Qikiqtarjuaq to Trailhead

Fog hovering above the Iqaluit Airport (CYFB) delayed our 09:15 flight to Qikiqtarjauq (Big Island, formerly Broughton Island) and, when we reached Qik, we still needed to have Parks Canada mandatory safety briefing about wilderness camping and Polar Bears! About 2.5 hours later, Captain Billy took us to Co-op store to purchase naphtha for our two cook stoves and five of us — Jim & Tegan, Jeff and me, Leslie our porter and Peter our guide — were on our way for a “three-hour tour” of the 85-kilometre distance between Qikiktarjuaq and the Trail head at Owl River Tributary.

Peter leads the way across the undulating grassy terrain that appears flat but gave as much support as a saturated sponge. Peter’s backpack was the heaviest at about 70 lbs but each of carried about one-third of our body weight in similar backpacks, a feat not nearly as easy as it sounds, especially across Muskeg (Cree maskek and Ojibwe mashkiig meaning “grassy bog”).