Sun August 1:
Weather has cleared somewhat although the sky is still sullen. Wind has at least calmed so walking is more pleasant and fingers can fool with camera controls without gloves. A slight snow dusting has reached almost to sea level, covering the cliff side and fallen rocks but melting on when in contact with the wetter warmer tundra vegetation.
Tomorrow is our scheduled departure date from Truelove. Alfred calls Kenn Borek Air to confirm and finds out that currently there are no twin otters in Resolute. All planes have been grounded by fog down to the ground or are stuck elsewhere due to the same large storm system which passed through last night. Ah, a fitting demonstration how weather rules in the north! Patience is to be the order of the day.
Reading more journals, I come across a reference to rebuilt Thule sod houses somewhere along the coast in this area. We decide to search for them today and set out in a north-easterly direction. The land gently swells upwards, pillows of gray granite. A musk ox travels in the same direction, we trail along behind him. Its about 2 or 3 km to the coast, walking is pleasant although views, due to the fog, are limited to about 200 or 300 meters distance.
We stop to investigate each cove, knowing that marine based cultures would set up camp close to waters edge. And we find them or what is left of them: these ‘pre Dorset’ sites are basically tent rings with center hearths, located on cobble beaches. Many caches are in the area, all have been opened by previous archeologists or curious passersby. The ocean ice gurgles and grinds with the change of tide. We move on, looking specifically for the reconstructed site.
On the last possible cover, we find it. Rebuilt by Robert Park (department of Anthropology, U of Waterloo), it still stands. Three separate stone platforms divide the living areas. The sleeping platforms are raised on stone slabs, its hollow underneath. The door, lintels and stone walls carefully set up. Like many old campsite, various bits of crunched bone fragments are scattered around. Somehow, it feels like of Disney like, an artificial (although instructive) theme park. All that’s missing are the actors dressed in furs. I like the decrepit atmosphere of the Cook site better.
We wander back across the tundra, pushed by wind, pulled by light. After sheltering behind some rocks for lunch, we boldly swing by 11 musk ox on the opposite side. They eye us but don’t move off, I dare only approach within 10 meters, close enough to study the brown pupil of the large adult male and white hair under the eyeball….there seems to be one small newborn, two larger yearlings and the rest sub adults or adults. I clamber up on top a large rock, feeling less nervous than being at their ground level. With this, they wheel and thunder back along a gravel esker, inland.
Back to hut for food. Expedition appetites have really kicked in, I’m always hungry and want for more. Another call to Kenn Borek, they are not sure about a pick up tomorrow, weather is already bad and expected to get worse. Seems we will be here for another day or so, which is not a problem with sufficient fuel. If worst came to worst, we could pilfer from the old kitchen supplies long abandon on site ( with ‘best before dates’ – 4 or 5 years prior).
We’ve never made it all the way out to the end of Truelove Point – it extends some 1 km beyond the mainland and 5 km from camp. A suitable destination for a lazy evening stroll! The sun peeks through the clouds, teasing us with great golden reflections over the calm ocean. It’s a long way out and with photos, a 2 hour stroll stopping for photos, tent ring, bone fragment and cairn inspections.
I feel truly exposed, out on a limb, with absolutely no shelter. The land is pancake flat -rocks are shattered shards of crushed yellow sandstone, an old ocean floor. Bits of chipped weather wood, tumbled in caches decorate tiny coves. I find a chunk of walrus jaw with three peg teeth remaining, ground smooth from use. Golden or black bellied plover whistle their musical melody, plumage seems to be in transition, thus not sure who is singing but lovely none the less. Its pure poetry as the midnight sun reaches its lowest ebb in the 24 hours cycle. We head back to camp for a midnight feast and celebrate our good fortunes.