Leah and David Kalluk
I explained in my last message that because the dogs were tired and in need of rest I decided to join two families that were making the journey by snowmobile to Pond Inlet. I left Arctic Bay with David Kanuk, his wife Leah and there family. We were advised that the journey would take one long day or maybe two easy days. In fact the journey was an arduous five day trip. After the first two hours out David`s machine broke down due to a sheared bolt. We tried to fix it but were unable to. David ended up returning to Arctic Bay with Moses Tuniaq for another machine. When they got back we camped as it was late.
The next four days brought many more problems including one broken ski, an oil leak, snapped suspension spring and two wheels from the track runners falling off! To add to the difficulties the machines got stuck many times in very deep snow. A number of things occured to me during the countless episodes of digging, pushing and lifting the sledges and snowmobiles from the rocks and snow; firstly how cheerful my companions were throughout these times, always meeting every problem with a laugh or joke at a time when most people, I am sure, would have long since lost their tempers (and maybe even their lives). Also the sheer skill and ingenuity they displayed in fixing, with the most rudimentary tools and bits of rope, mechanical problems that to me seemed insurmountable at the best of times let alone in such low temperatures when steel spanners stick to bare skin with a burning cold.
David and Leah on a snowmobile
We arrived in Pond Inlet last night at 10…30pm cold, tired and hungry. Ros Parsons from the Ulaajuk School had arranged for me to stay with Don, a teacher from the high school…welcome rest and warmth!
Today I met Ros and have arranged to give a presentation to the school tomorrow where I will show pictures of the trip and we will all open the package sent by the children of Chiddingstone and Edenbridge Primary Schools together. Hello to everyone at Chiddingstone and Edenbridge… hope you are all OK!
The scenery at Pond Inlet is stunning, particularly the view over to Bylot Island with it`s steep mountains rising straight from the edge of the ocean. We hope to begin the journey back in a few days. David thinks it will be easier now the trail has been made; I hope so…..
It was interesting to experience both travel by dogsledge and by snow mobile. The snow mobile is now pretty ubiquitous in most areas of the Artic although they have not quite reached some more northern areas, such as Qaanaaq in Greenland. The experience is quite different; the dogsledge is slow enough, most of the time, to allow one to jump off and warm up, although great care has to be taken to avoid breaking out into a sweat as freezing and hypothermia can follow quickly. The snow mobile is smokey, noisey and cold not to mention very bumpy as one hits the uneven ice. I was told that the journey from Arctic Bay to Pond Inlet would take 5 days by dogsledge, in the circumstances it took the same time by snow mobile although without the breakdowns of course it would have been quicker.
Other thoughts that bear mention are the facts that if a snow mobile breaks down and it cannot be fixed the driver is stuck; whereas if one or two dogs fail the hunter can still travel. In extreme situations the dogs can even be eaten. On the route to Pond Inlet I saw three long abandoned snowmobiles. On the other hand the hunter does not need to feed his snow mobile when it it not working! In some ways I was reminded of the difference between the large Shire horses of years ago in the UK in the days when things were not done in such a rush… Oh for those days again. I better stop there, I can feel a rant coming on……!
( For more information on Pond Inlet please visit http://www.pondinlet.ca/)