Damaged kayak cuts short solo Arctic trip

A Yellowknife woman paddling solo in the Arctic Ocean has had to cut her adventure short after her kayak was damaged.

57-year-old paddler stops halfway to Gjoa Haven

Diane Hache, 57, set off by kayak from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in June but had to stop her trip in Paulatuk, about halfway to her goal of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, due to damage to her kayak.

A Yellowknife woman travelling solo by kayak in the Arctic has had to cut her adventure short.

Diane Hache, 57, set off from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in June.

She paddled through snow and heavy winds for most of July but her kayak sustained damage, so she has stopped in Paulatuk. 

"I was on a survival mode I think the moment I left Tuktoyaktuk," she said.

"It is so frustrating. Since I landed here the weather is just awesome, it's warm. I don't have to put on three to four layers to sleep at night."

Hache said anyone she ran into while paddling was helpful but also surprised to meet a woman paddling alone.

"They look at me, and then they look around and say 'Where are your partners?" she said.

Hache said at one of her camp sites she saw plenty of polar bear tracks. It was the only place to stop for miles so she put up an electric barrier for protection and hoped she wouldn't have to use her gun.

When she did finally see a bear, it was on shore and she was in her kayak.

Hache also encountered four rowers from Vancouver who are also travelling the Northwest Passage this summer.

Paddler has no regrets

At one point some stormy weather left her with wet gear and a wet sleeping bag.

"All of a sudden I turn off a point — there's a camp.  I said 'There's somebody looking after me up there, for sure!'"

Hache said she paddled 980 kilometres and is about halfway from reaching her goal of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. She said she'll pick up where she left off next summer.

Other than having to call off her trip early, she has no regrets.

"It has been a tremendous experience," she said. 

"Three years ago when I did the Mackenzie, I thought that was the highlight of my life, but it's nothing compared to paddling the Arctic Ocean."

Hache said she'll leave her kayak in Paulatuk over the winter, where it will be repaired before she returns next summer.