We might not have come far in distance, but we have come far in comfort. We are now camped in the most beautiful of little river valleys. Tucked in against a bluff, we can hear the river and the ever present wind rushing by. But here, there is no grit! We are back to making grilled cheese and relaxing under the ever present sun. It is back! No clouds in the sky today. From our campsite, we watch bits of ice glide north up the now cleared channel. There is no way we could ever out-paddle this southerly wind. So back to the waiting game.
As a treat, I think I want to make us pudding this afternoon. It has been a while. The last time I made it, the burned mess was enough to turn us all off of even the thought of it. Other than that, no plans but to wander around the valley, look for musk ox, dead or alive. Their skulls litter the landscape, giving it an Arctic Georgia O’Keefe feel.
While paused here, I would like to take the time to thank our sponsors, especially the ones whose gear has kept us comfortable as we have navigated through freezing temperatures, icy cold water and hurricane force winds.
Where would we be without our kayaks? Prijon GmbH in Bavaria customized them just for us. Tough, yet lightweight, they just fit into a Twin Otter. Yes, we all wish we could spend more time paddling, but we also all know that without them, there is no way that we could safely be in this variable environment. We can haul them like sleds over the ice, and when the ice peters out, we have a safe way to continue. Never far from our minds are thoughts of those who have died up here journeying over the ice with sleds only.
Prijon Kayaks also donated to us a lot of dry bags. All of our food and clothing has to be protected from the ocean. Everything is crammed into these dry bags, and so far our gear has been kept dry, even when our kayaks flip and everything ends up floating in the salty ocean water.
We stow our production camera and other delicate gear and electronics in Pelican boxes. On this journey, those boxes’ ability to keep out grit has been just about as important as their ability to keep out water.
It took a few days to get used to the restrictive neck and wrist gaskets on our Kokatat drysuits, but now that we have, and now that we have all fallen in the ocean multiple times, we embrace the tight fit. Without these suits, we would die. With them, it is possible to be amphibious. We can walk through what can not be paddled. And with our paddling mitts and PFDs, we are comfortable and well protected.
We are all wearing matching long underwear from NRS. And we don’t ever have to worry about mixing up whose is whose because these garments never come off. They are so warm and comfortable that I can not imagine life without them. Even better, they stay clean. There are a few different schools of thought about laundering up here. I’m in the one that is holding out for Resolute. I rinsed them out once, but missed them too much while they were drying to ever try that again. In addition to long underwear, we are all sloshing around in NRS knee high neoprene Boundary Shoes. My feet aren’t always warm, but they stay well insulated against the worst of the cold.
We spend a lot of time talking about how well the Mountain Hardwear clothes that we are wearing keep us warm. Living outside for weeks, with the temperatures hovering just above freezing, gives one a true appreciation of the quality of the garments one is wearing. It kind of pains me to think that in a few weeks, we will have to put all of our layers away again until winter. I have become attached to them. They have become a second skin. As for our 2004 Mountain Hardwear tents, enough has been said. Our Satellite dome literally stood up through two days of hurricane force winds.
Sledging harnesses for people aren’t made anymore, but Granite Gear made some up just for us! I don’t think any of us would ever trade in our life as humans for that of a pack animal, but having a harness that is comfortable makes kayak hauling that much more tolerable.
Thermarest has supported us (literally) by giving us sleeping pads, and MSR has provided us with stove and cook set and other camp essentials like dromedary bags and tent pegs.
A well provisioned journey starts with the food. Thank you to Seven Stars Bakery for making us bread that is tasty and that does not go bad. Thank you to Watson Farm for lamb and Pat’s Pastured for chicken! The dried meat, in sauces and stews, keeps us warm as well.
There are so many thank you’s that we owe. First Air covered a lot of the cost of getting us and our kayaks up to Resolute Bay and back. And Atco Structures Ltd is putting us up at Southcamp Inn free of charge. Not a day goes by when we aren’t thinking about the fantastic cakes that await us, never mind the hot showers, laundry machines and welcoming staff.
Thank you all from this sunny little river valley!