Evening at Pangnirtung upon our arrival. The fiords in the distance lead to Auyuittuq National Park, my destination for a 12 days of hiking and painting beginning August 2. What A view!
The way to the park through the fiord as seen from the boat ride along the way.
Leaving Pangnirtung and heading for Auyuittuq National Park, about an hour away by boat.
David Kooneeliusie of Parks Canada in Pangnirtung gives Marten and I a lift into the park and shares some insight along the way.
Do I really need to write anything here? Enjoy the view.
Glassy waters greeted us at the park entrance and offered awesome reflections.
Me thinking that I'm ready for the hike.
Making to the first warden cabin, I stop for the view. Or is it a break to catch my breath? Fortunately the great views give me a great excuse to stop often.
The hiking gets under way. It takes a while for the scenery to change at this pace.
One of many ice cold river crossings. Although some are not that deep, you still need to be careful. A fall in these icy currents could drench you and your gear in a wilderness setting where somethings thing won't dry for a long time, if at all.
Coming out of one of my first river crossings. You can see the source of the flow in the background, running down from a hidden glacier. This photo doesn't show clearly just how red my legs became in a short time.
Feeling the weight of my pack, Marten catches me sneaking in a short break on the trail.
Small camp in a big land. That would the little yellow dot in the background.
Breakfast on a glorious sunny morning which greeted us on the first couple of days of our hike into the park. We wouldn't see the sun like this again for about 8 days.
Climbing up the valley's side led to this old caribou rack, aged and fitting right in with the rocks.
Rock and water... never ending fascinating patterns.
A waterfall detail from the "land that never melts" (the Inuit meaning for Auyuittuq). Oddly enough, it is the melting that causes the waterfalls. But when you see the vast Penny Ice Cap and it's impressive array of glaciers, I think the name is perfectly chosen.=
A land of waterfalls; glacial waters melting from the Penny Ice Cap make their way down to the Weasel River in Auyuittuq National Park.
While looking down to watch my step, the beautiful patterns of the weather molded sand caught my eye. There are just as many captivating small things here as their are big ones.
Evening light turns the Weasel River into reflective ribbons of colour.
The gorgeous sunshine on the first day couple of days of our 10-day hike brought lots of company in the form of little flying ferocious mosquitos.
First oil painting begun from the 2007 leg of the Into The Arctic Project in the eastern arctic. After getting the canvas underway in the field, I will work on it back in the studio for several more days.
Some more great scenery along the first stretch of the hike in.
Marten, who has joined me for the first 17 days of this month-long journey to film and photograph found this unique rock and framed in beautifully.
Cascading waterfalls greet you at almost every turn.
Marten and I cross the Arctic Circle.
Flora, dwarfed by their surroundings, endure and flourish in selected areas of the park.
From a rocky section known as the Rock Garden, a place of incredibly huge and varied boulders, Mount Thor fully reveals itself in the distance for the first time.
Feeling tiny in an enormous landscape.
Mount Thor, the highest sheer rock face in the world at over 4,200 feet in height, looms in the shadows. One of my goals is to pitch camp near it to offer a place to access to different views for painting. From here there is still over 8kms of hiking to go. In total it's about 25km from where we began this trek.
Shortly after catching a view of Mount Thor, the weather began to move in and veil the mountain in mist and rain.
Mount Thor on it's way to disappearing from view completely, with the Weasel River running down the left side of the photo.
A huge boulder offer with a perfectly located undercut offers us shelter form the rain that begins to fall. It also blocked the wind very well so we pitched camp there for the night.
Another angle on our ideal camp location near the big boulder. Fresh running streams within a minute's walk provided all the water we needed at any time.
Marten is dwarfed by the huge boulder that gave us shelter.
Did I mention the stunning view from our boulder camp?
As the fog settled in, one of the rocks in the "garden" caught my eye. The fog, which obliterated other views, caused this rock to emerge from the background and begged me to paint it.
An amazing chunk of rock with a very geometrical 90-degree split. I can only imagine the force and impact required to cause this to happen.
Water beads us on a blade of grass.
Hiking my way over to Mount Thor. As you can see, the fog stayed with us so that anything above 100 feet or so stayed completely out of view. It was a bit like hiking with blinders on, as I knew that that somewhere in the white were very high mountains on each side.
Arriving at a new camp at the base of Mount Thor at 10pm, the fog began to lift just enough to give me a taste of what was to come.
Writing a journal report for our website. Calling them in by satellite phone, family back home are transcribing and uploading them for me to share to experience in another medium.
Mount Thor looming over the majestic valley.
Climbing the side of the valley offered up a stunning view of spilling waterfalls with the mountains as backdrop.
Opposite Mount Thor, the fog lifted to reveal equally stunning peaks, shaped like shark's teeth. How's that for a view from the outhouse! The park have an emergency shelter and outhouse located at about day's hike interval along the pass. Inside the washroom is a 45 gallon drum with a toilet seat on top. Every so often, they replace them with fresh ones by helicopter airlift.
Mist and mountains.
Detail of the waterfall with the glacier peaking past the lip.
I couldn't leave this region without trying to do justice to the mountains on canvas.
Tiny flowers seem to grow right out of the rock.
Close up of the Dwarf Fireweed. Small beauties in a harsh land.
Not sure what these are called, but it's a nice photo.
Couldn't resist another flower picture.
Some of the challenging hiking just past Mount Thor. As we had pitched camp further back, we travelled "light" on a day trip to explore views of Mount Thor from 4 to 5 km further north.
Rock hopping our way back to camp late in the day.
Marten seizing the opportunity to photograph Mount Thor as it peaks through the clouds.
A stream pool reflects the peak of Mount Thor in the background.
A bit of evening light catches the edge of the Penny Ice Cap.
Painting can be funny sometimes. With such a magnificent subject as Mount Thor, you would think that I could sit anywhere and paint. However, it took hours of hiking around, before I finally settled down with the fading light to begin this canvas. I find the challenge to do justice to an impressive subject drives be harder to find an effective perspective to paint from, and in this case caused me to run around every rock and up the valley sides to explore all the possibilities I could before exhausting myself.
Marten Berkman, companion on part of this journey: photographer, filmmaker, wilderness man and a fellow who really loves the land. While helping me out with many of his skills, he is also developing his own project called Remote Sensibility, where is aim is to connect people to the wild spaces that we impact. Find out more about his fascinating work at www.martenberkman.com
A portrait of Marten and his friend Thor. This is Marten's third trip to the park, his last one being 17 years ago. It is interesting to note the changes that he has seen since his last trek out here; notably the quickly receding glaciers.
An unreal place landscape to hike in.
Marten bends like the subject he is photographing. His camera is always at hand, and I don't think that I've ever hiked anywhere with him where didn't take at least a dozen photos.
Evening light catches a glacier.
Close up of the glacier in the previous photo. It's amazing how immense the ice is, and how it grinds the surrounding land.
A glacier hangs over a cliff's edge like a tongue in Auyuittuq National Park as a waterfall continues the downward path.
Incredible textures in the glacier's surface.
Detail of previous photo showing the volume of water that spills continuously from the glacier.
Hiking back to camp in the fading light, Marten stops for a photo of a huge boulder in the valley. I couldn't resist taking one more myself.
Making our way back down the pass with some evening light catching the Penny Ice Cap.
My camera's media card was acting up so I asked Marten to put it in his camera and test it. He threw his camera up and before I knew it he had taken this photo. Kind of captures it all: painting, landscape, filming... and camping hair!
A section of the Penny Ice Cap late in the day catches a bit of light.
A bit more sun peaks out at the end of the day.
A tiny bit of afterglow catches a distant peak... then it was gone.
Last evening on hiking trip in Auyuittuq National Park we had a pink glow over come the landscape. It really showed up on the rock that Marten was photographing, and it was magical.