Loc: End of Peard Bay
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 39,8 km
Start: 9:00 End: 19:35
A good night’s sleep at the noise-free lagoon water is what we needed. We like to paddle inside the bay, despite the offshore water is ice free and calm. Here, it is even calmer. What we see so far in the small lagoon end, is fully ice-free, but shallow. Soon, our visibility goes down to zero, and we are sitting in dense fog. We have to pass a bottleneck into another body of water after sevenhundred meter, and another after a similar distance. Thanks goodness, the water depth is enough, but now we have some ice on the landside shore and stick to the barrier spit shore. And thank goodness for a GPS with a good chart. Well, we could have stayed easily on the ocean side. We aim for a third, wider bottle neck after another five kilometer, and around tem o’clock, the dense fog starts to lift. Like a mirgae, I discover a herd of caribou on the landside spit (at N70.85843 W159.16866, Sammy, go for them!) About thirty or even foty animals move quickly along the shore, though I do not think they see us. So beautiful!
For a while, we only see open water – until the low, flat and still solid iceshelf on the land side spready out more and more to the sea side. After a quick climb on a dune, we prefer to soon haul back over to the open ocean, as it does not look like we can round an inner spit without hitting the solid ice shelf. After fifteen kilometer paddling inside Peard Bay, we call it quits here. It was nice to see the wonderful caribou herd, and to learn about the ice inside the bay. It feels like navigating through shallow sandbanks, always smelling the open deep water channel, but unlike around sandbanks, we did not fancy getting out on ice shelfs or even drag the kayaks over them. The ice melts from the water side, and most floes look like a broad flat mushroom until the stem crashes with an eerie sound.
Back on the ocean, we have nothing to suffer about ice, and aim for the high tower at Franklin Point. Not sure what the mast is used for, likely radar reflectors or such. The tip shad been relaced once, the old framework is dumped in the dunes. A raven’s nest sits on top of the construction, and the raven parents make a big buzz about their nest, likely filled with chicks. There is no ladder leading up the tower, or I might have been tempted to pay them a brief visit.
We see our second bear track today, old, but clearly visible. So far, I am not able to tell apart a grizzly from a polar bear paw print, I need to check on that when next time online.
When we leave the kayaks for a short walk, we have been happy so far with just taking the ten-gauge flare gun and spray along, no need for the real gun yet. It might feel different once we have seen our first polar bear.
I have carved a new female urinating device out of a jelly tube – it works all right when I am standing. There is no need to do the job (yet) while sitting inside the boat, so all good, I can relief myself almost like always. I am still cussing about this BIG logistical mistake! I just got three new devices sent from the Freshette company, gave one each to Traci and Lilja but mispacked my own one in the spare dry suit Lilja will bring along for me.
When we near the fist opening of Peard Bay, ice floes offshore become more frequent, the water shallow and the iceshelf inside closes up almost to the inner beach. When we reach the outer edge and have to turn almost ninety degrees south, it looks like the inner side of the sea horse barrier islands trending south is fully ice free though shallow, and the outer side has been catching all the floats. We happily paddle along, praising our clever navigation until we come to the second opening. We are likely blocked again by ice and fancy better a very short haul back to the offshore side, without even needing to unload. Overall, we did not regret to have been paddling on and off inside, we learned a lot about ice. But compared to what we saw on our flight from Barrow to Wianwright on Tuesday, it is now an easy game with plenty open water. We are aware that on any ice floe – the larger the better – there might be two cream-colored ears and a black nose popping up anwhere, but we did not see any.
We aim for a cabin marked on the chart and visible from a distance high up a dune. Unfortunately, some headwind kicks into the otherwise calm day, and our slalom through the here a bit more frequent floes ends at the friendly, sandy barrier spit at the end of Peard Bay. We have enough for today! Very likely, we will reach Barrow in two days now, but who knows? Traci should already be there and waiting happily for our arrival.
After two days of paddling, our bodies feel sore but fine. I am happy I do not feel my ishias nerve any more, which bothered me since I came back from Nicaragua. Paddling cures everything. I frequently stretch my fore arms, and those should stay just fine, too. My shoulders and large back muscles are still there in old shape and remember what they were capable to do. And yes, a healthy, efficient paddler does not use his biceps, different to the common idea.