Thursday, July 25, 2013

canoeing to lonely beach

I decided to give the Britney Spears (my kayak) a break for a day and took the canoe out instead. I wanted my husband to come along, and there's really nothing more romantically Canadian than going out to a remote isolated beach in a canoe together.

I call this shale stretch of shoreline Lonely Beach, because I've never seen anyone else there except us. It's about a three kilometre journey along the Beaufort Sea coastline, past the airport. It's just far out enough that if you sit on the shale-covered beach, you can barely make out a view of the town off in the distance, and you feel pleased as punch that you've discovered about this quiet sanctuary. Just you, you and the mosquitoes.

Lonely Beach at low tide 

sea foam

The channel that leads to Lonely Beach is not particularly wide, but is surprisingly deep. Only a few metres away from shore, the sea bottom suddenly plunges to a depth of three hundred feet, a fact that terrified me for some reason and kept me from wading in the water too far. Somewhere in that dark crevice lies a plane that once crashed there....and ghosts?

see the dark spot? That's the underwater cliff that suddenly drops off to the deep end.
see the white spots? That's sea foam...or ghosts.

Because of the depth of the sea in this spot, apparently a lot of seals and narwhals like to hang out here.  I was disappointed that we didn't see any during this trip.  One day, I tell you, I will see a whale, one that is not dead.

skipping stones on the beach

my flattering wetsuit, accented with my equally flattering life jacket

The journey to and from the beach was an adventure in itself. My arms were killing me; for some reason, I find paddling a canoe much tougher than paddling a kayak. Maybe it's because I must bend my will to that of my husband steering behind me.

But the wind had died and the sun was out, leaving the sea at the calmest I'd ever seen it.  We just coasted across the surface as though it was glass, our paddles causing slow large rippling waves in the water that was a beautiful deep colour. It was an amazing feeling that came out of nowhere, this feeling of being one with the Arctic Ocean. Here I was, a tiny little speck, riding on the back of the giant creature that is the Arctic waters.


When we reached land again and dragged our canoe up on to the shore, I was suddenly overcome with the urge to run into the sea. I ran in, with Rob following after.  It was a wonderful sensation, feeling the water slosh around my feet, my ankles, my thighs, my waist...until the water began to flood through my back zipper and filled up inside my wetsuit.  Never let the summer sun fool you: the Arctic Ocean is always cold. I shrieked, just a little, and ran out of the water.

A group of small children stood on the shore, laughing at us. "Do that again," they said.

"No," I said.

"Do it again," they insisted.  I did not.

The truth is, I missed the Britney Spears, and can't wait till I can take out my little kayak again.