JOURNALS

Field journals from Cory’s Into The Arctic expeditions.

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11 Jul, 2009 A Change of Pace

Woke up through the night thanks to the wind hammering at the tarp that covered the emergency shelter we were sleeping in. A couple of extra cots were available when we arrived, saving us the need to pitch the tent for a night or two, then a welcome break. The shelter sleeps six, and the other cots had park staff and a two-person film crew from oasis television. They were here to film an episode of a new HD series about our Canadian Parks. As part of their Quttinirpaaq National Park show, they wanted to film Carl and I as...

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10 Jul, 2009 Tanquary Fiord

Stunning weather today, 18ºc and sunny! Back home, that may not sound like much for the peak of summer, but here, it’s definitely T-shirt weather. I guess it’s like the first warm day of spring after the snow is gone. Carl and I hiked behind the Parks Canada Camp for five or six hours to get acquainted with the surroundings. Tanquary Fiord is surrounded by mountains and is fed by a few huge river valleys. The consolidating of these creates a massive, flat, land; and a criss-crossing of thousands of river braids. This means there will be a lot of...

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09 Jul, 2009 Moving Day

Time to say good-bye to Lake Hazen, today we are flying to Tanquary Fiord, about 100 kilometres south of here. Packing up this time means making sure we leave absolutely nothing behind, this is a long way from home. We had everything ready by noon for the one o’ clock flight, but last minute changes caused our flight to go somewhere else. There are no official schedules up here. You have to have yourself ready and be on standby. It gave us a chance to relax a little, and to look at John’s island again. I finally did a sketch...

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08 Jul, 2009 Parked

Stayed around the Parks Canada camp today, resting our sore feet. Had our tents set up to the side, got caught up with the less glamourous parts of the trip. Laundry, backing up media, and writing journals, etcetera. I also eyed up John Island in front of the camp on Lake Hazen, for a possible small painting. It is a simple looking land mass which has great beauty when lights strikes it, the ice in front of it also adds to the composition....

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07 Jul, 2009 Down the Stretch

Covered more ground on our way back to park camp yesterday. We woke up hoping this would be last fully-loaded hike for a bit. We knew the odds were good because the acting park super-intendant Monty Yanks and one of his staff members Kevin, had offered to join us along the way and help us with some of the filming gear. As we met up with them, another wolf dropped by for a visit. Our filming gear was packed, so this gave me a chance to pull out my still camera. The wolf hung around for quite some time before...

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06 Jul, 2009 Wake-Up Call

An alarm clock was not needed to wake us up this morning. Carl nudged me and whispered, “There’s a wolf outside the tent.” Sure enough, I could see just his big paws prowling past under the tent fly. By the time I sat up, he had made his way to the back of the tent, looking past Carl’s shoulder, all I could was the wolf’s head filling the back vestibule as he stared at us through the screen door. Still half in our sleeping bags, we felt pretty vulnerable knowing the only thing between us and this mystical creature was...

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05 Jul, 2009 The Long Hike Back

The dreaded day has arrived, breaking camp, and fully reloading our gear, to begin our way back to the camp, twenty kilometers away. Dreaded, because, even though we have been eating enough to shave our weight down a bit, our packs are still way over limit. A couple of hours later, Carl and I were still strapping on the last items as we struggled to our feet. Even though we split our gear into two trips on the way in, we wanted to go as far as possible in one load. Once we stepped away, we didn’t want to be...

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04 Jul, 2009 Catching the Light

Stayed a little closer to base camp because of our long day yesterday, also, tomorrow, we begin our hike back to parks Canada camp at Lake Hazen. We will definitely need fresh legs for that. Staying closer to camp also allowed us to hike to the foot of the glacier where I got to explore Henrietta, face to face. Patchy clouds filled in as I searched for painting possibilities along the varied and undulating surfaces of ice. While doing so, the light broke through momentarily, and caught the top rim of the glacier and sparkled in the river below. I...

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03 Jul, 2009 Muskox, Arctic Hare, and Snow

Today Carl and I headed out to hike up to Weasel Lake, by following the edge of the glacier then cutting up a steep valley and meandering through further valleys and peaks. Past all this this, one can finally see the small lake that backs up against Henrietta herself. Before we got too far, we came across three muskox. Great chance for some filming! We carefully stopped within a safe distance and got some footage. Back to the hike, not twenty minutes later, we stumbled upon a napping arctic hare. He didn’t seem to be worried as he woke up,...

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02 Jul, 2009 Sleep

Slept in a bit this morning, stuck my head outside and all was grey. Seems like afternoon light works better up here, so I’m adjusting my schedule accordingly. Late afternoon brought some breaks in the clouds and shone fantastic light onto the glacier. I set up my easel with a high vantage point overlooking this immense spectacle that is over three kilometers wide at it’s leading edge. A myriad of streams braid their way to Lake Hazen from the icy mass, they formed beautiful patterns as the sun reflected here and there. Battling the blowing sand on my palette, and...

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01 Jul, 2009 First Painting Begins… Finally

Carl and I headed out from base camp to explore up the side of Henrietta glacier, what a break to travel with a lighter load. My hope was to finally begin the first painting of the trip. It’s the ongoing challenge to each painting I do! Balancing the time it takes to get into the landscape, then exploring it long enough to get a sense of it, then actually settling down and painting something. While the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, I still always want to see it. A certain kind of frustration overcomes me if I...

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30 Jun, 2009 Base Camp

Arctic hares greeted us this morning as we unzipped the tent door, we had breakfast, then called into Caledon radio for our weekly interview and broke camp to move closer to the big glacier. Leaving the tent and a few other things behind, we left with our half-loads to find a new camping spot. Half-hour into our hike, the arctic winds hit us with rain and snow. The high arctic at the peak of summer, you just never know. We trudged on, eventually hauling all our stuff over. That was far enough, this was going to be base camp....

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29 Jun, 2009 Moving Closer

Today we continued our haul down the lake. Carl reminded me that originally, there was going to be three of us doing this part of the trip. Unfortunately, I had not re-adjusted our gear for only two people. Now, we were paying the price. After a couple of hours of stop and go, we decided to split our load and carry on the rest of the way in two trips, more walking, but easier on the body. Henrietta had come into view in the distance, as we pitched camp again. Tomorrow, we move on to get closer....

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28 Jun, 2009 One Step at a Time

Woke up this morning and began packing gear for a ten day hike to Henrietta Nesmith Glacier. Interrupted by our first encounter of arctic hares.. right in camp, boy, are they huge. Brought our stuff down to the edge of frozen Lake Hazen, where Patrolperson Doug Stern, was waiting. He greeted us with a snowmobile and a sled to haul Carl and I 20 kilometers down the lake, to give us a great start to accessing the big glacier. Everything secured, we hopped aboard the toboggan for the ride. This would save us two days of hiking as our packs...

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27 Jun, 2009 The Warm-Up

Today was a good warm-up, after orientation from Park superintendent Monty Yank, and sorting gear again. Carl and I headed out for a six and a half hour hike behind camp, with a partial load on our backs. There was a lot of stop and go along the way. We were both feeling it pretty good after the hike. Looking at the map again made us realize we’d better alter our plan. That big loop we were planning on doing just got a whole lot smaller. No matter how much planning and research I do, it never quite matches up...

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26 Jun, 2009 First Day Out

Carl and I boarded the twin otter, the work horse of the North. With four others, park Canada staff, and volunteers. We began the flight to Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island. It was a mesmerizing three hour flight over massive and beautiful landscapes, full of mountains, glaciers, and ice. This brought us to the Park’s camp at Tanquary Fiord. As the plain lowered to land we spotted muskox, grazing on the hills, and later more on the ground not far from camp. Here, we stepped off to take in the awesome mountains that surround the camp, and the fresh...

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25 Jun, 2009 Polar Continental Shelf

Word this morning from Tim at Polar Continental Shelf is that the flight is being put off until our gear arrives. No-one goes into the field without their essential gear for safety. The PCS (Polar Continental Shelf) is the mother-ship up here, managing all flights in and out of the high arctic, and what a job that is. Researchers in remote camps, park staff, even artists once in a while, all separated by thousands of kilometers make for incredibly tough logistics, and even harder rescue operations if necessary. With a day in town to get acclimatized to the north, we...

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26 Aug, 2007 NEW LAND

After the inspiring ride into the fiords the day before, I had hoped the water would calm down so that we could go back out by boat and explore further. But the winds kept up their pace, and a short boat ride out confirmed that it was indeed best to stay back in the bay. The fact is that the view from camp was amazing, and I only had to open my eyes to see spectacular scenery right from there. But I always like to look around thoroughly before committing a scene to canvas, and for that reason was hoping to...

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24 Aug, 2007 MOVING FURTHER UP

The day began foggy… real foggy. As we had about 5 hours to go by boat, starting out in this kind of weather was not the first choice, especially not knowing the possible ice pack conditions. It was a time to stay put. Sam didn’t seem too concerned however, and figured that things would likely clear up by early afternoon based on what he saw. And it did. With that delay behind us, we threw our stuff in the boat and continued our journey up the coast further, looking for the mouth of Sam For Fiord. Calm waters make for easy...

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23 Aug, 2007 OPEN WATER

The winds howled through the night, as attested to by the constant flapping of the tent’s nylon. Sleep came and went with the gusts, and by morning I awoke rather groggy. The wind had indeed blown from the right direction, but the ice pack still covered a great part of the bay. One can’t force nature, especially up here, so a pot of coffee was put on and, along with guides Jayko and Sam, we poured over the maps. This was time well spent, as it gave me a chance to get to know the fellows a bit. Seeing as...

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