Tuesday, August 23
The adventure begins at the
Ottawa airport, where we check in for our 9:00am FirstAir flight to Iqaluit. Excitement
runs high, and the atmosphere is broken only by quick repacking of bags to meet the strict
baggage requirements: two checked bags of 70lbs each, one carry-on of 20lbs, no personal
item. We get our first indication of life in the north as we watch fellow passengers check
large plastic tubs of provisions and dogs in animal carriers.
The flight leaves about half an hour late, but it is a
smooth ride. For those of us used to the budget-conscious American airlines, the FirstAir
amenities are a welcome change. We are treated to a warm washcloth to wash our hands and
faces, as well as a full breakfast, followed up by a cookie towards the end of the flight.
We spend about half an hour in the Iqaluit airport before boarding our final flight to
One more adjustment to make as we travel north: there
are no assigned seats on our Pond Inlet flight. As with the flight from Ottawa, all
announcements are made in the three languages of English, French, and Inuktitut. We make a
brief stop in Clyde River before landing in Pond Inlet.
The sky is overcast, and the clouds hang low over Bylot
Island across Eclipse Sound. Our luggage is delivered to the hotel, which allows us to
stretch our legs with a short walk to the hotel, led by Dave Reid. Along the way we catch
our first glimpse of Pond Inlet: low houses painted bright colors of pink, green, or blue
stretched out along unpaved roads. The tundra is awash with the red, green, and brown of
late-flowering plants. In the sound, a huge iceberg slowly drifts east.
The hotel is plain but comfortable. Each room
provides two beds, a desk with a TV and a coffee machine, a painting of life in the north,
and a private bath. Each bed has its own reading light. There is a lounge and a dining
room, which serves meals cafeteria-style. After a briefing by Dave on what to expect over
the following week and a gear check, we go to sleep listening to water gurgle through the
Click links below to continue reading about
our Arctic Narwhal Adventure
Day 2: Wednesday, August 24, 2005- We
head into the wilderness
first time you see the check in line for one of these flights, you
cannot help but be amazed at how much excess baggage everyone is
them. To add to the morning confusion, most of First Airs computer terminals were
down. This caused the flight to leave late.
On the way further north we stopped
at the capital of Nunavut Territory, Iqaluit and then at a small
hamlet known as Clyde River. There were polar bears
reputedly hanging around at the town dump, about a mile from the airfield,
but Emile was unable to arrange to get there in the short time we
stayed at the Clyde River airport.
The runways here and at Pond Inlet were
gravel, not asphalt or concrete.
Your first impression of these small towns will probably
be that they are rough and unfinished. They have the look of a frontier town, which
of course they are.
The people we met on our trip were friendly and
sometimes unpolished in nice way. One incident that sticks in my mind occurred
at the end of the trip as we waited for our plane to be refueled and to be loaded for our
return to Ottawa.
The two cooks from the Sauniq Inn (where
we stayed while in Pond Inlet before and after our wilderness adventure) came
out to the airport.
At first we thought they were there to meet someone on the incoming
turned out that they came out to the field especially to say goodby to our
This was a touching insight into the psychology of the Pond Inlet
I've thought about that incident a number of times since leaving and will
carry the memory for a long time to come. It really made an impact
on me, that although in actuality we were simply tourists staying at one
of the only hotels in town, to the people
working there we were special guests.