I was going through quite the transition in climates… one extreme to the next. From the outback of Australia to the desert of Abu Dhabi and ending in the untouched beauty of the Canadian Arctic. An area of the world previous to last year visiting Arctic Bay for my first expedition with Arctic Kingdom, I had never thought of traveling to. Now though, this part of my own country that seems so foreign to most Canadians has a significant draw for me. I can’t imagine not having been here. It as roped me in and tugged at my heart strings until I returned this year to another of the northern communities on Baffin Island, Pond Inlet.
This time the northeast side of Baffin, the landscape remained the same, stunning vistas overlooking Bylot Island, the migratory bird sanctuary when skies were clear. The city about 1500 people, the lifestyle was as it always was this far north. Slow, laidback and oriented around hunting, camping and family. These were close knit communities by observation and it seemed that was always a constant here, where much of the world has drifted from this concept.
The job I came to do was the same as well. Set up camp, organize the kitchen and to put it simply keep people fed and full for their stay in camp on the ice. Early to rise to be sure everybody had a hot cup of joe to start there day. Adjusting to the 24 hour sun wasn’t always easy for some, they may have needed this more than normal. Breakfast followed, while lunch was packed up to be prepared generally on the floe edge. Cooking on Coleman stoves in one of the most far flung places on earth while bowheads and narwhal were breaching the surface meters in front of us is a feeling I find hard to describe. For me, it feels of total freedom. To be combining my passions for food and cooking along with the travel of a foreign place is already more than I could ask for. The natural beauty of the land and the animals just bring this to a whole new level. When dinner time rolled around, we headed back to camp via qamutiks pulled by snowmobile and within the hour a hearty dinner was served to keep the belly full and the bones warm through the cold nights.
All this and the constant boiling of water for cleaning afterward, us in the kitchen were the first up and one of the last to bed. Aside from my actually job I was being paid to do, I had a personal mission of my own to complete. I had finally invested in a DSLR due to my lack of ability to capture the wildlife last year and was bound and determined to make up for it this year. At the end of the day though, this was barely up to me as wildlife is as unpredictable a photo subject as they come. All I could do was wait patiently and hope for the best. I was in the prime location to see much, but in particular I wanted the King of the Arctic, a polar bear in my lens this year. By the last week I had almost given up hope. Hundreds of tracks were found, but they eluded us at every turn.
To Be Continued…