Loc: wide sandy mainland beach
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4
Dist: 0 km
What a heavenly rest day for my body and soul. I have paddled ten days in a row now, and urgently need it. He wind is blowing around midday with over twenty knots north-west, before and after less. I can dry my clothes, and all the blackflies which bothered me all calm day yesterday, are magically gone. I sleep, cook, walk around to find a caribou antler, and read again one of the first books about the art of Arctic paddling, ‘Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak’ by the late Victoria Jason which I notice also to have as an electronic version.
Reading it now again gives a fully different understanding about what laid behind me and what is ahead to come. Before, it felt quite abstract, and I did not even keep notes about locations or do’s and don’ts. It was rather nice to discover things myself. In any way, I am yet again amazed how she was paddling without forecast, just by intuition when it might be calm enough or not, including many night hours when the sun was still up. She had no satellite phon either, just in the last year an emergency beacon.
Also, my precise GPS-map navigation is a big advantage in these days. She had a GPS, but only to confirm her position on a paper map. Just thinking of navigating in the maze of those thousands of islands on the southern shore between Cambridge Bay and Goja Haven which will be for me in the next year, if I will not chose the direct line via larger islands and many open water. I also could not imagine not to have a dry suit to my comfort. But in any way, she paddled almost all the way through the North-West passage over the years, thirty years ago.
I make calls to my Peter and my son Helge while he is with his father Werner, excited to hear Helge will attempt solo one of the ‘Klettersteige’ in the German Alps. Those are popular mountain routes with artificial iron grips, ladders and rails which can be taken on by anyone with reasonable sporting skills and outdoor knowledge. When he was around six or seven years old, he joined me like a little mountain goat on many of those, including some with the level ‘five’. I had to push his little bum occasionally, or he stepped on my shoulders and helmet additionally to be able to reach the next grip, but he was fearless and well tied-up in his safety harness. He was well-impressed by a signature in one of the little booklets where people sign in who have properly attemptemd a route: “Im Berg, da sind die Männer, die Weiber sind im Tal. Da droben ist die Freiheit, da drunten liegt die Qual.“ It obviously did not go for his escorting mum, though. I am hoping he is enjoying himself now, being eventually twenty years older.
I will likely be able to keep going tomorrow, well rested, and hope to reach the Bathurst Inlet ready to cross via the island chain. I thoroughly enjoy being by myself, and am not only asking myself again and again why I take on the effort paddling with a paddling partner. Yes, I am hoping again and again to enhance my trip by a friendly face and some shared joy and laughter, but the stress of such a trip is not for everyone, some can take it better than others. Sometimes, suddenly, there is rather only a grumpy face besides me, a raised voice, a lot of arguments, and the feeling the paddling partner rather likes to be done with his section sooner than later, or threatening to bail out premature. If people feel trapped and cannot escape their situation anytime soon, it happens that the worst comes out of initially seemingly friendly people.
I will be very carefully selecting another paddling partner, if I will take on any at all on the next northern sections to come. It will certainly be not an old man who, for many good reasons, has never been married. And it will certainly not be a person who at the beginning answers my question about what his main concern of this trip is with, “… to get along with YOU!” I could not believe what I was hearing, and this answer should have stopped me already before the trip start. But I am a patient person sticking to my commitments and our written agreements.