With continued uninspiring weather (but no rain) this morning, it’s a slow start to the day. Alfred films a cow and calf caribou on the opposite side of the lake, then declares the footage crap as their brown coats render them largely indistinguishable from the murky background. I use the time to snooze, catch up on my journal and enjoy another espresso. Luxury!
Eventually, we break camp. Walking is fairly simple until we reach the last lake. The shoreline has been squeezed tight, up against a cliff and waters edge. We pick the best route possible, scrambling over boulders and sliding along the scree slope. Two tiny rock islands appear to be a goose refuge from land based hunting foxes, feathers and white splash evident from the shore.
The saddle, marking the start of Torngak’s Lair is just ahead, excitedly we join hands and see what awaits us. It’s an awesome sight. The lake is caught, like a hot dog in a bun, stuck between impressively steep mountain sides. The slopes themselves appear daunting, grey and all loose scree. There is no shore line what so ever to provide secure footing. If lucky, we might find a beaten caribou path through the rubble slopes. If unlucky, its 5 km of unstable ankle twisting route finding. We stare and silently assess our options.
It is another short travel day. The tent goes up in the protection of three huge boulders, cracked by either a summit fall or else century’s of freeze and thaw. The view is stupendous, I can’t believe we are going to go that route. The first challenge is to find a way across the rushing boulder filled stream that feeds the lake waters. A seven step cascading waterfall roars like a turbine engine, directly from snow shelf into the stream. Rock hopping is no easy task as the boulders are spaced widely apart, too far for a comfortable hop with a heavy backpack. We head further upstream, in search of a shallower, slower option. Rays of sun break through the clouds, dramatic shafts of light, pinpointing rocks.
Climbing up a small rocky shoulder, we peek down into Torngak’s guts. Each view looks more foreboding and barren than the last. A remnant glacial tongue creeps down to a tiny alpine lake. It’s windy as hell up here, dark clouds billowing and fighting with the last rays of a setting sun. We yell, the wind tearing the words from our lips. It’s exciting, it’s a photographers paradise, the joy of living spikes through my heart. Here is Torngak's lair! I’ve reached the heart of my hiking goal, my Everest, and it is more wonderful than I ever expected. We race between vantage points, sucking in each marvelous view, camera film and video tape, spent like the wind.
With reluctance, the blood in our veins still pounding from excitement, the light fading, we turn back to camp. It has been one glorious day.