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August 15, 2010

                                      Students circle at the Arctic Circle.

Expedition Update

Today is a day for adventure! It's the day that the team gets to visit and hike through Auyuittuq National Park - right up to the Arctic glacier! If there is more beautiful scenery in the world - we're not sure where to find it!

Sweeping glaciers and polar sea ice meet jagged granite mountains in Auyuittuq National Park of Canada. Established in 1976, Auyuittuq - an Inuktitut word meaning "land that never melts" - protects 19,089 km of stunning, glacier-scoured terrain.The park includes the highest peaks of the Canadian Shield, the Penny Ice Cap, marine shorelines along coastal fiords, and Akshayuk Pass, a traditional travel corridor used by the Inuit for thousands of years.

The Park also allows students a great opportunity for wildlife sightings!

Students will be divided into smaller groups for hiking purposes today. Some will choose to stay near the shore beach combing and marine biology workshops, others will hike inland. Photo opportunities will be plentiful!

Follow the journey by clicking the spot logo below:

Student Journals / Photos by Lee Narraway:

Jacqueline Phillips

Auyuittuq National Park

 

Spectacular day full of incredible scenery, enhanced understandings and a new found sense of connectedness to a region of our country seldom explored. Spent the afternoon on an exhilarating hike, dragging the zodiac through the shallows, waist-deep in frigid water and reclining in the midst of a glacial valley discussing geomorphology. A brilliant day, indeed!!

Moe Qureshi

Auyuittuq 

Dedicated to BRITA, who allowed me to go to the Arctic Circle: 

I have never been so tired in my life. Some of the students hiked 25km to the Arctic Circle, while the others did a 10km hike and did some workshops. Even though I missed those awesome workshops, I at least got to the Arctic Circle… 

Some people thought it would be a breeze because they ran 16 km once. This was a whole new experience. The terrain was so varying and different every few stretches. At the grassy parts I thought it would be easy but it’s so bumpy and uneven. There was also a long stretch of a sandy beach, which was kind of like a desert, and a slippery, muddy portion, which was fun. 

By far the best part was crossing the streams. Glacial water was pouring down from the mountain and crossing waist deep water was awesome. That’s the best word for it. Awesome. 

Finally, the scenery was spectacular. I mean simply beautiful. It is breathtaking when you see mountains taller than the clouds with a glacier on top. There were lots of glaciers, mountains, and water.

 

Andrew Wong

Auyuittuq National Park

 

Here I am, writing this journal absolutely exhausted! As you probably know, many of the Students on Ice team took the great challenge of hiking through twenty-two kilometres of the untamed land. The day started off at an early 5:30 am but I was just so excited to get the day going, so it didn’t matter. As the Zodiacs brought us deeper into the Fjord, I stared up and all around the landscape in amazement and awe. Let me say that the Pangnirtung Fjord is a grand and powerful place. It is a stone corridor carved and chiselled by Mother Nature, with ice-capped mountains on both sides of a flat, sweeping plane. We hiked up and down the lush evergreen-scented hills, through the slippery mud flats, trudged through intense and rapid river veins, and so much more. Our destination was but one place: the landmark of the Arctic Circle. After five hours of adventuring with my friends, we were hand in hand circling the Inukshuk that signified the Arctic Circle. It was an amazing moment. After spending lunch at the Arctic Circle, our group trekked back, and I must say that there were some extraordinarily interesting events! Auyuittuq National Park speaks to me. It is a place of natural wonder, awe, and appreciation. I took a moment to reflect while at the Arctic Circle, and whispered to myself: I don’t ever want to leave this beautiful place.          

 

Arctica Cunningham

Auyuittuq Park

 

Another spectacular day in the Arctic! I ended up in the shorter hike/workshop group because they had too many people going on the long hike. That was okay, though, and I had a lot of fun. I was hiking with twelve other people, including hiking extraordinaire Matty McNair!

 

She had different people leading the hike, and if we had to make a decision, we would have to come to a consensus before moving on. We also learned how to cross a river safely (find a slow part which isn’t too deep). In the afternoon we made another landing, and had a variety of workshops. Unfortunately, the art workshop was already full when I got there, but in the end it worked out for the better because I went to a fabulous workshop on water sampling and how to spot different kinds of lichen.

 

While the hike to the Arctic Circle would have been amazing, I feel like I had an incredible day and I think in the end things worked out for the better!

Long hikers leap for joy at their successful arrival at the Arctic Circle.

Meagan LeMessurier

 

          Sorry for no journal yesterday, this trip has been so busy.  So as a quick re-cap of yesterday we went to Kekerten to an historic whaling community. The morning was spent touring the site and looking at all of the artefacts left behind. There were also graves at the site that had been sprung open over time. The site was “dead calm”, there was no wind and the sun was shining. It was a great time to absorb and reflect on the site and what has been experienced thus far.  In leaving Kerkerten we set sail to Pangirtung. We went on a tour of the town including talking with the elders in their sewing hut. We then went to the Hudson Bay Company whaling station and we looked at the art centre where multiple purchases were made.  The community then had food and presentations for us, which was a good way to experience the Inuit culture.

          So that was yesterday, today was the crazy day.  Some of us went on a 25-kilometre hike today to the Arctic Circle. I was in group number four so we were the last to arrive and the last to leave. It was a hike in Auyuittuq National Park. It was an amazing hike. I have no idea how I am still awake but I am. I am currently hurting in the lower leg region but besides that I made it out of there blister free and injury free. It was an amazing feeling making it all the way to the Arctic Circle by foot. All the glaciers and amazing rivers (leaving us very wet but happy) cannot be described, too much for words.  I really wished my friends and family could have experienced the feeling I did today.

 

Aanchal Ralhan

Pangnirtung Fjord

 

Hey guys! So today was magical! We went on our 25 km hike to the Arctic Circle! It was beautiful the whole way, the terrain went from sandy, to muddy, to grassy, to snow, it varied so much! The hardest but most fun part was definitely crossing the glacial rivers. I got sharp pains from how cold the water was but it was so fun working together as a team! I also got very close to people I had never even met before on the trip so far, and made some new friends! We also got to go on another Arctic swim, and play in the mud when we reached the Arctic Circle. I can't even begin to describe the scenery there. It was so magnificent; the glaciers, the mountains and the waterfalls all coinciding together was something that was truly once in a life time! We got 15 minutes of quiet time, which was the perfect time to truly soak it all in. Today was probably one of my favourite days of the trip so far.

Anyways, I’ll talk to you guys soon, but honestly, I really don't want to go home!

Anchaal in Auyuittuq National Park.

Art Sateana

Auyuittuq Hike

 

Today was a really good day. My day started at 6:00 am. I went for a 24 kilometre hike with people in Auyuittuq National park. It took 11 hours to get there and back. I rolled my ankles at least 3 times on my left and right ankle. I am really tired right now, and I want to eat! I am sore from waist down. We had to do a lot of river crossings and the highest it went was half way up my thigh. The scenery was amazing there. The hike to the Arctic Circle was the highlight of my day.

I love my parents and my sisters, I miss them so very much.

 

Eva Saunders

 

Today we went to Kekerten Island. It’s kind of cool because we were on the zodiac with a driver who let us touch the iceberg. It was my first time touching an iceberg. It felt soft, like a baby’s bottom. It was bright.

 

On shore, playing with Ty and Larissa, I was looking for kelp to eat. They were all dry so we didn’t find any, but I felt the water, the very cold water.

 

When I got to the top of the mountain I started talking to Linda. We talked about family. I wish I had brought a camera. I would take pictures of my favourite spots – like mountains – or take pictures of things I would paint.

 

I can spot a large iceberg offshore that almost has the shape of a crown.

 

Yesterday we went on the zodiacs and I saw 5 polar bears. Some people were even saying they saw ten or nine polar bears. First one we saw was a male. Joanne said it was a male because her Inuktitut teacher said that when the bump of their behind is kind of a round shape, it’s a male. And when it’s a girl’s, it is more like a diamond. Another one we saw was a female – it was running around. I think it was scared of us. We are the ones that should be scared of the polar bear, but we weren’t.

 

We also did a cruise through a little tunnel with the zodiacs. It was kind of fun because we have different zodiac drivers and it’s fun to hear their stories and jokes. When we got to the other side of the mountain, maybe a 2 minute ride, we saw two cubs and a mother. We saw tiny little murres too! Tiny baby ones – they looked like new borns.

 

Zoe did a presentation on climate change. We are learning about it at school but Zoe mentioned many new things about carbon dioxide, oxygen, and other things that I hadn’t learned yet.

 

I participated in the art workshop. I got to make the wooden part of the banner and the tiny rocks. After, I went to my room and sewed. I am embroidering mittens.

 

Now, I am sitting on the back deck looking for bowhead whales. The water is nice and calm, by the way. I think it’s a sign we’re going to find bowheads.

All 60 of the hikers pose at the Arctic Circle.

Bryn Dhir

 

The belief that we truly learn by doing and by experiencing lessons hands on was truly evident today during the hike to 66 degrees/ 30' N the Auyuittuq National Park. Among the magnificent landscapes, the power between the relationships and thoughts that have formed during the expedition are coming out during the expedition.  Among the climate change and scientific issues being explored and discussed, the students are indirectly also enhancing their own personal leadership skills through the POD groups, activities, and lectures. Team and group dynamics, learning to work together and encourage one another as well as brainstorming has been evident.  Subconsciously they have broadened their communication skills, have become active listeners, verbal contributors and have stepped outside of their comfort zones and in doing so, their self awareness (trust and positive risk taking) has grown exponentially.  Needless to say, with the various activities and busy schedules, some have even been able to get a handle on time management (almost)!

This notion of building their character which includes becoming a strong leader could not have happened at a better time or place. Given the wealth of knowledge from the amazing educators, and information they are taking away from the Arctic experience, I strongly believe that students will be able to connect the hands on work back into their own personal lives back at home. Experiences like this are rare and it will be interesting to follow up on the action plans and goals that the students have set. "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, that in a year of conversation" Plato.

 

Carson Hardy

 

Yesterday we were busy from sun up to sun down, first at Kekerten Island and then Pangnirtung. Kekerten is an old whaling community where 18,000 whales were harvested. Today we hiked about 25k round trip into the Arctic Circle. I am tired and have vicious chaffing. I was the only one with feet that were dry throughout the whole trip. Most people had soaked feet after the first few major river crossings.  At times the water was above my knees, and for others it was mid-thigh. The hike was amazing. We went through major rivers, muddy tidal areas, and a desert portion.  The whole time we were in a valley with glaciers surrounding us.  As Geoff would say, “wow, I can really feel the karma today”. 

Students join the circle ceremony at the Arctic Circle

Connor Scheu

 I am usually not one to get very excited about randomly assigned lines drawn on maps. Borders and countries are of little concern to me. They are merely the result of politicians and other distant officials drawing lines between groups of people, creating further division. However, the circular line that embraces the polar region is indeed special. It marks the latitude that when summed with the tilt of the earth’s rotational axis, adds to exactly ninety degrees. This line is part of the very fabric of the earth, defining it, identifying it. At and beyond this point is where full days of light and darkness may exist. This simple fact means an incredible amount to the people and animals that inhabit this region, as well as the sparse visitors brave and crazy enough to enter.  

Today I hiked twelve kilometres into the heart of Auyuittuq National Park to join the lucky few who have crossed this line. Together with my group of fifteen I embarked on what became a pilgrim-like journey. To visit the Arctic Circle as a member of Students on Ice is nearly equivalent to an individual visiting the holiest place of their chosen worship. It was a spiritual voyage full of rocky terrain, raging rivers, monumental glaciers and scorching deserts (yes, the kind with sand). Behind every new mountain lies a new environment, more surprising and magical than the last. This is a truly amazing land where perspective is lost in the cavernous U-shaped valleys left by ancient glaciers. I could practically feel the fur of Valcor beneath my body, in my own Never Ending Story.  

It was a fine trip.

 

Emily Best

Pangnirtung Fiord

 

Hey everyone. Yesterday we arrived in Pangnirtung after our tour around Kekerten Island. We had a walking tour and community celebration, with throat singing and some Inuit games. Some of us went for a hike to a waterfall in the Pangnirtung Fiord this morning, while the rest of the team went for a hike up to the Arctic Circle! The landscape here is so beautiful. I learned about glaciers and fiords through pictures in school and seeing them in real life is so amazing. On the way back from the hike, our zodiac got stuck on a rock and Mike, Jaquie, Eric and Jenna jumped into the freezing water to push!  A big thank you goes out to those guys for rescuing us! This afternoon we are off to do another landing and do some workshops. I think I am going to do the workshop with Inuit elder David and learn how to drum dance. It looks like a lot of fun!

 

Circle sit down in Auyuittuq National Park.

Hannah Jacobs

Auyuittuq National Park

 

Well, I’m not dead. 25 kilometres later and not only am I alive, I am in one piece. I can’t organize my thoughts in a rational enough way to write this post. The day started at 5:30 am, on the zodiacs by 6:30 and off to the park for our hike to the Arctic Circle. I have been dreaming about hiking in Auyuittuq for years now, ever since my dad showed me a photo of the landscape. It definitely lived up to all my expectations and exceeded them. The hike starts underneath the stunning Mount Overlord and ends at the Arctic Circle cairn which is situated beside the Weasel River in the middle of a glacier carved valley.

 

Jonathan Alexander

 

Today was a good day, 60 of the students and staff hiked to the Arctic Circle and 55 students and staff went on a short hike in Auyuittuq national park. I participated in the short hike and it was really nice. We saw a few arctic hare and at one point we climbed a hill and there was a waterfall. We hiked to the water and it was amazing. At the waterfall we filled our water bottles and some of us (me included) went into the water and into the waterfall. It was really fun getting wet, feeling the cold water and just being on the land was amazing. I would go back to Auyuittuq national park in the future.

 

Khloe Heard

 

It feels like today has been more than just one day. We got up at 5:30am, started our hike by 6:55am, then hiked around 12km to the Arctic Circle and then 12 km back plus a little bit more due to the tides going out. That pretty much sums up my day. It was such an experience though; I am still amazed that just a few hours earlier I was in the Arctic Circle! I was very surprised by all the sand we had to walk through. It wasn’t a difficult hike in terms of elevation and ups and downs, but the terrain was quite challenging. What extraordinary scenery I saw today. It was just amazing. Mountains and rivers and valleys and green hills, it was just magnificent. I am a little bit sore now but it was definitely all worth it. I am very excited for a good night's sleep and a fantastic day tomorrow, as it will include zodiac tours, which I love!

 

Students hold hands and make a chain to safely cross a swift-flowing glacial river in Auyuittuq.

Megan Schlorff

Auyuittuq National Park

 

Today has been absolutely phenomenal and exhilarating!  I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in an all-day hike to the Arctic Circle in Auyuittuq National Park.  The day began quite early at 5:30 a.m. so that we could get a good start.  The hike was approximately 22km roundtrip, although some people claim 25km. The view is absolutely amazing to look at while hiking.  Sometimes it was difficult to remember to do this because I was always looking at the ground and watching where I was stepping.  When I did look up I was generously rewarded.  There was little incline, but the terrain was quite rocky.  There were also large areas of sand, and at some points it felt as though we were walking in a desert.  The river crossings were definitely a wet, a soaking wet, experience.  The water was often above our knees and the rocks were slippery.  We stuck with our “stream buddies” and crossed safely.  It was really interesting to watch our attitude toward the stream crossings change.  At the beginning we were quite hesitant to get wet and attempted all kinds of techniques to stay dry.  However, by the end of the day, we just jumped in the streams because we were beyond wet and the point of caring about it.  I was a member of group four and we all had such a great time together.  One of the highlights was all crossing the Arctic Circle at the same time holding hands and then circling around it.  We also had some great celebrations as an entire group at the Arctic Circle, which included a birthday cake for SOI.  One of my favourite moments was spending fifteen minutes of quiet time at the Arctic Circle.  I found a comfy rock to lean on and just soaked it all in.   

 

I feel so blessed to have been able to participate in this hike and see such a magnificent natural wonder.  I know that without Students on Ice I would not have had this unbelievable experience.  SOI was able to arrange for us to receive a permit from Parks Canada, which made it possible for us to take part in our hike today.  And of course I would not have had the chance to come to the Arctic without Youth Science Canada, and I am so thankful to them.  The Arctic is truly astounding. 

 

Nicolas Taylor

Auyuittuq National Park

 

Today was by far our best day of the expedition. Though it is hard to single out one day of this expedition that was the most outstanding, I would have to say today was it. I was one of the lucky students who had the opportunity to hike to the Arctic Circle. In total this hike was 25kilometers long. A few of us were brave enough to swim in the slightly less than freezing glacier water flowing in the fjord. Over all it was a wonderful day but sadly the trip ends in just 4 more days.

 

Olivia Rempel

Auyuittuq National Park

 

 The sun had just disappeared behind the clouds, and here in the Arctic the temperature immediately drops without the warmth of the sun. People were jumping in the water, I had just put my jacket on, and I was a bit cold. Even the student from Norway was hesitant to jump in; and he’s from Norway! Suddenly, without thinking, I removed my backpack, and then I kicked off my hiking boots and unzipped my jacket. As an afterthought, I removed my watch and threw it on top of the pile of clothes, and then I began to run. Well, stumble is a better word to describe me ‘running’ in this case. It was low tide and as I scrambled across the long stretch of beach, I occasionally splashed in puddles, little warnings of what was to come. Then I reached the water’s edge and flopped into the frigid waters, trying to fully submerge myself. When I pulled myself up, I realized that Alex was filming this entire ordeal, “not all of your hair is wet! Go back in!” Rolling my eyes, I dunked my head back in. Then I ran back to shore, and looked up at the glacier that was feeding this mind numbingly cold river. I then looked forward at the sign that marked the Arctic Circle, 66.3 degrees north. Suddenly, I felt less cold, the air was nothing compared to the glacial melt water, but maybe that was also due to the fact that I realized this day would never be forgotten, as long as I live. 

Page and Zoe cool off in a freezing glacial river at the Arctic Circle.

Samson Taipanak

Pangnirtung 

Today we visited Pangnirtung and I played Inuit games and had some snacks. Tomorrow we’re going to Pangnirtung Fiord for a long hike. The day after tomorrow we’re going to Auyuittuq (The land that never melts) National Park and then we’re heading home!

 

Tegan Schellenberg

The Arctic Circle 

Today’s hike was amazing… No, it was so much more than that. The cliffs on either side, the rivers created by the melting glacial ice, the people working together so as not to be swept away by rushing water, it all escapes words. It took us about four hours and a half of sludging through mud, pushing through water, and struggling through sand before we made it to the Inukshuk marking the Arctic Circle. Once we were there though, the sense of accomplishment was immense. As a group we sung Happy Birthday to SOI as it is the tenth anniversary, and then split a miniature cake sixty ways. Once that celebration was over, and once we were given fifteen minutes to sit by ourselves and fully absorb the grandeur of our situation (my “absorbing” place just happened to be located near a patch of blueberries), we were given the opportunity to go for an Arctic swim. Not many did, but I was certainly one of the few who braved the cold, glacial waters. After hiking back, we returned to the ship where I had a shower, and believe me, a shower has never felt so good.

 

Tyandreas Butler

This week has been very challenging both physically and mentally. SOI has pushed me past my limits. I now have a new outlook on the world. On every expedition I learn more about my surroundings and myself. On Walrus Island I saw many walruses, naturally. I have seen many enormous icebergs. I even saw 5 polar bears. WOW! I also enjoyed seeing the thousands of birds on Digges Island. All of the villages we visited were all very hospitable and welcoming. I even got to participate in a mock Arctic Council decision-making process (TEAM U.S.A.).  

Today’s hike was great and the workshops were even better. The park was peaceful and calming. Worry and problem free, I would have fallen asleep and gotten washed away by the tide. This region is marvellous and mystical. It keeps you guessing.  Since I love the water and I have developed a good pair of “sea legs”, my ocean home, the Orlova, is awesome. The crew and staff make this feel like home. I’m anxiously anticipating the day that I can share this knowledge with my family, friends, and community. I cannot wait to see my MEMPHIS!!!! 

This is an awesome experience. I am fortunate that I have been chosen to take part in this expedition. I’m so grateful for the support of those dear and near to me back home. THANKS!

 

Ingrid Skjoldvaer

Auyuittuq National Park

 Have you ever been to a place so peaceful and beautiful that you’ve thought: I rather be here than any other place in the entire world? I have today: Auyuittuq National Park. Words are useless. To get a bit of an impression of the place you either have to go there yourself or take a look at the pictures on the website. The glaciers, the mountains, the waterfalls... The few hours in the valley kind of explained it all: Why it’s so important to preserve and care for the planet.  

Hannah and I had a shower in one of the waterfalls. It was unbelievably cold and great! But the “event” of the day that stood out for me was just lying in the incredible soft ground for a couple of minutes thinking about nothing and/or everything.

 

John Crump

Auyuiittuq means “The Land that Never Melts.” But if the Arctic is the heart of climate change, Auyuittuq is its soul. There are few landscapes on the planet like this – a long, U-shaped glacial valley scraped out by successive glaciations, the last one being about 8000 years ago. The steep, bare walls of the fjord rise about 800 metres and at one time tongues of ice hung into the valley. Few of these remain and the ones that do are but remnants of their former selves.

As the sun rises in the summer sky, bringing a warmth that is becoming increasingly “normal” in this place, the water that is flowing down the cliffs becomes a torrent. In this grand silent place the only sound you hear is the water’s roar as it gathers speed and strength before reaching the valley below. By afternoon, streams have turned to rivers and hikers heading for the Arctic Circle, about 10 kilometres into the park, have to work their way across rushing water that is deep and treacherous in places. Over the years there have been a number of deaths as hikers were swept away.

This reality was on our minds as 60 students and staff headed off early in the morning along the trail that follows a river back into the park to the Arctic Circle. All arrived safely and got out with no problem other than a few dunkings. And wet feet. You can’t do this hike without getting wet. It’s part of the experience. So is the swim at the Circle. Not many people can say they have gone swimming at 66 degrees, 33 minutes North.

For some of the students, this is the most intense and intimate contact they have ever had with the natural world. It definitely isn’t Hong Kong or New York City.

 

Zoë Caron

While climate change is a global issue, it first and foremost impacts the Arctic – and every individual on this special expedition is aware of that, whether 11 or 81 years old. It is mentioned daily without doubt, and is in the background or foreground of every location we visit here on Baffin Island and northern Nunavik.

Today, we hiked 25 km deep into Auyuittuq National Park right across the Arctic Circle. From one stand point we could see nine glaciers. The thick, jagged rock faces gleamed as they reflected the sun’s light off of the glacial runoff streaming down them. I learned later that a glacier, just this year, had gone missing from the landscape. While sitting at the base of these magnificent creations, you can’t help but become overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and being, for and with, the greatness that surrounds you.

Now, the ship is humming through a long, glassy-topped fjord as we peer over the stern in search for orca and bowhead whales. Not a second goes by that I don’t see, smell or taste a reason to work with the people of this land to protect these beautiful places with rich, unique wildlife.

In the coming days, I will be working with the students to learn about meeting with their elected representatives and expressing their support for action on the issues that matter most to them. Later, we’ll delve into the most exciting part of climate change, which is how to activate one’s passion to create change. More updates to come!

 

Mike Jensen

Waterfalls fascinate me. I can sit and watch them for hours. The constant roar of the rushing water. The cool breeze blowing down from the mountaintop. The pungent smell of moisture from the rocks, slick from the frothy spray. But most of all, I’m fascinated by how waterfalls are constantly changing. They carve different paths as they flow eternally through the landscape. It’s kind of a little bit like life, if you’ll permit me a metaphor. But I digress… Today was the day of the big hikes in Auyuittuq National Park. Most of the students and staff departed the ship early in the AM to start a 25-km hike to the Arctic Circle. The remaining students and staff, including myself, were to participate in a shorter hike, followed by a series of workshops in the afternoon. I’d come to grip a few days ago with the fact that I wouldn’t be going on the long hike. My substandard performance on Digges Island had illustrated to me that I had a long way to go before I was ready for such a physical ordeal. So I had resigned myself to the shorter and less “memorable” hike to a really nice waterfall a few kilometres into the park. I can’t deny my disappointment that I would once again not participate in what is a deep bonding experience for all involved. But as my fellow chaperone, Wayne Lovstrom pointed out, there’s no room for disappointment with Students On Ice. It brings bad karma. So, I set out on my hike with hope and optimism coursing through me. It was a good hike. And I’m happy to say that I completed it without being nearly as exhausted as I was last year, or on Digges Island. But here’s the thing. The waterfall I was expecting… didn’t happen. Or at least not at first. We had walked for a good ninety minutes before I realized that we had passed it. Why did I miss it? Because it looked different. Even though it had only been a year, the waterfall had changed its appearance quite dramatically, to the point that I almost didn’t recognize it. And it got me thinking about waterfalls and life. There was a point a while ago where I had my life all plotted out, right down to the date. But like a waterfall, life likes to carve different paths. And various events have changed those plans drastically. Nowadays, I try not to plan things out so rigidly. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I want to do in the next few years. Most importantly, I know who I want to do those things with. But like a waterfall, I’m letting life carve the paths for me, instead of trying to divert the flow myself. OK, enough metaphor stuff for now. Let me tell you about the coolest thing I did today, if not on the entire expedition. So, Pangnirtung Fjord has the fastest tides in the Arctic. And as we prepared to head back to the ship, the tide was moving out quickly. The first zodiacs barely made it out, and we had to walk a few hundred metres further so the second round of zodiacs could pick us up. Even then, we had to watch very carefully to make sure we didn’t hit any submerged rocks as we made our way slowly away from the shore. Alas, the water was muddy from the glacial run-off, and before we knew it, our zodiac of 12 passengers was firmly hung up on a rock, with the tide receding by the second. Now, I am well aware of my pecking order amongst the more-experienced staff members with waaaay more wilderness training than me. So I stayed in the boat while Jenna, our zodiac driver, and Eric Mattson, our glaciologist, jumped out to try and budge our hung-up craft. But it became quickly obvious that there was nothing moving. So without hesitation, I took off my backpack and swivelled into the cold Arctic water. At the same time, Scobie Pye was manoeuvring in with a second zodiac to help. Coming in bow to bow, we got him close enough to transfer some students over to his boat and push him out to deeper waters. That gave us enough weight loss for all of us to pull the zodiac off the rock. But we were far from out of danger. The tide had receded to the point that numerous other rocks blocked out escape route. In such shallow waters, the outboard motor isn’t very manoeuvrable, so we ended up having to drag the zodiac through the rocks. As the water deepened, we all flung ourselves in the boat and sped away to the safety and dryness of the ship. It was the single-most exhilarating moment of the trip, if not both SOI excursions. For the rest of the day, I had a huge grin on my face as I basked in the adrenaline high from the experience. As the afternoon wore on, I couldn’t help but shake my head at how quickly the water can shift (literally) and life can carve a new path for you. One minute I was a little melancholy about missing out on a memorable experience, and the next minute I was chest deep in Arctic waters pulling a zodiac to safety. Tomorrow, we are off to Kingnait Fjord, just a little bit down Cumberland Sound from Pangnirtung. Last year when we visited it, there was an absolutely stunning waterfall that left all of us in awe. I’m sure it’s still there, but I can’t wait to see how it has carved new paths. And I can’t wait to see how life will carve new paths for me…

 

 


 

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