Incredible Journey Through the Scottish Wilderness by Canoe

James WerbCanoeing4 Comments

Canoe on the edge of Cam-Loch

I turned sharply to see what had hit the water with such force. An unmistakeable splash made us all stop the process of loading canoes and watch as Paul clambered out of the water where he’d been neck deep only seconds before.

He misjudged the depth of the water having taken one step too many from the shore. Cold and wet he stood on the bank and quickly swapped clothes to keep warm. We hadn’t even set off yet but it marked what was going to be a challenging trip for the next week.

Boats finally loaded and cars set up ready for the shuttle at the end, we headed off down onto Cam-Loch and our first camp site. Suilvan loomed in the distance. An imposing peak that rose from the craggy landscape and would feature on our trip for the next few days.

Read More >

Finland, an Archipelago Odyssey: Canoeing Lake Saimaa (Part 2 of 2)

James WerbCanoeingLeave a Comment

The water was pure calm when we woke, with a layer of mist hovering mystically above it. The air was cool and still as we loaded up the canoe. After half an hour on the water we made it to the portage that we’d missed the day before. Fighting through a dense wall of reeds we made it to the shore and were soon hauling our packs and boat across the road and into the water on the other side.

I could see how we’d missed the portage the first time around. It’s so sparsely populated that other than one lorry, no other vehicle used the road at all while we were there. So much for listening out for the traffic noise.

It was another beautiful day and being back on the water heading in the right direction made me relax back into the trip. We weaved between small islands lined with birch and spruce, drifting across the sparkling lake as if in another world.

Read More >

Finland, an Archipelago Odyssey: Canoeing Lake Saimaa (Part 1 of 2)

James WerbCanoeingLeave a Comment

The waves were breaking over the front of our canoe. Marie was noticeably quiet. We paddled hard for what seemed like hours towards our destination along the shore of the largest lake in Finland. The wind attacked us from one side, waves bouncing off the towering granite rock on the other.

Though I kept it to myself, I was thinking how we might get ashore should we capsize. The fear was especially great knowing that everything we needed for our trip was in the canoe with us. Tent, sleeping bags, clothes and various equipment. Let’s just get there as quickly as possible I thought.

Lake Saimaa is a huge archipelago. A labyrinth of over 3,500 islands and a drainage basin the size of Belgium. We’d not experienced anything like it and out first paddle made us briefly doubt our decision to take the trip.

Read More >

Dog sledding in the Alaskan wilderness (part four)

James WerbDog SleddingLeave a Comment

Alaskan Husky

Alaskan huskies are not a pure breed, they all look quite different from each other. What sets them apart is their stamina and tolerance for the bitter Alaskan winters. They sleep outside year round whatever the temperature without a problem. A quality I wish I’d shared the previous night.

For a second night we couldn’t hold out to wait for an aurora and we turned in at around 9.30pm. It was still light until 11pm and each day would only get longer. Much different to the barely few hours of daylight they had received just a few months previously. Marie was feeling a little better but had become a bit nervous of getting back on the sleds again. She had fallen off the most and it had knocked her confidence a bit. I knew she would feel better after a good night sleep and so we donned an extra set of layers and turned in for the night.

The next morning I woke early having slept much more soundly. My first thoughts turned to getting the stove going, which I did as quickly as possible once I’d managed to locate the lighter. We went through our usual morning routine and prepared to take down the shelter. Thankfully my spare clothes had dried by this point and I was keen to keep them that way.

Read More >

Dog sledding in the Alaskan wilderness (part three)

James WerbDog SleddingLeave a Comment

My dad feeding the huskies

We had just passed the cabin that we were originally supposed to spend the night. Our camp site would be a short distance ahead. As I got ready to go my dad flew past me shouting ‘whoa, whoa, whoa’ as he was being dragged along, legs hanging off the back of the sled, with just his arms outstretched, hanging on to the handle.

There were two clear grooves in the snow where his legs had been. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to my camera in time to capture it but it had quickly become one of the highlights of my day. Apparently Nugget had decided that he didn’t want to wait any longer and had immediately started chasing Marie’s sled.

After untangling his dogs and climbing back on to his sled, we caught up with the others and made our way to where we would spend our first two nights. We picked a flat spot, not far from the river and had hoped to use it as a source of water. When we later tried, there was no easy path to it and so we settled for melting snow instead.

Read More >