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PostHeaderIcon The final push

I was in denial when the alarm went off at 4am. 5 and a half hours sleep wasn't enough. I like to get 8 hours a night on a trip where possible. I find my body receivers pretty well from a long days paddling if I get enough rest. It was bitterly cold outside and still windy, although a bit less than 10 knots and less of a sea state, so not enough excuse to turn over and go back to sleep. We launched around 5.10 and our first 3-4km crossing to the mainland seemed to take forever. At our progress of about 4km per hour, it would take non stop paddling until 7pm to reach Salluit. Not a happy prospect. At least the scenery was beautiful, high craggy mountains and lots of wide green valleys with rivers snaking their way down to the sea.

Luckily the wind gradually dropped, the sea calmed and our speed increased. The sun came out and my thermometer went from 5 degrees to 23! Its hard to choose how many layers to put on in the morning here!

W e finally turned left down the inlet where Salluit is and paddled 15km to the community of over 1000 people. We passed a group of at least half a dozen seals fishing in a group, surrounded by an eager group of seagulls. This was 30 minutes after a boat passed us looking for seals to hunt.

A colorful collection of houses finally came into view, with a few cars and quad bikes speeding along the roads. We landed and JF went on a reconnaissance. He came back in a car 20 minutes later. Some kind people had driven him to the supermarket, postoffice and airport, the 3 places we needed to check out. Sonia then turned up and offered us use of her internet to try to sell the kayaks. Her generosity kept increasing and we will go to stay with her tomorrow night, have a shower, wash our clothes and use hey place as a base to organise things. She'll drop us at the airport in 2 days. Peoples generosity is amazing. Thank you.

For tonight, we've paddled 1km out of tow n to a lovely headland for one last night camping in the Arctic wilderness, or near enough. JF is fishing of the point, hoping for one last arctic char. It's been a grand adventure in a place I had never considered visiting. Massive thanks to Pierro, JFs brother, for the flight tickets with Air Inuit and for all his help with logistics. He even flew over us as we approached Quaqtaq and saw us from the plane! thanks a lot to Karel for sending us weather forecasts (kayakweather. Com) and to all the other people who helped us beforehand and along the way. I'll write more later, its time to enjoy our last evening now.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon A wild night

It’s not often you have to hold the tent down to stop the wind getting under it and lifting at least an edge. We pegged it down pretty well last night, using lots of rocks, but we weren’t expecting 40 knot gusts in the night. At 3am, JF got out the cosy sleeping bag and braved the frigid wind to put more rocks on the guylines. We hadn’t been sleeping much prior to that as our trusty home rattled and shook against its fierce adversary. We have said many times on the trip, thank goodness we have a good tent, and last night our Hilleberg Tarra proved her worth again. Unfortunately our planned early start was scuppered as we gazed at a sea of white, with gusts making cats paws on the inlet we’d launch in. It was offshore and wild. We checked the updated forecast from Karel which had changed from easterly all day to SW with 30 knot gusts in the morning and NW with 15 knot gusts in the afternoon. Back to bed to try to sleep through all the noise. At one point the wind even set off our
bear fence, requiring another leap out of the cosy bag, with the gun drawn.

At 11am it was much calmer so we launched just after 12 and enjoyed 4 hours of good progress with a bit of current helping us. A headwind then picked up and strengthened as we crossed 5km across Deception Bay. A confused sea state and breaking waves made slow progress. Ahead of us lay a 20km section of cliffs where we were unsure if we would be able to find anywhere to land and camp so we stopped on Neptune island in Deception Bay around 6.30 and made camp after 37km. It’s a pretty spot, we’re in a grassy valley looking out over Arctic island which had a navigational light- the first sign that we are only about 50km away from Salluit now. Tonight is almost certainly our last one in Nunavut, as all the offshore islands are part of Nunavut, whereas the mainland is Quebec.

It seems like nature is giving us short windows of good weather to make it to Salluit then slamming the door shut for a while. Hopefully we’ll have a decent few hours tomorrow, if not we’ll be battling as we have a flight early on 2nd August so we can’t afford to wait for optimum conditions.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon Walrus escort

What a beautiful day. We launched into the sun rise at 4.30am and enjoyed 5 hours of calm paddling along a beautiful coastline with high cliffs and lush valleys. As we reached our most northerly point of our journey at Cap de Nouvelle France, the wind picked up behind us and a 3 Knot current appeared against us. We could mostly enjoy the benefit of a strong eddy but had to fight the current at a couple of headlands. Just as we were sprinting around a lively point, we heard the exhale of a large marine mammal and saw a massive grey hulk with 2 tusks poke out of the water. Then another one, and another. 10 walrus were going our way for about 20 minutes, presumably feeding on something in the strong currents. It was wonderful to watch them and they seemed totally unphased by us, except when one emerged 5 metres from my kayak and showed some surprise, diving under the sea again very quickly. I allay saw about 8 big arctic char under the water near the cliffs… maybe hiding fro m the
walrus!?

The coastline changed as we started to head SW, its now lower again, with some flat headlands and a few larger mountains a bit inland. There’s a wide intertidal zone in places again making us stay offshore between points. We enjoyed the following sea for about 15km before flat calm reigned again for 10km, then a headwind picked up and slowed our good pace. We landed after a short battle Into a manageable wind, finding a natural channel in the rocks that delivered us right to the beach, as long as we aren’t within 2 hours of low water. We covered 68km in 12 hours and I’m ready for bed very soon. There’s carribou in our campsite as usual. It’s about 90km to Salluit. Well have another early start tomorrow.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

PostHeaderIcon Bear number 2- black sheep

There’s a bear, JF pointed into the sun in the next valley. I eventually saw the big, squat shape lumbering away from us a few hundred metres distant. But its black, i said. Its definitely a bear, JF reiterated. The binoculars confirmed a blacky brown coloured bear, a massive one, but the low sun and the distance made it impossible to see details. They do get black bears in this area occasionally, maybe it was a black bear, or an unusual coloured polar bear? I guess we’ll never know.

It was a great day for wildlife. We were land bound for the 2nd day in a row but today was sunny and much more exploring friendly. A short lunchtime walk brought us to a fox den, with 2 red colored foxes with big bushy tails scampering around on a lush patch of green grass. We watched a young carribou nervously make its way towards the nutritious feast, his eyes on the tiny red mammal guarding it’s territory. The ungulate made a casual circuitous route to get closer to the grass. He got within a few metres, probably drooling already, before a small movement from the tiny fox had him taking off and settling for the shorter darker grass up the valley.

In an evening walk we saw the foxes again and then our mystery black bear. It’s time for an early night now. The wind has dropped a lot, its still a headwind but probably only around 10 knots. The forecast is for a switch to SE tomorrow so wee well wake up at 3am and if there are no whitecaps against us we’ll launch and hope for a long day covering lots of miles. 2 bad weather days has meant that we have only 4 days to get to Salluit which is about 150km away, and we need to get there on 1st August in time to organise our stuff and get to a postoffice! Fingers crossed for that SE wind tomorrow.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.