Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fishing Derby & Camping Trip – Part 3

I slept through the entire morning and woke up some time in the afternoon, on May 22.  My mind probably thought it was morning because the sun never sets in the land of the midnight sun.  I emerged from the green tent expecting to see everything the way it was the day before but I immediately noticed one difference: the Cabela’s privacy tent was gone.  All that remained was the Luggable Loo.  There was a particularly strong wind blowing.  I assumed JF had packed the tent into the qamutik (sled) because it could not withstand the wind.  I guess the tent pegs are not strong enough for the arctic, I pondered.  I checked the qamutik but didn’t find the tent in its carrying case.  Did the wind carry the tent away?  Yes it did, but not that far.  I looked across the lake and saw the privacy tent rolling away from me.  JF was running after it.  He caught it and slowly walked to where I was standing.  I thanked him for catching the runaway tent and added that I owed him a drink.
“If that Inuk lady hadn’t told me, you never would have seen your tent again,” JF explained.  “You need to get thicker and stronger pegs for this tent.”
“Definitely,” I agreed.  “I’m just glad the Luggable Loo stayed in its place.  I wouldn’t want that stuff flying around.”
We disassembled the tent and place it in the qamutik.  We also brought the Luggable Loo closer to the qamutik and double bagged the solid waste.  Apparently several people used the private washroom before the tent was blown away. 
JF stayed up all night and went seal hunting with several high school students.  He said they saw a lot of seals sun tanning on the ice.  JF took a few shots but missed.  One of the students managed to shoot one.  They also visited an old abandoned outpost camp where our current MLA, Isaac Shooyook, used to live.  JF retired to the tent for a nap.

I decided to do some exploring of my own.  I hopped on my skidoo and drove to the iceberg that sat across Ikpikituarjuk Bay.  It was windy in Moffet Inlet.  I followed a skidoo track over bumpy snow drifts and stopped a good distance away from the iceberg.  I walked the rest of the way.  The iceberg definitely looked twice as big as the one next to the Arctic Bay airport.  I took pictures of the natural landmarks before venturing even closer.  I wanted to find a way onto the iceberg but I noticed fresh water surrounding the large block of ice.  I was previously told that if you’re visiting an iceberg and worried that it might tip over, you guess how tall the exposed ice is and then use that distance to stay away from it.   
Wind in Moffet Inlet.

I returned to Ikpiki but stopped at the lake’s entrance to photograph the summer camping place.  There were many rocks sitting in circles, marking where the Inuit put up their tents.  The incinerator was brought up to the arctic decades ago and was used at a nearby outpost camp to burn garbage.  The incinerator was moved to Ikpiki when the outpost camp’s inhabitants came off the land. 
I stopped my skidoo where the two high school students placed their nets yesterday.  I asked them if they caught any fish and they said, “Nothing yet.”  They were hoping to catch some by the end of the day.

Shotgun slug cartridges.
I explored one of the smaller lakes behind Ikpiki.  The walk took a little longer than I thought but it gave me much needed exercise.  When I found the secluded lake, I took out my shotgun and fired off several slugs.  I wasn’t aiming for anything in particular; I was trying to get used to the recoil.  I made sure no one was around before firing.  The gunshots echoed all around me, but when I returned to the campsite, no one heard anything.
An Inuk ice fishing.

JF had gone jigging again but brought his dog Tulu with him.  I put my shotgun away and walked out into the middle of the lake and took some more pictures.  JF walked up with his dog and said that he was unable to catch anything.  We had MREs for dinner.  We boiled fresh water we scooped up from the holes drilled into the lake.  I also used the water to mix juice crystals.  We both went to bed after 11pm – that’s early when out camping - because we needed to leave early the next morning.   
JF talking to Inuit kids.

The sun at 11pm. May 22, 2016.
Green arctic five-person tent.
We woke up on Monday, May 23, feeling fully rested.  We had to be because we would be spending most of Victoria Day driving back to Arctic Bay.  High school final exams were beginning on Tuesday, May 24, and we needed to be present.  We cleared everything out of the tent and disassembled it.  We packed the qamutik differently this time, tying the green tent and sleeping bags on the front, and the black sled on the side.  Inuit kids had a fun time using JF’s sled for sliding.  The gas cans and coolers were again tied at the back.  There was now more space in the qamutik for JF & Tulu to sit.  This time, JF & I would take turns driving.  We were ready to go at 11:30am.  A couple of people asked me if I was disappointed that I didn’t catch any fish.  I said I wasn’t and there was always next year.  They also asked if I had fun at Ikpikituarjuk.  “Of course,” I replied.  “I’ll see you all in town.”
JF the Hunter.
The sun was out today and the clouds were further spaced apart.  I didn’t feel worried about getting lost and I felt the drive back would be shorter.  We spotted several seals sun tanning on the ice.  They would quickly disappear down a hole when they heard the approaching skidoo.  We spotted one seal that didn’t disappear.  JF decided to try his luck and shoot it.  He took out one of his rifles and slowly approached the seal.  It took him about six minutes to get close enough to shoot it.  The seal disappeared down the hole after the gun fired.  JF checked the hole to see if there was any blood.  There wasn’t any.  He missed.  There would be a next time.
Skidoo highway.
I continued driving, following the main skidoo highway, before stopping past Fleming Inlet to refuel the skidoo with gas & oil.  We also used the opportunity to stretch our legs and go to the washroom.  The skidoo track I followed did not cross Moffet Inlet but followed the eastern coastline.  JF told me that the flap on the back of my skidoo was too short.  It was not preventing all the snow that was being kicked up from hitting the qamutik.  Some pieces were even flying above his head.  I guess I would have to buy a longer flap over the summer.  

JF took over and drove for the next little while.  I sat in the qamutik with Tulu and understood what JF meant by flying snow.  Small pieces of snow occasionally hit me but my head was completely protected by a hat, face mask, visor, neck warmer, and a hoodie attached to my Canada Goose parka.  I passed the time scanning the vast arctic landscape around me.  I saw a lot of seals sun tanning.

We stopped at “The Crack” between Levasseur Inlet and the Pirujiningit Islands.  I took a few wide pictures of the crack before helping JF with the crossing.  JF was better at pulling the qamutik across.

JF & I switched places when we reached Cape Cunnigham.  I would have the honour of driving into Arctic Bay.  We arrived at 4:30pm.  We spent the same amount of time driving back, but the drive still felt shorter.  The town looked the same but it appeared we were one of the first ones to return. 

I walked up to Frank’s house and was able to borrow one of his pickup trucks.  I drove it over to the community centre and helped JF with the unloading.  We were able to get all of our stuff into Frank’s truck.  I towed Frank’s qamutik closer to his house before driving back to the community centre.  I left my skidoo there, (well, out on the ice next to the building), and got into the truck with JF.  We unloaded my stuff first before going to JF’s residence.  I returned the truck after helping JF unload all of his gear.  (JF placed the garbage bag with the frozen solid waste from the Luggable Loo in his garbage bin.  It would be picked up with the rest of the garbage and taken to the town landfill).   Finally, Frank dropped me off at my place . . . in the same truck I just returned.

What a trip.  I got windburn and a lot of (arctic) camping experience.  I can finally say that I’ve been to the fishing lake that everyone talks about.  If my skidoo could talk, it could also boast that it travelled further than before and didn’t break down.  I spent the rest of the day taking a long shower, doing laundry, and unpacking all my camping gear.  I didn’t have to worry about preparing my final exams because I did that a week ago.  It pays to plan ahead.

The only thing left to do was attend the fishing derby presentation at the community hall on Tuesday.   

To Be Continued . . .

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