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Daily Trip Log

By Peter Brewster

Just another day in paradise

Tuesday, July 17, 2001


 NACHVAK BAY: What an incredible day.

 The weather, for the third straight, has been perfect. Not a cloud until late afternoon, and then only wispy strands in a blue, blue sky.

 But like many good days, this one started last night, when we confirmed that with one more good run we would have caught up to the schedule we had set before the layover in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

 This was cause for some celebration, and The Governor, in his infinite (and on this occasion accurate) wisdom proclaimed a boisson, the traditional end-of-day voyageurs' libation.

 Sean at once assumed an attacking position as boissonier, a job he's taken on superbly in the absence of the fourth Peake, Andrew (Corky) who could not come this time. With me at his elbow urging him to lighten the load in the packs, Sean concocted a masterful brew, which set the rhythm for the evening.

 Another early start saw the gang up at six and on the Labrador Sea around nine. Mornings are busy times, as that is when we send stories and photos back to CANOE, charge batteries, and complete computer chores.

 Geoffrey will no doubt give a stroke-by-stroke account of the paddling, but minke whales followed the first hour of travel, porpoising at times within a hundred yards of the boats.

 Their arrival on the surface was accompanied by the hiss of expelled air and the wonderful glimpse of a gleaming black back and fin.

 We were gliding along, enjoying all this and the mountain scenery, when the Big Show happened. There was an enormous BOOM, like one of the F-16s from Goose Bay breaking the sound barrier, but somehow louder and closer. Then a roar.

Finally entering Nachvak Fjord after three long days of beautiful ocean paddling. Michael Peake photo.

 Suddenly, an iceberg about half a mile ahead did a very fair rock and roll, shedding spray like a big dog coming out of a lake and throwing refrigerator-sized chunks of ice.

 It rocked up high in the air on one side, failed to make a complete rotation, then settled back down as big waves spread out.

 Wild. Very raw. Very Labrador.

 The incredible journey continued, winds light -- except for a tricky crossing of Delabarre Bay over to Gulch Cape -- and the mountains rising almost vertically to 2,000 feet.

 The entrance to Nachvak Bay, before the narrows into the fjord, is breathtaking. It is something that will live with us all for a very long time.

 To the north-west, the Razorback, a jagged ridge in climbing to 3,600 feet. Immediately over our heads Kammarsuit Mountain, 2,600 feet of ancient stone rising right out of crystal clear water. Lesser mountains ring the bay. Minke whales played on the surface.

 There was the kind of communal, stunned silence that accompanies great events, and when tongues did start wagging again the exclamations were not family website material.

 Efforts are underway to form a Torngats National Park, with Nachvak as its crown jewel, and while this a complex and politically-charged plan one can only hope that it happens.

 Keeping this entire area safe for the future must surely possible.

 Camp is on Nakselak Bay, just off Nachvak Bay, on a high moss meadow overlooking the narrows into the fjord. Again, I'm sitting writing on the little chair that the guys all seem to think is too gnomish for words.

  Again, the view is overwhelming. Perhaps a little more snow on the slopes and in the deeper gullies than our last two sites, but all in all quite incomparable.

 The temperature has reached that point where fingers start to stiffen.

 A stream beside the tents is matching the gentle rollers of the outgoing tide with its soft gurgling and rippling.

 We've vowed to lie in, perhaps until seven, tomorrow. Then we head up the fjord, and what I can see from here is most tempting.

 It's an evening to put on a hat and perhaps gloves to go with the fleece jacket, and enjoy the glow of the sky and wonder where that jet is heading as it carves a pink slash across the sky.

 Wherever it is, the view will not be as good as this one.

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