Arctic Adventure 39 – Going out on the Land

Heading towards Mount Pelly on the barren land

Heading towards Mount Pelly on the barren land

Today was one of those singularly memorable days. I spent most of it “out on the land” as they say around here. The colloquial term for getting out of town and spending time in the bush – although in this case of course there is no bush – just snow, ice, rocks – and more of the same !

The trip was arranged by Glenn and Ann Bainbridge who are currently boat-sitting the Norwegian tug boat parked in the ice at the CB dock, which I had written about in a previous post. Before we set out on the trip I had morning tea with them and Glenn showed me around the boat – that will be the subject of another story soon.

The trip was by ski-do (snowmobile) driven by Ryan our Inuit tour guide, towing a qamutik – the modern day version of the traditional Inuit sled that used to be pulled by a dog team – it was open and flat to carry heavy loads of goods – mostly personal belongings or camping gear. Ryan’s sled was more geared for passengers with a wooden box on top with the front end closed in like a boat cabin and even a plexi-glass “windshield”. The cabin part was very small and cramped so Ann and I sat at the back on a cooler box – nicely shielded by the cabin from the wind of the movement – whilst Glenn rode on the machine behind Ryan. It was a glorious sunny day – only minus 6C air temperature – and no natural wind so we never got too cold.

The main purpose of the trip – apart from just experiencing the wilderness – was to (camera) hunt some Muskox – so we were trying to find a herd of them possibly close by. We headed north-east of town into the hinterland of the island and our first stop was Ovayok Territorial Park about 16km from town.   The predominant feature of the park is the large esker – a long, winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel thought to have been formed when a glacier moved through this area – known in Inuit tradition as Ovayok – that rises to approximately 183 m (600 ft). (It was formerly called Mount Pelly by English explorers in 1839 to honour Sir John Henry Pelly, governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.)

Ryan ferried us one at a time up the hill on the snowmobile to save us quite an arduous hike and so we could enjoy the amazing views from up there. Great to have some perspective of our surroundings after being stuck in town all this time where there is no “view” of anything ! Incredible to think of such a feature having been created by the power of ice – the size of the glacier would have been enormous to throw up such a high ridge of rock. We walked part of the way back down – which was easy – and all agree that it will be good to get back in the summer and hike up along the marked trails.

Sadly Ryan could get no sight of a Muskox herd in any of the 360 degree view from up there so after a much needed cup of tea we headed back to town but went through it along the frozen West Arm of the bay, to another area where people have their summer cabins overlooking the Dease Straight on the ocean. Another beautiful drive and some amazing sights.

Got back very tired after all the fresh air and mental stimulation. Here’s a few of the best hundred or so photos that I took. Will add more – with full descriptions – later. Need to get some sleep now ………..

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