21 Aug, 2007 CLYDE RIVER
Made it to Clyde River…barely.
The voice of the pilot over the loud speaker on the plane said: “we will attempt a landing once, and then fly on the Pond Inlet if that fails”.
Clyde River, as it turns out, is notorious for being fogged in. Sneaking in while the fog allowed just enough visibility, the plane landed and I stepped onto the ground glad to keep on with the plan, but zipping up my fleece quickly as the biting cold air slapped against me. What a chill!
Walking through the door of the small airport building, I was greeted by Tommy Enuaraq, who by phone and email had made outfitting arrangements for the planned trek that I came here for. Back at his place, he had a tent set out on his raised porch for me to stay in before heading out, and graciously extended full use of the rest of his home. One of my concerns coming to town was the possibility of polar bears finding me in my tent if I pitched it just anywhere. Tommy’s raised porch had a surrounding railing, which gave additional comfort to the fact that his front door was only 4 feet away. Clyde is going through one of the toughest housing shortages in Nunavut, with family members often shifting around between homes to accommodate the situation. There is no form of home stay (pay for stay) established here because of this, so Tommy’s extended hospitality to use his home was a greatly appreciated. Then came the T-bone steak dinner. Now I was really feeling welcome.
After settling in and enjoying the fine meal, word came of a polar bear in town. Wow, this was sounding familiar. About a week earlier in Qikiqtarjuaq the first bear of the season showed up there as Marten and I were about to relax with a tea. Now, the first bear of the season in Clyde shows up as well. What a welcoming committee!
This one chose to come in on the ice pack that filled the bay the day before. Tommy and I walked down to the town shoreline to see the fine specimen walking on the ice. It wasn’t long before a crowd had gathered. The first bear of the season seems to be an event in these arctic communities. And I can see why. As I filmed the bear making it’s way closer and closer, the wildlife officer showed up to ensure that the bear didn’t get too close to comfort. After a series of shotgun banger blasts in the air, some with “happy new year “cheers from the crowd, the bear slowly made it’s way off. And I mean slowly. This bear showed no serious concern about the process. I found out later that the record for bears on the ice is 14 a few years ago, and they hung around for a couple of weeks.