Aug 12 (day 4)

I’m beginning to grasp what a procedure it is to actually get to the Torngat Mountains.  Distances, time and cost of travel in arctic Canada discourage most but the most determined travelers. This is the fourth day on the road and hopefully, sometime late tonight, we will finally be deposited on the shore of Nachvak Fiord. If the hike is at all as memorable as the trip thus far, it’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime! Lots of joking this morning about being seasick, it’s all good natured, mostly I hope not to repeat the same situation today.

By 7am, the boat is moving…the seas are calmer and the waters more protected between Okak and Mugford Bay, where we arrive at 9:30am. There we stop, stroll, stretch our legs walking behind a small cabin into the hills. Not a tree in sight, only low shrubs and some prostate dwarf willows. Blue berries abound, I roll them around my tongue then savour their sweet burst. A gun shot blast signals us to return to the beach for pick up.

Big, obvious, hard to miss wild life starts to appear. Or, rather, today, I start to take notice. First, a minkie whale and its shining black back arcs gracefully along the boat before diving before the waters…the water is so clear that I can see the whale below, hunting char. Then, I spot a few caribou grazing on the slopes, their dark brown bodies topped with velvet fur antlers, developing for the fall rut. As we pass, a black bear stops his rummaging to look at us, then runs, his round haunches the last we see of him as he disappears over a slope. It’s all so very exciting!

Far out to sea, White Bear Island rears like a volcanic remnant of some forgotten land. The sculptural cone combines sheer walls that plunge into the sea with by barren interior plateaus and even a tiny crescent beach, white and inviting. Startling contrasts compacted into a single island. Willie says it is an ancient place…before I have a chance to ask more, my stomach quivers and before I know it, I’m horizontal in the bunk, clutching my empty guts again. With my eyes shut, a sleeping bag drawn up, I lie very very still and wish for a quick death. This is worse than the worst hangover…

As the others describe the multitude of bergy bits, the colour of icebergs when seen closeup, I hope that maybe, on the return trip, I’ll have chance to see for myself. Already I’m dreading, yet looking forward, to more ocean travel on this darned boat! Finally we enter Ramah Bay and the water calms, and I can re-enter the world of the living. Folded into syncline and anticline planes, multi banded rock lines the 10 km bay. Green slopes have their feet in beige beaches, then blue waters. It’s a feast for the eyes.

We connect with the other hiking group on the beach, they tell us about horrendous black flies, wet feet, heavy loads, slips and falls. Sounds like 10 days of hell! They can’t wait to get on the boat for their return shuttle but it won’t be for another 24 hours as our group will get dropped off first. It’s an adventure for Rob and I, returning to the larger boat as the dingy motor won’t start – we drift in darkness and star light for about 40 minutes until the motor finally kicks in. Willie and John look relieved when we finally come along side, undoubtedly wondering about the delay. As the group leaders exchange information, some of us head up on top deck where we whistle down the northern lights, laugh, joke and make merry in preparation for our hike commencement tomorrow.