Tuesday, March 7, 2017

On Polar Tides and the Torngat National Park

The Torngat National Park was created in 2005 at the northernmost tip of Nunatsiavut, Labrador. It encompasses a wonderful area of jagged mountains running down to fjords and steep capes, with islands offshore. 

The Torngat Mountains

It is tundra; the realm of the polar bear and caribou, wolf and arctic fox. Offshore the cold Labrador Current carries a procession of stately icebergs south toward Newfoundland.

The Torngat Mountains extend north from Nachvak Bay

On clear dark nights the sky comes alive with the dancing curtains of the northern lights that subdue even the brilliance of a full moon. 

A green curtain of the Northern Lights

Boasting some of the oldest rock formations in the world, at about 3.92 billion years old, The Torngat Mountains have shouldered an almost supernatural role affecting endless generations of hardy northern people. The strong winds that can slam down without warning from the mountains into calm fjords, the ghosting caribou camouflaged against the terrain, and the polar bears that appear where they were not evident a moment before, as if materializing from mist and cloud, could be easily identified as the spirits of these mountains. 

The northern extremity of the Torngat Mountains

Nowadays you can join a tour backpacking, flying in by helicopter or small plane, or by boat along the coast. Nunatsiavut Tourism nowadays can help you learn more. But until recently the idea of tourism remained a faraway dream. The Torngats were reserved for a handful of hardy adventurers and a few tourists arriving by boutique cruise ship.  So what was Labrador like then?

Violent winds can sweep the fjords to the icy sea

 You can gain more insight from my newly released FalconGuides book, On Polar Tides, (which better covers the ground than my earlier Stepping Stones of Ungava and Labrador.)  In the book the Torngat Mountains and the coast of Ungava and Labrador is revealed as experienced from a kayak before the National Park was created. Take a deep breath of the clear fresh air of northern Labrador, and dive into the story!

Purchase a signed copy of On Polar Tides from my web store, or find the book on Amazon, direct from the publisher, or from your local bookstore. I hope you enjoy! 

(Nigel Foster offers a slide presentation about his adventures in Labrador titled "On Polar Tides". Contact Nigel with any Requests/Invitations.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Warm and Happy as a Manatee!

It can be cold up north this time of year, maybe frozen. It’s a good time of year to think about warm water paddling, getting a little Vitamin D from sunshine, and relaxing! And it’s a time of year when you can get inexpensive flights to Florida.

Spring-fed rivers have 72 degree crystal clear water

Florida is a big state well served by international airports, so if you’re thinking of flying there, check out the paddling possibilities close to the airports. For the warmest water and warmest weather, the Gulf Coast and the south tends to be warmer than the Atlantic Coast and the north. There’s a reason why the mangroves are in the south. They don’t like frost.

On Florida Gulf Coast you often see dolphins

Winter is a good time for seeing manatees when  the Ocean and the Gulf are cooler than the warm spring fed rivers and close to power plants with their warm water outflows.  Manatees like to hang out in the 72-degree-year-round temperatures of the springs, and there the water is clear enough to see every detail looking down from a kayak. But they'll often approach you, even when the water is less clear.

Manatees hang around kayaks and love the warm water

It is easy to rent kayaks to tour these rivers. Some companies offer guided tours, others launch you at the top so you drift and explore on your own to a pick-up downstream. 
If you have seen enough of manatees, then there are the birds, and of course on some rivers you might be lucky and spot alligators.
Sandhill cranes find a place to nest by a river

The open coast may require more paddling than a downstream drift, but white shell-sand islands, mangrove tunnels' ancient native shell mounds, Civil War era fortifications and dolphins make the effort worthwhile.

The freedom of a sandy beach on an offshore island

The last weekend of February every year is the Florida Gulf CoastSea Kayak Symposium, (canoes too!) offering trips and instruction, lectures and social events in the Tampa Bay area. That’s a really good event for getting to know the paddling environment, meeting up with like-minded paddlers and picking up some extra skills in the warm water from a host of good coaches from all over the world. 

New guide book "Paddling Southern Florida" offers great trip plans

And you can plan your trips from the comfort of your home. Anticipate the fun. Thumb through a copy of Nigel Foster's new Paddling Southern Florida Guide Book from Falcon Guides for ideas. You can buy a signed copy at store.nigelkayaks.com. (Select "signed copy" option) You'll find...

Order a signed copy from store.nigelkayaks.com

each of the 50 and more trips described is shown with maps, directions to the launch, step-by step route directions, places to eat and places to stay, as well as a wealth of information about the creatures you’ll see, the environment and enticing tidbits.  All in color!

Ready for a leisurely downstream river drift?

Tempted? See you there last weekend in February at the Florida Gulf Coast Symposium?