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    • Day 15

      Tundra Hike: Dundas Harbour

      August 12, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 41 °F

      The storm that kept us on the ship during the first half of the day abated considerably by the time we were back out in Lancaster Sound. We even had patches of blue sky. And sunshine, too. Yay! Time to put the zodiacs in the water and get us ashore for one last landing.

      Dundas Harbour (Tallaruti in Inuktitut; meaning “a woman’s chin with tattoos on it”) was where we were going to drop off our modern-day explorers for their quest to ski across the Devon Ice Cap. So, it made sense that we go ashore here for a tundra hike.

      Once again, we were called down to the ready room by our hiking groups. We tacked ourselves onto the end of the medium fast group to get the lay of the land before deciding to go with the medium slow group instead.

      The plan was to hike towards the south coast to check out some Thule ruins and then hike across a ridge to the site of an RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] station that was abandoned in 1951. The first part of the plan worked out just fine; the second part not so much.

      Because we took our time walking across the tundra to the Thule ruins, we ran out of time to get to the RCMP station on foot. No problem. We were offered a zodiac transfer to get there instead … similar to the contemplative group. The problem? The ride required going out into open waters and making our way around a headland. The water was rough … the landing beach, even if we could get there, inaccessible due to heavy swells rolling ashore. So back to the ship we went.

      Thus, for all intents and purposes, we have wrapped up our expedition. Yes, we still have several days left before we board the charter flight back to Toronto. However, those days will see us speeding back … no time to stop and explore along the way.
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    • Day 14

      And Just Like That … Everything Changes

      August 11, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

      It was only 10:30a when we returned from our bone-jarring, cold, and wet zodiac ride. Yes, the wet gear had done its job and we were dry under our layers of clothing. But my back was killing me.

      So, I decided to see if Desiree was free for a hot stone massage. Aaahhh! So relaxing. My aches diminished and my body warmed up as she worked her magic.

      While I was being soothed, blissfully unaware of what was going on outside the treatment room, Mui was attending a mandatory meeting. It wasn’t one that had been on the schedule for the day.

      I left the spa and went to find Mui. The ship was eerily quiet. People were huddled together here and there … whispering … some gesticulating wildly. Hmmm … something was up. But what? Mui filled me in when I found him eating lunch at the Balena Restaurant.

      I’ll cut to the chase and just say that we are NOT going to be following “In the Footsteps of Franklin” after all. In fact, we are not going to be exploring much more of Arctic Canada … maybe one more day in the region and that’s it. After that we’ll be hightailing it back to Greenland as we will need about three days to get back to Kangerlussuaq.

      Why are we going back? It’s not ice blocking the way to Resolute, our original point of disembarkation. It’s not an issue with the ship. Nor is there some kind of medical emergency. A worldwide disaster is not the predicament either. The problem is the charter flight that is supposed to return us from Resolute to Toronto on the 16th.

      Only specially-equipped aircraft can land on the short, gravel runway at Resolute. These planes are smaller in size. We need two of them to fly everyone back to Toronto. One of these planes is now apparently down for a couple of weeks due to mechanical issues. There aren’t many carriers that operate this type of aircraft, so another charter from Resolute is not possible. We’re heading back to Greenland because the runway at the Kangerlussuaq Airport is paved … and can accommodate a wider variety of planes.

      Christian, our Expedition Leader, apparently got word of a potential problem yesterday — or maybe it was the day before. That just might answer why we’ve been dawdling in this area instead of heading across Lancaster Sound. Anyway, he was waiting to hear what the resolution was going to be before breaking the bad news to a shipful of passengers who came up to these latitudes with the “hope” of visiting some of the places in the annals of exploration history.

      This was depressing news, but hey … what can you do? Nothing. Got to go with the flow. We have some decent offers from Quark to make up for our troubles. Which offer will we take? That is TBD … we have some thinking to do.

      In the meantime, here’s why we’re regretting this morning’s outing. Had we not gone on the “zodiac-outing-that-made-no-sense,” we would have jumped at the chance this afternoon to go ashore at the Inuit community of Arctic Bay (Ikpiarjuk in Inuktitut … meaning "the pocket" … probably a reference to the hamlet’s location overlooking a wide bay). Hindsight and all that.

      As it is, we’re both drained … physically, and in light of the changes announced, mentally as well. My back is still achy. I just couldn’t face a rough-ish ride ashore. Missed opportunity for sure, but hopefully fellow-passengers will share some of their experiences for the expedition photo journal.

      Now to take a couple of pain killers, get a cup of hot chocolate — laced with a tiny bit of Baileys or Amarula perhaps — and relax so we can be ready for whatever tomorrow has in store for us.
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    • Day 13

      Zodiac Cruising @ Cape York

      August 10, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 39 °F

      Once we left the orcas behind, Ultramarine continued towards the north mouth of Navy Pond Inlet where it connects to Lancaster Sound.

      The plan? To do a zodiac cruise. “Christian has selected an odd place for a zodiac operation,” I thought to myself. Except for four distant bergs, there wasn’t much to see in the area. The water was quite choppy. And it was drizzling. Nonetheless, when the Fram group was called, off we went to see what we could see.

      We returned to the ship around 6:00p, removed our layers, and hurried off to the daily recap and briefing. Here we got some more news that I found odd.

      Instead of heading further up into Lancaster Sound locations, the plan for the day will keep us in the northern reaches of Baffin Island. Perhaps the heavier winds we’ve been told to expect tomorrow has something to do with this. Or the fact that we need to pick-up some modern-day explorers who will be hitching a ride with us across the sound to Devon Island are impacting the plans. Anyway, the plan is what it is and we’ll go along with it.
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    • Day 13

      Zodiac Cruise @ the Grounded Bergs

      August 10, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 41 °F

      After our hike at Low Point, we hopped on a zodiac for the promised closer look at the grounded bergs that had been tantalizing us with their presence.

      Our zodiac driver, Lauritz (glaciologist/geologist), had already been out to the bergs and knew when and where to capture the “money shot.” I opted to take a video as that moment approached to make sure I didn’t miss my chance.Read more

    • Day 13

      Tundra Hike @ Low Point

      August 10, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☁️ 41 °F

      Our first tundra hike in Arctic Canada came with a set of new rules. Basically, no meandering off on our own like we did in Greenland. No perimeter hiking here. Have to go with an armed guard/guide trained in safe-handling of guns. Polar bears don’t you know!

      At yesterday’s briefing, Christian (our Expedition Leader) had explained that we’d be going ashore with different groups if the landing involved hiking in the wilderness. The groups would be … chargers, medium-fast walkers, medium slow walkers; contemplative walkers. The goal of the first group would be to go as high and as far as possible. The remaining groups … well, their names pretty much say it all. We would be called down to the ready room by these groups as well, so we needed to decide which group we wanted to go with before we left the ship.

      We like to stop and “smell the tundra” when we are out and about, so a slower pace is optimum. But what if the medium-slow was too slow? We’ve had that happen before. So, we went ashore when the medium-fast group was called to get a better sense of the hiking plan and terrain. After talking with the group leader, we decided that there wouldn’t be enough stops for photos and such, so we waited for the medium slow group to form and joined them instead. Turns out that even that pace on this hike was too fast.

      Normally, once you set off with your group, you can’t jump ship, so to speak. We lucked out, however. When we reached the 500-year old fox traps dating back to the Thule people, the forefathers of today’s Inuit, we found the contemplaters dallying about. After listening to Laurie, who was standing by to explain how the traps worked, we advised our guide that we were leaving to join the slowest group.

      I’m so happy we did, as we had more opportunities to explore as we made our way back to the beach … took more tundra detail-photos. And even found the skeleton of a juvenile reindeer … which we had walked past on the way up … never even seeing it where it lay on the ground.

      A fantastic two-hour hike ashore!


      By the way, I’m very happy that Laurie was ashore to point out the fox traps. Without him standing where he was to tell us how they worked, we would have passed by without recognizing the open-top cairns as being fox traps. Apparently, the design of the trap — narrow with an opening at the top and a very wide base at the bottom made it impossible for the fox to get out once it fell inside … lured there by the meat used to bait the trap.
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    • Day 5

      Feeding the Beast in Iqaluit

      August 2, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 48 °F

      The beast, in this case, is the B737-400 that is our air chariot from Canada to Greenland.

      We’ve dropped into the Iqaluit Airport on Baffin Island to switch crews, shop at the commissary (in other words, load catering items for the next leg of our flight), and get gas.

      Passengers get to stay onboard for this short stop!
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    • Day 5

      Our Second Bear

      August 2, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 48 °F

      … and this one actually has the coloring of the polar bears we hope to see at some point during our expedition.

      (And if we don’t see any bears this time, that’s OK too. After all, in 2009, we spent several days up close and personal with the bears in Churchill … Canada’s self-proclaimed “Polar Bear Capital” in the Province of Manitoba.)Read more

    • Day 12

      Welcome to Pond Inlet … Nunavut, Canada

      August 9, 2022 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 46 °F

      Shortly after lunch, we arrived at our anchorage overlooking Pond Inlet — an 1800-strong Inuit hamlet that is known as Mittimatalik in the Inuktitut language. Names in the indigenous language are meant to be descriptive of the place. This one means “the place where the landing place is.”

      First up, clearing the ship and the passengers for entry into Canada. We had all completed our ArriveCAN apps and our passports were in the hands of the purser’s office. Thus, no action was required on our part. Alex, our Assistant Expedition Leader, went ashore with the zodiac and brought back the authorities. I understand each passport was reviewed and stamped as part of the process.

      At 3:00p, the announcement was made to say that the zodiacs were going into the water. The Fram group was advised to head to the ready room to get ready. And off we went. On the landing beach, we were warmly greeted by the local community members. After our names were checked off a manifest, we joined one of the many locals who would be acting as guides and escorting us around the hamlet.

      Our first stop was at a sod-house still under construction. Here, one of the women had prepared tea, using Arctic willow to build her fire. The fragrant smell had added a smoky flavor to the tea … interesting; would take some getting used to.

      Next we headed to the library where several locals had set up tables where they were selling their handmade wares. Inside the building was also a small museum with exhibits about hunting in the Arctic.

      Our walk continued through the village to a hilltop for views of the mountains on Bylot Island across the waterway of Pond Inlet. And then onward we went to the supermarket … more like a Walmart … very well provisioned. Chatting with one of the locals, we learned that fresh goods are shipped up several times a week and other goods are replenished with once-weekly shipments.

      The highlight of our visit was the stop we made at the community center. Here we were treated to a very special performance … a mini Inuit Games, if you will. These games consist of sport and cultural events. The participants are the circumpolar people who reside in communities/countries that border the Arctic Ocean. The games are intended to showcase activities that build endurance to survive the rigors of living in the harsh Arctic.

      (More info here …….)

      After the performance, we made our way back through the hamlet to the landing beach. Bidding “Tavvauvutit” [goodbye] to the friendly locals, we hopped back into the zodiacs and returned to the ship to wrap up our first day in the northern reaches of Baffin Island.

      We'll be continuing to play around the North Baffin area tomorrow.
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    • Day 223

      Spring has sprung

      April 21, 2018 in Canada ⋅ 🌬 -3 °C

      As I've been noticing from many of my friends and family, spring is springing in their neck of the woods. Well, the Arctic is no different. Spring is in full sprung here. We have had a few days above -17C (0F) and on 2 occasions in the last 2 weeks, I have ridden to work with NO snow/wind pants. I know, I know, it truly is spring. Who knows when I get to switch to a regular ski jacket instead of my light parka!? I can even see the wooden porch and metal steps leading up to my door! The snow has been sublimated from them in the now-long hours of sunlight.

      Speaking of sun....does anyone realize that the sun reflecting off all white everywhere is, um, extremely freaking bright?! Makes my eyes tear and I don't have sensitive eyes! The city's loader has been hard at work starting the unenviable task of moving all the accumulated (well, as much as possible) snow away from buildings and homes so that when the melt starts to happen, things don't flood or cause damage. One doesn't realize how much snow has accumulated over the winter until the front-end loader scoops to the ground several feet below.

      Currently, the daylength is already very long. Technically, Igloolik no longer has official 'night' or 'astronomical twilight' (don't ask me the official definitions of those terms...I wouldn't want to take that excitement of researching that yourself away from you. lol). We still have 'nautical twilight' and 'civil twilight' (I know civil twilight is commonly referred to as dawn and dusk). Official sunrise and sunset is occurring at about 4:50am and 10:00pm, respectively. However, it remains dusky until about 11:30pm. And it's only end of April! I remember being in Anchorage right around the summer solstice in June and being so weirded out by sun setting at around midnight to 12:30am. All us visitors there for a conference thought it was about 9pm and were still chatting and visiting...until someone noted it was past midnight and we had to be back up for the conference in a few hours! Don't ask me about dawn....those of you that know me know I have no idea cause I'm never up that early!

      The blackout curtains and tin foil work wonders. I am going to affix a bit of velcro to the edges of the curtains so I can make them stick together and not 'wave beautifully'. Beautifully hanging and waving curtains are pros at letting annoying light in.

      Hopefully the weather will continue to warm because I'm anxious to get out and about on the bike again (I say 'again' like I actually have a history of riding it other than the exactly 1 time I tried to explode my lungs on it...lolol)
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    • Day 2

      Who knew the Arctic was cold?

      September 12, 2017 in Canada ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

      Actually, it was a bright blue sunny sky day with little wind and very warm temps. And I was still freezing. My body better get the memo and start adapting asap! It was a balmy 35 degrees F, 2-3° C. Really not bad... Which is why my reaction to it is so sad.

      My new house is quite nice on the inside considering the outsides. Because it is so dusty and dirty---literal dirt from the earth, not unclean--everything has that look. Plus, there is no grass or trees or any vegetation at all for that matter. As you can see from the pics, the beauty is in the land, not the structures themselves.

      Got my first sticker shocks with food prices. It was a very quick trip in and they closed soon after at 630pm! And I thought New West places closed eyes early! Yikes! I opted for the pound of ground chicken for $4 rather than the lb of ground beef at $13. Also, I bypassed the frozen skillet meal at $16. Got some frozen peas for $5.50 and iceburg lettuce for a steal at $3.50! Small italian dressing was $5. Nectarines were there! Twelve bucks a pound.

      All in all, I think my hands, ears, and face are gonna freeze off.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Nunavut, NU, نونافوت, ܢܘܢܐܒܘܛ, Нунавут, Νούναβουτ, Nunavuto, نوناووت, Nûnavût, נונאווט, Նունավուտ, Núnavút, ᓄᓇᕗᑦ, ヌナブト準州, ნუნავუტი, 누나부트 준주, Nunavutas, Nunavuta, नुनाव्हुत, Náhookǫsjí Hakʼaz Dineʼé Bikéyah, ਨੂਨਾਵੁਤ, نناوت, Nunavute, Nunavuts, நூனவுட், นูนาวุต, 努那活, 努納武特

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