Friday, 31 August 2012

A final sign off from me also.....I largely reflect the comments of Gandalf below.
Fantastic experience and adventure, lots of memories to cherish. At present it is difficult to believe little over 3 weeks ago i was paddling along the coast of the Arctic Ocean.
Big thanks to all the residents of the NWT who helped along the way.

Team MacKenzie two days from completion

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I am going to close my part of the blog.
I have returned to life at home and am gradually getting back into previous routines. I continue to struggle to get in touch with my thoughts and feelings around the whole Mackenzie experience. It seems distant, unreal somehow. I am writing an account and that is helping. Perhaps I will make that public, perhaps not. Its a slow process but rewarding and the trip deserves that finish I believe.
Some things are clear. I am appreciating our good old, for ever changing Scottish weather, rain, winds,sun and off course no bugs to talk of. I'm enjoying the dark nights and sleep has returned.
I continue to be touched by the amount of people who have supported and followed the journey. A final thanks guys.
Yes, it is good to be back.
Where now?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

We made it! Arrived in Tuktoyaktuk 1st August 2.30 p.m. Tired and relieved.
I will give an account of these last 5 days directly from my daily journal.

Hot weather again - 30 plus no clouds - No relief from the sun but made good miles with what breeze there is behind us.
28th July - camped Reindeer station (old hunting station now being rebuilt by Inuvick aboriginal community). Bugs are the worst we have known them. Could only clean our teeth under our nets and were soaked in sweat by time we had escaped into inner tents.
29th - Got out of that place asap and had breakfast after a few miles. another hot day and both of us drained physically. I am in contact with Inuvick Coastguard on the VHS radio which is reassuring as we are into the potentially most hazardous part of the trip.
Really tired and wishing for it to be over.
Camped at foot of Caribou hills. Had a seal visit the camp. I suppose lost, as it is 40 miles from the sea?
Oh, we saw moose and young moose swimming.
30th - no longer any trees. Tundra. River big and wide and very shallow. which is scary as sometimes we have to paddle over 1K to go round mud banks and we are very exposed to winds. But weather continues to be kind. Camped near Swimming Point (where caribou and moose swim across the river).
31st - Wind definitely from north west and increased as day went on. Next to no current so we are earning every penny. Wind increased as day went on and we have been forced to shore, prob about 30 K from our destination. Good campsite, good meal but spirits low. We/I are ready to finish but it seems a long way to cross the line. Are we in the Arctic ocean or the Mackenzie River? I think both. There is a definite big ocean swell coming in. Are we able to get round the "points" I can see in the distance? Not in this wind!
Lots of fears. Have we got the skills? Will the weather be ok?
!st August - The wind dropped during the night and although dull and threatening rain, we struck camp 6.30 a.m. and on the water by 7.20 a.m. The wind did not increase and the sea state was manageable and we made good time along the coast to Tuk.
2nd August - Michael swam in the Arctic Ocean (not for long as some mosys were hanging about) and we explored Tuktoyaktuk and bought some gifts. Spent a chunk of the day sorting out our stuff for shipping back to U.K. Managed to change our flights and flew out at 7.00 p.m.

The last leg of the journey was the most difficult. Physically and psychologically. We were both very tired, there was no current to help, and navigating the end of the Delta and the coastline was undoubtably the most challenging, from a paddling perspective.

Now that it is over and we are safely ensconsed in our hotel in Edmonton, I am struggling to express how I feel about the trip and Michael is the same. I need some time and space to process the experience, talk to someone else and when I have done that, I plan to finish this blog with some of those thoughts. Perhaps Michael will wish to do the same.

I know there have been many of you following this journey and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement. It has meant a lot.