About 35 years ago, in another life, I was working at a mine in Northern British Columbia. One weekend, when almost everyone left the camp, I stayed around, and was soon approached by the surveying team and asked if I’d like to help them out. “Sure, why not”, and before I knew it I was choppered off, and left alone at the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere, to guard the expensive laser equipment from the wind and grizzly bears.

I still remember the feeling of isolation and remoteness,  as I walked around the barren mountain top with only a curious marmot for company. When I learned of Adventure Canada’s Arctic expeditions, I couldn’t get that off my mind, and eventually signed up for the August 2016 Arctic Explorer. So here I am, sitting in the Nautilus Lounge of the Ocean Endeavor, writing about the first couple of days.

The voyage started in Ottawa, where we boarded a Nolinair flight to Resolute Bay, Nunavut, with a quick re-fueling stop in Iqaluit. We got on the plane directly from a shuttle bus, with not even going through security. If I had known that, I would have carried on a whole bottle of whiskey, instead of just a metal flask.

From a beach at Resolute Bay, AC had their zodiacs transfer us to the Ocean Endeavor, and we were soon having a fantastic lunch. A couple of weeks ago, Frank, a friend of mine, told Chantal to weigh me before and after the trip, implying that I’d lose 10 pounds in the Arctic tundra, but I think I have to be careful I don’t gain 15. The food is unbelievable!

Right now, on the 2nd day of the voyage, our first excursion was Beechey Island, which is the last known whereabouts of the “Franklin Expedition”, which I was told is “The Great Canadian Obsession”. (ha-ha … inside joke). It was raining and a very desolate area and the sea was quite rough making for an interesting zodiac ride. The ride was quite challenging for some people, but being the athlete that I am, and my hip replacement behind me, I had no problems, but had to be careful.

Rain on and off all day, but the Pentax was doing very well. Today was a photographic orgy, even though the landscape was quite bleak. But sometimes, less is more. A single flower in lichen amongst a field of rock stands out spectacularly.

Most of the people on this trip are serious travelers. As I’m writing this, with a glass of whiskey in my other hand, a man sitting at my table asked me if I’m writing in a Moleskine, which I am. He keeps a daily log and has over 50 notebooks. He’s wearing a Nepal t-shirt, and has been there.

On our 2nd excursion this afternoon, we went on a zodiac cruise to Leopold Island, which is noted for its extraordinary bird cliffs. I’m not really a nature photographer and don’t have a big telephoto lens, but managed to get 1 photo of a bird. I joined this expedition mainly for the landscape and the Inuit village visits. More on that later.

Arctic-Explorer-Route-Map

[click on any image for slideshow]

Zodiac landing. AC's zodiac drivers are great.

Zodiac landing. AC’s zodiac drivers are great.

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Franklin Expedition memorials on Beechey Island

Franklin Expedition memorials on Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Beechey Island

Peter, the geologist, made very sure that we knew he was conceived on Beechey Island.

Peter, the geologist, made very sure that we knew he was conceived on Beechey Island.

Remains of the suupply depot on Beechey Island

Remains of the supply depot on Beechey Island

Remains of the suupply depot on Beechey Island

Remains of the supply depot on Beechey Island

On the sea

On the sea

Leopold Island

Leopold Island

Leopold Island

Leopold Island

Leopold Island. That's Genevieve driving the zodiac.

Leopold Island. That’s Genevieve driving the zodiac.

Loading the zodiacs

Loading the zodiacs

My only bird photo.

My only bird photo.

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