Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 13 - numb nuts, teeth and bergs: a spontaneous paddlathon! Part I

The weather was simply perfect.  I was eager to move on and there was nothing to stop me this time.  I embarked on what was to become a twelve-hour paddlathon, from the previously dubbed "white sands" campsite all the way to Spraglebugten: a bay on the otherside of Uummannaq island.  I was heading home!  I did not, however, realise that I was going to be paddling quite so far when I set out, it just turned out that way.

Of course, I was slow to start as usual.  I took plenty of photos to document what was likely to be the last time I camped in this beautiful place.  I also wanted to try to emulate the photos taken by kayakers I admire like the team from Adventure Philosophy in New Zealand.  Whereas I wasn't paddling in the extremes that they experienced in the Antarctic and around South Georgia, I did meet Graham Charles in Uummannaq and enjoyed paddling with him a few times. 

The water, when I was finally to get on it, was crystal clear with hardly a ripple to be seen.  The icebergs were behaving - in this area anyway - and I was good to go.

I blasted straight across the fjord, heading for the point from which I could then see Saattut.  Why oh why there is always another point I do not know, but it is sadly often the case.  I began to feel as though the paddle to Saattut would take forever.  My bum and various appendages were becoming hot, sweaty and numb.  Lovely!

The icebergs were a welcome distraction though.  As usual, they made good way-points to break up the long paddle.  I still had not realised just how far I would paddle this night but as the hours passed and I approached the late evening I began to think that the weather could not get any better.  Rounding the point I spied Saattut and the tiny islands before it.

Whereas the population of the settlements might be small the population of the tiny islands that surround them, especially Saattut, are both small and furry.  How friendly they were was disputable.  These tiny islands though were going to be my lifesaver in terms of getting out of the boat and stretching my legs.  Whereas I might have wanted to spend a bit more time walking around, the number of dogs on each island quickly determined how long I would stay.

As the sun moved behind the mountain my new-found canine buddies and I took leave of each other and I paddled on, racing to get back into the sun to warm up.  Saattut was still tantalizingly out of reach and I began to contemplate where I would be spending the night, or if I would paddle through it as the sun moved around me.  I made my decision on the next island, and nearly lost my boat as an iceberg calved before me.

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