading my kayak. I take a final walk to the hotel to collect my charged laptop and satellite phone, but cannt find Jimmy anywhere. Ok, I will send him a message. I also chat to the RCMP guys to let him know I like to leave when they might see him on the patrol drives walking around town.
Elizabeth takes the second floatplane out, so I find her on the dock, chat a bit more, but finally I have the urge to finish my packing and to leave. She soon enters the plane anyway, and is off.
Jimmy is thankfully already at the tent, realizes I am almost packed and ready to leave, and does the same with his stuff from the tent. He walks to the hotel with a first load, and I take the tent down and am almost ready when he is back. The farewell is quick, but not unfriendly. I thank him for being a safe paddling partner, and will remember as always only the good times. If there was also a ‘Thank you’ from his side to safely bring him back to civilization, I must have overheard it.
I am back on the water at a quarter to four, late, but not too late to leave Kugluktuk behind me for maybe ten kilometers. The wind blows in my face with almost fifteen knots, but the sea is calm. I give the Coppermine River mouth and all its islands a wide berth, and paddle past Kugluktuk’s ‘suburbs’, many many cabins out on the islands and along the mainland.
I finally land at the last visible cabin spot before a point, and have enough for today. I camp on a meadow upfront two well-used cabins, but no one is home. Just when I finsih settin camp, its starts to drizzle, perfect timing! I enjoy the space inside the tent, and spread out my armour in reach. Bear spray in each exit corner, the loaded gun and flare gun. I will go without bear fence today, and snacks nust do for the evening. Toorrow will be good paddling weather, and I hope to make good distance!