Loc: behind Oliktok Point
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 56,1 km
Start: 08:00 End: 21:00
The night was warm-ish on our balcony over the river, but the sun dried only one side of the tent in the morning, the other is soaking wet. We like to paddle out of the river delta today, with a lovely following wind and spring temperatures up to seventeen degrees. We deserve it! But as yesterday evening, the bugs become so nasty I paddle with a bug net at times. We need to stay in the deep water channels which is not so easy in this widespread delta. Lilja’s phone has still reception here so we can have a look at the Google satellite images again which seem to be more updated than my downloaded ones.
We do not manage to stay in the outside channel, and the distance to the old Helmerick’s homestead on Colville Island becomes now so short that we are happy to make this little detour to have a curious look if we can find still people there. We see a lot of movements from the distance, which turn out all to be caribous. The ‘boat landing’ is fringed with old tires, rusty barrels and some leftover solid logs where we manage to climb out. No people nowhere anymore, although the main house looks somehow still at least occasionally in use. Any other of the maybe a dozen buildings on the wide site is as abandoned as anything else we came along. We have a curious look into every building, sometimes only through the windows, sometimes the doors are open and we can dive into long-forgotten old times. It is noticeable that a white family ran this site, but they also left everything behind like it was just last used when they left this place. Machines of any kind, vehicles, boats, household items – when this place was thriving, life here must have been not too bad.
It is almost summer-weather with warm sunshine, and we have our lunch after exploring. Launching from the slippery logs is not easy. Cutting across the channel keeps us barely afloat until we finally reach deeper water after the last channel joins the sea. A seagull is so naughty to catch a duckling with his beak, makes it a few meters airborn before the poor chick becomes too heavy and the gully has to release it back to swimming. It looks like the baby survived the attack!
We make great progress with the following wind and running out river water, and like to reach at least the radar station at Oliktok Point, little over fifty kilometers. The oil site at the point is dominant. We briefly land at two old cabins, and se in the distance a large barge just leaving the point. A passenger boat drives out to one artificial oil island, and soon another one to the second island oil site. The first boat comes back, and we are hoping the driver sees us for some contact. We skip the radar station which seems still to be manned, but today, we are not in such a need to catch up with people as we just came from Nuiqsut. But we still like to round the oil site point. To see if we can talk to someone – or maybe get an invitation for a tour? Maybe not, as the site is actually pretty ugly and scary to look at, and we like to find a campsite soon.
It does not look like they are only waiting for us to arrive. A person comes out on a deck at the point, but disappears soon again although seeing us. The boat arriving from the oil island landed on the eastern side, and there, we see another person on the deck. Our chance for at least a chat. The person on the boat has long blonde hair, and is a pretty attractive young lady, the least we have expected here. Laurie works on the boat for four month per season, and lives the other time in Hawaii. She can answer us some curious questions, and in return I tell my story. Her college Rebecca shows up, and a guy picking something from the boat does not give us a second glance, maybe he is intimidated by four women on a spot.
Laurie presents us with a fresh apple, grapes and some bars, so nice, thanks! We like to find a campsite now pretty soon, it becomes late. A narrow beach just a few kilometers across the bay is our place for the night. After a bit of landscaping, we will have a rather shortish night as tomorrow will be similar magnificent weather with following wind and we like to make some easy distance!