BAFFIN ISLAND SUMMER EXPEDITION 2010
In the Summer of 2010 I helped guide an education expedition to Baffin Island.
Organised by Antony Jinman for his social enterprise company Education Through Expediiton, the expediiton ventured into the same part of Baffin Island as our Baffin Island 2008 expedition. The expedition took nine students and/or recent graduates to experience the Arctic: it's environment, people and the troubles that it is faced with.
Baffin Island 2010 Afterthoughts
September 3, 2010
by Katie Harris
3 weeks of hauling 25-30kg packs through bog, tundra, moraines and over glaciers. My ankles, knees and hips didn’t appreciate any of this but the scenery was incredible and I gained a much deeper understanding of the Inuit culture.
The Inuit people are fantastic, we lived with them for 5 days. We ate seal meat and raw, dried and boiled char (very like salmon)…although I wouldn’t recommend the fish eyes – too chewy and they burst in your mouth *bleurgh*.
We watches Bowhead whales swimming amongst the remainder of the sea ice in the bay and the small community of Qikitarjuaq (500 people) buzzed with excitement/fear as a polar bear was spotted on the outskirts of the hamlet.
A 3 hour boat ride took us to the end of the fjord as seals swum playfully in the water. Once in the pass the peaks stretched a vertical kilometre from the valley floor and almost every day we saw chunks of rock the size of family cars…the size of houses, plunge down the frost shattered peaks and explode into pieces.
We saw tundra alive with colour, arctic poppies, blueberries, lemming scurrying down burrows, wolf spiders, arctic hare (glaringly obvious in their white coats against the summer rock and tundra), geese honking as they launched into flight, ravens shrilly crying as they swooped through the sky, snowy owls and polar bears (luckily from a distance).
We climbed steep terminal moraines over 50 metres high, crossed rivers carrying vast quantities of silt and the occasional chunk of ice as they powerfully eroded their banks. In the afternoon they rose with the melting of the ice, so high and fast they were uncrossable and boulders could be heard rolling in the river bed.
On the glacier we saw vast chasms carved by the melt water, picked our way carefully between the crevasses which enticed us to gaze into their deep blue gashes. Medial moraines stretched as long brown streaks down the glacier.
As we slept in our tents, pinned down by ice screws ad rocks that we had gathered from the glacier surface, the glacier groaned and moved beneath us, it shuddered and creaked and the rivers roared like jet engines throughout the night!
Day 25: Relaxing in Pang
August 27, 2010
by Katie Harris
Today we had a day in Pangnirtung, which is awesome! We got to go to a local hotel and we tasted tea with milk for the first time in four weeks; coffee, proper coffee; toast, jam, orange juice, it was amazing!
We spent the day in Pang looking at a printing studio and Inuit craft.
Some of us went to the store and had a look round there. We went to the library and read some of the papers and the books. Climate change is a massive issue in all the literature in Pang, and how climate change is affecting hunting and the culture, and the permafrost on which the communities are built, and what’s happening in those communities.
We went to the store and were surprised by the prices of some of the things there. For example, a small bag of Haribo cost $6, (£3.70) a packet of 5 disposable razors $35 (£21.50) and a little tub of ground pepper was $10. We started rummaging through the bargain bin and got ourselves some tortilla wraps and bread, which we ate with our freeze dried meals in the evening. They cost us less than a dollar each, absolute bargain.
In the afternoon, whilst we were there as well, our camp site had turned into a bit of a kid’s playground because it was the first day back at school for all the children in Pang, and they were having a big barbecue with a camp fire. We talked to some of the secondary school teachers and other people in the community.
We had some seal meat, which is a dark meat but had a strong fishy taste, but it was delicious we also drank a seal stew made from the juices of the seal meat, i’m not sure what else was in it, but it tasted very good anyway.
In the evening we watched an elder make an Ulu, this is a knife that is used for food preparation. It had a very sharp semicircular blade. Some of us bought an Ulu too.
We sorted out our equipment and packed our bags, ready to fly to Ottawa tomorrow. Tonight will be our last night in the tents. Tomorrow will will have our first shower in a month.
August 25, 2010
by Toby Nowlan
Today we hiked from the Summit Hut via Mount Thor to Windy Lake; around 25 km. Whilst walking I spotted a bright, white animal. It appeared to be a bright, white rock amongst a group of other rocks. I exclaimed “Is that a hare?!” and with binoculars we could confirm that it was indeed a large, completely white, winter coat Arctic Hare, sitting among the rocks, thinking it was completely camouflaged. AJ crept up close and got some quite up close photographs. We stood back and watched the hare, sitting there thinking it was completely camouflaged and resting.
The Arctic Hare
We also passed large groups of Lesser Canada Geese with goslings, which was fantastic to see; truly wild, breeding lesser Canada Geese. As we were walking, we also encountered a collosal crash of thunder, and to the side of us, near Mount Thor, a huge rock fall occurred, and from the mist came crashing down massive boulders the size of houses, and they tumbled all the way down the incredibly sheer rock face, causing a massive cascade of rock all the way down the mountains!
The Massive Rock Fall
The wet weather cleared and the views became stunning all the way through the valley. Hanging glaciers, tumbling glaciers and tens of waterfalls, and some very short and pristine, and very colourful patchwork tundra.
It was another wonderful day in the Arctic Circle.
August 24, 2010
by Rachel Tate
Today the team moved from our camp at the base of the Turner Glacier to the Summit Hut. Whilst we were on the route, myself and AJ scouted out a river for the team to cross, which you have to do before the whole team go across with bags on, but whilst we were doing this, we both slipped and got swept down the river a few metres. This, unfortunately, is just one of those events that happens during expedition life, but the team were absolutely fantastic. They pulled us out really quickly, got the tents up, clothes on and sleeping bags out for us to warm up.
The many fast flowing rivers produced by glacier melt water make the journey extremely hazardous (photo from 2009 expedition)
We are both really, really proud of the team, and it’s a real credit to the training that’s happened throughout the expedition, on this trip. After we had warmed up, we continued on our course to the Summit Hut, admiring the views as the weather began to clear.
The evening was spent around the stove, eating and laughing together. Everyone is now in their beds, preparing for a long day tomorrow. The expedition top tip for the day is that a dry bag is a fantastic, essential piece of kit for any expedition life, especially as myself and AJ found out today. It makes sure that your sleeping bags stay dry, along with all your warm clothes that you want to pull out if you get chilly.
August 23, 2010
We’ve only done about 6km today, but it’s been really hard going over some really rough moraine. We are currently camped just before the Turner Glacier so we can get across the river first thing in the morning and we’re hoping to be up crazy early, about 4am to get across it before the river is too high.
Along the way today we climbed half way up Midnight Sun Peak, which is pretty cool, we got some good views over the glacier and the moraine lake. We hoped to go up Turner this afternoon but it didn’t really happen because the weather’s completely clouded in and it’s been raining all afternoon so we didn’t get that. We were going to go and have a closer look at Mount Asgard, but unfortunately, due to the weather, we haven’t found anywhere to see it from.
We worked out today as well that we’ve covered about 250km so far for the expedition. That’s double hauling at the beginning and going up the Norman Glacier, and the route’s only 97km! Ha, very funny.
Tomorrow we’ll be up about 4am to get going. We hope to do maybe 15km. We need to get a move on really, so we can get our pick up at the end. It’s been pretty heavy going: we’ve been carrying nearly 25 kilos over some pretty rough terrain. So hopefully we’ll make it but we’ll see how far we get tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll actually make it to Summit Lake, but as I say, we’ll see. And then 3 days left and we’ll be in Pangnirtung and then back to everyone soon.
August 22, 2010
by Emily Franke
I am at the base of Mount Battle. Today we have been at the bottom of the glacier all day so we had a chance to all split off and do different things a group of four of us went up mount battle today, which was amazing. We had views of the whole valley system we came down all the glacier’s we have been up. We could see where we are walking tomorrow. It is in the middle of where all the glaciers feed into, so you get amazing views all around.
A couple of the others did some different things. Rob looked at the geology of the area. Toby actually saw two arctic hares. he went off wandering in the tundra to look for them, and he saw them really close up and got up some amazing pictures of them. Going up Mount Battle was really tricky work, it took us about 9 hours return trip. Really tough terrain walking up there, really steep and quite unsteady boulders all the time so we had to keep really focused not to break our ankles. No one broke their ankles, which is good!
Then when you come back down off the mountain, you come back onto the tundra and it is a carpet of blueberries and soil, which is amazing and smells delicious as all the herbs come up. We are just packing up ready to head back into the pass tomorrow to make our way to Pangnirtung. We are just sorting out all the group kit, all the ice kit, so we are all packed and ready to go tomorrow. I think it is going to be quite a heavy day; we have got all the leftover stuff to sort.
from → Update from Baffin
August 21, 2010
We are now off the ice of Norman Glacier, after having a fantastic five day trip up the glacier and great exploration of the southern tip of the Penny Ice Cap and the glaciers that run down off it. The highlight for me was certainly climbing our little unnamed summit at the midway point, standing on top of the peak and looking out over this meeting point of 3 or 4 glaciers. All of a sudden it made you realise just how small you were in these massive glaciers coming off the Penny Ice Cap and these huge mountains around us. It was something really, really special to be stood on top of the little summit, looking down on all of this.
The team has worked incredibly hard over the past few weeks, just lugging all of the food, equipment and ice gear needed to go into this remote part of the world, and we’ve been rewarded with fantastic weather, fantastic sights and lots of new knowledge and understanding of the Arctic environment.
Our progress back today has been really good. Walking off the tip of the Norman glacier, we were a little bit surprised that our access point onto the glacier was no longer safe, so we had to find another route off the glacier. It was amazing comparing the two edges of the glacier! It has melted a good two, two and a half metres in just 5 days from when we stepped onto the glacier to when we stepped off of it, and as a result it was too thin to step safely off. I didn’t realise the glaciers here were melting quite that quickly, which is quite worrying in many regards.
We are now camped back in our cache point in the moraines. Everyone is really pleased how things have gone. I’m very proud of the team and how everyone has worked and really come together. We’ve now got another week here in the park with our rest day tomorrow and then we’ll walk off down, continuing through the pass, so still by no means the end of the expedition, we still have a long way to go yet.
August 20, 2010
by Katie Harris
We left glacier camp in glorious sunshine and trekked our way back up the glacier to the saddle. I led the last leg before the crevasse fields and then Antony led us confidently through the crevasses. Their extent and size was only apparent to us today, as a few days earlier we had been lost in the cloud, so we couldn’t actually see how big they actually are or how far they stretch. The views throughout the day were absolutely incredible. We made good speed, walking mostly uphill, but covering over three and a half kilometres.
There is so much to learn out here; it is amazing. I absolutely love this place! There is so much to see and so many things that you discover everyday. The tributary glaciers swinging into the main valley. The medial moraine stretching like a rocky brown streak down the glacier. Rivers of melt water rushing over the ice and then disappearing down holes. Crevasses gape wide enticing you to gaze into their blue gashes. Rocks the size of houses, the size of family cars, plunge from the valley sides and everyone tends to see the mountain crumble before their eyes.
August 19, 2010
by Rachel Tate
I’m currently watching the sunset over the Penny Ice Cap!
We are still at the camp that we were at yesterday, but today we had a couple of options: one was trying to find the elusive lake, but unfortunately when we were scouting it out we came across a huge crevasse, which was absolutely stunning, I’ve never seen anything like it before! So we took lots and lots of pictures and then had a bit of a play around with some ice axes.
This afternoon we went up to an unnamed mountain. It was an absolutely amazing view, we got a huge panoramic! Most of the team went up; there were a few who stayed behind to rest their feet, because we are going to move off to camp tomorrow and make our way back to the cache, depending on the weather.
The views are absolutely stunning, we saw some fantastic biodiversity: lichen growing up the mountain. There was evidence of lemmings and arctic hares, which was stunning really, because it’s just a huge moraine and you wonder how life can survive in such a stark environment.
We had a fantastic day, the whole team are happy. The sunset is absolutely amazing, sitting here on the glacier, Penny Ice Cap shining away in pinks and oranges. We are all going to sleep well tonight and are all safe and well.
August 18, 2010
by Toby Nowlan
Today we walked 20 kilometres along the Norman glacier. It was initially a tough climb up and then we entered a highly crevassed region. We entered a thick bank of fog and mist. Which descended over us, it made going extremely slow. Luckily at this point we were at the top of the glacier which levelled out and this meant we could carry on going we thought we would carry on going for an hour longer in the hope that conditions would peter out and become more optimal for us and in the othe side of the glacier in the next valley. So we carried on walking and we crossed crevasse after crevasse. The going was extremely slow.
We were on one four man rope, and one three man rope teams. it was quite scary in some place. the crevasses were very deep and there were snow bridges that needed to be carefully crossed and after an hour and a half of walking into the next valley, suddenly the mist broke and we could see a long distance into the next valley, clear skies and the penny ice cap was suddenly visible in front of us, as weredozens of small glaciers winding around hills and mountains on either side. It was one of the most fantastic moments of my life and I will never forget it. It was absolutely incredible. It was without doubt one of the best moments of my life. Everyone was screaming and everyone was shouting with glee and hollering and Rachel shouted “Shame we don’t have a bottle of champagne” and I said “Yes! Absolutely!”, at which point I fell down on my knees into the ice, but was fine.
We carried on moving through the glacier, the weather was consistently fine from then on. Incredible views of all the glaciers winding and snaking their way around the mountains us incredible ice formations and noise from the glacier underneath us as the ice shifted in creaks and groans and collapsed around us. Not dangerously, just in the traditional sense in which glaciers move. We are now camping just below the Penny ice cap and we can see a long valley down below us. We are near an icey river and many boulders are strewn around us.
Tomorrow we are going in search of a lake which was mapped 50 years ago by an aerial survey, but no person to our knowledge has ever been there. in fact for the last two days we have been walking in a territory, the whole area we believe nobody has been. Perhaps inuit people have ever been here, no explorers are known to have been here before. We may be the first people to lay eyes on these hills, first people to see these views, set foot and the first people to visit this lake on foot if it still exists.
August 17, 2010
by Laura Hobbs
We are currently on the Norman Glacier. This morning we left our base camp down the moraine and cached away all the kit we wouldn’t be needing for the next week as we head up onto our glacier work. We walked through the moraine, it was quite a different experience from the previous week; it was really hard work. I think we were all quite glad when we could get our packs through them. It was only 3 or 4 kilometres we walked through, but it took a few hours.
As we approached the glacier we managed to get all our crampons on and helmets for safety reasons. We went through a few procedures about stopping yourself if you fall down the glacier, how the best way to not fall over is and crevasse rescue in a team. We finally got into the glacier, our first steps were a little shaky. It was a really good day, everyone enjoyed the different scenery. It is absolutely beautiful up here: the massive mountains and the glaciers fall down between them. It looks like rivers, which have got frozen in time. It is like nothing I have ever seen before, it is absolutely stunning.
We managed to set up our camp for the night here, which is fairly difficult actually. The glacier is melting in the sun all around us, so we have had to dig out channels with ice axes that then redirect the water around the tents. We’ve got a dry island in the middle of a wet glacier. It was quite challenging when we are cold and tired and we are all getting pretty wet. It is peaceful up here but quite noisy. a rockfall going on every couple of minutes and also glacier collapsing with dramatic bangs and various rumbling noises, which is a little unnerving but quite exciting at the same time.
August 16, 2010
by Emily Franke
Today we just had a rest day after all our caching. We got quite a lot of washing done, although it didn’t actually dry. So in the evening drying that around the stove. Had a good swim in the nice glacial lake, which was chilly. Some of us sketched, others went on a hunt for ptarmigan but were unsuccessful. Others did some video shooting. The weather has changed a bit so it is not as sunny, there is quite a bit of rain coming down. We managed to fit six of us in one tent, which is quite a feat.
We are just getting prepared for the day tomorrow when we will heading up the glacier. We have got to pack 7 days of food and all our ice gear; our packs will be quite heavy! It is better than caching everything though.
August 15, 2010
Today we’ve arrived at our base camp location, before travelling off into the glaciated valleys and hopefully the Penny Ice Cap here on Baffin Island. It’s been a fantastic day, and I’m really pleased by the effort that the Team has put in, in order to get this far in the expedition.
The entire length of the Auyuittuq Pass is 97 kilometres, and over the past 6 days we’ve hauled all of our food and ice climbing equipment a total distance of 140 kilometres, as we have twice as much equipment as we can carry, thereby walking the same ground 3 times to bring up all of our equipment and establish our cache here in one of the best mountain locations I think I’ve ever seen.
We are camped in a moraine field, coming off the Highway Glacier, in a bend in the Auyuittuq Pass that has 4 glaciers meeting and converging at this one point. The mountains around us tower over 1000 metres above us and are very jagged and raw. In fact, there has been rock falls coming down this evening and it’s just been absolutely stunning.
In the past 4 or 5 days, the temperatures have been shocking! A surprisingly very, very warm 19-20°C, making the colours and the scenery really come alive; all of the flowers are in full blossom. It’s an amazing part of the world!
I’m really looking forward to cracking on with the expedition phase and exploring a region of the Auyuittuq National Park which isn’t at all visited by people.
Thank you very much for following us!
August 14, 2010
by Vijay Shah
We stayed an extra night at the hut. We arrived there the previous day and had one more last cache run. That means going back 15km, bringing back all the rest of the food and that would have been the last big run. So off we went. Laura whose feet were rubbed raw and has really bad Achilles heels, got a rest day. Luckily, she was also the sentry of the tents so we did not have to take them down. Whilst the rest of us walked back 15 km with light packs, across bogs, rivers, and the nice hard packed sands at the end to retrieve the last of the cached food and then come back in the evening carrying close to 20, 25, even up to 30 kg packs on a 30 km day.
Our legs are aching, our backs are dying and our feet are dead. But that was the last one. Now all we need to do is cross the river and then set up base camp ready to go on to the glaciers and possibly up to Penny Ice Cap. It has been great; the weather has been fantastic so far, 20 plus degrees. But that is very odd for this part of the world so we will see what the weather amounts to be over the next two weeks.
Day 10: First glimpse of Mount Asgard
August 13, 2010
Today we made it up to the hut, so we have done around 14 kilometres today. We have finally caught our first glimpse of Mount Asgard and the main glacier we will be heading into over the next couple of weeks: absolutely stunning. Mount Asgard is huge! It has been a little bit easier today on the terrain. Everyone has been really aching after the last couple of days; it has been really hard work.
Tomorrow will be our last heavy day of hauling up stuff. Hopefully after that it will be a bit more fun. We will be getting into the glaciers, climbing mount battle, having a good luck around and doing a bit of ice climbing. We have just got to haul everything up tomorrow. Get it all across the last major river crossing. Then we can start sorting everything out.
Day 10: Life on a movie set
August 13, 2010
by Katie Harris
Yesterday we skated away from June Valley hut. We walked from the June Valley tents down Owl River with a light pack. The return was far from light; we loaded our packs with 16 days of food and covered over 30 kilometres in total. Today is a rest day and we are planning to walk to Glacier Lake, which is 15 kilometres away. The tundra is amazing: there is so much colour in it. The flowers blooming, ravens calling out as they trail the skies, geese honking and jabbering away as they launch into flight. The tundra has got so much colour in it. Each moss is a different green, arctic willows standing tall, seed heads drifting on the wind, blowing down the dried up river bed and out of sight.
Thank you to everyone who supported me in getting here, this place is absolutely amazing. Just in my tent now, I am at the base of the valley here it is only 200m above sea level and I can see a peak that is only about 100 metres in front of me, which stretches over a kilometre straight up into the sky. Just a sheer rock face reaching right up. The river winding through the valley is carrying silt from the glacier, that is travelling back to the fjord where we began our expedition. It is an incredible place. Just lying in bed at night I can hear the rivers tumbling down from the hills, I can hear rocks falling. A crack of rock in the distance. Sometimes you can see these boulders coming off the mountain. It is such an incredible place to be, there is so much going on. Sometimes I feel I am on a movie set, just because I cannot comprehend how big everything is. It feels like it is painted on in the background. It’s just amazing.
I’d really like to thank everyone who made this possible. The Rotary Club of North Wirral supported the expedition, Gwydyr Mountain Club contributed towards the cost as well. The people who supported me through my fundraising and people who gave individual donations to the expedition. Camera Solutions in Chester who also helped me collecting a camera. And to everyone else who gave their time and effort in making this happen. Also, to the schools that are supporting me while I am out here and are interested in the resources when I get back. Most of all to my parents. Love you lots and see you in three weeks!
Day 9: Climate change and snowy owls
August 12, 2010
by Toby Nowlan
We are at June Valley hut. We have walked today from the North Pang hut to Owl River, and then across all the way to June Valley hut, about 30km through the pass. It has been fantastic weather, a slight breeze blowing. We have walked through mainly bog conditions and a kind of boulder distributed grassy floor. We have passed many glaciers, and bare steep rocky slopes. During the trek we flushed up two snowy owls, which I was really excited about!
I thought this was fantastic. Snowy owls are an arctic breeding bird. They are a very large bird of prey and in summer they are completely white. They breed on the tundra and hunt lemmings, arctic hares and geese. It remains to be seen how species such as the snowy owl will fare in times of modern climate change. Their habitat is changing greatly as the complex ecological interactions on which they rely for feeding and breeding up here alter. They rely on the lemming ecology, hare ecology and geese ecology, which in turn rely on a stable seasonal balance of tundra ecology. They are just representative of other species which may decline as a result of modern climate such as the rock ptarmigan, the ivory gull, the ivory gull diver, the arctic red gull and many mammals.
Day 7: Starting to trek
August 10, 2010
by Laura Hobbs
We are currently at the start of the pass at the North Pang huts. The last few days have been really, really busy. On the 8th we set off from Billy’s hut. After doing some ice training, we got all our ropes packed and crampons sorted so we can be nice and safe up on the glacier. We also had some last-minute Arctic Char, which was very nice. It was great to have some fresh food before we left on the main trip. Billy dropped us off down to the pass on his boat, which took about 2 hours. It was really cold and wet, which was quite unfortunate! It was so soggy but there was some beautiful scenery, and we’ve seen some great waterfalls and absolutely massive mountains. It’s just really inspiring to be here.
Yesterday was the start of our main trek; it was a quite a busy day to be honest. We got up early and set off with our food and ice kit and trudged across eight miles of bog towards the second mountaineering hut. It was pretty hard work: the bog is like walking in 3 feet deep of wet sponge, which is quite tiring for 4 or 5 hours on the go. We also had to do some river crossings, which required a lot of team work. It was a lot of effort and involved taking our trousers off, wading in cold water up to the thighs, putting wet suit boots on and crossing the river as safely as possible with our massive packs on. I really enjoyed it though; such hard work but I think we really came together as a team during yesterday’s activities.
Once we got to the second hut, we managed to drop all our kit off. Unfortunately we had to walk back to the beginning of the pass for the rest of our kit, which we are hoping to pick up and transport today. We were really tired yesterday and I think although everyone found it really hard, but it was great fun and we had a lot of laughs along the way. Once we got back here we managed to set up camp in the wind and the fog. The fog is so low you wouldn’t believe it. You walk through it constantly.
It’s cleared up this morning and we have beautiful bright skies with a good amount of Arctic sun. We are all having a great time. The plan for today is to hopefully move the rest of our kit and food down the 8 miles again, back along the same route in the bog, to the second hut and stay there this evening.
We are all doing well. Lots of love to everyone at home and see you soon.
Day 4: Polar Bear Safari
August 7, 2010
by Rachel Tate
We are still at the hut and have had a fantastic day! We went on to a hill nearby and on the way up we saw lots of different types of rock and things like that, and lots of different lichen. We also saw a bit of the skeleton of a polar bear cub. Once we were on the top we got a fantastic view of all the surrounding fjords, a few of the rapids and the areas that we have been swimming and walking. We also got to collect lots of blueberries on the way and then this afternoon after lunch we went out on a polar bear safari!
It took about half an hour to go out and it was really quite cold on the boat. We had these huge, big, orange submersion suits on, but it was absolutely amazing! When we got there we managed to see three polar bears, a mum and two of her cubs. Apparently the cubs are a couple of years old. We saw them quite low to the water but as soon as they saw us they scurried up the valley. Then they stood on top of the cliff just looking down at us and we managed just to float along for a bit and took quite a lot of pictures. We managed to just really enjoy the moment and it was so, so exciting. It was the first polar bears some of us in the team have ever seen. It was just magical. A really, really big highlight of the trip so far. Absolutely fantastic!
Then we came back, got pretty cold on the way back even though we had all our layers on, because the wind temperature coming off the cold water makes it very chilly. We got back and got into the tent and made a brew and things. This evening we are lucky enough to have some barbequed Char that Daisy has prepared for us with a homemade marinade which is fantastic.
Altogether the trip is going really, really well, everyone is really happy and well fed and everyone is enjoying it a lot. Tomorrow the plan is to chill out for the most of the day and then, depending on Billy, hopefully head into the pass to start our trek.
Day 3: Heading out on the land
August 6, 2010
by Emily Franke
We are currently sat outside Billy’s hut, which is on the coast a couple of hours away from Qikiqtarjuaq. We got here yesterday on Billy’s boat , which took about 2 hours. We had to wear giant, fat thermosuits to keep us warm, but it was a really great boat trip: amazing scenery, big mountains. Since Antony last posted, lots happened in Qikiqtarjuaq; lots of packing. We had amazing hospitality from everyone there.
We were allowed to camp in the back of the Consultation Offices’ garden so that we were safe from the Polar Bears on the coast. The policeman let us do our packing in his garage when it was raining. We had the amazing luck of seeing bowhead whales just off the coast, about four of them engaged in mating rituals. We could see them really clearly, even the marking on their faces as they came right out the water. They did some breaches, lots of tails, and huge fins. It was amazing.
We are now out on the land. We had a bit late start getting here because Billy’s boat is a bit broken. That gave us a great opportunity to wander around Qikiqtarjuaq getting to know some of the people. They all really, really kind. Heard some Inuit throat singing and lots of the native language, Inuktitut, which is really different from anything else that I have heard before. Having a nice relaxing time out at Billy’s which is where they come out to hunt and live off the land.
We’ve caught some Arctic Char! We put the net out last night and we had five Arctic Char in it this morning, which are huge, very red inside like Salmon. You can eat them. The Inuit hang it up to dry and we tried some of it yesterday which was delicious. Tastes like smoked Salmon. This morning for lunch we had it as boiled Char, which is equally delicious, very like Salmon. A few of us tried eyeballs, which were interesting but a lot better than they sound. It was the texture more than anything that got us all.
We are just building a big campfire now, making the most of our last relax before we head up into the pass and start loading our food into it, which will be the toughest thing we have done so far, because it has been mostly packing and observing the amazing scenery around us.
Tomorrow morning, we are going to head out on Billy’s boat to try to see some Polar Bears, which will be fantastic if we manage to do that. We’ve got Billy’s dog here, you just have to say the word and he is fully on guard. Girls took a dip today in the freezing water but the boys didn’t go in. So we had a nice wash after five days!
Just finished dinner and are going to have a bonfire!
Day 1: Arriving in Qikiqtarjuaq
August 4, 2010
Flying in to Baffin Island (photo from 2009 expedition)
We have had a really busy few days, beginning with flying from Heathrow in the UK to Ottawa. Once we got to Ottawa, we spent two days packing all of our food and equipment and kit, and then we took a flight up to Iqualuit on Baffin Island. Once in Iqualuit we took a DC-3, which is an old cargo plane with two props and some seats in it. We then flew from Iqualuit to Pangnirtung, and then from Pangnirtung to Qikiqtarjuaq, which is where we are camped right now.
Qikiqtarjuaq has a population of just 500 people, so it is a very small little hamlet just on an island off the coast of Baffin Island itself. It’s amazing! We landed, and there is icebergs floating in the bay and bowhead whales swimming around them. Over the past few days it has been really hard work, but we are finally here and this is the start of the Baffin Island Expedition.
We are now here on location. Everyone is well, everyone is really happy to be here. Over the next few days we will be having our inductions with Parks Canada, sorting out the remainder of our kit and planning our route. We are then going out to live with an Inuit family for a few days on the land, learning about the Inuit culture, their history, life and how they perceive climate change to be effecting this part of the world. We will then head into the Auyuittuq national park and begin the expedition phase of the project.
So we are here in Qikiqtarjuaq, we are very happy to be here, the sun is shining and it is all good.
Stuck in Pangnirtung
August 2, 2010
by Toby Nowlan
I am still stuck in Pangnirtung, tried 7 times now! Pangnirtung has been unreachable today but Qikiqtarjuaq has been fine! It looks like I may end up getting there at exactly the same time as the rest of the group.
Getting to Baffin
July 31, 2010
by Toby Nowlan
I’ve tried to get to Qik [Qikiqtarjuaq] 3 times now! each time the plane couldn’t land and has had to turn around due to bad weather! This has meant I have been stuck in Pang [Pangnirtung], which is beautiful. A local woman is kindly putting me up for a couple of nights since the hotel is outrageously expensive. Hopefully I can get to Qik tomorrow. The bad weather there is supposed to have lifted greatly by Monday, so no problems anticipated for the others’ arrival.