Gail E. Ferris
On July 21, 1994 at 1400 I arrived at Nanasivik via Canadian airline on a Boeing 737 jet.
The cost of flying there was amazingly inexpensive less than 1000 dollars from New Haven, which is the least expensive flight I have ever taken that far north.
Flights in and out of Nanasivik are at least two times a week and it is easy to book a seat or change flight dates without paying much if any penalty because they do such a high volume of flight business on that route.
This is completely the opposite situation from trying to fly to Pond Inlet, because in Pond Inlet, which is just a few hundred miles to the east, the service is once a week with a fifty-five seat turboprop plane. The seats are often removed and baggage is flown in place which renders mail and cargo service in Pond Inlet very expensive, limited, and often erratic.
On the way up, as usual, I always find myself engaging in a lively exchange and so I had an interesting talk on the plane with a Chinese Canadian lady from Ottawa who is studying Thick-Billed Murres on Prince Leopold Island. For me traveling, especially traveling alone, is a wonderful opportunity to ask questions and do some intense learning.
The weather was clear all the way up, once we were beyond Iqaluit. Generally speaking rarely is there a sunny day at Iqaluit, because Iqaluit has the dubious honor of being the collision point of numerous weather patterns via the local topography, being more or less at the juncture of Hudson Strait, Davis Strait and Arctic atmosphere system.
From my window at about 24,000 feet, I saw the amazingly flat terrain of the western side of Baffin Island the shallows of Foxe Basin. I had read about Foxe Basin but I did not quite believe its vastness until I saw what it really looked like from the air. The character of this area completely the opposite of the high mountains, glaciers and fjords on the eastern side of Baffin.
I couldn't believe seeing islands such as Prince Charles and Rowley Island that they were completely flat, sparsely vegetated sand. I hadn't imagined that this area might also be as flat as Barrow Alaska.
I remembered Captain Bill Bartlett's description of sailing horrors in Hudson Strait - just the best. They had no idea that they were to become stranded in the shallows with the tidal bore coming down on them.
As we approached Iglulik, which is on the bottom of Admiralty Inlet, the terrain started to change to mountains and when we reached Admiralty Inlet there were high escarpments ringing this bay. From the bottom of the bay north to our destination I could see nothing but endless pans of last years ice. Some of this annual ice was evenly distributed and other areas had a few gaps here.
I studied the ice configurations intensely from 24,000 feet although I had no idea what this world dominated by pan ice would later be like, which I was to experience directly in my little kayak.
Padding in such massive amounts of annual pan ice was almost entirely new to me, even though I had dealt with small amounts of pan ice in Pond Inlet and icebergs in Greenland. I hadn't thought about how to deal with meter thick, two to three meter diameter clusters of ice. however I knew that the first thing I had to do was to find somebody to ask how do I could safely do this.
When I visit a new area I always ask what should I look out for and how do I handle the potential situations. It has saved me many times and I always value those people who so kindly offer their knowledge from experience. There is no substitute for local knowledge.
From the airport it was 25 miles by road to Arctic Bay and for luggage I had to transport five bags, a gun and my camera collection.
With great luck Rubin and his friend happened to be going to Arctic Bay with an empty pickup truck. I got a ride with Rubin from Nanasivik to Arctic Bay at no charge. Rubin and his friend are typical Inuit Arctic fellows, just lots of fun and always very jovial.
This drive was just routine for Rubin but to me this was far from routine but rather an escapade in experimental driving. This drive was an adventure in integration of constantly fluctuating mechanical functionality and the laws of physics as dictated by topography gravity. The road was gravel with steep embankments and the truck was jumping in and out of gear while violently lurching forward in those moments when he tried to slow it down for sharp turns. The combination of this rickety feeling pickup truck with its tricky transmission and the precarious nature of the road made the drive definitely an adventure with some risk involved. This is the type of risk where one can only trust that all will go all right. But I can assure you that I truly hoped that this driving was not to be the type of driving that I had experienced in Magadan Siberia when I visited there in 1991.
In Magadan I could feel myself visibly pale as we approached blind corners at the top of hills only to find that our driver was accelerating more and more aggressively suggesting that we were far behind schedule in arriving at our destination, the hotel. Then to my complete horror our intrepid driver was unflappably proceeding to pass in a two and three lane highway any vehicle in his way. Our unflappable driver seemed to delight in specializing of passing on blind hill top corners. He also would hug up to the bumper of some huge truck and zip out and around with barely enough time or length of vision to even imagine passing among his other passing maneuvers.
In my earnest desire of self-preservation so as to not in any way pose as a distraction I pretended as though nothing was the matter. I succinctly tightened every muscle throughout my body, bracing myself in the back seat in dread fear that we were eminent going to become totally wiped out in one fell moment furious crash at any moment. This was especially amplified when we passed the recent fatal accident of a motorcyclist and my new Russian friends pointed out the dead guy along the road. He was just lying there, not covered with his motorcycle standing beside him, and it appeared as though his body had merely been dragged off to the side like just another obstruction pulled off to the side.
Such a shocking revelation frightened me and I began to realize that although Russians are very gracious and hospitable people that we were taking much more of risk on this trip in Siberia just with a simple drive than I had anticipated.
My journey with Rubin went well because Rubin, who is an Inuit, is a very patient resourceful man, was an especially good driver. He drove the unpredictable truck with great care and we arrived at Glen William's office in time to catch him there and stow my luggage.
Glen Williams is the Reneweable Resources Officer in Arctic Bay and he had just returned from a long trip out in the field. We sat down and started discussing what kayak paddling conditions I could expect to encounter.
Then we moved onto the illustrious subject of the polar bear. Polar bears are not just cute little furry white things. They are highly intelligent creatures who adapt their behavior very readily.
In this area, Glen warned me, that contrary to Greenland and Ellesmere Island, polar bears are accustomed to people, especially hunters because they frequently encounter them.
In this area, Arctic Bay, now the polar bears have changed their behavior and are unafraid of hunters. This is because in this area of the Arctic conservation is practiced via hunting quotas so that hunters do not shoot every polar bear on sight and that hunters always have food with them.
Polar bears specialize in being great opportunists and these bears have found that it is beneficial to hang around hunters because they might get some easy food. This stems from the practice, which Glen advised me to follow, of setting some food down wind to entice any polar bear to go for that rather than me.
We discussed bear controlling via alarms, scare tactics and the mandatory gun and ammunition. In this area from both his own and others practice in the field he recommend triple X 12 gauge buckshot. I hadnt brought that kind of ammunition so Glen very kindly supplied me with both some bang shots, some rubber rounds and a dozen XXX buck shot rounds.
I had brought slugs with me because that had been the recommended ammunition in Pond Inlet in 1989 but at this time in 1994 Glen explained to me why XXX buck was preferable. He said that in an attack situation when you have to defend yourself with a shotgun if you dont mortally wound the bear with a slug, you are in big trouble, where as with XXX you are better likely to do enough damage to at worst disable the bear.
I had no problem bringing a regulation shotgun with me from the States and crossing the border where questions are asked. I didnt have the slightest reservation in telling the border agents that I was going to an area where this was a mandatory firearm. They understood my rational but then looked a little horrified interjecting "couldnt you go someplace less risky" and wished me well.
Not wishing to risk being "guess who is for dinner" I followed sage advice from good sources. I had also considered a 306 rifle because of its accuracy but for real damage close up and the least amount of weight a 12 gauge shotgun was recommended. Because I was using this in a marine situation possibly even from my kayak I brought a Mosberg 12 gauge, 5 round pump, 20 inch barrel, marine model shotgun. I had rigged an on deck waterproof gun bag with a lanyard on the not only the gun bag but also on the shotgun itself because this model for some reason does not float. It must be all the lead in that amo.
As is always very exciting to do, Glen and I sat in his office and compared our Arctic experiences as all the while I was glancing out the window to check out the ice and the wind.
I already knew that visiting Arctic Bay as a solo kayak paddler was going to be particularly demanding because Arctic Bay is noted for it's strong winds.
Glen described to me an intense windstorm of 70 knots that occurred just a week earlier on an innocent looking, blue skied afternoon. The storm did a lot of damage all over town by picking up and smashing all sorts of objects like lumber and including his ultralight aircraft . Winds of this intensity had come completely unexpectedly so things even if they were tied down hadnt been tied down well enough to withstand winds of 70 knots.
He advised me that these windstorms could not be predicted and at the airport in Nanasivik that particular windstorm was only blowing at 30 to 40 knots, but down in Arctic Bay it blew 70 knots.
I could easily see that the straight off the water, dropping in elevation, funnel shaped topography this area seemed to accelerate the speed of the wind to double the speed of the wind elsewhere.
When I described my somewhat similar experiences in Barrow Alaska and Upernavik Greenland we enjoyed comparing our knowledge the weather in the arctic.
Glen mentioned that Greenland is in need of use of population control for the Beluga whale because they have been over harvesting the Beluga. Unfortunately Greenland doesnt practice wildlife conservation as Alaska and Canada as is illustrated by observations for the Danish Polar Center in 1998 of the auk population in the bird nesting site, Sort Huile, Upernavik. Indiscriminate hunting of auks occurs there throughout the summer despite regulations against discharge of firearms in nesting sites.
To date, 1998, whales slaughtered in Upernavik commune are utilized for matak but the remainder of the carcasses is mostly abandoned. Within Greenland these entire whale carcasses could easily be utilized, but unfortunately there exists no infrastructure for processing and transporting these whale carcasses.
Glen is an exciting person to talk with because he is not only well informed but he is highly innovative. He discussed his world of travel that is available to him when he flies his ultra-light airplane. I felt amazed when he described how to travel when the ice is too thin and broken up to travel over with dog sleds and impenetrable for boats. He uses an ultralight airplane. With an ultralight he has the range and versatility to travel quickly for long distances. Where he is located distances are large and time is critical when sighting moving animals such as pods of whales.
He told me about pan ice what it means to dry out and really it is not too different from the fate of an alcoholic, with the only essential difference being that its the water that is involved. Drying out is rather boring, annoying not fun because what happens is that you pull into shore for a stop and next you find that the ice has filled in the shore, cutting you off from the open water and you cant leave until the ice has left.
You cant just push the ice aside and make your way to the open water, even in a motor boat. The weight of the ice pans individually is too much to push and when you combine this with a whole pack of pan ice you are definitely out of business.
So there you are sitting there drying out waiting for the wind, tide or both together to take the ice away. Thats what it means - drying out.
Glen has had several of his photographs published and he informed me that he uses only Kodak slide processing because he gets the best most consistent results, which I later located as Kodalux in New Jersey.
We also discussed video cameras relative to diving. He told me that the three chip Hi-8 video cameras are the best because they do not require any corrective filters for underwater video. The chips are each for the three primary colors. Then he told me about the break through in digitization of photos as the way to go for the future because the digitized images can be put on computer floppy disks and CD's and then transferred to other locations anywhere in the world by E-mail. I thought that was especially exciting.
In a matter of a few minutes he had answered questions that I couldnt find the information to down where I lived in Connecticut. Travel is quite amazing because it can so often the only way of learning.
We discussed what is happening with kayaking in arctic Canada. Glen told to me about his own initiative into teaching anybody, especially children of Arctic Bay, how to paddle and how to roll a kayak in the pool at the sports complex in Nanasivik with the 10 kayaks that he brought.
We discussed our mutual interest in the diversity of Inuit kayak design. Among his collection of kayaks, he had bought a George Dyson Baidarka with three holes, and in addition he had a Greenlander build him a kayak. The kayak was built to Glen's dimensions and appears to me to be the southwest Greenland lines such as from Nuuk.
The Greenlander was from Griesefjord. He built the kayak in trade for funds so that he could fly back to Greenland.
Glen very kindly let me stay in the Renewable Resources temporary equipment shed rather than my having to bother with breaking out my tent and dealing with setting up my tent in town. He closed his office and I set to work on making dinner and preliminary preparation for assembling my Klepper. Instantly I was the grand source of entertainment and typical of any Arctic town, the kids watched me with the greatest enthusiasm.
As the afternoon began to close the wind changed and, true to form, the ice was not stationary either. Only a few hours earlier when I arrived I did think it was a little strange that the harbor was so miraculously free of ice. Now the wind had changed and was bringing the ice into the harbor.
Oh boy I thought to myself do I make a last minute despirate scramble to put my boat together and get out of here. Then I counciled myself that I should not pass up my opportunity to visit with Glen because this might not be possible again since he is leaving in a few days for a vacation in the south.
After my relaxing dinner of dehydrated food which I had brought and some mattak I had purchased at the hunters co-operative, I went to Glens house that evening when 8:00 rolled around. There I met Glen's wife, Rebecca, whose brother, Rubin, happened to have been the delightful fellow who drove me with all my tons of stuff from Nanasivik to Arctic Bay at no charge.
The day at Arctic Bay had started out in the morning with a few clouds but a definite wind of 10 - 12 knots from the south. And to add complications to the situation, by this morning enough ice had been brought in by the wind that it was now, definitely beginning, to fill in my side of the harbor as throughout a continual parade of ice had been coming in on that side. Last evening there were just a few pans drifting in on the other side and this was just a continuation of yesterdays vanguard.
Oh! what to do? From what had been deemed to be a casual previous afternoon now everything was to be "Chinese fire drill" if I wanted to get out of here today.
And unavoidably my first order of the day was to go buy gasoline for my stove. I had no problem buying high quality fuel because they had stocked Coleman Fuel anticipating customers such as myself. I greatly appreciated their very kind and thoughtful choice because if they didnt care about visitors they would just say go buy gasoline at the pumps.
This was a relief because I have bought some very dirty fuel in Greenland for a very touchy stove. That was a trial of tribulation.
The Baffin kayak was much wider and more multi-chined, elliptically rounded than I quite expected. Interestingly enough the keel is integrated into the roundness of the hull, just the opposite of the Greenland kayak keel. The keel is 3 inches wide laid flat whereas the Greenland kayak keel is 1 1/4 to 1 inch wide projecting sharply especially at the bow and stern. The deck was completely flat like a big coffee table both fore and aft. Not even a Greenland kayak is this flat but this is because the hull depth is so shallow that the deck and the minimal diameter of the cockpit and height requires elevation above the gunwales in the middle of the foredeck to accommodate the paddlers legs. The Baffin kayak has enough deck height at the gunwales and cockpit length to accommodate the paddlers feet and legs.
The bow and stern decks are not raked extending level from the bow. Thick boards made the deck structure and for the hull, wide thin wood made the stringers and wide laminated wood was used for the ribs. The frame was lashed in individual units and not mortised where I could see.
Then the next project was to put my kayak together, pack it and set off. Although I might have assembled my kayak the night before I was too tired then to undertake the project. I hate to make a mistake just because I am tired so I prefer to assemble my kayak with great care to reduce the risk of potential mistakes because so much is dependent on my kayak.
I assembled my kayak without any problems but all the while ice pans were insidiously invading the beach. I knew this was going to be tricky. Either I was going to get stranded in town or I was going to manage an escape only if I was lucky. I knew from past experiences that it only takes a few strategically placed ice pans.
When I was in town the typical entourage of children had just the best entertainment helping me go through the challenging process of assembling and loading my kayak and then later when I arrived out at the point the same wonderful fun continued.
My initial ordeal of loading my kayak was not so demanding because this time I had gone to the trouble of labeling every bag externally. What a difference, and in addition I had numbered the replicate bags of food which also was a very good idea.
I found that essentially all my dry bags do look the same and the only way to tell one from another is to label them. I devised a method by cutting out pieces of light colored nylon or white "tyvek" into a tag shape, writing on them with a permanent laundry marker pen or a sharpie waterproof pen may be used and tying them onto the closures clips
Although this day at Arctic Bay had started out in the morning with a few clouds but a definite 10 - 12 knots from the south wind. My first moment to launch and escape town finally arrived by early afternoon because during the morning I rushed and struggled but by the time I was finally ready the south wind had pushed the ice into the bay.
I had to use assistance of my helpers to launch because there was now so much ice in the bay
Then I had work the kayak between ice pans, push pans apart to make room and as a last resort, I had to drag the fully loaded kayak over the ice in places. In these shallow waters I found that it was surprisingly easy to jump out on the ice chunks. From having done all these logistical balancing acts to get through I can see how Baffin paddlers of traditional Baffin Island kayaks might consider a kayak very differently than Greenlanders. Baffin Island kayak resembles a chunk of ice in character. In the Baffin Island kayak the design is so spacious that everything can be stowed inside or on the deck. This kayak is a self-contained a combination of both a containership or barge. Really this craft was the first container ship. The Baffin kayak was specifically designed as a travel vehicle into among the ice that it can be easily gotten out of and loaded because the majority of paddling is through passages in the off shore ice and among meter thick pan ice. This pan ice can clog any area and it is thick enough that a kayak has to be dragged up on top of it by the paddler getting out and hauling the craft up on top of the ice. When hunting among the ice to be able to sight animals and find passages among the ice requires being able to stand up in the kayak or getting out on the ice.
Oppositely the Greenlanders kayak designs south of Melville Bay at this same latitude north, are sleek narrow craft designed for high speed long distances over open water. This is because the Gulf Stream branches off as the West Greenland Current giving the west coast of Greenland a much longer open water season.
Finally I much to my relief I came to a half mile of ice free water but I couldn't stop for a moment because the wind was constantly feeding more and more pieces of ice into the bay. The bay was filling behind me as I made my way toward the mouth of the bay.
The wind was fifteen knots and the tide was very high because there happened to have been a full moon that day, July 22nd.
I found it quite interesting to see the effect topography has on wind pattern because where I started out at Arctic Bay the wind was from the south but where I arrived on the south facing point which was exposed to the east and west. The wind was blowing from the west. The wind continued until about 1800 at 10 to 15 knots.
This same wind that originated from the south or southwest was veering west at a right angle heading eastward into the opening of Adams Sound. Arctic Bay was at the next opening on the north side of Adams Sound.
Here the wind followed the contours of the bay and changed its course veering northward into Arctic Bay. I could see from the riffles pattern on the water out in Adams Sound as the wind once again resumed its original course from the south or southwest as a low-pressure system.
Essentially the wind was making a zigzag following down inside the openings of the bays bringing the cold heavier air from open water to replace the warm lighter air in the bays. This takes place in Greenland and this aspect of the physics of air circulation resulting in wind factor has to be considered when planning fjord paddling.
I scanned the sky and noticed that there were clouds showing on the horizon and the wind was coming in from the west with high cirrostratus. However I noticed that low altostratus (middle layer) clouds coming in first in greater numbers.
This slow moving front was probably bringing rain and had not developed yet, but by 2000 the sky was mostly overcast. Then an hour later, at 2100, the wind stopped.
In this area at the end of the point, last year's sea ice had now broken into pans 6 to 10 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet thick and has no salt in it. My first day on the water was an idyllic arctic summer day, warm, sunny and slightly breezy.
I pulled into shore on the point at 73°00.61'N, 85°08.93'W
I brought my boat into shore and got it above the high tide line without too much of a struggle. There were some convenient rocks to tie off to so that I could unload as much as possible before bringing my kayak above the tide line.
I had brought some 1 _ inch diameter, wooden broomstick handle rollers to use as rollers under the hull. The following year, 1995, three inch diameter foam rollers were marketed as swimming pool toys. These were much better and I use that system now to get my boat up sand beaches and boat ramps rather than carry the boat on my shoulder. The weight and width of a Klepper Aerius I makes it just at my limit to handle.
This point on the western side of Arctic Bay is at 73°00.61'N, 85°08.93'W was my first campsite. The ground was level, grassed over gravel easy to pitch a tent on.
A couple hours later the tidal current whirlpools had dissipated but the waves down in Adams Sound from the wind looked threatening. The waves were white caps in ink blue water.
I had been told that if Adams Sound looked dark and threatening when viewed from Arctic Bay, people traditionally avoided going down into the area. And I inherently knew that part of my experience was probably going to be that I would indeed find out what this meant as I visited Adams Sound. And from my past experiences in the Arctic, both in Greenland and especially in Pond Inlet, I knew that unless the weather was unusually stable that I would very likely find out and the only unknown was when.
So far, from my simple excursion from town out to this point, this area seemed to be not threatening to paddle in because there were plenty of places come into for a landing close by.
Standing on the point I looked east and a little shiver went up my spine when I noticed that there were pans of ice out on the water off Holy Cross Point. This rip happened at 1700 - 1900. This craggy, basaltic rock peninsula at the head of Adams Sound appeared ominous and forbidding. It was the nearest land to the east. Directly off slightly behind this peninsula were pans of ice whirling around madly revealing that this was a whirlpool.
I wasnt quite sure what was the major force the wind, tides and or currents driving them but this ice was revealing these surface currents very clearly.
With a whirlpool situation the current is likely to be moving faster than you can paddle. It is tricky to judge where a mass of ice pans is going. On such a fast moving and transient tidal current situation it is hard to plan where you might be able to put ashore or where you can safely paddle through the ice during a crossing because everything can suddenly change.
Mine was not the only tent on the point, which I had so long wanted to experience because I never had the opportunity to be out on the land with the people. In Pond Inlet typical of the Canadian and American Arctic, just as soon as it is possible to get motor boats on the water most of the people go out on the land. Usually in July in Pond Inlet people go to the fish camps but others go to hunt caribou. In Arctic Bay many go caribou hunting.
A quality special to the people of the Arctic is that everyone knows where everyone is off to, but when they are returning is always a moot question, because people do not take undue risk boating on these waters.
The tent I saw was a traditional bottomless tent used in the Canadian Arctic, large and high enough to easily accommodate a family of a dozen people.
On the point I met with the sister of Rubin's wife, Unis and her sister who prepares seal skins with great perfection and her 74 year old, delightful mother. They were staying in their tent being traditional. They invited me into their tent after I watched Unis preparing a seal skin scraping the fat off and cutting off any irregularities transforming the skin what was to a perfect piece of leather for kamiks. She was very highly skilled at making kamiks being very careful to take all things into account with each pair she makes.
Her mother tended the lamp which was the traditional arctic oil lamp with multiple wicks she adjusted as needed, gently prodding and pushing them so they burned just so. This lamp is the center of life in a home all light and heat comes from this lamp. The lamp has its stool and the cooking vessel are suspended over.
We all had a good time and many children came out to visit on foot from town that had helped me launch and were teaching me some Inuktit. English was difficult for some of them and many of the adults could neither understand nor speak any English. I am always very grateful for those who can speak some English because I have no command of the Inuit language.
In the bright sun the ice was melting melts quickly, which was especially handy, since this area on the point does not have water nearby.
I had to gather chunks and leave them to melt in my collapsible wash pan to supply myself with water. I thought this time to bring a collapsible wash pan because it is a very handy piece of equipment.
Unfortunately later in the trip it started to leak and I would suggest a large diameter, round bottomed vinyl dry bag in its place. Vinyl drybags do not close in cold weather and bind when being slid into a kayak. However as a large diameter open-topped sack you can melt ice and hold enough water to wash your hair.
I thought about using a sun shower bag to warm up the water but the down side of sun shower bags is that the water is not drinkable and I am not going to be taking any sun showers out on the tundra. Sponge bathing in the comfort of my tent is just fine.
Soap is not necessary because acidic bog plants work even better.
Here on the point the colors of the rocks were dark charcoal gray. The rocks were a combination of metamorphosed gneissic rock and sediments of mudstone, limestone, and quartzite.
It was a quiet morning with light rain when I awoke and looked out of my tent. With my usual curiosity I looked at the water to see what was in store for this day and noticed that once again that same tidal rip off Holy Cross Point was occurring again with waves breaking west in the entrance to Arctic Bay on the eastern side. These mixed breaking waves occurred for three hours at 0500 - 0800 and high tide was at 0200. Tide going out at 1100 on this side the western side of the inlet to Arctic Bay but on the north side of Adams Sound the tide is coming in bringing in the ice.
I planned that my next destination in Adams Sound would be the waterfall, which was about 16 nautical miles away at 125° true.
During the night, rain arrived at 0300 slacked at 0800 on the tide change. The sun shown slightly and the rain continued at 1000. The sun returned at noon, however fog began closing in at 1300 brought in by the wind from the west. At 1430 the point was fog bound, wind west at 10 knots, and the temperature dropped with cold fog but there was no rain.
And curiously enough all that ice which the wind had filled completely up Arctic Bay just the day before was now 3/4 of the ice had gone out with the outgoing tide. I thought about the wisdom of how transient ice packs can be this time of year.
On this point there were several remains of houses. These house structures were round structured walls made of a single thickness of stones and for insulation flanked with sod. The diameter of the houses was the largest that I have ever seen in the Arctic. The largest home was about 25 feet in diameter. The stones used for the wall structure were 2 feet by 1 foot by 1 foot very heavy and large. As I took photos of the overall view from the point and of the house looking out at the ice, I thought about the vantage point this must have been. From here one could easily spot game, especially marine mammals and the air currents were kindly for warmer living conditions and for boat launching.
There were also a few large pieces of whalebone as skull and other bone remaining on the ground. One piece had been recently sawn with a modern saw suggesting that it had been used for making sculpture.
The geology here is interesting. There was a small patch of brilliant green copper leaching out of the surrounding dark gray mudstone. I thought that this was an interesting geological deposit of what might be green malachite. Just for fun even though it was a foggy I recorded it on video because I enjoy seeing what the video camera will show for colors even on a very gray day. Usually a video camera will capture the color on a foggy day often better than a bright day.
There is also gabbro here, which is a granular quartzitic granite without mica.
Just beyond this point are the Society Cliffs. These cliffs are very beautiful plunging straight into the sea for a distance to the west into Admiralty Inlet. They a beautiful panorama of coloration in pink, white and red subtle bands blending softly together of fine grained siltstone. The layers are of red pink hematite, red sandstone against a white back ground.
I found some rocks of red sandstone, deep red feldspar with black mica which reminded me of the geology of the mafic stones on the upper Baillie River to the west in the Barren-Grounds.
In the quiet fog I stalked plants on the point, 73°00.61'N, 85°08.93'W and they were a diverse sampling of alkaline soil plants and Cassiope tetragona (acid soil plant) and several lovely types of Saxifraga, lots of Minuartia or Stellaria. Flowers are Saxifraga rivularis in a south facing undercut rock moist the dry, dark colored gneiss. Saxifraga foliolosa, Taraxacum phymatocarpum, Potentilla nivea ssp. nivea, Pedicularis lapponica, Cassoipe tetragona ssp. tetragona, Pyrola grandiflora (no flowers yet), Vaccinium uliginosum var. uliginosum, Stellaria monantha, Papaver radicatum, Salix cordifolia var. callicarpea (gray fuzzy), Salix herbacea (not sure red stem gray dull green not hairy backs, shiny brown stem, catkins small very fuzzy), Astragalus alpinus called Milk Vetch with blue magenta and white 16 alternate green white strigose (hairy) back, folds to hairy stems eight alternate flowers on top), yellow flowered larger plant with dark green hairy on both sides, hairy stem, dark yellow flowers in a ball on the top, Dryas crenulata (? no flowers), Stellaria laeta, Stellaria longipes, Saxifraga aizoides, Epilobium latifolium, Pedicularis lanata, Cochlearia officinalis ssp. arctica, Draba cana and Antennaria canescens.
The previous day I had watched Rachel preparing of seal skin wet with her sharp ulu. She frequently stopped to resharpen her ulu so it must have been razor sharp.
She worked over a solid flat board raised like a lap desk surface at her knees. She cut away any material but the true skin itself even the pigment cells of the hair follicles. I forgot to ask what would be done next with this wet hide.
Late in the afternoon she worked on the insides of pieces of dry caribou legs with special scrapers scraping off anything but the skin. She positioned herself in a slightly contorted manner using the ankle of her leg to clamp on the end and kept her other leg folded with under her while she sat on a piece of plywood. Her scrapers were 4 inches flat edge with a square palm handle for heavy pushing and her other scraper was 3 inches slightly scooped with rolled up edges and a straight handle that rested in the palm. The caribou legs were to be the tops of the kamiks. She used the caribou leg where the hair is densest down the middle for the front of the kamik. This is likely to be where there is most likely to be the greatest wear.
I was invited to have tea and visit the tent of Rachel and her mother. There I watched the two ladies sewing. They come to this place every summer because, as children, they lived on the land, not in houses. Rachel and her mother come here so that they can prepare hides to be used for sewing. This area is ideal because it has an area large enough to stake the hides with full exposure to the sun, good drying conditions and a dry stone area for working on hides. This is not available near the houses in town and just outside town the ground is boggy and also there are always a few loose dogs about.
I watched as Rachel's mother worked on felt mitten liners. The mitten liners are cut out and then stitched with surfaces on seams butted together. To finish and protect the seam she stitched the edges together with an overcast stitch in bright colored yarn to protect the structural thread of the inner seams.
The stitch used on the outer leather seams of kamiks and mittens where the seam goes around the toe and finger area is a gathering stitch. To get the larger surface to fit, it is stitched with the gathering being twice the length of the opposite side. The stitch is with the two surfaces bent back and against each other over under with what is called waxed thread. The gathering is stitched twice in place with a running stitch through just the gathers to keep them in place and flattened down.
It takes some judgement and estimation to make the two dissimilar pieces fit together even and proportionally. But when it is done well it looks so easy.
We enjoyed our tea together and then the real excitement started as boats filled with parents and children began to arrive. The ice had just gone out and many were rushing to get their boats ready for the water. Just as soon as their boats were ready everybody in their family jumped in and off they went out to the point to visit. All was a festival. I had such a wonderful time. This was the arctic in the height of its summer and its people being as they truly are.
The last of the ice, which had been recirculating in Arctic Bay, has eased out.
No one had any seal when I arrived a couple days ago because there was still too much ice inside Arctic Bay. A few lucky ones who lived nearer the point had a slightly better chance of getting out but this only gave them a couple days advantage over those who kept their boats down in the bottom of the bay in town. But now at 2000 everyone that could was out there on the water hunting for seal. They would look for seals along the edge of the ice pack and an especially favorite area was near Holy Cross Point. Probably because there are strong recirculating currents that brought together food for the fish and it was these fish which the seals were after.
Later during the evening at 2000 the fog gave way to light rain on and off.
A light wind had been blowing since 1400 at a moderate 5 - 10 knots from the west, which was probably just air circulation, cold air replacing warm air.
I had another restful evening on the point, even though in reality it is not quite true that I would be safe there from any wandering polar bears because of the number of people in the general area.
I woke up and went through all my routine of the usual cup of espresso and breakfast of powdered eggs mixed with various dehydrated meats and flavors. I always enjoy the omlet mixes some of them have some very good taste especially the Mexican omlet mix. The dehydrated meats are a choice of chourico or linguisa from Amarals in Fall River or some ham. I am a firm believer that good tasting spicy food is a pleasure to be enjoyed while traveling. Dehydrated food has much better flavor and character than freeze dried food. I round out my breakfast with some oatmeal seasoned with dehydrated fruit and milk powder. These concoctions are easy to prepare. I simply pour boiling hot water over them and wait for them to rehydrate in polyethylene lidded containers for a few minutes.
I could see that today was a benign gray day, which would be just fine for making my run down Adams Sound to the waterfall. There were clouds at 0630 there are clouds on the west horizon over Admiralty Inlet and fog was moving to the east down Adams Sound. Sun is showing on the west shore of Admiralty Inlet, which suggests that the low-pressure weather system is clearing out. Through out the day the fog was a very even light gray layer with one and two miles of visibility. This was a typical fog with very low cloud ceiling where the air temperature and dew point collide as the saturation level changes with a rise in temperature.
Later during the evening at 2000 the fog gave way to light rain on and off.
A light wind had been blowing since 1400 at a moderate 5 - 10 knots from the west, which was probably just air circulation, cold air replacing warm air.
I could see that the last of the ice, which had been recirculating in Arctic Bay, has eased out. I thought that this was a good sign for my upcoming paddling venture, because I was taking a chance that just maybe where I was going to paddle was to be ice free. This was my first really intense experience of paddling just as the annual pan ice would be going out. I didnt know what to expect but I knew to heed advice. All was to be an unknown for me in my next few days.
No one had any seal when I arrived a couple days ago because there was still too much ice inside Arctic Bay. A few lucky ones who lived nearer the point had a slightly better chance of getting out but this only gave them a couple days advantage over those who kept their boats down in the bottom of the bay in town. But now at 2000 everyone that could was out there on the water hunting for seal. They would look for seals along the edge of the ice pack and an especially favorite area was near Holy Cross Point. Probably because there are strong recirculating currents that brought together food for the fish and it was these fish which the seals were after.
I had another restful evening on the point, even though in reality it is not quite true that I would be safe there from any wandering polar bears because of the number of people in the general area.
I woke up and went through all my routine of the usual cup of espresso and breakfast of powdered eggs mixed with various dehydrated meats and flavors. I always enjoy the omelet mixes some of them have some very good taste especially the Mexican omelet mix. The dehydrated meats are a choice of chourico or linguisa from Amarals in Fall River or some ham. I am a firm believer that good tasting spicy food is a pleasure to be enjoyed while traveling. Dehydrated food has much better flavor and character than freeze dried food. I round out my breakfast with some oatmeal seasoned with dehydrated fruit and milk powder. These concoctions are easy to prepare. I simply pour boiling hot water over them and wait for them to rehydrate in polyethylene lidded containers for a few minutes.
I could see that today was a benign gray day, which would be just fine for making my run down Adams Sound to the waterfall. There were clouds at 0630 and also I noticed that there are clouds on the west horizon over Admiralty Inlet. There was also some fog moving to the east down Adams Sound. Sun is showing on the west shore of Admiralty Inlet, which suggests that the low-pressure weather system is clearing out. Through out the day the fog was a very even light gray layer with one and two miles of visibility. This was a typical fog with very low cloud ceiling where the air temperature and dew point collide as the saturation level changes with a rise in temperature.
Conditions looked fine for me to paddle down Adams Sound so after breakfast I broke down my camp and packing everything into the dry bags. I put my numerous dry bags into my shoulder carrying bags. These bags are simple box shaped bags with soft nylon shoulder straps that I specifically designed to carry about 35 to 40 pounds of gear in each. I just stuff into them what I can jam into them and swing them up onto my shoulders. This enables me to carry as much as possible in one trip but also have my hands free for such things as the necessary protective availability of a shotgun.
I bring my shoulder bags down to the beach and then to make launching least stressful on both myself and my kayak, I load my kayak while it is floating. If the tide is advancing I can easily just move my bags above the tide line. And also by using these shoulder bags I have to make fewer trips to load the boat. The limitation is more how much weight I can carry rather than how many slippery nylon dry bags can I juggle and still keep track of where my feet are stepping over the slippery irregular surfaces of seaweed covered boulders.
After I had lined up all my gear at the boulder strewn beach I looked around and thought of what might be the least demanding way to launch my cumbersome kayak. Carrying a Klepper is demanding and awkward, the thought of dropping this my life support system or sustaining an injury is not pleasant.
But as a miracle of miracles, I noticed that the boulders were so thickly cloaked with seaweed, that, indeed if I were careful not to slip up or accidentally wedge my kayak between, I could take advantage of to launch my empty kayak.
I was delighted to find that I could very easily slide my boat, which was not only minimizing the stress on my hull but even better was that I could for myself as well.
Mindful of how incredibly slippery seaweed is, I very carefully balanced and braced myself using my kayak as my stability point. I very carefully positioned myself step by step strategizing every move like a cat that is avoiding getting its paws wet. I was just delighted as I found that I could, with artful strategy, slide my empty kayak along over this conveniently slippery lumpy ramp of sea weed.
Here and there where there were a few gaps in this cover of wonderful seaweed but the fronds were long and dense enough so that I could rearrange them atop the granitic boulders as need be. The last thing I wanted to do was accidentally scratch or worse yet slice open my Hypalon hull on this jagged, sharp granite.
I thought of some of the sage suggestions and the the tricks Frank Goodman mentioned for Cape Horn and those tradionally used on the west coast do with the long leaves of laminaria that grows there. Little convenient thing afforded by Kelp fronds such as; if you want to take a nap, just paddle into a Kelp bed of Laminaria and drape it over your kayak bow. The seaweed will keep you upright and deaden the wave action so you can take a snooze.
In the Arctic regions it always amazes me that sea weeds can survive through the winter attached to rocks. I have thought that the seaweed would become frozen into the ice and when the ice goes out the seaweed would stay with the ice becoming detached from the rocks. I imagine them being just yanked off the rocks as the ice goes out. I wish I had watched to see what actually happens when I had the opportunity in Upernavik.
To load my floating kayak I waded back and forth retrieving my bags from shore and stowed their assorted myriad of shapes and weights beneath the decks of my kayak.
It is moments like this when I cannot understand how anyone who might paddle in frigid waters such as these would not automatically be wearing a drysuit especially when I am squatting in the water to adjust positions of my bags beneath the decks.
The water was completely calm as I packed my floating kayak, hoped in and set off to the east down Adams Sound. I didnt really think about it until I was underway but I was amazingly lucky because the tide was incoming tide with a touch of wind just 5 knots pushing me gently along. The waves were just soft riffles. No ice anywhere in sight. I had to make one short crossing of just a mile or so to Holy Cross Point.
The fog didnt amount to anything and it was just a gray day. I leisurely passed Holy Cross Point not taking the time to observe any of the details in the area because I was focused on attaining my goal about 14 miles away. I headed straight down the sound.
Just as if I were in a sailing race to both conserve my energy and gently accustom myself to the rigors of propelling a loaded kayak, I strategized my paddling to take advantage of the wind and current.
One trick I like to use when running down wind is to take advantage of gravity waves the wind in generating. Essentially what I do as my hull begins falling down the face of a wave, I at that moment add power to my paddle in synchrony with my falling down the wave face. I am building up speed and this speed momentum I use to carry me up the other or back side of the wave. This is especially easy to do with a heavily loaded Klepper.
So I essentially surge down the face of each wave and carry up the backside of each wave. I apply a rhythm to my paddling that is natural for me but I vary the amount of force I put upon each stroke so that I can establish a synchrony with the waves.
Funny thing but Sikorsky helicopters do exactly the same to increase power. They dont change rotational speed of the blades or engine revolutions per minute instead they change blade pitch. I just dig in or lean on my paddle a little bit harder or a little bit lighter as necessary. I never change paddling speed or alter the rhythm.
Another way I take advantage of the weight of my loaded kayak is that I use this weight momentum in such a way that this moment of thrust actually makes the paddle shaft flex. I cause the paddle shaft to flex by putting extra thrust on the stroke at my best angle to apply thrust during my stroke. I use the weight of my body behind my stroke. I lean into my stroke pushing on the paddle shaft at shoulder height. Using my lower back muscles to power my trunk rotation. If need be I use the lifted knee paddling technique especially heading into the wind.
The paddle shaft flex in the first part of the stroke is a lag of the paddle blade behind the shaft. Then in the latter third of the stroke, the flex of the shaft causes the blade to catches up to and surpass the shaft. I get an extra wag or a little extra push from the paddle blade as it is flexing slightly ahead of the shaft in the last portion of the stroke. Which means that it is less work I actually have to do for this little bit of push in the latter part of my stroke.
This is like starting my stroke smoothly at the beginning and toward the end putting sudden thrust at the end of the stroke. But trying to paddle this way is very awkward because putting this sudden thrust in the latter part of the paddle stroke is physically difficult to do, quite tiresome and doesnt give much speed gain. However I do enhance my speed by taking advantage of this paddle shaft flexure when I integrate this rhythmic flexure with my stroke because this weight momentum create the pendulum effect during the paddle stroke.
So what I am doing is I lean on my paddle making the shaft flex and I spring off the shaft flex into the next stroke. It is like a slight extension of the stroke taking advantage of the moment when the blade angle is still pushing against the water. By forcing the paddle shaft to flex back and then spring forward in recovery, I am lengthening the time that the blade face providing more trust.
I had learned from white water slalom race training John Barrys adage "let the water do the work for you." Of course this only happened after I exhausted myself that I heeded Johns advice. When I was in complete frustration, only to watch John paddle the same course make every gate with next to no effort, while I was sitting on the shore staring in disbelief and asking myself "wheres the motor?"
As one of my experiments I switched to using a single short wooden paddle just to change off from the 8 foot Werner Wenatchee. The single paddle gives more propulsion because I used it in more vertically angled stroke and set the foot operated rudder with just enough depth and blade angle to counter for the paddle stroke yaw angle.
This approach didnt work very well because I think that I was probably sitting too low to have the proper leverage. I never did try Verlen Kurgers covered canoe and his tried and true single blade method.
Crossing over to Holy Cross Point and passing along its flanks was no problem the tides and current was carrying me. Holy Cross Point was craggy with rugged red-brown basaltic or trap rock character rock. The gulls hang out here looking for fish in the currents.
I didnt happen to notice but there were several suitable for camping past the point. There was an inlet with a narrow opening into a round bay. Past the backside of the peninsula forming the eastern edge of this round bay there was a pebble beach. Past this peninsula the coast cut back a quarter mile edged by 50 foot angular granite offering no area suitable for landing for a mile. This ended at a small spit of sand and rock offering a narrow steep sand beach on both sides useable only in dire emergency as an overnight campsite bereft of water.
Beyond this small point this side of the sound was defined by towering yellow quartzitic rock cliffs that plunged from dramatic height straight into the water.
From here for the next few miles there was no place where there was even an apron large enough to stand on let alone put the kayak on or accommodate a tent. This did factor did make me feel a little bit edgy if conditions were to become threatening in this area on this side of the sound.
I was having just a calm quiet paddle on the tide but my kayak paddled more slowly than usual because I forgot to fully reinflate the sponsoms.
I had launched my kayak on the water at about 0800 but I did suddenly at 1430 the tide reversed with a vengeance.
At first I made the assumption that I could keep going. In great glee I entertained this bright idea which I gleaned from my white water training. I thought that since the shore eddies would be going the opposite direction of the main current, I would have them all to myself and could hop a free ride them.
Well that was very short lived because what I hadnt quite thought about was that the ice would also be doing just what I was going to be doing too.
So there I was discovering, all by myself, that I had company in the shore eddies, not just some company but just to make sure I wouldnt be even slightly lonely there was in lots and lots of ice.
And all that ice in those eddies was whirling around leaving no space for me to even squeak by. Then to further complicate matters the tide was dropping rapidly the ice of all different thickness was grounding out everywhere cutting off every possible passage along the shore.
So my great idea was indeed very short lived. As the tide was dropping rapidly and so was the ice of all different thickness just grounding out everywhere, cutting off any possible passage along the shore.
It was time for the Glen Williams ultra light aircraft but for me it was now you get to find out what it means "to dry out."
I realized that my little innocent journey had not only just suddenly ground to a quick halt but that I must immediately find a beach area free of ice pans with clear access above the high tide line. If I had to beach my kayak among grounded out ice pans than I would have to get it somehow through them to the high tide line. The thought of my kayak grounded out among a field of ice pans with the next high tide at some early morning hour combined with me being solidly asleep in my tent was not a desirable option. Ice is very formidable.
The other side of the coin was that I was also quite tired and could use a rest. This was partially because I wasnt used to paddling a loaded boat and had neglected to reinflate my sponsoms that morning. My kayak with its drooping stringers and probably slightly hogged keel line paddled more slowly and required more effort than usual.
Oh well I was a little annoyed with myself but this is just one of those things you discover that you happened to have overlooked. I havent paddled my sponsomed kayak in a while so I was out of the routine of reinflating my sponsoms each time. I knew that the next time I launch I would certainly remember to reinflate those sponsoms.
Another important thing I thought about was the effect near freezing water has on sponsom air pressure. I reasoned that if I inflate my sponsoms while I am still on land especially if I am in bright sunlight that, just as soon as the boat is launched on Arctic waters the sponsom pressure drop dramatically. So I made sure to float my kayak and then inflate the sponsoms after allowing for the water temperature had fully affected the sponsom pressure.
I beached my kayak, hopped out and looked around for the best camp site. I thought about my options with safety being first. I looked up at the high rock cliffs and thought about rocks cutting loose tumbling down the cliffs onto me. And just in that moment some rocks did that somewhere up there and they bounded down landing somewhere down below.
Little alarm bells went off in my head telling me that I had better look around for a place beyond the range of tumbling rocks. That ruled out a tent site near the cliffs in fact as I looked at where there were loose boulders accumulated on this apron the only safe area was confined to the edge of this apron most particularly within the old tent circle.
I thanked my lucky stars and reaffirmed my strong belief that old tent circles are good luck sites. I know that Arctic archaeologists would be offended by my violation of a possible data baring archaeological site but I didnt wish to becoming rendered a statistic myself.
Thinking of the archeologists I did briefly consider another possible site but I am a firm believer in good luck being associated with old tent rings and that site did not have quite such a good view and suitably flat area for my tent. The next day I was to find out something else about that very spot I might have placed my tent on which I had never thought of or experienced before relative to ice.
I was surprised and amused after I had looked around and accessed all possibilities that I just happened to come in for a landing at the most ideal spot. My campsite choice was just exactly where there was an old tent ring just at the edge of the high tide line. It is a perfect place because it was a good sighting point in either direction up and down the sound. I could just poke my head out of my tent to see what was happening out there in either direction. Just in case an ocean liner might be coming by, some hunters, seals, whales might be out on the water or a polar bear floating by on a pan of multi-year ice. You just never know.
The tent circle was conveniently flat and dry with the best sun angle exposure. I like to not be in a land shadow when I awake around 6:00 in the morning and it is nice to see the sun in the west as well. When it is in the north it is nice to be in a land shadow. This site offered this with its main exposure to the south.
A babbling brook was conveniently near my campsite too.
Now that I had definitely decided where to set up my tent I unloaded my kayak, dragged up just above the high tide line on broom stick rollers and set up my tent. Not a soul was about. There was no sound other than the dripping of the melting ice and the water cheerfully babbling nearby to calm my slightly jittery nerves.
One thing about being in the Arctic, when it is quiet there it is absolutely quiet. Since I am accustomed to a relatively noisy environment this initial realization of this rather mystical aspect of the Arctic, its silence is disconcerting. It makes you, as a solitary traveler, feel that you are very much alone. There are moments when you listen extra hard just for even the slightest sound because it is hard to imagine that you are in a place that is this quiet.
There are no sources of noise such as wind rustling in the leaves because the trees here are only able to form mats over the ground and fill the shelters among the rocks that have lain there trapping windblown soil between them for eons. The trees form a continual sculpture mat of two dimensional Japanese bonsai forms as an endless panorama of espalier promulgated by only the toughest survive.
My GPS and map located this camp site was at 72°55.04'N, 84°42.25'W.
For the bears I set up around my tent a monofilament tripline with pull string firecrackers, a gravity alarm when moved from hanging vertical to horizontal would set off an alarm and an infrared motion sensor alarm. I had with me, easily accessible, my loaded shotgun. My thought was to be protected in several ways from a possible polar bear and mainly rely upon the element of surprise to scare the bear away but only at a last resort would I have to shoot a bear.
I was now nicely settled in my tent and could look out and observe the clouds. The clouds on Okirqtaukt Mountain I found to look especially strange. And to confirm my observations I took pictures of colliding, blown out stratus (altostratus and cumulus) clouds. These clouds looked as though they were meeting at opposite angles to the east, toward Pond Inlet.
Pond Inlet affects this Arctic Bay weather pattern because it is only a couple hundred miles east. The topography combination of high mountains, strong ocean currents sweeping through, large polynias, proximity to the Penny Ice Cap and Greenland makes Pond Inlet especially disposed to very rapid and wide ranged barometric pressure changes. So with all this going on just a couple hundred miles to the east the local weather in Arctic Bay can at times be unstable. This seemed to me why the clouds looked like massive amounts of unstable air was on the move.
And I must admit that I didnt feel to particularly comfortable as I looked at them. In fact I felt a little bit alarmed and was glad that I was safely situated on land. I knew I could trust my tent in 50 mph winds and I was glad that I had plenty of tie down ropes and large rocks available to tie things to, especially my kayak.
The weight and space a few whitewater throw ropes take up in your kayak is well worth the sacrifice compared to the disasters of what would happen to things that are not tied down in a strong wind.
This sky looked very threatening to the south with small passing showers on the other side to the west. Okirqtaukt Mountain at 1500 feet seems to catch the low stratocumulus clouds looking like that mountain probably has many storms on its summit.
Over that mountain I saw and photographed virga that was unusual because it had shafts of cloud at oblique angles.
There is a hole in the sky and to the south where there was perfectly clear sky. Through this hole I could see perfectly clear blue sky which I thought was spectacularly strange. In all my travels I found a major trademarks of this area of the Arctic is that it seems to host especially interesting cloud formations.
I looked at the map and found that I had paddled 10 nautical miles which was alright. It is not easy to estimate distances in the Arctic because there is nothing to scale distance by when you are new to an area and unfamiliar with its topography.
I investigated the rocks and took pictures of beautiful metamorphic colors and layers among the rocks. I delighted myself finding rocks highly colored. I contemplated the plants noting that these were different because there were some alkaline soil plants among them, which were new to me. I indulged myself in scouting out my most favorite plant, the fern.
I awoke at 02:15 hearing ice crunching outside and looked out to see ice moving rapidly by. I checked to see what the tide was doing and as could be expected the tide was still coming in. The tide peaked at 0300.
Just a few footsteps away from the front of my tent my kayak was sitting. I had chanced leaving it tied off to some hefty rocks just exactly at the edge of what looked like was the last high tide mark. I was taking a chance that there was not going to be an unusually high tide.
And yes, if I were to consider pan ice, as some sort of company, I was definitely not alone, not even slightly alone, because the entire Adams Sound as far as I could see west was now completely clogged, once again, with ice.
I realized how very lucky I had been, just only the day before, to have caught the opportunity to paddle this far east into Adams Sound.
The ice four days ago had been pushed out of Adams Sound by the tide and wind but now the ice had packed itself into the mouth of Adams Sound by the 10 knot west wind which blew for 12 hours during the past two days.
Now at 0900 the ice is spreading out with developing open spots as it was being flushed out by outgoing tide.
Now there was nothing but ice in either direction, so I told myself that I shall spend a quiet day icebound.
I thought about the possibility paddling up to the falls on the Adams River from where I am situated. And I was glad that I had chosen a campsite with good visibility and plenty of water for waiting out these extra days before the ice were to move out. From here, the falls are about another seven unknown nautical miles away.
Looking eastward from my campsite, I could see just a few miles away to the east this strange looking ramp, very definitive landmark. It struck my curiosity because it looked so simple, just like a truck run off ramp on a steep long grade.
I wondered what it really was, why it had such a distinct look and character and why it could it be there, but this mystery I was to find out later.
The wind this morning was very low and changeable and the hot sun was showing through the stratocumulus cloud cover punctuated with openings to clear blue sky.
I contemplated my equipment and thought about repairs such as the little simple things like the tiebacks on the tent doors. How to improve the SVEA 123 stove performance would be by using a heat shield around the pot to hold more of the heat next to the pot rather than defusing off into the atmospheric hinterlands. And of rather critical importance with the trip-line bear alarm system was that I didnt want to have to untie this whole elaborate creation. I hoped that I would be able to just wind the thing up on its spool.
I had devised this trip-line bear alarm to use 30 lb. fishing line for portability and functionality. I tied with the loops tied to the "bang pops" that explode when pulled apart tied together with a simple overhand knot on themselves shorter than the distance between the loops.
One problem I hadnt thought of was the effect of humidity or, worse yet, rain on these paper bang-pops. And guess what? Rain and humidity are very readily absorbed by the nice paper on these bang-pops, especially dew. Dew always comes in those early morning hours just when you are blissfully snoozing away in your tent. This softens the paper just enough to render most of the bang-pops useless. The only thing I can do is to devise and attach little hats of plastic sheeting over each one and hope that the wind doesnt carry them away.
Another one of my alarms was a battery powered gravitational high water alarm which is set off when it lands level and ideally if it lands in water and floats level.
And the other factor plan on is that batteries dont maintain a very good charge in cold conditions.
I did set up the alarm strung around the tent on lightweight mono-filament fishing line from a fishing reel over the ground. I created rock pedestals to elevate the line above the ground even though this arrangement was not as reliable as if the alarm were to drop into a bucket of water in which it would automatically float level setting it off. I can say one thing about that alarm when it goes off its raucous buzz wont stop until it is reset. Its guaranteed to scare the daylights out of anything not deaf as a post for miles around.
So you now all you have to hope for is that your bear visitor doesnt happen to be deaf. Ah, its just another small detail in the world of Arctic travel.
But I created a neat compromise I did tie my high water alarm to my nearly empty tin gallon fuel can. I figured that if this noisy tin can falls over on the rocks, I will probably hear it.
As an up close and personal defense alarm, I was glad that I had brought flares and pepper spray. And up in Barrow Alaska the according to Geof Carrol, the polar bears just love pepper spray. When you spray them, all they do is just lick it off. Even though it seems extravagant bringing all these alarms, the idea of killing or maiming a bear was terrible. I would much rather scare away a polar bear than use a shotgun.
There I was icebound more or less, but now was my chance to indulge my botanical and geological curiosity. After my usual breakfast I wandered around collecting flowers. Now in late July summer flowering was just about at its peak.
Here I found that it was very interesting in terms of botany because there was a wide variety of plants ranging from those requiring high mid and low pH. There was an immense variety of plants and what especially was interesting were among the varieties of the alkaline soil growing plants was some legumes, which were new to me and could be eaten.
(#24 photo) The flowers I collected on this site of Paleozoic Quartzite Egululik group were Campanula uniflora, Cassiope tetragona ssp. tetragona, Cochlearia officinalis ssp. arctica, Draba lactea, Draba nivalis, Dryas crenulata, Melandrium apetalum ssp. Arcticum, Oxyria digyna, Papaver radicatum, Polygonum viviparum, Potentilla hyparctica var. elatior, Russula mushrooms - brown, Salix arctophila, Salix cordifolia var. callicarpea, Saxifraga Aizoon var. neogaea, Saxifraga crenulata, Saxifraga foliolosa, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Stellaria humifusa, Stellaria laeta, and Taraxacum phymatocarpum.
Of note: Salix arctophila had red veined red catkins that grow upright when sheltered. I saw the same plant some leaves are rounded and others are pointed on stem round near the catkin. Salix cordifolia var. callicarpea, which has gray fuzzy leaf backs and catkins I had also seen near Augpillaatoq Greenland.
I didn't see any birch and I wasn't expecting to because of the temperature regime here.
Russula mushrooms were brown and starting to show. I was looking forward to how many I might find because in 1989 at Pond Inlet just 200 miles from here to the east I had gathered and feasted on many.
The sun shown from a cloud free sky and no topographic obstructions, giving perfect illumination for the pictures and videos I took between 0800 to 1200.
I captured exciting images of the metamorphosed sedimentary rocks thoroughly enjoying their colors made more interesting by their white injected mineral veins into siliceous sediments. These wind deposited sediments had become metamorphosed into beautiful layers of colors and swirls. The dark brown top layers of each wind deposit are wind separated iron bearing sands which form definitive caps that outline the yellow white silicaceous layer. These broken rocks show these cross sections as very colorful and imaginative artistic swirls that are lovely examples of wind sorting of sand according to mineral content.
These sediments are made further beautiful by the variations introduced into the wave patterns of metamorphic faulting and compression patterns. The rock faces are sometimes broken in one plane straight through and in that same plan brake to reflect the wind wave deposition. This provides a virtual feast for not just the eyes but also for the imagination in colors and shapes both two and three dimensionally.
And another very exciting find, which I discovered just by walking over shards of rock, were specially lithified chalcedony flakes. Chalcedony is also created by metamorphism of silicaceous deposits and it is created by the amount of weight and heat these sediments have undergone.
When I walked on these seemingly uninteresting rock flakes, they would actually ring and jingle as they tapped against each other. Just to be sure I wasnt experiencing some extra reality event, because as is reality, just being in the Arctic is an adventure in "extra reality", I tested other pieces of rock. These pieces of chalcedony definitely rang when they hit another rock while the other rocks just made the usual thud, tap or clunk, depending on how I dropped them.
The most likely explanation I can think of is that perhaps these sediments of silicacious sand had become compacted and compressed but in addition had become tempered during metamorphism into a type of flint. The marine siliceous deposits on Bermuda behave in a similar way depending on level of compaction.
Well as you might expect as the day was going by there I was, sort of hoping for some miracle, just a small one, as the ice was in its endless procession. I watched the ice go west in the shore eddy, collecting itself down lower in the sound. And over on the southwest side, large low flat pans of ice are starting to work out of the upper end that have not had the opportunity to become broken up yet.
To add to the suspense I noticed that the large pans dont move as fast as the smaller six foot diameter pans, so they tie up the water for a longer time than the broken up pans. Probably this greater horizontal surface area of those larger pans gives less of a surface area for wind or tide to push against.
And of course I always check the weather to see if it is friendly or not. The seemingly innocent light wind blew from the east as I contemplated the ice. There was ice everywhere, no brakes in it, no clusters of pans, just ice and more ice.
The tide was coming in from the west, but the east wind was pushing the ice. When 10 knots of wind and waves hits the ice and tide, the crackling sound of the air trapped in the rapidly melting ice is quite noisy as the waves expose and erode the numerous air pockets undercut pans. The air pockets are created by compression of snow and brine pockets.
I thought about my options for paddling and applied some down to earth logic about what to do next. From here westward there were no suitable campsites for several miles. Eastward was the unknown.
I thought about how the ice was moving and it seemed to me that I should paddle in the same direction as the ice was moving. I thought that this might be the safest and certainly the least strenuous. My idea was that the ice would tend to spin toward me cutting me off. If I paddled against where as if I paddled with the ice was likely to spin and pack but give more of a chance to maneuver around and through it.
Later I was to find that this was faulty logic in either case. I was to find out in the truest sense of the word why the kayak aside from the umiak was created and is the only possible boat design in the arctic.
I had planned to paddle eastward to the waterfall and to the end of Adams Sound. However today because of the wind blowing from the east, all the ice was being blown past me out of the sound and the tide would be going out at 15:30. I realized that if I were to continue as planned paddling east to go further into the sound, I was committed to having to wait until there was much less ice, rather than try to weave against tight and fast moving ice.
Judging by what I could see from my campsite I accessed that the quantity of ice eastward was so great that I was wasting my time waiting here for the ice to go out. In my present position I was less than half way down Adams Sound. To continue in eastward I concluded that I would most likely become cut off by a clog of ice pans, especially as the passage narrowed. I didnt know where campsites might be. There was an unbroken horizon of ice all along the opposite shore and there was a visible ice pack, which filled a narrowing just a few miles east.
To the end of Adams Sound I estimated would probably need a week for that passage to open up.
I decided that I should change my paddling plans for paddling to the falls and to the bottom of Adams Sound. I decided that when this ice and weather conditions looked okay and I would paddle back to Arctic Bay to spend some more time with the ladies on the point and collect some more lichen specimens from that area for Eric Steen Hansen.
I checked my barometer at 15:00 and the barometric pressure was 1011mb and I checked that it was adjusted to 0 meters or sea level. However my instrument was not truly at this altitude because I was actually standing a meter above the high tide line. To have been absolutely accurate, I should have been lying down at the mid tide level.
Somehow I didnt think this amount of accuracy was quite necessary. I amused myself thinking about how irrelevant such hysterical precision would probably be because I rather doubt that the meter would register the difference, anyway. The main concern was how rapidly and how much the barometer is changing as an indicator of the strength of an incoming low pressure system.
Glancing at the sky I noticed that there was a new event starting heralded by gray altostratus clouds coming in from the west mixed with broken cumulus above and there was a weak east breeze.
Well I told myself "I guess I am in for a little weather. Is the Arctic a stable quiet place, maybe, but it certainly is not here".
I checked my barometer and what the pan ice was doing ice at 17:00. The barometric pressure was at 1010mb, which was the same as two hours earlier, but now there were more gray clouds.
And now, ever so slowly and ever so gradually, all those tons and tons of pan ice was passing by on its egress westward with the outgoing tide.
"How lovely!" I thought to myself as I secretly thanked my lucky stars that this was the season when the ice was going out, rather than, when the freeze up would be starting. Here I was taking my chances because I was geographically out of walking range back to humanity and I had no means of making contact.
At that time, 1994 single side band radio was the only means of communication available. These radios are too bulky and weigh too much to put into a kayak. Later in the late 1990s satellite telephone communication became available.
Travel on the water by kayak when it is late in the open water season would have been more than just a touch risky.
There is some risk even in this season, mid-summer, because it is possible to become entrapped in a mass of annual ice and just be carried to where ever the ice was going for days on end.
This constant world of ice coming and going is and then what happens in between freeze up is a source of tension people in the Arctic just accept as just another part of what it means to be in the Arctic. This is an environment where one has to be a wise opportunist, very flexible and extremely patient.
Then an hour later, at 18:00, there began to show a change in barometric pressure showing a drop from 1010mb to 1009mb, wind was blowing 5 - 8 knots SE with light rain. At 19:00, the barometric pressure was 1009mb with rain, and at 20:00, the barometric pressure was 1008mb wind at 10 knots E and the rain had stopped. This was a slow drop in barometric pressure but I was yet to see the results.
Some of the birds that I saw were; Glaucous gulls light gray, Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Common Eiders, and of the most common were Northern Fulmars in both dark and light phases.
This dark and light phase of the Northern Fulmars makes them look quite different from one another.
Near town as is quite usual in association with human habitation, there were numerous delightful amusing Northern Ravens. I never cease to tire of watching their personalized repertoire of antics. They are just simply perpetual showoffs.
The lichen samples I gathered were Alectoria nigricans, Bryoria nitidula, Cetraria ericetorum, C. nigricans, C. nivalis, Physcia dubia, Polychidium muscicola, Thamnolia vermicularis, and Xanthoria elegans.
Now the wind was blowing 10 knots on the water making the ice bubble like a glass of ginger ale because the ice was being forced to melt and loose air so rapidly. I reminded myself as I noticed that because of all the ice in this immediate area upwind only tiny wavelets developed rather than the typical sea which should have come.
There was no lack of light at 21:00, and the barometric pressure now down to 1007mb, with slightly increased southeast wind. However all those clouds that appeared as though they were bringing rain did just exactly that. So there I was in my tent and now it was raining. Better than if it were snowing, I guess. And at least the wind was only blowing 10 knots and not more.
I always worry that my tent may decide to leak but once again this durable Chouinard Mega Mid was holding fine. I like the design except for the fact that it does slat annoyingly in the wind. However, the advantages of to this simple floorless pyramid shape is that there is optimum versatility, which outweigh this annoyance. During drastically windy conditions the total height of the tent can be reduced which acts to limit amount of exposed surface area to the wind and rocks can be piled onto the flap edges. I added pockets to the flaps on its circumference which are to hold sand as ballast. In areas such as Barrow Alaska there are no rocks, only sand and there is no lack of wind on that flat terrain.
An hour and a half later at 22:30 the barometer was holding at 1007mb with rain and wind. I was glad the barometer was holding.
Just after midnight at 00:30 the barometer was still holding at 1007mb and it was raining but the air temperature was very definitely, suspiciously warm.
I recalled previous experiences in Greenland when this influx of warm air had been the vanguard of a powerful low - pressure system.
By 01:30 the pressure was down another 6mb to 1001mb and it was very warm, rain with wind occasionally gusting to 15 - 20 knots.
Now all I needed to experience was the oncoming reversal and once again poke my head out of my tent into the Arctic July world of ice and snow. "Oh well, here I am in the Arctic where it can snow any day of the year" I said to myself and braced myself, hunkering down in my sleeping bag, finally going off into a sound sleep.
And it was nice to note the exact time of the slack tide was 00:30. This is always handy information.
Luckily this area has diurnal tides. Having two tides rather one is a confusing situation.
On the West Coast of Greenland, which has semi-diurnal tides. I just never quite know what is really happening and sometimes high tide will be much higher than I expect.
There have been a few times when I thought I could get away with assuming that the maximum upper line of sea weed must have been a storm tide rather than actually being the top of the last high tide.
I just love that moment when the tide is creeping up to my kayak and it is obvious that it will be definitely floating. Then those little bells, which I hoped wouldnt ring, go off in my head telling me that there is more tide yet to come and that I had better get out there, because I have two choices either move the kayak or consider walking on water.
And there I am, just because I had been too lazy to bother myself with bringing up my boat, now I am forced to extricate myself from my aura of comfort into the cold, wet world to deal with the major project of moving my kayak up the beach
The tide was coming in at 01:00 and I decided that I should pull my Klepper up higher yet because I could see that the wind had switched to the west. I feared that the tide may come up higher than usual.
The wind can pack water into areas or hold tidal water back. This is usual in Long Island Sound in the narrow Race off Long Island and New London when the wind is from the east. Also the ice may be driven up on shore, as well.
Large amounts of ice affects tides by slowing down the tidal exchange rate, but sufficient wind can move both the ice and water with especially when the wind is with the tide. I decided that this might be the situation and that the water might come much higher.
The tide peaked out at 03:30 today.
At 06:30 barometric pressure was at 1000mb and the wind had switched from the Southeast to now being from the West.
From my vantage point it appeared as if the ice which had been along this side and down the middle of the sound had made its way west sufficiently such that it was out of sight. I reveled in my new paddling possibilities.
At 08:30 the pressure was rising 1002mb but for some unexplainable reason an hour later at 09:30 the sun was shining brightly but the pressure was down to 1000mb but the wind was blowing 5 - 10 knots from the west.
The tide was bottomed out and now was coming in. And behold I thought to myself as a little twinge of alarm passed into my soul. That ice which had accumulated along south shore of Adams Sound was on the move again via both tide and wind. It was now busy filling in the sound just two miles east of here - not exactly a comforting thought.
I was especially pleased with this old tent ring, which I had chosen to camp inside of because not only did it have a good view both ways, good sun exposure and it had excellent drainage such that the area beneath my tent was dry completely.
Who wants to discover during a rainstorm that your tent just happens to be situated right in the middle of a gully or a low spot. I have heard of those horror stories of people waking up to a robust torrent of water flowing through the middle of their tent.
In the middle of the night I had gotten up and arranged little hats over the bang-pop alarms to protect them from the rain. I fashioned the protective hats from little pieces of plastic cut out from my used food bags
I emerged from my tent only to find that through both luck and my respect for an others' judgement in choosing this campsite that this site had no ice. To my shock and horror only a fifty yards to the east where I had considered placing my tent was now sitting a huge stack of ice blocks. Each block of ice was two to three feet thick six feet in diameter weighing in the ton range each.
These blocks had arrived and stacked themselves on top of each other without even the slightest detectable sound. I couldnt believe my eyes at how near I had come to being in a seemingly innocent situation in which my equipment, especially my kayak which is my lifeline to the world and even myself might have been destroyed.
At first I could not imagine how this could have happened, but then I looked more closely at how the water was circulating in this seemingly innocent area. Then I realized that the ice could have only accumulated in this spot if there was an eddy. Sure enough after I looked at the water and the ice chunks swirling around in a circle I could see that there certainly was a definite eddy.
The ice blocks happened to be just the right thickness and there was a strong tide because the moon was full just a few days earlier. The water circulation dynamics were just sufficient for the ice blocks to not only strand themselves but to become stacked upon themselves in a definite pile on the shore.
This one of the little things you would probably never visualize happening of unless you have been in the Arctic and seen this happen.
The localized weather seemed very easy to keep an eye on because so far the clouds were showing what was happening.
The low alto cumulus clouds follow cold air from the ice fields generating ice fog over the ice that is here. I thought that was interesting to think about. What happens to vast bodies of clear, cold moist air from the vast fields of annual ice on the open water as it comes to warm land warms up and the moisture condenses into fog.
It was interesting to observe the effect that the local geology coupled with weathering conditions was having on the types of plants I was finding. In these Arctic areas biogeography is easy and exciting to study because the plants very actively reflect what is happening in terms of chemistry, weathering and air circulation patterns.
The rock in this area is yellow quartzite and the soil is alkaline as indicated by plants, although some of the rocks themselves might be acidic. The soil here is alkaline and is mostly newly formed.
This area is completely different in character from Barrow Alaska because it does not have the ancient black and brown soils formed during bygone much warmer eras of forestation.
There were some moist bogs, which Melandrium was the indicator plant. Cochlearia here and there indicated dry soil. The presence of Dryas cernua indicated that this soil is alkaline.
Above me were cliffs of paleozoic quartzite light yellow wind and weather eroded into interesting spires. In a few instances these spires are suggestive of humans, giving an eerie feeling about this area. It is a feeling as though one is not quite lone when one comes here, especially when traveling by kayak. Where there are those moments when it seems that ones survival is dependent upon the good graces meeted out by unknown divine powers of whom we visitors are only first to meet. Indeed we are strangers in this land. It is the land of them, but who are they?
These thoughts came to me as I wondered about the local people having said "Dont go down Adams Sound if it looks dark."
These were the remainders of rock, which hadnt destabilized and tumbled from the cliffs above. The rock was chunks and nearly vertical fissured walls. This quartzite was hard well-compressed metamorphosed strata, which has broken into irregular blocks.
Within this yellow strata had interesting horizontal overlays in blue gray on yellow white quartzite strata, shapes of broken rock to illustrate lithification or degrees of metamorphosis these shapes ranged from conchoidal with various structure and graphic scenic layering in white with green tinted gray lines. I would guess that the green tinted gray lines were probably some oxidation state of iron.
I sort of looked at the ice to the west in the bay and saw that it was still clogging the next two miles so that meant that it would not a practical idea to try and paddle in that direction.
Soil in this area was clay and rock flour light brown alkaline small area of red clay hematite soil overlay of acidified old soil with typical acidic plants having Vaccinium among them. In the scree slope among the larger boulders I found the fern Cystopteris fragilis a very exciting moment only one plant. Other plants I found Arnica alpina ssp. Augustifolia, Cassiope tetragona, Potentilla nivea ssp. nivea, Pyrola grandiflora, Salix herbacea, Saxifraga nivalis, S. caespitosa ssp. uniflora, Stellaria monantha and Vaccinium uliginosum var. uliginosum, which was a give-away for the presence of older soil.
Lichens were Cladonia fimbriata, Cetraria ericetorum, C. delisei, C. nigricans, Leptogium tenuissimum white with cream interiors on soil, wet moss, Parmeliopsis hyperopta, Stereocaulon glareosum, Omphalodiscus krascheninnikovii on acidic and alkaline rocks and soil, Physcia caesia, Umbilicaria havaasii, U. proboscidea, and Xanthoparmelia centrifuga,.
Well there was no doubt that this was going to be another storm there was a nasty cold wind closing in at 15 knots from the west with low cold rain-filled clouds.
And both the barometer and the clouds were once again doing something. The barometric pressure readings at 11:00 was 997mb with clouds, at 12:00 was 998mb, at 13:00 was 997mb and at 14:00 was 998mb but at 15:00 the barometric pressure was 999mb, fog, cold west wind 10 - 15 knots, clearing and the tide was coming in. At 16:00 the barometric pressure was 1001mb west wind 5 knots looking west the ice configuration was vague in either direction. Barometric pressure at 17:00 was 998mb, at 18:00 was 997mb and at 19:00 was 995mb. There was a cold steady west wind at 10 - 15 knots which was bringing in a snow storm from the south. It was just starting to snow.
Even though I felt disappointed because I would have liked to have been able to get back on the water and continue with my exploration I could see that I had best stay put. I realized that here I am on solid ground with water a good campsite and that there was no point in trying to leave until all this music back and forth stops. There was no doubt about it, as had been alluded to, that the weather here is anything but stabile. Indeed the true character of weather here is, without doubt, always in transition.
Although I have no influence, I quietly admitted to myself that I hoped the weather might settle down. So far my experience had been that between the ice, the rain and the wind this was place is absurdly wild. Much of the ice has melted.
As Glen Williams had forewarned me, you can find yourself having to stay places whether you might or might not want to!
Thoughts came to my mind of "Now where is that ultra light or can I hire a helicopter somewhere quick. Yeah but I came here to paddle my kayak. Those options would be too easy and that would be cheating anyway!" I reprimanded myself. Even though I was alone, it is amazing how big this personal crowd of me, myself and I can be.
Then to console this raucous crowd of me, myself and I and to continue with what I should be doing I contented myself with taking another interesting cloud mist sunlight photo. I reminded myself that I couldnt take photos unless I were here when an event was happening.
At 20:00 the barometric pressure was 996mb with intermittent rain and west wind of 10 - 15 knots.
7/27/94 at 04:00 the barometric pressure was 996mb and it had snowed during the night with a west wind of 15 knots. At 05:00 the barometric pressure was 995mb. At 06:00 the barometric pressure was steady 992mb but at 10:00 the barometric pressure was 985mb with wind out of the east at 5 knots, snow and rain with fog off and on.
I was becoming bored and I changed my mind about continuing down farther to the east because it seemed to me as though I could only cover two miles before I would probably become stopped by an ice jam. And to me this was just not worth wasting my time doing. I thought I could more effectively use my time both in the sense of a learning experience and give the ice a chance to go out. I decided it would be best if I were to return to the point near Society Cliffs, where I had met the two ladies from town living traditionally out on the land.
The wind was blowing from the west at 10 knots. I decided that I could risk bucking this wind. There was no ice nearby or visible as far as I could see to the west when I broke camp around midmorning. Breaking down camp went along smoothly and I loaded my kayak with it afloat. Packing my craft went with ease because all the drybags fit nicely into the spaces beneath the decks.
I hate fighting with bags and boat interior limitations. The bulkiest items luckily fit very nicely into the bow sheets. That is always a great relief.
I felt quietly invigorated because once again be reunited with the water feeling like I had just escaped the clutches of the icy elements and the torment of contrary weather. And so off I went, paddling against wind and tide.
This is certainly not the first time I have paddled against a 10 knot wind with a fully loaded Klepper before. I was not going to wait for the idyllic combination of wind and tide to follow me, which would have been rather impractical.
Even though it is not especially demanding, even if the tide was also contrary. Opportunity knocks once. Just the question is, which one is knocking at the moment and which one will come next? Once it arrives you cant trade it in.
I was energetically paddling westward but I knew this would not last over the necessary miles I had to cover because paddling against 10 knots of wind and tide sooner or later takes its toll and becomes wearing.
I analyzed within myself, how can I make this journey as least demanding as possible? Calling upon my small craft flight experience and white water paddling knowledge, I knew well that taking advantage of land friction was just the perfect solution for this situation.
Wind speed becomes reduced by land friction and it the right topographical conditions it can create reverse eddies. And I thought that I could take significant advantage of this land friction factor since the topography all of the way back was of rugged vertical walls.
I remembered fooling around with water and wind currents and finding that air currents affect hull speed much more drastically than water when the waves are less than a foot. Even if there are waves I could time my paddling to accelerate on the backs of waves. Unfortunately the problem with the wind is that wind does have an unmistakable way of grabbing kayaks.
So I quietly reveled in my succinctly strategy of planning my paddling to take advantage of the land friction. "What a neat idea" I thought to myself, "now I was to try it".
I set off and eyeballed the water for the configuration of wind riffles. Just 15 feet at most was the flat area so I paddled doing what ever was necessary to stay in that wind shadow staying very close to the rock walls. If I had to hug them I would have rather than waste energy out in the wind.
Coming down a long passage in Greenland I paddled from wind shadow to wind shadow as the shadows wound and threaded their way down the bay. I think now in retrospect that these were caused by topographically directed winds overlapping one another.
Padding close to the nearly vertical rock walls also allowed me to take advantage of the possible eddies formed along the land. These eddies flow in reverse to the current and in this case the tidal direction. These eddies werent very large but still they helped.
As I made my way down the bay I noticed several places where I could set up camp that I hadnt noticed on my first journey past this area. I was not so pleased to notice that there were not that many places, which offered water even if there was room for a tent. I had been very lucky where I had been forced to stop that there was such excellent water as a delightful babbling brook close by my tent.
It is always interesting when I am just interested in getting somewhere. I engage in the most boring treadmill paddling. And what is really alarming, how truly myopic my powers of observation are in the sense of just plain noticing landing sites which may spell survival at some future time. Not being open-mindedly observant makes kayaking even in the most interesting places very boring because I dont notice things and miss others, rather than find out what is there that I have never seen before.
I hauled out at 13:00 on a point just to see what the exact conditions would be if I were to camp there. And it is always so real when you walk around and really look that you find those little important details. I hadnt really thought about it until I landed and found that this was indeed not a good place because it has no water and this little peninsula probably catches all the wind and waves.
I reminded myself that it was good to have no illusions about that place. Especially regarding water even though I always take the special precaution of carrying a few gallons of water just incase I am forced off the water onto a place such as this.
I stretched out on my air mattress and took a nice short nap in the warm conditions it seemed to suit the moment. It is nice to have a quick snooze because I need a break from time to time. When I become fatigued from just doing the same thing hour after hour, especially slog paddling, I find my interest levels dropping. When I am refreshed I am not pushing myself and just simply absorb much more of what there is to see and I enjoy in a more spontaneous way the experience.
I wasnt worried as I snoozed about polar bears materializing or other threatening complications such as an ice jam because there was no ice in sight the water was calm and quiet, just idyllic.
An hour later I got underway again and I was off checking the rocks for details. I was hoping to find something unusual perhaps some exciting minerals. I paddled close to the shore because it is always more interesting to look in detail. There were several miles before I could find another place even a small place to make a landing. The rock walls even though they were only a few meters high in this area rising to a flat wide ledge, which could have been a road, offered no possibility for a landing at the waters edge. I thought that was interesting and I was surprised. From afar this next few miles looked hospitable but I found it would have only been hospitable if I were a spider. Oh well!
I continued on and by 16:00 a few hours later I decided to break off from this detailed shore hugging paddling and headed out into the middle of the sound.
Then I noticed the ice farther up. It was more than just a few pans randomly out there. And out there was not just anywhere. The world of the ice which I had not really been particularly concerned about in fact I had assumed the ice was not anything of major concern now was different.
As I paddled close enough that I could see from my kayak. There it was all that innocent ice was now gathered into a continuous flow of pan ice completely filling the mouth of Adams Sound.
And of course just to add to the suspense, because this is what this trip seems to be about I reminded myself, one limiting factor of being a kayak paddler is that I am so low to the water that I can not see very large distances. Nothing like a little real suspense and being the victim sure beats reading about it and I felt my nerves twinge.
So there I was not sure if there was even the remotest possibility that I might be successful and get round Holly Cross Point or would I have to face a highly unanticipated disappointment.
One reality in the Arctic is that I knew I would have to make a supreme effort not to indulge my ego in feeling frustrated if I could not get around the point in the next few moments.
So there I sat on the water looking and feeling like a large red duck. I knew that I had no choice other than to paddle a few more, what might be useless, miles from where I was on the water when I first spotted the ice pack. I couldnt sure until I had gotten within range to see how much ice was off Holy Cross Point.
Well it wasnt a fun moment. I found that all the lovely ice just happening to have rafted up, completely blocking off the area around Holy Cross Point. It was impossible for me to go around the point back into Arctic Bay or to continue westward to Society Cliffs.
It seems as though the ice is either not moving at all or it is moving along gingerly, there seems to be no in between. Ice has a life of its own.
The ice was not moving. Tide was going out. The 12 knot west wind was blowing against the outgoing tide packing these ice pans forming this ice jam.
Near this ice pack I saw two black humps like Dolphin backs come up in a hole which were probably some type of seal.
Dejectedly grumbling under my breath about "how could this be!", I had two choices either to sit there on the water and wait for the ice or to double back and find a campsite somewhere along the way.
Not wanting to dubiously honor myself and my illustrious, red Klepper as just another addition to the already myriad blobs on the water, because really what else is a kayak that is just sitting there on the water not going anywhere, I resigned myself to the best of two choices.
And besides it doesnt take very long before it gets chilly out there, just sitting among all that ice not doing anything, I reminded myself from my sailing experiences in Pond Inlet.
Resignedly I doubled back, just happening to recall, that I did just pass what looked like a possible campsite which even had with a nicely inset apron that formed a beach only a half mile back. "That isnt so bad, I could have been committed to miles of backtracking had I been farther down this sound." I told myself.
Bringing my kayak up on the narrow apron of beach was not difficult because the rocks were flat and shalely in character, here rather than boulders. This was a cozy hospitable place.
Looking around, I found that this was a highly used campsite and I just laughed to myself about because the last campers had probably been forced to stay here for the same reason as I. In the spirit of the occasion I doggedly resigned myself to setting up my camp.
Then just as I had completed my task I heard that all too distinctive sound of what could only be motorboats on water. This sound was not quite exactly what I wanted to hear just then, because I realized an undeniable reality about ice. This raft of pan ice moved enough that by 19:00 the motor boats from Arctic Bay were going around it.
For as much as I might try to pretend it might not be so, ice always goes just when and where it wants to. I have no control, only luck and a tiny bit of guess work in my favor over the peregrinations of ice. Polar bears just hop on multiyear ice and float around because being stuck in pack ice is not a problem for them and that is where the seals are.
I suppose that it could have been possible for a very daring person with exquisite balance to get out onto these incredibly slick pans of ice and drag a kayak over to the open water. However I was definitely not going to take this risk. It would be too easy to either slip off or break off a piece of undercut ice. I wasnt armed with the traditional picks ice boaters wear on a string around their necks so getting back up would have been impossible. And can you imagine wearing crampons inside a fabric hulled kayak as a practicality. "Not I!"
At my new campsite, which was at 72°59.37'N, 85°02.76'W I take some pictures of flowers to compare with the other places I visit. I take some pictures of the clouds because the types and dynamics of clouds are always develop into something curious. What was really exciting to find were the ruins of Thule shelters thousands of years old. How strange, how enigmatic here am I, just one of the many who is just passing by. I look around discovering fresh remains of seal that was eaten beside the coals of a campfire. It does seem to look as though I might not be the first.
This area has always been heavily populated because of excellent water and land hunting which explains these numerous ancient house ruins.
The barometer was depressed with an east wind. I very vainly hoped that this might be just some air from the ice cap in Greenland but no it was to be another storm. My patience was once again somewhat tried but I had no excuse for self pity because Glen Williams had forewarned me that Arctic Bay is not the place to be for those who cant handle storms.
Earlier in the day, at 10:00 the barometric pressure was 984mb, at 14:00 the barometric pressure was 981mb and at 20:00 the barometric pressure was 984mb.
Wind from 09:00 to 18:00 was a west wind of 10 to 20 knots.
Now at 21:00 there was a suspicious sort of dead calm, complete with fog, light snow, some sun showing but it was combined with low vague clouds gathering on western horizon. "Ah another ominous portend." I admitted to myself.
I watched a Snow Bunting eating willow catkins, which I had never seen before, a Gyrfalcon in the gray phase (orange area at the base of the tail top), Red-throated Loon male, and Snow Bunting female.
I noticed during my paddle in either direction for a half a mile of this campsite that this campsite happens to have a good view and be very sheltered from the winds on Adams Sound. Interesting aspect, which is very likely the explanation for its heavy use. Always trust old remains and tent rings as they represent the wisdom of those who have preceded.
Here at 72°59.37'N, 85°03.25'W, I found something that I had never seen before. There were plants growing at the very edge of the high tide line. This was the only place I have ever seen Mertensia maritima with blue flowers and bluish leaves and Cardamine bellidifolia but which had low tiny white flowers and a rosette of spoon leaves definitely a Cruciferae growing on the edge of the high tide line.
Mertensia maritima is edible and a nice source of vitamin C.
It was a quiet dawn, the sky was silver gray. I ate my usual breakfast of rehydrated food and had my cup of espresso. By late morning I casually launched.
Little did I suspect that this day would be a grand day of chasing and being chased by the ice. If I had known that, I would have had an acute case of butterflies. Todays events revealed to me why Inuit people are traditionally very quick at getting underway, whereas I take a minimum of a couple hours to first prepare food, put some hot soup in my thermos, break camp and pack my kayak. No doubt it does take a certain amount of time to properly handle equipment and the price for failure just is not worth it. Planning is of the essence to survival but so is flexibility as I was going to find out this day.
At 10:00 I launched and much to my amazement it was still just a quiet gray day. I thought to myself "this cant be there has to be something going on" about the length of this hiatus between the usual instability. I had begun to get used to being bombed by nasty weather every few hours.
Then I reasoned from saltwater boating and fishing that the tide was slacked out while the tide is in the midst of changing there is a quiet period between storm activities. The winds and weather calms for a few hours until the tide reestablishes itself.
At 10:00 I happened to be launching just after slack tide. Now the tide was coming in and as I got farther out from the shelter of land I felt a light eastern wind blowing at my back. I didnt realize what was happening until I came into full view of this passage from my cockpit. Then, to my horror, I spotted that there was an ice clog coalescing right before my very eyes cutting me off just exactly at Holy Cross Point.
Oh boy! All I could think of was to paddle as hard as possible to just make it by before the ice closed it off.
My mood and my paddle stroke went from being relaxed into total alarm mode. I can tell you, I sprint paddled, bending that paddle shaft with all my might, "like a scared man bails a sinking boat", hoping against all odds, that I could just squeak through in the nick of time.
Today was going to be anything other than a simple quiet day on the water going where ever I might wish, for today was going to be little bit too real. I was committed to either another stroke of luck or another starkly humiliating disappointment. Definitely, it was going to be a day when strategy and brute survival was to be the issue. Today was not going to be relaxing, to say the least.
Indeed as Glen Williams had forewarned me, the Arctic is one place where marked character building will take place if one is to survive. Patience and strategy are the key ingredients of survival.
I hadnt thought about the effect that this incoming tide would have on that, all so innocent, ice. And further, I hadnt thought about the combination of this moderate wind, which was blowing from the east with the ice being pushed by the tide flowing from the west.
I ground to a halt at the ice pack edge. There was no way and all my effort was to no avail, because time won. The wind and tide combined to push all the ice together in this area around Holy Cross Point. Now the ice had closed this passage.
Sadly I recalled, that this passage had been open all the while, just shortly after I had gotten off the water from about 19:00 on the previous evening to about 08:00 this next morning. Now not only was this area around Holy Cross Point filled, but from here the entire expanse westward to the end of Adams Sound was thoroughly inundated without any breaks by this ice floe.
I felt rather small in my little red kayak, like just another bit of nothing on the water, quite insignificant and thoroughly overwhelmed. That is what pan ice can be all about, to a kayak paddler.
As I was sitting in the tail of the ice pack daunted, I began to think "surely there must be some sort of possible way to beat this". I hypothesized from my white water slalom paddling training that the ice along the rocks would be in eddies. Therefore I theorized that the ice would not be able to pack together tightly, but would instead remain loose with spaces around it through which I could paddle my kayak. The current in the eddies would be weak and therefore the pieces of ice within these eddies would be only the small ones because the eddies would be too weak to bring in the big pieces of ice.
Ah the lucid imagination of a kayaker!
In just the few moments while I had been sitting there in the back of the ice floe I looked behind me only to find that more and more ice was joining the pack behind me. Now I in my little red kayak was becoming part of the floe. There was no doubt in my mind that I had better back up my kayak immediately and get out of the ice pack before I get caught in it. I freed myself by first lifting my rudder to reduce my water line length and not entangle it with the ice. Then I delicately paddled backward always looking at the paddle blade on each side so that I would be most stable and I would be best able to strategize the direction of my hull through the ice pans into a free area.
Once free of the so-called crowd, all that ice, I swung my hull around and paddled my kayak over to the wall of vertical rock leading to the point.
I began to paddle along the wall. At first I made some progress through the openings around a few of the ice pans. I had to jam my way past some pans. Risking puncturing my hull, I forced my way through. There was a gap between two floes. I thought that if I were lucky, I could squeeze through that gap. But before I knew it, I could go no farther. I had ran out of open spaces.
I was agonizingly close to the end of Holy Cross Point.
My valiant effort suddenly became my nemesis. "Oh oh, this is really humiliating I guess I really do have to look. Oh but I dont want to. Things like this are not supposed to happen to me the intrepid kayaker." I mumbled to myself under my breath barely daring to admit defeat of my strategy.
I swung around in my cockpit to discern the horizon sternward. Immediately behind my passage had filled in completely with pans of ice. Now I was just a little more than slightly indisposed. Now I was undeniably trapped.
Calmly I reassured myself, thinking that I would be able to back my kayak up onto the ice pans. "I can just back out. After all, I have been able to back my Arluk over the sea ice by simply pulling it backward with a garden hoe up onto the ice in Stony Creek Connecticut. I dont see why I cant do this with my Klepper over these pans of ice."
Well, that idea didnt work. I had forgotten a few minor details. The Klepper Aerius I unlike the Arluk III has a straight keel in the stern and very little rocker aft of midship to the stern. The height of the ice pans were elbow high to me sitting in my cockpit, which was much too high for this strategy.
I would have needed a sharp edged implement to firmly grab with a full length handle to provide the necessary leverage such as a normal garden hoe, which I didnt have either.
Now the wind had increased and is blowing 15 -20 knots from the east. Doing some quick mathematics in my head involving weights and force, I realized that no way was I strong enough to force my kayak through the ice nor was the structure of my boat capable of sustaining such stress. I reminded myself that I wasnt paddling a steel or a ferro-cement hull.
Now there I was sitting in my little kayak, smothered by ice pans. I was feeling just ever so slightly desperate. "No this cant be my only option." And another creative tactic came to mind, get out and walk on the ice. "Why not get out and walk on the ice after all everybody does that in East Baffin Island, that is why their kayaks are so wide and stable. They always have to get out and stand on the ice to see where the game is and where there are open passage. So why cant I do the same, my klepper is just as wide and stable as an East Baffin kayak. It will be easy to balance it with the paddle laid over the ice. The ice is just the right height as my cockpit."
As I put my foot out of the cockpit, just before I actually started to transfer my weight onto my outstretched foot, I hesitated. I knew by the dimensions of these ice pans that they could bare my weight. But then I noted that this fast melting ice was impossibly slippery.
I would need to be wearing some form of better traction such as a special type of boots with very abrasive bottoms or some crampons. Trying to rely on exquisite balance to maintain myself atop the ice was much too risky. Also pieces of the pans would break off anywhere along their eroding undercut edges.
I looked down in the water where I was right next to the vertical rock wall and realized this water was deep, unimaginably deep. What did I think I was about to do.
That near brush with indulging myself in absolute foolishness, made me sternly remind myself that no matter how I might feel, the only place I am safe here and now is within my kayak. I had this illusion of safety because I was so close to the rock walls which had lured me
In this moment rather than allowing myself to become frightened I had learned from other arctic travel experiences that survival depends on a traveler's resourcefulness. I calmly told myself to look for and think about other options. Once again, from my cockpit I sat and looked around to evaluate my options. I knew that when the incoming tide reversed that the combination of the wind and tide would force the ice out, but when and would all of this ice go was the question.
Then immediately the answer came. There I was sitting next to the rock. By good fortune I discovered that I just happened to have arrived at the only place where I could climb up the rock. In fact this was the only place along this rock wall and the tide was at just the right level so that I could easily step out onto the wall.
I reasoned with myself saying, "Now this is a good idea because rock isnt like ice. It doesnt move around and brake and roll over. Especially when I consider that this is an entire wall of rock probably a mile long and about fifty feet high."
I always keep handy easy to retrieve from the cockpit side bag a stowed in its stuff bag, a 50 foot CKS polypropylene whitewater rescue throw line, just for this sort of moment. My kayak on a trip of this sort in the Arctic always contains my entire means of survival. So for me to become separated for my kayak would be not an option. With great resolution I tied my twenty foot polypropylene bow line onto the fifty foot throwline.
Then before I did anything else I carefully worked out in my mind exactly how I should get out of my kayak without the risk of immersion in the icy, dark blue interminable depth. When you are alone there is no one to save you.
I thought through my every move so that each would be smooth, well balanced and could be reversed with equal ease.
First I put my paddle across my rear deck to the rock step. Then I rethought my plan and changed my mind the balance would be right if I heisted myself up onto my paddle leaning toward the stability point the rock. Then I put my foot out and placed it on the rock step making sure that all was stable taking care to lean securely but not excessively on the paddle. I stood up on my feet and transferred all my weight onto my foot on the rock. I took my other foot out of the cockpit and transferred myself completely onto the rock, all the while making sure that the boat was completely stationary. The last thing I wanted to have happen was the proverbial split.
I was like a cat slinking across the china shelf without disturbing anything, as I I transferred myself on the rock.
How ironic and lucky it was that this escarpment should be a dike of Cambrian Gabbro. This rock is a granitic basaltic rock. It is easy to climb because this rock happens to be gently sloped with rounded, weathered horizontal surfaces large enough for good footholds. Even though my agility was somewhat restricted by my drysuit and booties a far cry from rock climbing clothing, I knew that I would be able to easily climb this rock face.
I wasnt worried about my how my booties would perform because I already knew from my many boat launchings over seaweed encrusted granite that I could trust the Thunder Bay booties. These booties are well designed with sturdy Velcro ankle straps to keep them firmly on my feet. And these booties would not to slip on the rocks because have they have a boating shoe sole design of a type of rubber sole material, which gives excellent griping traction. For this climb on these wet rock surfaces now was one of those moments when I was glad to have these booties on my feet.
With my throwline in hand I trailed it behind me as I scaled the rock. I made sure that it didnt snag anywhere among the rock surfaces, because I wanted to be sure that nothing might affect my ability to control my boat with this line.
I climbed upward and along the cliff looking for a place to tie the line off. I found a large undercut opening big enough for me to squat down within and be comfortably inside sheltered from the wind. There I ran out of line but I had just enough line to tie off onto the nearest convenient large stone. Once again I literally thanked my lucky stars that I had brought 50 feet of line, not less. Situations like this make this simple fifty feet of line well worth the space and weight.
I rested for a moment "to let my soul catch up with my body." This is an excuse my cousin and I used to use when we wanted to take a breather and wanted to rest a moment.
Then curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see if I could climb up on top to look out from this point. I saw that I could continue just as long as I was careful in how I climbed. The last thing I would want to have happen is that I accidentally tear my vinyl drysuit
I had no adequate means of repairing it on this trip. Repairing this type of vinyl requires special glue, bonding material and temperature conditions. A temporary repair using tape would not work because tape does not stick to anything, even to itself in these near freezing conditions. So with this in mind I knew that ripping my tough vinyl dry suit or falling would be very costly. I had to be extremely careful as I edged myself past the occasional sharp edges of broken stone.
Sort of like laying on gold leaf in gilding I edged myself around the exposed face of the escarpment and spanned one exposed step over, which lead upward to a flat wide vegetated, sunken passage. I followed this passage up to the top where it divided four ways.
As soon as I got up on top of the peninsula I looked around to see if there was any possible sign of previous habitation such as a few stones piled on top of each other that couldnt be a structure formed by glacial deposition of erratics. No, there was nothing. And I thought that this was rather interesting. Then I figured that this must be because the approach was too difficult. I concluded that since there was not even a temporary shelter, that perhaps I might only be stuck here for a short while. That was reassuring to me because I didnt want to be stuck here for anything other than the least amount of time.
Then I stood on top the rocks to look westward because I wanted to see just what all that ice was doing. With great relish I looked forward to this lovely moment when I was not stuck in my kayak only able to see from 3 feet over the water just with in the confines of the passage. Atop a peninsula I reveled in being able to see all three sides. At least all that was in view would not be a surprise any more. That was a welcome change but now I had to be concerned with the safety of my boat on its line down below.
I crossed back over and looked closely at my boat to check on my boat after being up on top for only a few minutes.
I dont make any assumptions about what ice floes will do, because I am not sure of just what they might do. I had already been fully victimized by one just a short while ago and twice before a few days ago I had been victimized. Ice floes are free spirits and you cant make deals with them they come and go all on their own. The last thing I wanted to find was that the ice was either carrying my kayak away or crushing it against the stone wall or between the ice pans. Such destruction would begin completely soundlessly and when it started it would be just too late for me to do anything about it. So before anything might happen I determined that I must check on my kayak every few minutes just to keep any possible damaging situation from happening.
I evaluated the ice and noticed that to the west extending across the four-mile width of the bay was what appeared as a continuous uninterrupted ice floe extending as far as I could see.
The ice along the rocks on this peninsula extended as small pans around the other side. There was more ice than I had expected but the north side facing Arctic Bay was open and had with the east wind some chop which was good to see. I knew that wind would keep the ice from working it's way up that side which was good.
I settled in a cozy niche and watched how Glaucous gulls hover on air currents. This would have made wonderful video footage and thought material but I left the camera in the kayak.
These gulls can control lift by fanning their tails and tilting their pelvis and tail downward. They can micro adjust the air foil surfaces of their bodies so precisely that they can stay positioned in the air with constantly changing air flow. This was very interesting. Nature's air foils. Sensitivity to air currents translated to flight control by position of feathers on the tail and wings coupled with motor neural responses. I watched and marveled at how an animal, a simple bird can feel the slightest air currents with each main feather on its wings and tail with the same definition as we are able to feel the difference in thickness between just one piece of paper and two sheets of paper together.
%%I looked out, ice a third out from where I was sitting on the point was now moving west on the tide, which was now going out.
However my Klepper was in an eddy. A few minutes passed as I waited suppressing my ensuing anxiety. I checked again nothing much had changed. Then after a few more minutes had passed I climbed up to a better lookout vantage point and I saw that now everything was moving, my Klepper included where some small but weighty pans of ice had caught on it's mooring line.
%%Sensing the impending possibility of disaster I immediately raced, as fast as I dared, over to the rocks to untie my boat and try to free my kayak up from above. However from my position on the cliffs above I couldn't quite succeed with freeing mooring line of my kayak from this ice entanglement.
With the mooring line in hand, which represented my umbilical cord to safety, I descended the rocks. I nervously clutching the line in fear of accidentally entangling it somewhere on the rocks as I came down and of myself accidentally falling I made my way down the cliffs to my boat. Easing myself down the last available section of rock suitable for me to launch myself in my kayak from, I balanced myself on the knife edge of stone while I worked to free the line and line up my kayak so that I could safely launch.
Although I was prepared for immersion the thought of the actuality and the possibility of any failure since I was also completely alone made me not wish to take the risk. I really wished to avoid immersion at all cost. Only in the most completely involuntary situation did I wish to experience immersion.
I freed my kayak from the ice pans and brought it back to the rock I was standing on. I launched and the undeniable feeling of exalted independent freedom of being back in my totally self-sufficient boat with open water available was just completely exhilarating.
That delicious feeling of having extricated myself as I began paddling out from the pack was tempered when I noticed that the wind could move me faster when it was pushing me in my kayak than the ice pack. I was moving faster than the ice because I presented greater surface area to the wind than the pack ice.
To give the ice time to move out I spent extra time by paddling back upwind to just have another look around. I was hoping that I might be lucky enough to just happen to see some seals or bowhead or narwhal whales. The seals and whales often visit the fast moving currents for food off Holy Cross Point. Unfortunately while I was waiting for the tide and the wind to finish freeing the pack ice from the end of the point no whales and seals happened to come by.
After having already experienced the time frame for drying out on land, I did not want to have to sit among the pack waiting, because how well I already knew that the wind would eventually cause me to become entrapped in the pack once again. The idea of accidentally having to idly sit entrapped in the icy waters of an ice pack is not my idea of paddling in the Arctic.
Ice Cautiously checking for open passage around the point I continued paddling and made the passage around the point passing a pyramid of some precariously balanced multi-year ice blocks stacked there by the currents and ice floes. I gave them wide berth because I didn't want to experience the possibility of the law of gravity in action with my tiny kayak. Being careful to avoid not becoming entangled in the ice, I took a chance skirting the moving ice pack. I was hoping that the bay on the western point of Arctic Bay, which I had seen with my binoculars an hour or so earlier from atop Holy Cross Point, was still open.
I gingerly paddled out and drifted at first with a fifteen knot broadside wind out (+pg18) from the protection of the Holy Cross Point on the eastern side of the bay into the open bay heading for the point downwind on the west side, racing around the wind and tide driven ice pack, making sure that I was moving faster and out of it's range before the pack. I calculated would this ice pack would most likely work its way over and close in that western shore of Arctic Bay.
Then, once I felt that I was far enough inside the bay away from the approaching pack, judging from my position relative to the beautiful rose colored dolomite cliffs, known as Society Cliffs, I turned westward drifting and paddling with the wind on my back. I enjoyed the familiar short chop and waves that is so familiar to me, which is typical of where I paddle on Long Island Sound.
As I sprinted along, I laughed to myself about how this fate had already started to become a reality for me last winter in Stony Creek. I needed to do something innovative and fun with my kayak in what had become our ice choked harbor, so I devised for myself a little game as a new form of winter paddling entertainment which I called "Beat the Berg." To play "Beat the Berg" the best type of kayak to use was my whitewater kayak. To begin the game I would set pans of ice in motion. Now the goal of the whole game was to practice controlling my boat. The challenge was that I must paddle as fast and as close as I possibly could around the ice pans forward and backward without touching them with either my paddle or kayak. My game which was an exercise of chasing around and racing between the moving ice pans before they would collide together, in as many complicated patterns as I could think of, was a delightful new form of English Gates.
Although I was beating the ice pack while I was making my way back to my former campsite on the western point where I had first camped with local people I noticed that there was quite a dense line of ice half way back. I was just 100 feet from shore only to find that it was iced in, when I realized the entire western shoreline was now completely iced in. For a moment I tried to force my way through the pans but I quit after forcing my kayak between a few pans just as the wind was pushing them together. I turned to look for an open passage and there I was again in just moments the wind had pushed a few ice pans in behind me, leaving me entrapped.
Equipment The day was saved by my brand new Woerner Furrer "Wenatchee" paddle I forced my way back out and luckily, this time, once again, the sharp shards of ice did not puncture the Hypalon fabric of my boat hull.
Ice Perhaps if I had been more daring I would have jumped out and dragged my kayak over the impossibly slippery, disintegrating pans of ice but I through my acquired practical wisdom decided that arriving at that exact place right now was not that important.
On the opposite side, where I had not yet visited, I could see that there was plenty of open shore and campsites areas.
So I decided that I had no other option than to cross over to the eastern coast. On my way I took some excellent pictures of Northern fulmars both mature and immature that were calmly resting on the waves. I pitched overboard my useless #8 NP-55 video battery which wouldn't hold a charge.
I complained to the video camera that I had come all these miles just to camp next to the road. There I was, but at least I was far enough from the dog teams and the road, not to be bothered by either. It did seem awfully strange with all the endless expanse of Arctic land to happen by circumstance to be forced to camp next to the road and dog teams. But ice has its way of making things possible and impossible.
7/28/94 I set up my camp at 2000 feeling warm and fine with some light snow. Glad to have arrived after that nasty ice deal. There is tons of ice everywhere makes me wonder if the ice is going to go out or not. To deal with the polar bears I thought that I would go when others are on the water too, that should really help. Glad that John Sieburth gave me his genuine support and congratulations. It is so critical to have some emotional support.
Equipment On the previous day I augmented my warmth by using a silver 10" by 15" Mylar "Potato Chip" bag folded over my scalp between a thin neoprene hood and a Patagonia hood. This probably account for my being perfectly warm on the water in snow and on land waiting an hour or so for the ice to move out with the tide.
7/28/94 The barometer is bobbing around in the 880's (probably I meant to write 980's) all night and a dead calm gave way to northeast wind of 25 knots with rain. The wind drove the rain through the right side of the tent causing it to leak extensively I am thinking about replacing the tent rather than attempting to repair it. It is a Chouinard "Mega-Mid" which has worked well from Barrow in 1991 to here but this is the first time I have really had wind driven rain that has made it through. In Upernavik in 30 knots of wind and rain I don't recall it leaking very much but that rain was more of a very fine mist.
(+pg19) 7/29/94 at1200 the pressure is at 977mb which is very low and the change was so rapid that I actually felt this radical pressure change as a twinge of pain in my arthritic hips. Cloud conditions show ceiling dropping with an increasing gray overcast.
Ice Drying out once again, ice is just filling in from the other side of the harbor where town is located. If the ice moves on the tide I can make the point near Society Cliffs.
My new campsite is now across form town at 73°00.83'N, 85°03.88'or 91'W drift in reading showing up I had been just taking the first readout because the drift is not something I can accurately access what is the accurate portion of the readout. I suppose that if I correspond this with an extremely accurate map I can pin down what moment during the drift is the truly accurate reading.
1230 the pressure is at 988mb - oh well! Hermann Steltner mentioned that this movement is typical in the Pond Inlet area.
I did successfully take some lovely pictures of Northern fulmars that looked like a combination of immature one with a black bill and a gray head which will be interesting to look up. They are always easier to observe when a sea is running.
1304 the pressure is at 987mb
Plants The flowers at 73°00.83'N, 85°03.25'W are Armeria maritima, Stellaria Edwardsii, Melandrium apetalum ssp. arctricum, Saxifraga Hirculus var. propinqua ? with a single yellow upright flower. I am finding no birch of course. These plants are growing on Paleozoic sandstone and acidic soil here and there but dominantly alkaline soil. Rock colors are pink with purple hematite inclusions that are very pretty.
Lichen samples were Stereocaulon glareosum on a rock very common, Stereocaulon rivulorum was not common, Cladonia crispata with olive brown tops, (+pg20) Cladonia norrlinii, Cetraria nivalis, Parmeliopsis ambigua, two rocks with assortments, also a new piece of Selaginella.
1500 the pressure is at 989mb cloudy, while I was sitting here for the past two hours the bay filled up with ice again, no wind, just tidal drift.
The camera rig planned to fit video doesn't work because the 46mm - 55mm step up is male, 46mm male to 55mm female. I need 46mm male to 55mm male maybe I can use the T fitting from the slide duplicator. Also the lens reversal ring for the OM-1N is 49mm when lens end where filters are screwed in is 55mm.
1800 the pressure is at 990mb surprise, no wind, tide is rising, and the town is iced in again. I saw a couple of fellows attempt to make it from Adams Sound back into Arctic Bay. They motored as far as they could get but had to turn around rather than sit it out in the ice hoping that it might open up. They went back down inside and probably went to shore somewhere similar to where I stayed two nights ago. Sitting in the ice could result in getting crushed.
I took two flower pictures second roll of film #14 to illustrate ice openings for options that don't quite work out.
Sun is peaking out at 18:00. One survival technique you learn in the north is sitting and waiting - don't try to force things like ice! 1900 992mb, 2300 994mb wind up again at the same time as last night mixed nasty looking clouds don't like this kind of stuff, iced in front of the tent again, get to dry out again, seems like I just happened to choose the spot where the ice likes to come and sit just a few yards to away there is no ice, interesting, oh well! probably it is too shallow here.
7/30/93 the pressure is at 0900 same nasty storm (+pg21) barometric pressure has been rising all night, rain squalls, winds +25 knots gusting. Stratocumulus that are low light gray beneath darker gray altocumulus hooked on the 2,000 foot mountain, Qikiqtaukut increasing wind 30 knots wind had been northeast but now it is, as with last rain the other night, from the north with rain. 1000 the pressure is at 998mb wind is not quite so bad about 20 knots rain very curious this endless movement of air storms back and forth, I think that the rains and fogs in Adams Sound was condensing humidity over the cold V shaped valley that causes it to be so constantly fogged. Air currents East to West up and down topographical effect. I wonder if the winds in Arctic Bay get a chance to be so strong there and I suspect that Arctic Bay is a venturi for cross country strato wind levels.
Equipment Among the items I brought I'm glad I brought my red waterproof cape, wool gloves, and leather three finger gloves but I wish that I had brought plain pogies and should have brought another liter bottle or so for fuel because one liter for a week is very short. Only my new Action Battery is taking a good charge off the solar panel. I am glad that I brought my plant bird and lichen guides for identifying in the field it is best should have brought a small magnifying glass and I wish that I had enlarged and photocopied my charts so that I could enjoy the sextant more and to reduce the problem of having to figure out small angles. I'm glad that I brought two survival blankets the old one with a few holes in it for the bottom layer and the new one because last night was too cold due to air circulation (+pg22) I had to wrap myself up in it which made me warm enough but some Velcro on the edges to close it with, would be wise. However one drawback is that the blanket does not breath so my sweat condensation will become trapped within my sleeping bag and clothing.
1100 the pressure is at 996mb storm is consistent
Equipment Arrived on 7/21 cooking three meals 7/22 to 7/30 is 8 days for one liter or somewhat more fuel if the stove runs out it becomes hot and starts burning the o-rings in the pressure cap. The cap needs to be rebuilt and is not trustworthy. Stove pressurizing system is fast and fairly reliable but I wonder how long it will be before the o-rings either ware or burn out.
Glad I brought a microscope to deal with all this storm time. Although the ice is out again the wind is too much. This area of the Arctic is not for people who can't spell it out and can't sit with their feet out in front of them for a long time.
1200 the pressure is at 997mb storm has died out.
After I broke camp and crossed over to Arctic Bay then went out to the point on the western side of the bay. 2000 999mb assorted blown out clouds in the alto layer all sorts of ways and overhead a gray stratocumulus very interesting day for wind in Arctic Bay which lived up to it's reputation of being a wind funnel.
On my crossing the wind didn't seem like much 10 - 15 knots, then it started for 15 knots in my face from the northwest, so I worked some more. Then the wind accelerated up to 20 knots with higher gusts which required that I had to keep a closer and closer eye on my bow angle and really watch those gusts as I neared Arctic Bay. There wind conditions really became markedly worse requiring very hard work occasionally the gusts forced me to stop and just lean into them so as to not be blown over or the paddle ripped out of my hands.
Once I arrived on the beach in front of town I was in the lee and I could just pull the boat up and tie it off.
In town I visited the Niglasuk Company to buy some mattak and since it is an outfitting (+23) company took advantage of information and I was able to find out about people visiting the area. The visitors were whale watchers from Texas and Germany and some French kayakers from Paris. But he commented that there is too much ice down in Admiralty Inlet and that made me realize how lucky I have been to have been even part way down Adams Sound. The French people wanted a lift down to the west shore where there are islands that are down Admiralty Inlet. John Luk Bertan might have been on Wrangle Island or the north shore of Siberia in 1993 when Jon and Chris Turk were there. I talked with Eric Duncan he raises sled dogs and takes paying guests out he makes very nice looking dog sleds and races dog teams he was interested in what New Hampshire looks like because he would like to fly down there for a dog race. I met Unis in the co-op as cashier. Her mother and grandmother were staying on the point. They are off for hunting caribou.
While I was in town I did notice some good wind gusts but they did not seem strong enough to be threatening. I jumped in my kayak and paddled with broadside wind. I quartered the wind past town then I noticed that the farther along I went the worse the wind became. My paddle was being rotated from the stern by the wind. The waves were trying to develop but then the gusts started to get some teeth. I maintained a quartering angle thanks to the healthy rudder on my Klepper which luckily I have not broken or bent in the ice and launching, especially backing against ice pans pushing against me with wind.
Farther along approaching the cemetery I gave up paddling and the wind blew me along at first going, then speeding, then rocketing along. I slowed things to maintain stability, (+pg24) direction and control. I leaned toward the wind and onto the paddle which I angled at 35° to the water while the wind pushed on the perpendicular face of the paddle on the opposite side. I knew that if I made any error I would be in big trouble immediately. The wind hit some absurd speed so that the tops just spewed off of the waves horizontally as if someone was hitting them with a bat. Maybe the wind was 35 knots but I have no idea but the wind was brutal.
I knew that if I rounded the point and the little bay that I was shooting for was filled with I would be in some big trouble. This was because rounding the point with no refuge meant that I would have to make a quick, desperate, instant choice of some type before I was committed to being just simply blown across Adams Sound.
All went well, the little bay that was out of my line of sight was open. I pulled the boat well up on the bank and very securely set up my tent.
I even noticed a Raven hunkering down behind some old house walls hiding from the blasts of wind which may have gone to 40 knots. I can't estimate in that range. Glad I was experienced and in a well loaded Klepper.
2400 wind arrives again like last night.
7/30/94 at 0730 1003mb East wind 5 - 10 knots gusting to 15 knots gray overcast to the west there are stratocumulus , overhead gray and east the sun is shining.
Seems to be more wind, probably as the air cools starting up at 2300 for a few hours being cold air replacing warm air, might be the reason which is not what I have seen elsewhere, usually it becomes quiet at midnight in other places. To the east there are some blown out altocumulus east and to the west there are low cumulus on the mountains of 1,000 feet. Probably it will be a nasty windy day. 0930 unsettled 1004mb same except the ravens are having a party on the point (+pg25) I'm at 73°00.64'N, 85°08.95'W which is the same as 7/22/94 at campsite.
1000 1000mb wind 10 - 15 knots clumps of white buff gills on buff colored mushrooms tan brown with gills Russila too early for the rose red mushrooms.
1125 altimeter 220 ft or 905mb didn't set the altimeter at 0 at the bottom. Gentle walk 1 1/2 miles up hill North wind the same around the point, my tent is where the wind wraps creating east and west wind gusts but it becomes a warm calm area good for tents.
Ice Ice is out as far as I can see down about 10 - 13 miles into Adams Sound from Holy Cross Point. Ice is along the south side from Holy Cross Point westward out to Admiralty Inlet but not along Society Cliffs on the north shore out westward to the end.
Butterflies orange on the top to black near the body, Fritillary; yellow to green then gray black with two spots that are edged with orange and have white centers and an Orange fritillary black and orange bands etc.
Sunday is today and so far nobody on the water church at 1045 Carillon bells 1115 beautiful to hear.
Meteorology questions I need to contact someone at Yale or UConn about what I see.
7/30/94 attide bottomed out at 13:00. 1330 dead calm 1005mb fluffy altocumulus - nothing blown out like yesterday into lenticular shapes altitude now is 55ft so 220 - 55=165 doubt that meters 165 x 3 = 495ft maybe.
Equipment Discovered to my horror that my new Wenatchee paddlers had no plug on the spring side at all (+pg26) so I found some Styrofoam on the point and filled them just for the warmth and the flotation. If they had come apart I would have lost the unplugged half.
1500 1004mb what the change in millebar equivalent to in meters of altitude. It is too balmy and quiet. I looked at the point on the north side with my binoculars and saw that there is ice all along the shore it doesn't look good for camping there is no green.
I collected lichens at 73°00.70'N, 85°09.05'W. Geological feature is the Society Cliffs Formation of gray dolomite and a gabbro dike. I gathered Sorolina spongiosa, Collema bachmanianum, Physconia detersa, Bryoria lanestris. I saw a butterfly with green wings that he pink edges pink dark red edges and around the edges black dots and on the folded side bottom black lace 1 1/4 inches long green fuzzy body. I think may be a Skipper because it sits with it's wings folded up. Another butterfly 1" long gray small body pale orange sits with it's wings open.
An officer from the Canadian Mental Health Dept. in Eqaluit John Vanderbuilt I met at the hotel.
Equipment, Paddling You can't appreciate a big rudder on your kayak until you have experienced involuntary hydroplaning being pushed by 35 knots of wind.
2215 arrived back at my tent only to find that it had been rifled through my tape player, a Russian Favorites conducted by Leonard Bernstein tape, red small Bic cigarette lighter, 2 Cadbury Hazel nut candy bars are gone the remaining odor of perfume from a brown haired long jacket girl her boyfriend light and blue jacket dirty rides a bicycle. I hope that they did not take my 4 extra AA batteries but I don't see them. I found that lots of survival tablets and chocolate bits had been taken.
8/1/94 at998mb grim morning raining and warm.
Equipment (+pg27) Stove cap 2nd one lit up and probably caused by over filling and dirt. Have to waste a tiny bit of fuel not at all happy about that problem.
I saw in the water some pteropods and something else transparent with some red coloration on it's swimmers and with two dots on it's body. Also I saw a round black with fans for swimmarettes in large numbers suggesting a bloom of the summer or in association with the sudden release of nutrients from the rapidly melting ice.
This area is okay to visit as long as you never leave your tent unattended. I visited in town with a highly skilled narwhal hunter, Ikie Tsagaq and his parents they were preparing to go boating. I saw the fellow who visited Glen, he has a white boat with a blue top. 75°56.85'N, 84°24.53'W he saw me camping and on the water, as did the rest of town. It was good that I came in and visited this gave me and them perspective on my visit and kayaking skills which they saw graphically demonstrated on Saturday when the wind really blew. When I started out making my crossing of the bay from it's east side, at first the 15 knot wind was nothing to be concerned about, but as I got closer and closer the funneling effect of the topography at Arctic Bay increased. During the last stretch I had to watch and be prepared for the encroaching cats paws over the water while I was working very hard 2 miles. There were a few especially strong blasts which had the capability to either grab the paddle from my hands and put me over. During the violent passage of these gusts I was forced to stop and lean out on my paddle in the water towards them to stabilize myself while I waited for them to blow through.
In town on Monday 8/1/94 I visited the hotel and had a long talk with the lady and Kenny about the crime situation. I was able to be given special treatment by Ian at the Northern Store where I bought a new tape player for a total of $84.00 including the tax. Eric the fellow helping me gave me seven new AA batteries to replace what were stolen. Both fellows could have not been nicer, they opened the store just for me. I discussed what the thieves looked like and the possible identities of Hami Shappa and Janet Ebecheak. (+pg28) along with three children that were about 10 years old and maybe related to the tent ladies.
The gray stable skied tide is coming in I got on the water at about 1400 and paddled until 24:00. I was chasing the tide up Adams Sound. there were more boats on the water doing some active hunting of seals which is good to see.
I kept the same paddling stroke on and on.
I took photos of views with reflections on the calm water and stones upended into exceedingly lovely swirls. Many beautiful rocks showing contact metamorphism which created the pink quartzite and gray gneiss. With such calm conditions I was able to enjoy looking at the bottom covered with rounded stones and Fucus 50 feet from shore in the cracks of the bed rock that have escaped being scraped away by the ice on the north side.
8/2/94 at1006mb at 0900 an unusually high barometric pressure. The ceiling during the past days has been like the high fair weather ceiling I often see at home in Connecticut. This means a low wind and a high ceiling high pressure weather front. summer has arrived on Sunday and it has warmed up greatly. the ice has gone except for Victor Bay which is really socked in with still solid ice.
1100 1006mb wind 10 knot west wind clouding over high ceiling with altocumulus in the northeast blue patches to the west a few cirrostratus visible in the west. The cast of thousands - mosquitoes has not quite been able to erupt because it is too cold and stormy. Many people told me in town all these storms we have had are not the usual for July when it usually becomes warm and settles down.
The geology is especially beautiful where I finally found a good campsite with lots of tent rings. Between here and my last campsite there was not much area available for erecting a tent on this north side because the cliffs come straight down to the water in all but a few places on this side. Loose rocks frequently break loose from above and tumble down into the water.
It is raining again as fine sprinkles. My health is fine but my nerves are chattering because I am very ill at ease about (+pg29) going in Admiralty Inlet. The constant ice might close off campsite access and there is a likely hood of polar bear. Adams Sound does not attract them I believe because it doesn't have the food and type of ice they use to travel about on. I have decided that I would best enjoy just seeing this sound entirely the south side has ice from here west to the outside. From where I am looking inside to the east the sound appears to have much less ice because now much of that ice has moved out into Admiralty Inlet on the wind and tide.
For me it would be of great interest to see the end of the sound just to see how it really looks.
Sunday was warm enough for many butterflies but today there are only bumblebees.
The change of populating on the water has sprung since last Thursday when there was this strange white floating stuff which looked like small Styrofoam beads and flakes with a very few pteropods the cleome clear red ones, now the water is covered with pink strings and oil slicks with vast numbers of artemia type brown tiny fish shaped things darting on the surface. Artemia types down 10 feet and at the surface hit it breaking the surface tension making the surface look like small rain drops everywhere. Probably good food for whales. I saw two box comb jellies and the water is very busy with the nutrients released by the rapid melting of the ice, especially from the feet of multiyear ice. This melting forces very rapid biological activity.
8/2/94 atArea I am sitting in has new soil clay and rock flour very interesting to see that the plants are limited to just the yellow legume and willow. I ma not sure which one, none of what (+31) I saw before. The leaves are not fuzzy the stems are very yellow-brown prostrate only, dull gray green on the backs and shiny olive green on the front with a pronounced mid-rib. The stems are smooth. The new and shifting mucky soil has very undiverse plants of any type.
Equipment I am glad that I took two notebooks removed the wire spiral and tied them together on the top and bottom with string it has worked out perfectly.
The tent liner and side bags for the boat and baggage retrieval system in the boat I need polyester Velcro nylon just gets too weak in the water.
I was thinking about my problem with library access and information gathering. Although it is terribly expensive I think that Current Contents is the best solution. I would quickly waste tons of time and money dealing with Yale etc., just the disruption and travel time would cost more.
Contact metamorphism is of great interest to me.
One big advantage of being alone is that I can think and get to write more easily. I saw a viscous raven fight I think that it was over territory and representatives of two groups grabbed each other in the air then held on and crashed to the ground with great violence while they were both flopping around others landed and fought with each other and pecked at the two grounded flapping ones that had become injured by their crash to the ground.
1200 stable looking weather partly cloudy altocumulus 10 knot wind high ceiling 1007mb.
(+pg32) Thinking about finding if anyone could make me a Baffin Island kayak from and have it shipped home. I should talk with Bill Hughes about crating with some sort of wrapping material and shipping as a stack of boards 16 -17 feet long but then again a completely assembled frame would probably make the most sense.
Thinking about John Sieburth and his physical problems stiffness etc. I think that two Keowii kayaks would be a good solution for his needs on the Mackenzie.
On 8/1/94 atI paddled about 17 nautical miles.
8/2/94 atlooking at what has been discarded at this campsite there are a series of rusty tin cans and just a few seal bones and some small stakes for stretching skins out to dry I estimate that the last people did that about 20 to 30 years ago.
I found a group of Woodsia alpina ferns but surprisingly Pedicularis lapponica leaves look very similar and Draba glabella among the rocks.
Equipment Talking with Glen Williams he mentioned the application of tomography on a computer with video imagery matching program as a non-invasive method of labeling and identifying seals and whales. Tomography creates three dimensional images from any view to match like an overlay with a previously recorded vied. this was used to verify toe body of Joseph Mengala in Brazil.
This tiny little spot that I have just by accident stopped at is a geologist's paradise as well as a meteorologist's paradise. In this area is the confluence of three geological phases of bed formation and I have (+pg33) after thinking what I casually saw on the beach was a strange combination of basalts, granites and odd volcanics at 72°51.85'N, 89°24.53'W just under my tent is an Archaean Biotite-garnet gneiss, granitic gneiss, mixed biotite and garnet gneiss, granitic and pegmatitic dykes really incredible. Just a few yards north is the dark dike is Palaeozoic Eglulik Group volcanic member of andesite and basalt, part amygdaloidal and tufts. I found a chunk of tuft which was wild to look at. Another few yards farther north past the dike is yellow quartzite as the Eqalulike Group Quartzite silica cemented with quartzite. I made a representative stone assemblage underwater and took a picture after I had stirred the water to capture some sparkles from the sun.
I must share this with John Stratton and David Frank who both love geology.
Now I was just laughing to myself suppose I was made the club secretary how would I write about the meetings. First I would change "Mutterings in the Focsile" to "Squeeks from the Looms and Shafts" I would compare the occasional appearance of Woody like the like the Baptist minister giving a sermon. Yeah, I only go on outings if an airplane is involved, otherwise I don't.
Equipment I should ask Adventures and Delights if they could or I could heat seal across the bottom of my bags because that is where they seem to wear out.
The Svea cap will leak if (+pg34) the fuel is too low or the stove is over filled or over pressurized just enough pumps to bring the fuel is the best option.
Right now looking out, the water has that innocent dark blue light blue sparkle to it just as it looked at Pond Inlet when just only a week ago it was iced up and gray looking black and brown.
To explain and to actually experience the vagaries and demands of ice is not comprehendible. The emotional physical actuality of dealing with ice like the rest of life. There is a complex maize living the experience of "ice out" was high impact experience. I am glad that I had some perspective and prior experience. I must tell Glen Williams that John Dowd said that the design of kayak you see today are the survivors of all the previous experiments that have already been tried and have succeeded. Those that failed died. I should send him the footage from Fort Devon's to show if stands to reason here in Baffin with only two months to paddle in ice and wind that the Baffin design would work best. Even in Greenland people most commonly drown in kayaks. Many people here expressed their complete fear of the water and that kayaking was very daring and dangerous. I don't like the routine Chinook type of plastic kayak for seaworthiness. One thing I learned watching the Greenlander demonstrate being towed by a boat is that in an impossible wind it is good to lie out on the (+pg35) paddle towards the wind and that some type of situations wind lean as low as possible toward the wind.
This notebook arrangement deserves to be continued when I get hoe. It is worth buying a pile of these tough waterproof pages and tying them like this along with the pen. The whole rig fits perfectly into my pocket for use at any time I should call the company directly and order a large supply. Also I should look into ordering Xerox paper for color printing of maps that would be waterproof.
Barometer is at 1006mb all day ceiling was high although various clouds appeared at all levels including some blown out altocumulus.
2400 or 0000 on 8/3/94 at1009mb sunny, clear with east wind 5 knots. 0800 warm, calm bright. 1000 1010mb slight east breeze with broken clouds high ceiling alto cirrus and alto cumulus the alto cirrus being the most common.
Equipment Stove pressure cap leaks much too easily and the pump is in trouble.
Thanks for the new cassette player I am enjoying James Galway flute music which is good for the soul. I am most glad that I bought that tape and I do miss the Russian one that was stolen.
Meals less of the sausage, especially the chourico and linguisa more specially prepared beer. Lunch soup should have at least has some hint of meat in it not enough to is as a vegetable broth or some soya granules dried cheese such as dried mozzarella was especially nice. Work on that try drying the soy tofu out and compare probably the mozzarella will be the best. Dry kielbasa had wonderful flavor and Italian sausage was really nice with the basil and green pepper dinner chunks of dry tomato (+pg36)would really fill in nicely. the mushroom base was too bland. Powdered eggs were okay maybe a cheese omelet mix would sparkle them up. Dry parsley in with the eggs here and there would work nicely. The fruit mix was just delightful with bits of dates, mango, strawberry, apple, peach, sunflower seeds and nuts were a very wise addition a good bunch of seeds and nuts to mellow out the acidity and round out the fat content. Cider mix was good but I could use some diversity with some other flavors like mango. I was especially glad that I planned some cider mix for evening that I would keep in my thermos bottle for a hot drink.
Equipment I am very glad that I went to the extra trouble of labeling all my bags and numbering each dry food bag gives me a greater peace of mind. The two transparent bags are very important and the medical bag needs to be replaced. Tyvek liners to black and gray bags are very good. Camera bags need special stiff plastic - sled plastic liners on inside so that the cameras can be taken out with less of a fight. Video batteries need a special Velcro closed pocket so that they stay. It takes nothing to accidentally dump them overboard.
John Seiburth I should push him to recognize what he needs to know about rocks and 7 knot moving water. I should also get in contact with people who pilot boats on the Mackenzie probably a barge company in Yellowknife about what it is like to be running a power boat on it. Also is John's boat propeller (+pg37) protected by a good skeg and what is involved in having to replace a broken prop also some sort of strong sweep oar in case it is needed.
Equipment Contact Lee who made the breakdown paddles, he can probably make a good breakdown sweep oar with other attachments like a hook and duckbill for pushing off flat areas and mud.
Sampling methods, keep the bailer handy and scoop up the victims may be okay to photograph in the bailer swimming animals with it's white background.
Equipment In my lifejacket I need to carry a very small waterproof container for a lighter and tinder which is now the fishing tackle holder but the jacket has to have the pocket redesigned with vertical holders so that things fit better in the pocket and the jacket wraps comfortably around my back.
Life is so much simpler if I accommodate my mind and memory by helping it. Write the idea down, don't sit there and try to wrack my memory - what a waste of everything.
I think that the air movement today is just cold air from the outside to the west replacing warm air inside. The sun is warming up the air greatly today and the wind has now come up from the west at 10 - 15 knots. 1100 1010mb fewer clouds bright sun.
I put extra raisins and coffee in the 3rd food bag, I hope that I remember this.
Equipment I too many navy blue equipment bags, they just disappear in anything but the best light. I have to make new light colored bags with drawstring tops. I cant see things down inside them either.
As I go from place to place when I think and imagine my audience I am in my best spirits. What they want to hear is most exciting to find for them.
On the Garmin GPS carrying bag put a smaller inner clip on the attachment because it is very hard to stow as it is now.(+pg38)
8/4/94 at 72°45.96'N, 84°01.67'W Barometer is 1009mb all through the hours of early morning but by 0800 it had changed to 1008mb with rain starting at 0900 1007mb and 0920 1009mb rain.
Equipment My chart case rollover seal did not close well enough and everything became soggy the worst thing was that the maps should have been waterproofed with lacquer they just disintegrate like toilet paper Can't write with an ordinary ball-point on this paper even if it is just slightly damp, later I fixed the ball point by passing it quickly through the flame of my lighter.
Cloud cover is not too thick, light gray color, light rain, no wind.
Evening hours offered excellent drying conditions. Clothing that I had to wash because I pied into my pants - one of those surprises no one wishes - dried completely overnight surprising evaporation rate even though it was over cast all night (I recall a nice sunset at near midnight with cirrocumulus clouds recorded on camera)
I found a well and frequently used campsite near the end of Adams Sound. Once again I thank the local wisdom that was used in choosing this place, because it is on a gravel knoll facing east. The ice circulation spins around after being packed by the west wind into the end of the sound. From there, as the tide and wind change, the ice spins around and goes back out the main channel, leaving this shore fairly clear of ice. A few pieces land here that are nice for good tea water. Three brooks are right here for plenty of good water with enough to wash out clothes in.
Equipment My tent has leak problems everywhere now, oh well, now I know and same for the chart case too at least it is not pouring out.(+pg39)
8/4/94 at72°45.96'N, 84°01.67'W position of my camp I had covered about 10 nautical miles on 8/3 mostly just blowing along. I took a video short of what turned out to be just a short term ice blockage which moved out just after I waited only short time on land. The tide turned coming in pushing all that ice down to the very end. The lower area of Adams Sound has poor soil on the North side. I think that it is due to the large amount of wind scouring that is thermal driven when the sun is shining that this valley constantly gets. The soil is just not interesting here in comparison to the soil formed near the volcanic strata that I found on the north side near the falls on the Adams River which is the richest.
On the way down along the north side east of the waterfalls I found some lovely swirls of pink feldspar in dark gray gneiss and unfortunately I was blowing along too rapidly to grab a photo of those intricate variable swirls. Also some large nearly 6ft square flat pieces of rock one of which somebody I think did position over supporting chunks of stone to function as a shelter. This could have a possible Thule structure.
1000 1009mb light rain with no wind.
During this trip many personal aspects have come to mind to be evaluated. The most difficult was facing the overall problem of fear of new things etc. which has brought about a deeper resolve to appreciate the basic faith one must come to eventually. In my life, my faith that God will help me and be my source on consolation when my own inner strength is worn out and really compromised. Controlling the constant problem of negative depression mood overtones I have resorted to telling myself what I can expect to happen in my mind because of the specific situation that is in hind sight philosophizing. It does help to a certain extent enable me to go and do something rather than collapse in a stupor of depression.
The music at evening helps as well. Realizing my strengths and adapting to accommodating my weaknesses, helps (+pg40) a prime example of this behavior is that now I notice on the Geological Survey map that the literary references are listed I wish that I had taken the time to look for these when I was at home and lots of other handy information I also think that I must improve my lighting at home and make a more concerted effort to lay a map out on a flat table for really scanning it completely.
The constant gnawing feeling of being in a breathless rush all the time and confusion at home is not practical.
One physical problem which I have that I don't understand is numbness in the very tips of my fingers and more extensively on the bottoms and toes of my feet. My feet become hot and swollen at light with pain on the balls of the feet. the possible sources are too tight cuffs on my dry suit, gout, frost bite or some circulatory situation scleroderma. The intense swelling and heat with great sensitivity at night I can't wear socks so I pull my quilted pants down over them.
Mosquitoes hatched if it were sunny today - wow.
Tide is high at 1000 one very convenient part with junk along the shore is that a couple boards or even better plywood and my broom stick rollers make moving the boat much easier for me. In the future some way of setting up two rectangular lengths of wood for tracks might be well worth carrying could be rounds with square ends ferruled together to make 3 or 4 tracks, possibly the paddle shafts of extra paddles with something to not let the rocks wreck them - most likely simple solution.
1117 am having the special celebratory cup of coffee to celebrate having paddled to the end of Adams Sound.
White nylon carrying straps I made are just perfect. (+pg41)
1120 rain subsiding sun brightening. Ravens actively having a chatty party - such fun those birds.
1400 1008mb east wind 5 knots rain stopped, tide dropping 1007mb quiet conditions.
I collected some nice lichens; Cladonia rangifera type, a Sorolina green with black centers, rock lichens that are now in Arctic Bay Formation the Uluksan Group black shale pyritiferous Paleozoic - definite quartzitic granitic materials on 8/4/94 at 72°45.96'N, 84°01.67'W. Flowers were Erigeron compositus var. discoideus with pale lilac flower, Antennaria compacta without flowers. large areas with this plant on dry soil.
1500 1006mb got on the water at 1700 overcast low west wind 1005mb. I especially enjoyed looking at the south side where there was an area of little hanging gardens filled with flowers. Quartzite dike with flat cleavage occasionally.
Even though the tide was coming in against me there were convenient eddies in the bays and there were bays which had no current some partial ice jams to play "beat the floe" with but not difficult a little timing required since some of them were coming toward me. I was able to take some pictures of the white fatty particles in the water then further towards the west towards the opening the pink layer starting and finally a good mass of pink strands to illustrate food in the water which is released from the melting ice. The tail end of Adams sound with the incoming thermal wind has the collection of ice where things are released last into the water and that was why I was able to reverse time in a sense by finding the white particles down in the lower reaches of the sound and as I worked my way westward into areas where the ice had gone out earlier I was able to find the pink fatty particles which then gave way to strands and finally disappeared into a bloom of organisms which had consumed that material.
At 84°15' I saw the brown swimmers in huge clusters but not in the numbers that I saw on the outer north side. I think that sun photoproductivity affects their activity as well as current.
8/5/94 at1100 1003mb; 1200 1002mb sun out but hazy - high up, west wind at (+pg43) I notice that the barometric pressure has been dropping slowly since the previous morning of 24 hours earlier. There are high clouds - probably strong high pressure system is leaving. It was very interesting the night before when the pressure was 1007mb and steady drying was excellent even up until it started to rain which was moments before I brought in my clothes at about 10:00.
Position 72°49.46'N 84°22.76'W 8/4/94 atlast night the pressure was 1006mb dropping to 1006mb by noon on 8/5/94 atwith no drying. I think that this is a factor related to the incoming low pressure system. 1200 clouds cirrostratus, alto cumulus, strato cumulus some west wind now at 15 knots with clouds on rocks next to camp that are only 500 feet high maybe. when clouds are on the rocks a storm is brewing. There are no mosquitoes here and a good camp just around the corner out of the main channel wind.
Campsite is unfortunately on sharp volcanic basalt very fine grained conchoidal in places. Luckily I found a grassy patch for the tent and some rocks to tie down with. there are some lovely minerals hers and there. I took photos of very fascinating sculpturesque volcanic basalt showing very fine grained conchoidal fracturing in places for aesthetic reasons, also some pink feldspar and yellow quartz, gray gneiss with metamorphic swirls.
Cruising at night even though the sun is poor is better for this side because it is not backlit at night there is just less light.
Equipment My feet are not in good shape because the soles on the booties, Thunder Bay are just too thin for the sharp rocks and the heavy loads I carry up the beaches. For this type of travel a (+pg44) much more solid sole is necessary with some soft padding inside, perhaps something for fishermen that Gander Mountain might offer.
1400 1001mb dense altostratus and cirrus to the east but the west has blue sky some upper alto stratus or cirrus? wind west 15 knots.
Collected lichens and rock samples. The volcanic high temperature minerals are exciting but in very small quantities that are easily broken up. I found three large puff balls but very few mushrooms. Among the lichens I found one that grows among moss and becomes quite large, also the Sorolina in apple green, both of these lichens I gathered from the edge of a stream.
Equipment The Svea gets three firings between refills I am careful not to overfill and over pressurize or to burn it too close to empty.
I moved my foot pedals forward and put a piece of wood behind them but now the mast step is not useable. The chains are down to three links. I am trying to help this foot problem.
1800 1002mb wind is slacking off, tide is coming in, I hope that this is the evening calm. I'll paddle on this if the wind is slacking off, as it usually does. 1900 wind is definitely slacking 1004mb low, sun shining.
My chart case is shot ripped.
A nasty wind came up at 2000 decided to make the crossing here where it is only one nautical mile wide. Paddled across just before the wind started. I am noticing that like in Laksefjorden in Greenland, when the sun shines the wind blows, when it is cloudy it is or will be storming.
On the other side when the dark blue line with silver highlights line hit me, the work began. At first I scrabbled along as close to the rocks as possible to avoid any exposure to the wind and unnecessary work. I had a grand battle passing a protrusion. There were some good rolling broadside breakers (+pg45) that slammed against me as I crept up the shore line. The 15 knot wind with 20 knot burst made arduous work trying to just stay out of the wind and get less of the wave action. I did save myself until I got to a diorite dike that offered 2 sided protection and a nice beach. I pulled in and set my tent up on the grass but I should have followed the sage advice of sleeping on the stones which are dryer and warmer.
I captured reflected orange sunset on the rocks across the way at 0100.
Next morning there was bright sun and 1002mb all day. The nasty blown out clouds were gone leaving just some scattered altocumulus giving some good drying conditions. I got on the water at 1300 paddled up to my old campsite where I became stuck first in the ice for several days. Then I noticed another dark blue line on the water which meant more wind. I crept along the shore to avoid the stiffer wind. I did well and took the precaution of stopping before rounding the next point. Very wise move then the hard endless slog began the worst was seeing lots of ctenophores but I couldn't take a nice picture of them because of the waves. I did enjoy the view of the shallows. It was very slow slogging because I am not wedged so tightly into my seat which means that I had poorer leverage but I just had to keep going there was no suitable refuge because there were sharp stone beaches. I kept short strokes to not stress my paining left hand. Paddling became very demanding as I approached the lee side of a bay. There were strong threatening gusts requiring good balance and paddle (+pg46) position and as I started up and around to the entrance of Johnson Harbor, once again in a lee situation this time the wind was just too much. I had a very dicey moment or two I stopped double checked my options which were none other than to just carefully turn the boat around at this point.
In such a strong wind I used my body and paddle as a sail adjusting my body balance with my body position to retain control. Backing around required strong paddling to keep me off the rocks and get my boat headed down wind. Even though I tried using the full rudder kicking the rudder in as hard as I could to counter the wind it couldn't control the boat other than to keep the boat broadside. To get the boat swung around to completely reverse direction I had to resort to using a strong reverse sweep. I had to carefully balance my body by leaning toward the wind.
Once I had reversed direction and was headed downwind I had to control my direction vigorously to gain some sea room past the rocks. When I was clear, I just let the wind push me along.
The two worst aspects of this situation were not getting tipped over when reversing direction and controlling down wind direction of boat.
In this area the wind did not generate waves, which is rather typical of a catabatic wind from an upward angle flattened the water making conditions appear to be less threatening instead of what they actually were.
On a calm day one can do anything in a kayak but this area is not that sort of area.
There is nothing more discouraging than seeing (+pg48) a black line on the water off in the distance with whitecaps. I saw some interesting whitecap wind lines today.
Equipment The Svea pressure pump caps are no good I had a very close call with my flaming stove which I had to throw out of the open tend door I thought that it was going to explode. This problem with the stove was threatening situation that was too close for comfort.
Pouring gas on the stove and lighting it is very risky. The evening 8/6/94 atI sat with the stove next to my body to heat it up. Preheating the stove with a candle I find is the most reliable method.
Now at 2100 barometer at 1005mb the lovely wind is slacking off and the sky is as innocent as pie. Altostratus 50% coming in looks like 5 -10 knots on the water - such innocent looking clouds. Hope that the morning is not another nasty mess.
8/7/94 at1007mb gray overcast slight west wind 5 knots tide was high at 02:00. I incubated the stove to get it to light on it's own - whew! Getting going this early in hopes of avoiding nasty winds of any type - had enough of that. Glad that I put in my kayak a day supply of water. This campsite is dry and useable for a possible emergency situation which very real to say the least just packing the water bag so that it is stable while underway is important.
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