Tag Archives: Arctic hitchhiker

Haida Gwaii – Copenhagen

What life is about and the essence of my journey

What life is about and the essence of my journey

Haida Gwaii and The Spirit Lake Trail

Haida Gwaii and The Spirit Lake Trail

17th of October

   Now I am in Copenhagen with two days of flight travel in my body. I am tired but happy. Looking back it has been quite a journey and just to review it briefly – at the end of June Dax left Island and after nine days at sea, partly rough and troublesome we arrived in Greenland. After sailing north along the westcoast of Greenland with stops in harbours like Nanortalik, Sisimiut, Qaqortok, Nuuk and Upernavik to mention some, we crossed Baffin Bay and entered Canada 5th of August. From Pond Inlet, Nunavut  we continued westward and encountered engine problems which forced us to abort the trip. Martin and Bengt returned with the boat and got as far as Clyde River, Baffin Island where the engine broke down completely and they had to put Dax on a sealift to Montreal for wintering her there.

   I stayed in Pond Inlet for a week or so before I got a lift with a russian cruiseship, the Academic Ioffe. After a week on the cruiseship I disembarked in Cambridge Bay, still in Nunavut, Canadas Arctic. The 28th of August I embarked the swiss catamaran Libellule and joined them all the way to Duch Harbor, Alaska. Libellule continued with a new crew to Hawaii and made it there at the 13th of October while I roamed the west coast of southern Alaska on the Alaska Marine Highway ferries. The ferry Kennikiot and the ferry Taku took me to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. Another ferry and I came to the islands of Haida Gwaii. Haida Gwaii was my last stop on my marine oriented travel round the north american continent so from Haida Gwaii I flew to Toronto where I did touchdown to connect to my friend Rick Irving who I met on the  Academic Ioffe. I also stopped by the office of Primitive Entertainment at Bloor street downtown Toronto to see how the documentary series The Polar Sea is developing. This is a documentary where the adventures of Dax and me will be able to be seen on television 2014.

   Staying on Haida Gwaii I hired a car to explore the hikes accessable from the one and only official road. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take the rental car on the logging roads which would have brought me deeper into the island. Anyway, I did some wonderful hikes through mystic, magic, mytical and mossy forests and desolate beautyful beaches. On Thanksgivning I picked up two hitchhikers, John and Chris and gave them a ride to a camping ground. They invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving together with them at the camp site. They had brought Salmon, Halibut and Antilope meat and I found two kilos of Chanterelles on my hike on the Anvil Trail. We cooked it all and had an improvised Thanksgiving celebration together with a young couple , Ryan and Robin, on their honeymoon trip. Had a terrible headace the day after. Why? I just had a sip (or two) of the whiskey Ryan brought and I didn’t drink much of Chris‘ home made Fireweed and Rubarb wine ( or did I?) And the beer was just to soak my dry throat – a bottle or two.

   Tomorrow Kerstin will come to Copenhagen and we will spend the weekend here together before we take the train home to Stockholm, Sweden. It is nice to travel but even nicer to be back home.

Richard

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USA, Alaska, Unalaska, Dutch Harbor

Cinematographer John and me. Bering Sea in the background

Cinematographer John and me. Bering Sea in the background

King Crab, Eagles and Salmon.
19 th of September Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Aleutian Islands, Alaska, USA.This landscape looks like the home of the Hobbits in the Lord of the Ring. Mountains covered with a green soft carpet. In clear weather you see snowcapped mountains and volcanoes. On the summits of around Unalaska there are remains from World War Two. Bunkers and batteries. The bay is habited by seals, sea utters and hump back whales. In the air and on rocks and masts there are white headed eagles in abundance. The creeks around the village are boiling with salmon who are striving upstream to breed. As soon as they have done this they die. That’s their moments of being 😉 On the banks along the creeks you see heaps of smelling dead fish. On the docks the crab cages are piled up, ready for the crab fishing season to start. Despite the number of inhabitants (4400) the harbor is huge. It actually consists of several harbors. So different compared to the harbors I have seen so far in Greenland, Canada and Alaska. Very wealthy and BIG.
Yesterday 18/9 was the last day of filming with Primitive Entertainment. They spent almost the entire day on different locations interviewing me. Backgrounds like the sea and the mountains. In the evening we all ( me, Kevin, John, Sanjay, Scott, Yves and the two new crew members of Libellule; Alain and Julie) went to The Aleutian Hotel to eat their famous sea food buffet. We were all stuffed with King Crab, Sushi, Halibut, Salmon, Shrimps and desserts before we said goodnight and split up.
Today 19/9 I have booked a ferry that will leave Dutch Harbor 24/9 and arrive at Homer the 27/9. I have not decided yet but my plan is to continue along the coast to Prince Rupert BC and hopefully go the island Haida Gwaii which, according to Kevin is a magic place. There are pine tree rainforests and old Indian villages.
I have also moved from the boat to the Aleutian Hotel where I will stay until I catch the ferry. This morning I said goodby to the film crew. It feels sad in a way because we have been together now and then during three months on locations like Reykjavik, Nuuk, Illulisat, Pond Inlet. In Cambridge Bay there was another crew.
In the meantime I will investigate Unalaska and the surrounding nature which is, as far as I have seen, very promising. I have contact with a naturalist guide and if all things fit together, she will take me for a hike in the mountains looking and birds and flowers.
I will be back with more about Unalaska and how things develop here.

Richard

Alaska Nome Gold, King Crab and Beer

House-boat in Nome

House-boat in Nome

White rainbow

White rainbow

11 th of September Nome.
Entering Nome Harbor you immediately get the impression of a busy place. A couple of years ago Nome was a sleepy outpost in the southern Arctic of Alaska. But things have changed since since the TV documentary series about gold diggers here started. Before that only a handful of dredges were established in Nome but now there are over 200 registered dredges. It is like back in the late 19 th century when people came from all parts of the world to seek their luck in Alaska. In the harbor you see them everywhere – small pontoon dredges up to really big and advanced ones. The gold diggers – mostly men, often recklessly dressed, bearded, heavily smoking looking like trolls. Hair sticking out wildly under the cap. Rugged faces. According to the Harbor Master the city of Nome has great difficulties keeping up with the boom. They are remodeling the harbor facilities to be able to receive bigger cargo ships and tankers. Another thing illustrating the growth is all the bars and restaurants along Front Street and not to forget the liquor stores, gold buyers and souvenir shops.
We started our celebration of the completed North West Passage onboard Libellule, safely moored at the south wall. At 1830 Nicolas and Marco from Perd pas le Nord plunged in with some bottles of wine. Their North West Passage was about to end with a catastrophe near Point Barrow – they hit a sandbar and struggled for 24 hours in the storm to get their ketch loose but finally they gave up and got evacuated with helicopter. After four days in Point Barrow they returned to their boat on a tugboat that was capable of pulling them loose and eventually they managed continue sailing to Nome. They intend to haul their boat and put it on the hard over the winter in Nome.
At 21 we went to Bering Sea Restaurant to have some steaks and pitchers of Alaskan IPA. After being properly fed with New York style steaks and fries it was time to explore the bar culture. All the bars we visited seem to compete in tallest bar desk. At one bar the baldheaded female bartender was running back and forth along the 10 meter desk handing out drinks, jokes and encouraging comments to the not so sober guests. And of course loud rock music on the PA. Atmosphere was good. Next, Breakers Bar, a combination of Lotto boutique, snooker lounge, Laundromat and bar. A woman won 250$ on the Lotto and bought us all drinks. Two crab fishermen, slightly refreshed, were playing pool and imitating the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show when they found out I was Swedish. The balls were jumping out of the pool table – oops! Kavit the chef from Airport Pizza, a successful restaurant in Nome, presented himself and we had a chat. Two gold diggers showed me an iPhone picture of their last four days harvest – and it looked like a lot of gold nuggets. They told me they made over a million bucks last year. 
 At 0200 all the bars close and everybody are out in the street at the same time. Outside Brakers we met Sheila, Andrew and Arlo. I met Sheila earlier at the souvenir shop with carvings. So the party continued at Libellule. Arlo Hannigan brought his guitar and we had a jam session onboard. He is a musician and sounds like a mix of JJ Cale, Dylan and a dash of Cohen. Our playing styles fitted together and I tried his Martin guitar. I played my Baffin Bay Waltz and he followed and he played some of his songs and I followed. Outside it was raining heavily and the party went on until 0430. That was a proper celebration of our journey though the morning after felt a bit heady.
 Philipp and Michael left the boat to catch their flight back to Europe and Yves, Sylvain and I motored out of Nome Harbor in the rain. Nicolas and Marco from Perd pas le Nord waved farwell at the dock.