Loc: Cape Halkett
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 42,6 km
Start: 11:40 End: 19:10
Snow slush and rain all night, but it is at least not white any more outside. We sleep in again, although we have been sleeping enough yesterday. The forecast is still the same for today, up to twenty knots following wind – but the afternoon is at least supposed to be dry. Maybe we can go? The sea has calmed down a little, and it is foggy in the morning around nine o’clocok, and it is not raining any more. I ask Lilja to go for a walk along the spit to see how the offshore water develops. The coast turns a little, as across our campsite it is a nasty chop, but it becomes much less very soon. Maybe we should start inside the lagoon, and paddle there as long as the shore break is still unfriendly? Yes – let’s do that and let’s GO!
We walk back to the tent, but Lilja has to take her time for bathroom needs. She is freezing her butt off outside for fifteen minutes. I do my job before Lilja wakes and before breakfast within thirty seconds unnoticed on my en-suite facilities. I am half packed already when she finally comes in and starts putting together her stuff. Not that we are in a hurry, but Lilja is an extreme slow packer. I meanwhile tightened both footrests, checked the rudders, cleaned all hatches and cockpits, connected both paddles and arranged other stuff. I also put the tent down myself while she still packs her personal stuff which I finally help her carrying to the kayak. We slept without bear fence the last two nights, otherwise I would have taken it down also myself. Camp life chores are not really balanced yet, and likely will never be.
But Lilja can finally paddle a very good pace, and this is what counts more for me than any additional packing jobs. On handling of the heavy kayak to get it to the water, she still needs some improvement and better remembering where and when to grab, push, or pull. But we are getting there, landings and launchings are not tough here. And she needs a GPS for finding the paddling partner’s skeg blade loop to help pulling it out when it is stuck – or me finally running to shore before her hands fall off in the cold water. But later, on another try after paddling over a shallow lump, she manages to find the loop and pull my blade back out. Perfect, thanks!
All in all, we get along well. I am a patient paddling partner. Lilja’s cooking feeds us well. She did not need to try all variations of too salty or no salt or no spice at all, sandy, burnt, cold, too much or not enough, too much ‘al dente’ or overcooked…another paddling partner on the southern section was working continuously through all those issues and it’s combinations. Lilja only needed to burn the pot once and after the nasty scraping efforts, she does now well. Overall, her company is a pleasant addition. I might just not be as talkative as her inside the tent, I love to stick my nose in a book pretty soon, where she might like more of a good talk. Well, people are different.
Our paddling day is a gift of a very fast one with following wind up to twenty knots but no really choppy seas. We average six kilometers per hour, means we paddle mostly seven to eight. Top speed on a small surf is over ten. When not paddling, we get blown along with four to five kilometers per hour. Not too bad. The path leads inside a larger island where we stop briefly. From the higher marsh island, we can see ice blocking all the way along the outer barrier, but thankfully, nothing comes near our coast but tiny bits. The ice sits all he way along to Cape Halkett far offshore on a shoal line, and is still visible from our campsite.
A caribou with gigantic beautiful antlers lurks just over the grassy ledge, and when paddling a bit out, we spot three more. Otherwise, there are ducks, ducklings and geese plus their poop everywhere, but no other animals. The odd seal head pops out here and there, but not a single bear, neither white nor grizzly, thank goodness. It does not feel like bear country here, but you never know. I stop just before the long sand spit at ther end, where the sand and soil is still reasonable. Tomorrow is another day!