Ground Zero on the Learning Curve:
One the first things we acknowledged was that we were novices in this high arctic country. Sure, we knew about certain aspects of wilderness: the isolation, the need for self reliance, the need for meticulous planning, the empty quiet that toys with your imagination, the unexpected strains on interpersonal relationships….but we were babes when it came to glacier travel. Hey, I’m a flat lander from Southern Ontario, where the only ‘mountain’ (the Niagara Escarpment locally known as the ‘Hamilton Mountain’) is a mere 100m (300 feet) high. And the occasional trip to a groomed Rocky Mountain ski slope could hardly be counted as glacier experience.
Although this was a national park, the infrastructure and support services were basic to say the least (which I liked – no candy ass southern park for me this summer!). A lumpy gravel air strip at Lake Hazen with a few semi derelict quanset huts greeted us – it was so early in the season, no park personnel were yet stationed at Lake Hazen (being located instead at Tanquary Fiord where there was generator electricity, heat, soft beds, laundry machines and even internet). No park person nattered away about rules and regulations (the mandatory one hour stopover in Tanquary Fiord was less than enlightening and I was rather soured by the whole experience there) (but they got our $100 plus GST and entry papers). Instead it was just us and eight other intrepid campers who were to be the first crop of summer visitors stationed there. After months of planning, my foot down above the arctic circle. It felt great!
Our smiles say it all….after months of planning, a long day of flights , we have finally arrived. My foot sets down above the arctic circle, toes wiggling ‘hello country’. ...its 11pm under the midnight sun - yeah! here I am…and so excited.