Back to the beyond (Jamie)
As the length of each day here continues to grow and the suns rises higher on its daily climb above the mountains to the south of Qikiqtarjuaq, we are all reminded that we have now been in and around Qik for nearly a month. Granted, we have spent a portion of that time on the ice and also been busy arranging, sorting and planning, our time has mostly been spent enjoying the overwhelming hospitality of new-found friends and also waiting. Waiting for the conditions to change, for food drops to be made, for heads to heal and for insurance companies to pull certain pieces of their anatomies from other parts of their bodies. For three fairly energetic and impatient chaps this has not been the easiest of tasks, made harder by Alex`s enforced rest period and weighing up the options we have heading into the Arctic spring.
As I said previously, adaptability is the greatest skill to have in this part of the world and we can all be proud of ourselves and our chameleon-like abilities over the last two weeks. Having sent all of our normal clothes north before our initial departure and sleeping in a small warm room, the cabin fever of three boys feeding on cheerios and plain spaghetti with BBQ sauce, wearing full icebreaker merino wool clothing has hurried us all into making some decisions regarding our future plans. Thankfully, Halie and Chris’ evening meals with vegetables, fruit and flavour along with the regular use of their washing machine and showering facilities have kept us all sane and smelling reasonably fresh. Their impact on our journey so far cannot be underestimated and it is no stretch to say that without their assistance we would probably have been forced onto a plane back to the UK a long time ago. We have now done a considerable stint in their police facility, three weeks is the same length of time you would serve for petty theft in the UK and yet our time here has been anything but taxing. Their warmth and hospitably have given us the time and space to make unhurried decisions and for that we will always be incredibly grateful. Their sharing of limited stocks of Glenlivet with crackling iceberg ice and excellent company will live long in the memory and I am determined to use Chris` new word, ‘revangance’. meaningfully in a sentence at some point on this trip.
So once again the packing has started in earnest but for different destinations. Benno and I will continue heading north, starting from the point we were picked up from ten days ago, meandering our way between the islands and ice floes towards Clyde River. Alex is packing his bags for a date with an MRI scanner in Ottawa to ensure he hasn’t done any long term damage to his head and to get a decent assessment of his continued role in the expedition. All being well he will meet us at Clyde and continue with us towards Pond Inlet. However, this is a decision not to made lightly after the type of head injury he has sustained and we will not know if he will be joining us for at least another two or three weeks.
For Benno and I the journey north and the excitement it will bring has been building over the previous days – we have been discussing ice conditions with local hunters, bargaining for lifts on skidoos and readying all of our equipment for the off. These preparations have been tinged with a feeling of sadness. We came out here as a trio and for us to be splitting up and heading in polar opposite directions after our eventful month together is a very strange sensation. I don’t think the realisation will really hit home until we are standing on the frigid sea ice setting up camp and Alex is not there in his space in the tent, cycling the shotguns, laughing and joking. We all know the realities of travelling up here mean that unless you are 100% in mind and body things can go wrong very quickly and so to rush Alex back would be a foolish and dangerous decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t miss him.
Colin, Tala and Jemima all continue to do well and they are all quite taken with the 3-4ft-long arctic char we have been feeding them. They’ll probably be bitterly disappointed when we move them back onto their regular food. All three are anxious for the trail with bundles of pent up energy to start burning off and our biggest task before we leave is to try and get a rope on Jemima. We might as well be trying to rope a greased up monkey with an active dislike for humans wearing orange and a deep aversion to British accents, we can but try. I did see Colin near a laptop earlier today and it looked like he was typing but I am sure the sun was in my eyes as he usually tries to eat anything electrical. And anyway, he probably hasn’t got anything particularly interesting to say (www.wizzaling.co.uk).
With the weather looking fine and the ice staying strong, everything seems to be coming together for us once more and our desire to make the best of the opportunities we have been afforded continue keeping our heads up and our minds focused. The coming weeks will be exciting for all of us, all glad to be on the move again in any direction as movement means progress and progression is what we came here seeking.