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Published: September 10th 2016
“Most people might be oppressed by such surroundings, with its silence and inhumane expanses, but he who seeks peace and quiet in nature, undisturbed by human activity will find here what he seeks.” Fridjof Nansen.
The sun set only twice at Cunningham Inlet, and only for a short time... The setting and rising of the sun in this obscure part of the planet is a somewhat seasonal phenomenon, as opposed to a daily occurrence witnessed in most places. The sunset on August 12th marked our final night at the camp, and as the sun fell below the lonely horizon for only twenty-five minutes or so, it left a glowing haze bouncing above the sea. An eerie light danced above us and the blows from distant belugas could be heard in the otherwise silent world.
The mercury dropped below freezing shortly afterwards. The arctic fall has arrived…
I retreated to my tent and curled up in my cat-themed duvet for one last time - that colourful blanket that has covered me in the sunlit nightless nights of the arctic summer.
I was rather fond of my colourful feline friends that I chose at the start of summer. It
was either cats or Sponge Bob Square Pants – it was a tough decision! Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouse and Batman had already been taken…
The perpetual sun has its moments as it circles the sky day after day, but it does wreak havoc on any regular sleeping patterns though… The arctic in summer is certainly the place to be if you have a fear of the dark – that’s for sure.
Sleeping in a tent in the arctic with raw nature in the harsh and bleak setting of Somerset Island for two months was amazing. I will miss this place and all the creatures that call it home... The ice age contemporaries – the musk oxen that roam the plains of the rolling interior, the hawks and falcons that soar between the canyon walls, and the elusive but ever-present polar bears that prowl the coast…
To spend that much time in a region rich with stories of exploration was an honour. To stumble upon human dwellings of a very different time in a land of such staggering emptiness was often overwhelming. How was it even possible for humans to survive here?
I have a lasting memory
of driving my ATV across a plateau 200 metres above sea level through a seemingly endless sea of arctic poppies. A yellow landscape lay before me with islands of small peaks towering above the flat gravel plateau… The poppies thrive in the nutrient-poor environments of the Polar Desert – they looked out of place there as millions upon countless millions of them spread out across the hostile terrain. Dark clouds loomed above, it was windy and it was chilly – a storm was coming. Every now and again the poppies would shudder as Lapland longspurs flew from their nests. The scene was tremendous…
I also found a dead polar bear cub with its throat torn out – killed by an adult bear…
Nature is diverse - from the peaceful poppies blooming on the tranquil hilltops, and to the savage death of the animals that get killed in the jaws of a predator. These juxtaposed images of light and dark are everywhere here, from the ever circling sun and liquid sea of summer to the constant dark and frozen sea of winter.
I enjoyed every minute of it… Somerset Island is an amazing place…
I left on
Great views from the 261m bluff.
a chartered flight to Yellowknife where I had a couple of days to wind down and do all my paperwork before flying home for a small break…
Yes really! My job does include paperwork… Occasionally…
Although my office is generally quite pleasant…
Stay tuned, as my arctic antics are not over for the season yet…
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Peace, quiet and sights rarely seen!
Magical journey--witnessing the extremes of the natural cycles hidden from city dwellers--sun and moon, life and death, musk oxen and polar bears. Your camping in the Arctic sounded extreme (though your cat duvet was clearly the best), until I saw though that brekkie with tropical treats. I see how you thrived, but how did those Thules manage it? I'm off to wifi-less towns in the Bolivian Andes for a bit. I'll have to catch up later! Thanks for sharing your unique explorations!
I love the photo of the fogbow!
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
The dead dub made me sad but it is the way of nature.
Wow, this is a fantastic photo. I'm always excited by the world you are sharing with us. The arctic fall has arrived..... I would think the summer lasted a day or two. I experienced the never setting sun when working in Antarctica. It is an experience. The wildlife looks amazing. I love the raw nature that you have described.