From the community of Clyde River we began our excursion by boat northward toward Sam Ford Fiord. Ice pack in Clyde River's bay delayed us by a day, and looked like it might cause problems further up the coast. But the winds changed direction and fortunately, the pockets of ice that were left weren't thick enough to block our passage.
Huge boulders that appear on the land in odd places are called erratics. I guess you could call this an "ice erratic", though I have no idea if that would be technically correct.
The cabin. Tommy Enuaraq, owner of Sajjugiak Outfitter & Guides and the fellow who supplied the guides and resources for this leg of my journey, built this cabin recently along the coast about a couple hours ride from town. It became our first stop along the way into Sam Ford Fiord.
Tommy's step-bother Jayko, who was one of the guides on this trip, boarding up the windows of Tommy's cabin. Notice the board he is carefully stepping on. Laced with nails sticking straight up, Tommy put them at each window to keep the polar bears from standing there and putting their paws through the glass.
Arctic char. Like the manna from heaven in the old testament of the bible with one big difference: I never heard an Inuit once complain about the taste!
Sam Palituk, the other guide on this week-long outing, with a nice big arctic char from the river mouth. OK...the rod is for show as he and Jakco caught it, along with a few others, in the net they set out when we got to the cabin. They weren't biting on the lures at the time, but had I not had to do all this painting stuff, I am sure we would have tied into a few.
Another cabin near Tommy's at the mouth of the river, with arctic char hanging to dry.
In this weather, averaging 5 to 6 degrees during the day and cooling down to about 1 or 2 at night, the fish will keep for a long time. This adds a little richness to the flavour as well.
The view from the back window of Tommy's cabin. Spectacular glacier-laden mountains in the distance.
Looking to the right a few degrees from the previous photo, the mountain glaciers continue.
The stretch of coastline north of Clyde River is completely exposed to the Davis Straight. This afforded a chance to see dozens and dozen of icebergs such as this one, coming down from Greenland and from further up the Canadian Coast. Greenland, though not visible to the eye, is somewhere way past the horizon in the photo.
Stopping for a break from the boat, I found these beautiful boulders in the mist.
Officially a little ways into Sam Ford Fiord, Sam and Jayko pull over to this quiet beach for a coffee break. They never leave for a boat trip without a thermos of hot water. Good planning, especially in this weather!
Land of rock.
As we entered further into Sam Ford Fiord, the massive rock walls emerged from the fog and revealed glaciers and waterfalls. This fiord differed from Coronation further to the south in that there is a lot of sheer solid rock jutting, in many cases, straight out of the water, rising up for thousands of feet.
Detail of the glacier's leading edge in the previous photo. The rock is so hard that no moraines seem to form as the glacier recedes.
A peak through the fog.
Mountain forms through the fog.
Through the mist a massive, sheer rock face emerges.
Fantastical mountains of granite rising from the depths of the ocean. That pretty well describes Sam Ford Fiord. For scale, notice the size of the large iceberg in the water.
I had to ask Sam to drive the boat further out to get it all in the photo.
Is this where they shot Lord of the Rings? Naw, this is better... it's all real.
Sheer... vertical... rock.
From our campsite: look at the variety of different shapes in those peaks. You really need a much larger photo appreciate it.
Getting closer to our first camping spot, a bay of the main fiord.
The quiet bay off the fiord that we camped at (tents are pitched to the left of the photo). The fiord itself acts like a wind tunnel, and this bay offered some escape from the constant winds.
A portrait of the freighter canoe, boat of the north. They are the most trusted design of boat for the Inuit who use them for their lively hood. Sam, who was born on the land near Sam Ford Fiord, recalled that the glacier in the background used to be one larger glacier when he was young.
An unreal parking spot.
Fog moves in under the evening light.
Loved the evening light on the fog.
Despite all the amazing big scenery all around, there is much beauty to be found in other natural designs underfoot.
The end of the bay greeted us with a selection of massive boulders on a sandy beach.
Jayko scouts the land for signs of polar bears or caribou.
Sam takes a turn scouting. Part of being safer back at camp is to use every opportunity to look for polar bears in the neighbourhood. Better if we see them first.
The sweeping curves of the river in the foreground, set off by the shapes of the varied peaks and glaciers behind it, created a compelling composition that I just had to paint.
Jayko picking a local edible plant.
A close up of the previous photo, this edible plants is regularly eaten by the Inuit while on the land. It's leaves make a fine salad that tasted good to me.
Jayko and Sam hiking back to the boat with a striking background in the distance. Their experience around polar bears, and their confidence on the land, gave be assurance that I was in good hands.
An old pile of rocks that, according to Sam, marks the grave of an infant from years past.
A less typical looking Inukshuk, carefully crafted with many stones. Sam figures its been there for many years.
The fellows taking a break at our camp. What a view!
The wire that Sam and Jayko strung is for their CB radio. With it they can communicate with others across most of the eastern arctic.
Ice shaped like mushroom sculptures.
Tower of Arctic granite.
A waterfall pours out into the fog. I was hoping to get up close to this one because it looked very interesting the way it was situated on the side of the mountain. But high winds, and therefore rough waters kept me from getting any closer.
As we moved from one campsite to another, I got to take in some more great landscapes.
Rock and ice = drama.
Rock and ice also = waterfalls.
Branching off of Sam Fiord in to Walker Arm opened a whole new series of fantastical views.
Walker Arm. We entered the fiord from the left side and camped across from the massive cut in the wall to the right.
New campsite... to me anyway. Sam and his relatives have been camping in the weather sheltered cove for generations. Jayko ties the boat off.
The view from my tent: glaciers draping over the mountains.
You want to make sure you park you boat well in this place. If it float away on you, well, let's not think about that, ok?
Our camp on the left is dwarfed in the land of giant mountains.
Another view of camp.
Apparently we were not the only ones who liked this camping spot. After tying off the boat, we came across these polar bear tracks, fresh from only a few hours earlier.
The bear went that way. We pitched our tents the other way.
A short hike up behind camp led to panoramic view of Walker's Arm, which branches off of Sam Ford Fiord.
Waterfall up behind camp.
This one drop quite a ways.
River on one side, glacier on the other.
Taking a break by my tent to enjoy the scenery.
A solid tent in a wild land is a must on an expedition like this one. Eureka fit the bill perfectly.
A land of rock... lots of rock of all kinds.
Rock within rock. A strip of quartz adds some spark and colour to the surrounding rock.
A boulder perched quietly on the slope of rock.
We're not the only ones out here.
Distant ice cap covering the mountain top.
The sun pokes through the grey skies to catch a distant ribbon of ice.
The sun is replaced by the rain as the last bit of light catches a nearby peak, and a rainbow tops off the day.
With the rain having settled in for the night, Jayko pulls out the Monopoly he had hiding in his pack.
A gorgeous waterfall cascading down the hill.
A bit of fall colour.
Layer-like clouds smothering the mountain at the bottom end of Walker's Arm.
Looking back up the Walker Arm Fiord. I took a break from painting and joined Sam and Jayko and they took a look for some caribou to add to the dinner list, and to take home to their families. None were to be found.
Glacier meets ocean.
Sam does a little carving. He found a piece of soapstone at the camp and was developing a little something that I could take home to my girls.
The partially completed little seal that Sam was working on. Unfortunately it didn't make it back to Clyde River with us. It seemed to have snuck out of a bag, and awaits us at camp for the next return some day.
Unreal looking glacial peaks.
A river pours out of the tunnel in the glacier.
Ice and water.
After a week on the land, we began our boat ride back to Clyde River, passing more amazing scenery.
No time to start a painting on location of of this nice iceberg as we were zipping past on the long boat ride back to Clyde.
On the ride out, we hit a stretch where we saw 5 polar bears in a row, one every kilometre or two it seemed.
The photo that wasn't. A moment earlier this bear was facing us and standing still on the ice. A took a photo and then quickly saw that my camera's settings dial was accidental bumped to manual, and the shot was ruined. This was my recovery shot a couple of seconds later. Not quite the same.
Fortunately there was one more bear, and I managed to get a decent photo to end the trip.