First I want to say…I’m finally feeling better, still not 100% but so much better than last week! I got home on Thursday night…it was so good to sleep in my own bed! Even though I still wasn’t 100% and I was loosing my voice I had made plans with friends to go to Auyuittuq National Park for the day.
On Saturday morning I met with my friends at the Parks office to go over our orientation…and Joavie our outfitter let us know it was extremely windy in the Park…and wouldn’t be a good day to visit. Remember last year how I went in the spring and it was crazy windy?
Well after some discussion our group decided we wouldn’t venture into the Park because of the wind… and the fact we couldn’t head past Overlord to the Arctic Circle marker, or even further to get a glimpse of Thor. What we did was ask Joavie if he could take us in the other direction… out into Cumberland Sound. He agreed so we all went down to his house at 10am and got ready to head out of town!
Joavie is the heart of Alivaktuk Outfitting… Over the past 5 years I’ve gone on many adventures out of town with him. Today he said we’d head to the floe edge, look for polar bear prints and stop at one of the Turbot Fishing camps…he said no matter what we’d have a story to tell later that day. Boy was he right! We had such an awesome adventure…
Leaving town heading through the ‘pack ice’…this is formed with the tides…it forces ice up when high tides come, and then cracks when the low tides leave. It’s a pretty cool to see it!
Here’s a quick selfie on the move… with my komotik buddy! (We spent the day travelling in a komotik (the sled that is pulled by the snowmobile). There were 2 snowmobiles…and one pulled two komotiks in a train…and then ours just pulled one! But it was perfect for the 6 of us!
Our first stop on the ice after travelling for a bit was great to get out and stretch…and get our bodies moving after sitting with the cold wind! It was -19C with a windchill of -26C. Our two outfitters took the time to help warm up my friend’s fingers…it’s amazing how their hands were so stinking warm! My trick is to use a pair of those 1990s ‘magic’ gloves inside my mittens. My mittens are warm enough..but I find it hard to use the controls of my camera, so often have to take off a mitten. And at -19C my fingers DO freeze…so I end up wearing the magic gloves and that keeps my hands toasty!
While we were having our break we decided to have a little “jumping” party… sometimes you just have to JUMP! Today’s reason…it was a beautiful spring day with the sun shining…and we were on the Cumberland Sound!
Our next stop was the Floe Edge. I hadn’t been here…but have wanted to visit for awhile! Joavie first checked the thickness of the ice to determine it were it was safe to walk.
This is where the ice in the Cumberland Sound ends…and it’s open water! This is the spot where hunters from town come to get seals…and polar bears come in the spring looking for seal pups (though it is a bit early for that to happen!)
It was so gorgeous…the water was ‘misting’…even with the temperatures we had!
Our two outfitters talking about our next plans… we saw a group of people further along the floe edge so we decided to head over there.
We stopped just after three hunters from town had gotten a bearded seal. They had brought it back to the ice, skinned it and had butchered it and were in the process of preparing the meat to bring back to town. (They dipped it in the sea water so that the salt helps preserve it…how cool eh?) It was so incredibly awesome and special to be allowed to be able to just drop by and watch this process. That seal fed so many people back in town. (I couldn’t believe it’s size…) We all were offered fresh seal…which I had as well as some of my friends. Here’s my friend, just before eating her piece of seal. I was happy to get some, because seal helps warm you up…
We hung out here for a bit, had some tea… and enjoyed our seal. The hunters shoot the seal from the floe edge then…go in the small boat and row out to bring it back to the ice.
It was such a peaceful gorgeous day… it went from blue skies to having some light snow…to blue skies again! It’s amazing how fast the weather can change in one day.
As we were hanging out…of course I decided to get some random shots of us just chillin’ at the floe edge.
I brought out my ‘bearded lady’ hat…just to snap a photo, but it wasn’t warm enough to wear the rest of the day!
We left the seal hunters and continued along side the floe edge… looking for Polar Bear Tracks! I didn’t want to see a bear–bears FREAK me out, and honestly…I’d rather just see one in the zoo…than in the wild. But seeing their prints does let you know that they are around. Soon enough the skidoos stopped…and there on either side were tracks of not 1 but 2 Polar Bears. Joavie said they were probably 2-3days old. (Can you see them in the photo below at the left hand side of the photo?)
Yup, definitely bigger than my hand! Glad this was all I saw of a bear that day.
Our next stop was to head over to one of the Turbot Fishing camps. At this spot it was awesome to just see a figure in the distance at the floe edge with their snowmobile hunting.
We stopped here for awhile to visit. It was a good stop as some people were cold and were able to warm up in the cabin. The small cabin sits on a komotik (and is pulled by a skidoo) but can be heated by coleman stove… there are vents to let out the carbon dioxide and it’s a cozy spot to camp while fishing.
While we were there Joavie asked about the lines, and they fisherman agreed it was time to pull them up. It was great to be invited to be a part another awesome experience! While the men fixed the hauler…I was able to take the snowmobile off for a bit of a drive! It was pretty awesome, and was happy to have my toes warmed up…who knew that there was heat that blew out on my feet while driving! I didn’t..it was a happy surprise!
Some of my friends decided to run and jump to keep the blood moving and stay warm!
Soon it was time to bring out the lines, that are baited with squid from Newfoundland. This was one of the fish that was caught…but no one seemed to know what kind it was! This wasn’t a great spot, because most of the bait was left on the hooks…with no fish.
However, about 4 Turbot were caught.
Plus a few other ‘interesting’ things were caught…this starfish, a sting ray, and some rocks with coral on it.
I asked the Fisherman if I could have the rock with the coral tree…and he agreed, it’s the coolest thing ever. I managed to get it back to town by holding it the whole way in my hand..and only broke off one small part of it…it still looks way cool!
Then it was time to head back to town…we stopped just outside of the fiord to move around and warm up…. these breaks help keep us warm, and are awesome for photo ops!!
Here’s a shot of my friend and I… the one on the left is from the first stop of our day and the one on the right was from the last stop of the day!!
It’s so gorgeous being outside of town on the land. Days like this totally remind me of why I love living here in Pangnirtung. It’s having days like today and opportunities to get out of town and that helps me appreciate all the great things about living in the Arctic. Being able to experience and see a glimpse into the hard work the hunters and fishermen do to bring food to their families…well that was pretty special!
Part of me is secretly happy that it was too windy in the Park and our plans had to change…because my day out on the Cumberland Sound was AMAZING! As Joavie said… “I have a lot of stories to tell from my day”. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos and stories from my adventure that I shared here today!