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Arctic “Floe Edge” Expedition 2006

JUNE 16th, 2006


Posted by Amy Gauldie - Office Manager
Arriving to Ottawa AirportWell the team is off!  It was an early morning start from the Students on Ice Headquarters in Chelsea, but everyone was in great spirits and very excited for the official start the expedition.  With a 5:00 am wake-up and breakfast, the team packed up the van and headed to the Ottawa International Airport.  The sun in Ottawa was shinning and it was a warm morning ~ a final blast of heat before the north!  The team was warmly greeted by the staff at First Air and the bags were checked through incredibly efficiently.   A few students changed money and last minute details were tied up.  An official expedition photo was taken with the fantastic team at First Air and the group then headed toward the plane.  Today they will have a brief stop in Iqualuit and then onto Pond Inlet where the journey continues!

Posted by Amy Gauldie - Office Manager (1:00pm)
Just got off the phone with the team who have arrived safely in Iqualuit Nunavut!  Everyone is very excited and out enjoying their first taste of Arctic air.  It is a little cooler up there right now at 4 degrees Celsius, but the group is well prepared for all weather.  They were just about to step onto a plane to Pond Inlet ~  the journey continues north!

Expedition Leaders Report
It’s been a big day!  It all started with a 5:00am wake-up call!  Breakfast, final packing andChecking in with First Air for our flight to Iqaluit then off to the Ottawa International Airport.  Check-in for our flight to Iqaluit with First Air was a breeze!  One of our key partners of our SOI “Floe Edge” Expedition is First Air “The Airline of the North” and they greeted us with big smiles and enthusiasm.  Under blue skies and sunshine we took off right on time and began our northward journey!  We were off… For one of our students it was her very first flight!!  The energy and excitement of our group was palpable.  It was a great flight, some caught up on lost zzzzz’s, and before we knew it we could see a vast landscape of ice and tundra below us.  We touched down in Iqaluit at about noon and got a first taste of cool Arctic air as we disembarked the plane onto the tarmac.  We’re not yet above the Arctic Circle but today’s temperatures werehovering around 4 degrees Celsius.  Iqaluit’s airport is always a bustling place and a real bottleneck and meeting place for the eastern Canadian Arctic.  We were happy to meet up with several friendly faces including Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Dr. Warwick Vincent, Dr. Wayne Pollard and student Mosesie Arlooktoo, all former SOI participants! 

Diz and MoeOne of the key mottos for expedition travel and a good motto for life in general is “flexibility is the key”.  This has become a Students on Ice motto, and one that has served us very well over the last seven years in the Polar regions.  Well, today the students got an earlier taste of being flexible, as our flight to Pond Inlet got delayed, and delayed and eventually cancelled until tomorrow.  We rolled with the flow as you have to do, and went for some walks around Iqaluit.  David Gray told the students a bit about the history of Iqaluit (the capital of Nunavut) and the surrounding area.  We were really impressed with how great the students were, how everyone pitched in and adapted to the changing plans, and how our team spirit is already emerging.  We even had the first group hug of the expedition! Perhaps a new record for the fastest ever group hug.  Day one!  It will undoubtedly produce some good karma for us…

After we were sure our flight would not be leaving until tomorrow, we checked into a localEric giving an evening workshop on GPS use hotel, the Discovery Lodge, had a chance to clean up a bit, and have dinner.  After dinner Eric gave a workshop on how to use a GPS unit.  Eric has brought along a GPS for every student, and we’ll be using them in the field for several activities in the days to come. 

It was a tired but happy group that turned in to bed at the end of our first day.  Tomorrow we’ll have a few hours here in Iqaluit before catching our 4.5 hour flight up to Pond Inlet on the northern tip of Baffin Island, and then getting back on schedule to head out to the Floe Edge tomorrow late afternoon if all goes well. 

Stay tuned…

Geoff and Diz

Michelle Sleeth and Ophelia Snyder
Today our morning wake-up was at 5:00 after a very eventful night sleeping in the tents. Next stop...Nunavut! For breakfast we had a huge variety of items to gorge ourselves on and many of us took full advantage of that. At 6:30 we headed over to the airport and checked our bags in. Then we had to go through security. After that we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we could go onto the plane. Once we were in the air some people went to sleep, being exhausted from sleeping, or not sleeping, in the tents. Others played card games, whilst others read or ate. The food was very good on the plane, way better than on trains, with the added benefit that it was free. At noon we arrived in Iqaluit, and waited to board the plane that would take us to Pond Inlet. At first the lay off time was only supposed to be an hour and a half. The terminal was quite small so we went to the art museum across the street. We were expected back at one to board our next flight. Unfortunately all carry on bags bigger than a laptop case had to be checked in. When the group was assembled we found out that due to “technical difficulties” we couldn’t leave. Those of us who hadn’t seen the museum went to visit it and then we went down to the beach. We learnt about the changing tides and saw an old Michelle, Simone, Jen, Andrewship from the forties that once sailed in the arctic sea. When we got back to the airport we found out that our flight had been delayed again. A couple of us started to play cards… every time we would start the game we would have to move or we thought the flight was going to leave. In the end we played one round of cards and dealt about twenty games. At four thirty we were told the flight couldn’t take off until tomorrow at noon. We retrieved our bags that were all frozen and then we left in taxis to the Discovery Hotel. Once we arrived we all had showers (the last for a while) and we set up our GPS locators. After this even though it felt like it was only six it was nine and we all headed of to bed. Ophie & Michelle

PS (Ophie): Ciao!!!! Come va? I am doing great and I miss you guys! Kisses! xoxoxox

P.S. (Michelle) Hey Mads, how’s fuzzy? I’m having lots of fun, see ya soon!

P.P.S. (Michelle) Hey Mum, Dad, Nicki (if you’re reading this), miss ya’ll. I’m being careful, don’t worry. See ya!

Kristen Kanes
Our plane - First Air - The Airline of the NorthToday has been day 2 of our Floe Edge expedition, and although we have not yet reached the Floe Edge, it has been an interesting day. The original plan for the day was to get up at 5 o’clock a.m. (which we somehow managed to do), head out to the airport, fly from Ottawa to Iqaluit, and from there to Pond Inlet. We made it to Iqaluit around noon, where we learned our first lesson in the reason why “Flexibility is key.” Although the plane we were going to take to Pond Inlet was on time, there was some sort of malfunction (we still don’t know what it was). As mechanics attempted to fix the plane, we waited in the airport, talking and playing cards (though we never finished a game of cards because every time we played one something came up). Eventually we were told that if the plane was not ready to go by 4:30 it was not going to fly today. So what to do until then? We decided to take a walk around Iqaluit, even though a few of us (including myself) had already checked our carry on luggage in with our winter jackets in them (the plane was too small for most of us to bring our carry-ons onto the plane). Although some of us were absolutely frozen from our lack of winter-wear, we were happy to see the frozen bay with the icy mountains in the background (it was a beautiful view), and to take our first steps onto the arctic ice.

When we returned to the airport we waited a little longer to see if our flight would go, but in the end weIqaluit Airport stayed grounded. So instead of spending the night in the “old hotel” in Pond Inlet, we are spending it in a nice hotel with beds, hot water and heating. Since tomorrow our flight will leave at noon, we will have time to explore the capital of Nunavut a little more tomorrow, and although we will arrive later than originally planned, we will continue to the Floe Edge, so all in all we should remain mostly on schedule. Maybe it was for the best that we remained in Iqaluit today, and I definitely can’t complain about the hot showers and the T.V. Hopefully all will go well tomorrow and we will be camped out on the Floe Edge by what I would normally call night fall (although the sun will not go down during the duration of this trip, so I’m not sure if I can call it that).

P.S. Hey R.J. and welcome back Mel!!

Team SOI in IqaluitToday was a long day. We first woke up in Ottawa at five a.m., which resulted in many tired bodies during our travels. This is because most of us only had about 6 hours of sleep at the max! We had to wake up at that time in order to be prepared to catch our flight to Iqaluit, which was about 3.5 hours long. During that time people occupied themselves with books, cards, cameras and sleep. However, many, including myself, gazed out the windows in amazement at the spectacular views. Right from take off you could view so many crystal clear lakes, ones which I never new Ontario had! And you could also clearly point out the winding Gatineau River. Afterwards the view was mainly of fluffy white “marshmallow” clouds, but drawing near to Iqaluit was amazing. There were snow-topped hills and the water of the Arctic Ocean was so blue and clean! Some parts of the ocean were covered with ice and a couple of times there seemed to look like there had been a thin sheet of ice but it had been cracked so many times that the ice had turned into jigsaw puzzle pieces separated from one another. It was so cool! (I have pictures by the way).

Soon after that we began to see little colourful boxes on the brown barren rock. We had reached Iqaluit!Low tide in Iqaluit Once up close you could see that the boxes were really the many houses and buildings in Nunavut’s capital. Some of the houses were crazy colours like a purple base and a green roof and a checkerboard orange and white shed. We expected to stay in the Iqaluit airport for about one hour but because of bad weather in one of our pit stops (Clyde River) in our destination to Pond Inlet, as well as a mechanical problem with the plane, we ended up staying five. So we explored the city, in the general vicinity of the airport, and gazed upon the snow-topped mountains in the distance, and the Arctic Ocean so close to us.

Maggie learning to navigate with GPSAround 4:30 this afternoon we received notice that we could not fly to Pond Inlet tonight like we had originally planned, because of the problems mentioned above, so here we are staying in the Discovery Lodge hotel in Iqaluit. After dropping off our bags we checked out a local restaurant for dinner and learned how to use GPS systems, which we will use more frequently on the floe edge. Which is exactly where were heading tomorrow! Bye bye till then!

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