Jun 262013
 

Farthest North, Log 4: Shallow Water

© 2013 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

In the summer melt as the ice temporarily gives way to a near-constant sun, 1.5 million litres of water pours into Kangerlussuaq Fjord, every second. With that water comes thousands of cubic meters of rock, ground to a powder by the passage of 100,000 years of glaciers. It turns the water out in the fjord milt blue. Out in the center channel it’s 200 meters deep but in the near shore water the heavier particles settle out and mudflats line the shore. In the fjord the tide flows out even faster than the melt flows in, a good 12 knots by the looks of it and aided by a steady wind. We are aboard a Zodiac racing that tide to our ship, Sea Adventurer. The water is d dropping half a meter every 10 minutes. We aren’t going to make it…

We’ve run aground. The mud is silky soft, no rocks and there is no danger to the inflation bladders that make up the rails, and provide buoyancy. We’re safe, but we aren’t getting out of here. I have an oar and Jane the pilot and I push as hard as we can trying to clear the highpoint that has us hung up in the center. Actually these are paddles, short narrow wood and they aren’t up to it. After a few minutes of this mine is permanently bent. In the 40 minutes we’ve been at it another 40 meters of beach has appeared and now there are moguls of grey featureless mud raising their heads around us. The other boat can’t reach us either and the alternative is either wait for the tide. It is still shy of dead low and that will take hours. The only alternative is to wade out to deeper water.

The water feels deceptively warm to the touch but that mud? It has memory and that memory is ice. In half a dozen steps my bare feet have gone from painful to numb. They will warm up. What worries me is my gear. All of it is in the Zodiac. All. And I’m really worried.

But then again, how many people do you know who can say they’d run aground above the arctic circle? Only this one, I wager.

http://www.adventurecanada.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangerlussuaq

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 June 26, 2013  General No Responses »
Jun 262013
 

Farthest North, Log 2: Arctic Reveal

© 2013 Mark Seth Lender
All Rights Reserved

The camera gear – all of it – has made it on board the plane. In the high regions that is not a given, so I disperse the things I need. My photo vest has a camera body in one pocket, a very bright F2.8 70-200 lens in the other, a waterproof case with 32 gig cards to keep the camera fed. In the pack has the shotgun mic, my field recorder, pounds of batteries and cables and the hydrophone. It barely squeezes under the seat – I should be sitting in the middle one where the space below the seat in front is widest – but four hours in the middles? Forget it. n yet another pocket a broadcast quality digital recorder. The recorder, a birthday present from Valerie, is for taking notes but if the primary recorder is damaged or if the most important piece of sound gear doesn’t make it. This is the parabolic stereo mic. If that bag which also has the carbon fiber tripod and all my arctic clothing is lost in transit, the pocket recorder will be the only stereo device. How it will do in the presence of the distance sound of fracturing glaciers and whatever else presents, I have no idea. But the main camera box, large, yellow, waterproof and heavy as hell, is the overhead and that is huge relief.

The 4 ½ hours of airtime goes by quickly. Out of Toronto low cumulous white out the land but just over Churchill Falls, as we cross into western Labrador, there’s a break. The land below, ground flat by glacier and patterned in reticulations of small water confirms we aren’t in Kansas anymore: this is the arctic, and we are here.

http://www.adventurecanada.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangerlussuaq

 June 26, 2013  General No Responses »