26 Jul, 2009 To Bathurst Inlet
Woke up well rested. Maybe the sun actually setting again helped, after not seeing that for the last month. I stayed at the Blue Raven B&B and enjoyed a nice breakfast from the owners Tessa and Mike MacIntosh. That’s where I met Max Attwood who was joining me for the next leg of this journey that will take us to Bathurst Inlet and Wilberforce Falls. He had arrived prior and toured Yellowknife for the day, and filled me in on some of the interesting places he’d checked out. Unfortunately for me, there would be no time on my way through to do the same. Arriving at 8pm last night and catching a plane this morning at 10am doesn’t leave much of a window. However, I did get a small taste of the place as we were staying in the old part of town, right on the edge of Great Slave Lake, surrounded by old buildings and great views.
As Carl is now gone home, I engaged Max to come along to help film this unfolding story. He’s a young guy that was recommended to me by Les Stroud of Survivorman. Max has been filming and editing on his show for the last couple of years, and seems to have the required mix of filming skills, outdoor skills, and a taste for adventure. The last thing you want out there is a cameraman who can’t handle the challenges one can encounter in the field.
We headed to the hanger and boarded Air Tindi’s Twin Otter to Bathurst Inlet Lodge. I had been speaking with Boyd Warner, president of this historic lodge that is part of a tiny community, about coming up there during my project at some point to paint at Wilberforce Falls. At last, 3 years later, everything had come together and I was on my way. Other than Max and I the flight was full of fuel drums that had to be dropped off before landing at the lodge. This slight detour took us past Wilberforce for an unexpected sneak peak. Wow! Were we going to be in for a treat! The falls is where the Hood River gives way to a stunning multi-stepped drop and incredible gorge below steep reddish rock cliffs. The entire height is greater than Niagara Falls, and is considered by many to be the highest waterfalls about the arctic circle.
With the drop completed, we carried on to Bathurst Inlet where we were greeted by Page, Collin, Sam and several others. A family, that had obviously had a fantastic time there, was preparing to leave and a few of the children put on a little song and dance in front of the plane. When the dust settled and the plane grew small, Page Burt walked Max and I on the trail back to the community and lodge. It was like going back in time. There on the tundra at the edge of the ocean, seemingly growing out of land and brambles, were old cabins of every shape and kind. Page was a wealth of local history, and shared with us how the lodge started out as a Hudson Bay Trading post camp and a whole lot more. She had been coming up to the lodge for over 30 years each summer and is an expert on the arctic flowers of the region. As a matter of fact she wrote the book on it: “Barrenland Beauties”. After a great supper and setting us up with a cabin, we continued our tour of this community of a dozen or so Inuit, and filmed on until the sun went down.