Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Thin Ice

Who's this handsome guy? And is she smiling just because she's happy to be with him in the same kayak?

There are so many things to wonder about in the Arctic! But beware - One must be in full concentration while paddling on thin ice - Kayaking on ice is not just an extension of paddling on water. While you may comment "you just move the water, the ice - what's the difference?" there is a huge difference. (click on the photos to enlarge them) 

Kayaking on ice feels a bit like the miracle of paddling on rocks. You stick your paddle in the ground, pull some rocks back and voila - you're making progress! And the truth is, it feels great and empowering.

It is especially nice to watch your guide showing off as an expert ice kayaker, only for him to pretend to know where he's gotten himself and yet waive his hand and tell the rest of us "Go that way - it'll be so much easier for you inexperienced city people." 
"Umm, by the way, can someone paddle over here and help drag me out of this ice?"

But guides are not always useless - sometimes they help the group get out of a bay that was iced down by changing winds pushing the icebergs towards the shore:

I say: if someone has to fall into the icy water by stepping on unstable icebergs - let it be a guide!

But no matter what, kayaking on ice is certainly the highlight of an Arctic/Antarctic trip. Here, you really feel the essence of these regions and the meaning of surviving in a different environment. And when all of a sudden seeing a whale coming out of the ice and water 30 feet in front of you, well - there is no feeling of awe stronger than that. (stay tuned for such photo in a future post)

Sometimes, you have to paddle strong and hard to navigate in icy water:

And sometimes, it's the most delicate act you could imagine. Increase the volume on your computer, click on the video clip below, and listen to the 1 millimeter thin ice cracking under the paddle. Then, try to watch the ice breaking, and imagine yourself at one of the most pristine places on earth, with complete silence, only you and the sound of your paddle on the thin ice....

To be an ever better kayaker, read my post Kayaking the Arctic and Antarctica - 9 tips


Anonymous said...

This is a lovely post, thanks. What kind of wildlife did you encounter as you kayaked?

Eyal said...

Whales, seals, penguins, birds...

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