Posted By Steve Lafontaine - Webmaster (9:45 am)
Just got off the phone with Geoff who called from Iqualuit Nunavut! A canceled flight yesterday has lead to a longer than expected layover in Iqualuit. The upside of this schedule change is that everyone was able to get a great night’s sleep last night and this morning after breakfast the group is out on a hiking tour prior to their 11:00am flight to Pond Inlet ~ the journey continues north!
Expedition Leader Report
We are presently flying high above Baffin Island on our way to Pond Inlet!!! After a great night’s sleep in Iqaluit we had a great breakfast and a few hours for further discovery around town. One group of students went off with Eric to the beautiful Sylvie Grinnell Park and two other groups with David and Ingrid walked through town to the Legislature, the Museum and even found a recently killed Polar Bear’s skin being stretched and dried on a rack in someone’s backyard.
At 11:00am we packed up and made the short trip back to now familiar airport. While waiting to get going we sat around sharing tales of past travels, camping trips, and our goal of leaving the stresses and pressures of our modern world behind as much as possible in the next few days.
Then we were off and continuing our journey north! It’s about a three-hour flight to the small Inuit community of Pond Inlet. As I write this, the clouds are parting and we are beginning to see some of the remarkable glaciers of Baffin Island. There are lots of noses pressed up to the windows, and the students are seeing a landscape that will be forever etched in their memories. They have also now passed above the Arctic Circle (66’33 degrees north) and into the land of the midnight sun.
We’re very lucky to once again have David Gray with us as a member of our education team. This is David’s third SOI expedition to the Arctic. But David has spent many years up in the Arctic since his first visit in 1968. As a research scientist he has been involved with many epic projects, and he is very well respected for his extensive work and expertise on Arctic animal behaviour, and then recently as an historian. David worked for the Canadian Museum of Nature for 21 years, and then has been working freelance for the last 12 years. In particular David spent the most time studying Muskox and Arctic Hare. In 1970/71, David spent an entire year living with Muskox and wrote the book, “The Muskoxen of Polar Bear Pass”.
On this trip, David will be working with the students on several projects: recording the birds species found at the floe edge, especially looking for Ivory Gulls, a species that has always been rare and now is possibly endangered; collecting information on polar bears at the floe edge, including interviews with local hunters and Elders, and duplicating sampling of plankton and sea bottom invertebrates for comparison with samples taken in 1955. This information will be used by researchers at the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Canadian Museum of Nature. The bird’s records will be entered into the Nunavut Bird Checklist Data system.
David even has a connection with the First Air plane we are on! We’re flying on a Hawker Siddeley aircraft that is named the “Jasper Lafrance”. David Gray flew with Jasper and Weldy Phipps on Jasper’s first “off-strip landing” in 1969 at a camp on Bathurst Island.
Soon we’ll be arriving to Pond Inlet, where we have a pretty packed afternoon and evening schedule. First we’ll hike down to the Parks Canada office for an orientation by the Park Warden Israel Mablick, which is a mandatory procedure to be permitted to enter the Sermilik National Park. Then it’ll be off to dinner at the Pond Inlet Co-op Hotel, and then we’ll get our gear on, pack up, load the sleds and begin our journey out onto the ice!!
We have some great friends and partners here in Pond Inlet that are waiting to greet us and help make all this happen, including Parks Canada, Polar Sea Adventures and Inns North. Look out Pond Inlet! Luckily we’ll have more time next week on our return to visit Pond Inlet, but right now the floe edge is calling, and that is where we will hopefully be camped tonight….
In the expedition spirit,
Expedition Leader Report (7:15pm)
Hello from Pond Inlet. We made it, and are now just finishing dinner (hungry group) and a safety and expedition briefing. We also were given a great Parks Canada briefing and Polar Bear safety training briefing at the Cultural centre by Israel Mablick. We’ve met up with Dave Reid and our team of Inuit guides. Dave kindly presented all of the students with a Polar Sea Adventures waterbottle for the expedition! Jeffrey Killiktee, our newest student joined us here, because he is from here. We are very happy to have a local student joining our team. It is going to be a long journey and we will probably arrive to our camp site at around 1:00am tomorrow morning! Today is really two days in one. The sun is shining, the moment has come…….its time for Students on Ice to go to the Floe Edge!!!!!!!!!!
Posted By Steve Lafontaine - Webmaster
Geoff asked me to post a note telling visitors to the website that students did not have any time to write journals today. Look for more student journals tomorrow.