Saturday, July 10, 2010

The story so far ...

During this brief period of R&R in Uummannaq I have found the time to upload a few photos from the expedition so far.  I fully intend to write a more detailed account once I have finished and relocated to Qaanaaq.  However, although the mobile has been good for sending some photos from the trip I wanted to give you a better idea of the arctic landscape through which I am paddling.

While there have been many icebergs there are fewer, in my opinion, than I have seen during my previous paddles.  They are however rather big.  It is difficult to put their size into context but I imagine many of them to be the size of supermarkets (European) with a few moderately sized shopping malls (USA) in between.  You just can't see it in photos - you need to paddle past them.  The icebergs in these pictures have come from the glacier deep in Uummannaq fjord, close to the settlement of Ikerasak.

There is a reasonably diverse range of flora and fauna, though most vegetation is limited to small plants or trees and bushes stunted in growth.  The flower below is known as "Grønlandsposten" but without my guide book I can't tell you much more than it is quite common and I think it is the national flower of Greenland - I'll check!

These guys, below, are all over and they seem to announce their presence whenever they come into an area where I am camped.  I have made a point of peeing around my tent to mark my territory!  I'm not sure it was absolutely necessary but Farley Mowat did it when researching wolves in Arctic Canada ... and if it works for him, well, I have to do it, eh?

I will be sure to add more photos as soon as possible.  The next phase of the expedition begins on Monday as I paddle on to Qaarsut and Niaqornat.  Having checked in with the local Police yesterday I am once again pleased to have made the decision to change my geographical goals, especially as three young men died tragically in a boating accident after hitting some ice - we think - about a week before I started.  Sadly, their bodies have yet to be found.

The other goals of the expedition - solo, independent travel by Folbot folding kayak are going very well.  I am getting well-used to the kayak and have yet to find fault with it.  The "hole" in the kayak mentioned earlier turned out to be very minor and the amount of water in the boat had more to do with hasty, wet entries than leakage.  I have found that when on a beach free of midges I pack and trim the boat well, and quickly.  That results in a good paddle.  Packing from a difficult position, plagued by biting insects usually results in a poorly trimmed boat and potential frustration in wind and waves.  With a well-trimmed boat, with the weight well distributed, I have no need for the rudder - the Folbot Kodiak glides through the water.  I have therefore little need for the rudder.  Unfortunately, I think I am a little long in the leg to use the rudder without experiencing some discomfort after a long paddle.  The night of Thursday through to Friday morning, 12 hours or so of paddling, however, was pleasant, although I experienced seaman's legs when trying to walk around town the following day!

I have also gotten used to paddling with Gram Kajak's wooden Greenland paddle and find it very enjoyable to paddle with.  The combination therefore of well-made modern equivalents of traditional skin-on-frame qajaqs and handcrafted paddles is proving to be very harmonious.  Huge thanks to Folbot and Lars Gram!

I'll post more when I can.

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