Man and His Dog Alone in the Arctic – E.2

My dog Buck and I continue walking through the Arctic in Nunavut, Canada. We see icebergs on the Arctic Ocean as we follow the mountainous Baffin Island coast. You can’t have too many Arctic winter survival skills which include cold weather camping and trekking knowledge. Dealing with Polar Bear danger is key too and I make sure to arm my bear fence each night before bed.

Still, at the beginning of the trip, the weather is on our side, and it’s nearly perfect considering we’re well north of the Arctic Circle. In the morning, I see some snowmobiles go by carrying another group of trekkers who are heading for Akshayuk Pass. That’s the same way I’m heading too, though their ski-doo lift would shave off nearly 100kms of trekking for them. Their snowmobile taxi would create a good trail for me to walk on.

Moving further and further away from the community of Qikatarjuiq, I find it challenging to gauge distance across large expanses of frozen ocean. When I stop, thinking I’m a couple kilometres from an island in the distance, some consultation of my map makes me realise I’m actually 4kms away.

Another challenge I face is dehydration. This is my first time travelling and camping long distances on the sea ice and I’d dug down too deeply in the snow when melting it for water. This means that I scraped up some slush from the frozen ocean and my water was very salty. I had to pack my water bottles full of snow and keep them inside my shirt to slowly melt it. I was exerting a lot of energy and needed a lot more water than I was able to melt. When I stopped to make camp, the weather got a lot colder and the moisture from my sweat sent me into chills. I dawned my parka and started making camp which warmed me up, but by the time I finally melted snow with my stove, I was so thirsty I drank a couple litres right out of the pot!

So far, things had been going well. The weather was perfect and, though it was a challenge hauling all my gear for about 15kms each day and of course the fear of Polar Bears was very real, but the perfect weather made it seem almost too easy at some points! it was absolutely beautiful! Little did I know that things were about to change.

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