Friday, September 1, 2007
Red sky at night has indeed been a sailor's delight. The night was quite cold - let me sing the praises of the mummy bag. In the morning I broke camp quickly to catch the last of the ebb tide before the waterline got too far from the boat. I launched into mirror-smooth water. The paddling was sublime, like gliding through liquid silver.
I was paddling against the tide but it was the last third so not too strong. Usually it's best to pass these islands on the protected north side, but since conditions were good I headed for the exposed south side of Ile a Firmin. Rounding that, I could see Ile Niapiskau and the Bonnes Femmes monoliths in the distance. The monoliths didn't look very impressive - I thought to myself that it was likely one of those things the Park Service hypes because it's all they've got. But when I paddled up to them, about 2 hours after launch, I realized what all the hoopla was about. Huge and stalwart, like island sentinels, they stood in rows defying the weather. (And losing, little by little.)
The view from an observation deck above the liths, with Ile a Firmin in the distance. This gives you an idea of the distances involved.
The cove and the mainland beyond.
My solitary photo-shooting was soon interrupted by a Park Service boat tour, so I shoved off for my next campsite. Since it was so calm, I chose the exposed southern route around Niapiskau - might not have the opportunity later. Marvelous rugged coast, about a mile of granite slab jutting into the sea.
Around noon I came to the campsite in a quiet cove, greeted by the local fox, and ate my lunch.
Sea urchins literally carpet the ocean floor. Any creature that dines on sea urchins is going to have an easy life here.
I set up camp and then decided to take the unloaded boat over to Ile Quarry to check out the many monoliths I'd seen from afar. There was an opposing midtide but if I could make the crossing I could eddy-hop the coastline from there. The tidal race between Niapiskau and Ile Quarry was quite strong - once again I was grateful for whitewater skills. In the midst of the crossing, I heard, "phut phut." Dolphins! Three of them were catching fish in the current, paying me no attention, rocketing under the boat and coming up, "phut phut" on the other side.
Admittedly this is a totally lame photo of one of the dolphins. I shot a bunch but they are just too fast. Plus there was current here and I had to mind what I was about. So take my word for it, it's a dolphin.
I was almost to the shore of Ile Quarry when I noticed another kayaker - looked like a man in a sit-on-top boat. Seemed odd. And then suddenly he was in the water, his boat gone! I could see his head as he zoomed out with the current, thought I would have to try a rescue - and then realized it had been a seal on a rock.
I did eddy-hop the shore and paddled to 3 different monolith sites. Totally cool kayaking around and amidst them.
Fog swept over the far end of Ile Quarry.
The surface of the monoliths.
The pond next to my campsite. This is one of the few sources of fresh water. I wouldn't want to have to use it though, except in emergency.
Making friends wherever I go.
Sunset from Niapiskau, as fog rolls in over Grande Ile.
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