July 13 – day 5 – wind bound AGAIN
The long delay is starting to get on my nerves….we’ve been in this general area for 4 night and 5 days in a 21 day trip. Although I expected to be wind bound for a day or maybe a few hours, it’s grating to spend the first 5 days of the trip pinned down within the 3 km! Patience, not one of my inherent traits, is being polished on this trip. More wind rubbed squeaking tent poles! Sighing, I roll over and bury my ears in the sleeping bag, resigned.
Later, the flat grey sky and screaming clouds are not encouraging. The wind blows incessantly from the north, white caps hammer the far shore, sand is drawn up into dust devils, tips of spruce trees wave frantically. Wearing multiple layers of clothes inside the tundra tunnel, including fleece cap, long underwear and gortex coat, I can still feel the winds bite. It’s 8C but the wind chill has driven the temperature far below zero.
At 2pm, the wind has changed from just plain strong and steady to hammering gusts. Clouds have become more cumulous and the occasional streak of blue hints at some clearing. Its unpleasant to walk outside as the wind brings tears to my eyes. We nap, read, write, sketch, eat and drink too much tea.
The day passes slowly and afternoon slumps into evening. Suffering from cabin fever, I exit just to stretch my legs. The rain has finally stopped and the wind diminishing.
Then! Just as quickly as the gale started, its stops dead. Strolling along the beach, I stand still in wonder. It’s like someone shut off a tap, the transformation is so quick and absolute. There is no gradual diminishment or occasional whiff or gentle luffing. Just full ground halt. Astounded by the sudden change, I’m rudely brought back to reality. The blackflies have also turned on like a switch and waste no time in attacking. Dashing to the tent, I dive for the bug jacket.
After so many hours cooped up inside, gazing at grey cotton outside, the ocean blue sky is a balm to the soul. Life blossoms, emerging from what ever shelter. The first caribou of the trip trots on the sandy beach opposite camp, shaking its head in an effort to escape the flies. A distant buzz becomes loud. Two bush planes fly low along the river before disappearing down stream. Faintly, wolves howl in the distance. A merganser family floats downstream, quacking. Song birds trill in nearby shrubs.
Laying in the tent, I listen to the ebb and swell of tundra song, each thread separate yet connected to the whole. At midnight, the voices quiet leaving only a red sliver to brush western horizon good night.