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Alone in the Arctic


To really get into this update, think back to the last time you were alone. Like, REALLY alone. Like... 'I haven't seen a person in a while', alone. ... Now: Imagine what it must be like to be without seeing a human, or even a bit of modern human presence... for nine days. No cars, no boats... not a single plane droning above you. No roads, no signs, no trails or tracks. Nothing. Just the sound of the Arctic Ocean lapping against the shore. Icebergs calving and booming in the distance. Wind. The sun moving, dimming, brightening again. The sound of your own breath and the drops of water off your paddle.


One. Two. Three. Four. ... Five... Six.... Seven... Eight .... Nine Days. Wind, Waves, Ice, Sun. Breath.


Now, imagine Karl, sitting on a beach, leaning back against a beach chair he fashioned from old wood near his tent, sipping a hot cup of instant bone broth and watching the conveyor belt of icebergs drifting westward, happily enjoying his ninth day alone in the Arctic, about 250 nautical miles away from the nearest human settlement, as the paddler paddles.

"I raised my hiking pole in honor of this amazing campsite. I made a super sweet backrest out of my barrel staves... getting homey around here. About to get the sun back. looking forward to that. Chilly AF with the wind."


Karl spent the last two days on Awaq, which is what the Inuit called the tip of the peninsula for millennia (prior the first European to view the point in 1826 and named it Cape Bathurst). This point is at 70 degrees N latitude, and the northern most point in the Northwest Territories.


Karl said he found fox, caribou, reindeer and musk oxen tracks, and vertebrae bones the size of basketballs (Whale? Mammoth?), as well a pine box sticking out of the permafrost. There were a few crude crosses laying near the box and the name Olakpana inscribed. The crosses were so old the inscriptions were sticking OUT, not in.


I (Elyn) looked up the name Olakpana and found reference to a journal from some early arctic expeditions from 1910-1917 that had the name of a man called Keats Olakpana. (The picture included is a shot of the CGS 'Alaska' that was frozen in at Cape Bathurst in 1914 as part of an expedition to survey the Canadian Arctic... perhaps from this mission? If anyone finds more info, let us know)


He stayed at his camp for two days, soaking it in. "It is so heartachingly beautiful here. I am so happy to spend a few days up here... at the end of the earth."


Karl took off this morning against a headwind headed down the east coast of the peninsula. He'll be passing by the "Smoking Hills" (picture below) an area of shale that is constantly burning.


He is trying to make miles before the next easterly blows in on Friday, although he says the early stress of needing to make miles to stay on a arbitrary schedule is gone. "I can now walk... think... observe... soak it up. I'm on the Arctic's schedule. She is wise."






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