chilling feet

chilling feet

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More Polar Bears - Last Arctic Post

A final post to sum up our Arctic traveling. There may be a post or two in the future about specific experiences from these trips, but for now here is the summation of our Arctic voyage. This will be slightly shorter than previous posts as it is time to be done. Click anywhere to read the last post.

Our first trip came through the Northwest passage from the Canadian Arctic over to Greenland. The second trip was much shorter and started in Greenland taking us just to the edge of the Canadian Arctic. The first pic shows Sarah's first kayak in Arctic waters.
In between trips we went with the Quark staff for a fun kayak and zodiac rescue training.

Our short kayak in some really beautiful waters on an almost perfect day gave way to the zodiac training. I was looking forward to this but it was way more fun than I thought it would be. The training was specifically designed to teach the staff how to rescue people into zodiacs, especially when wearing the life jackets Quark uses as they are unique. We learned at least eight ways to get people into zodiacs and even how to get ourselves back in should there be no one to help. Really cool knowledge to have!

The new passengers embarked at Kangerlussuaq and we worked our way North along the Greenlandic coast toward Sisimut. You can see from the picture above how practiced a mustard drill, learning where we should go if an emergency took place on the boat. Then a nice pic from the sunset that night, a nice sign of the beauty we would see on this trip.

We arrived at Sisimut the next morning. This is a beautiful little town with a landscape of houses in myriads of colors, rolling hills of equally fantastic scenic attributes, and especially nice people. Such an
interesting history and cool culture. We were able to taste many of the foods the natives of this area have been eating for hundreds of years. Just small portions but we did try each one they offered us. Not our acquired tastes but it was nice to experience their hospitality.

Once back on the boat we celebrated the birthday of one of the Quark staff, Dave. It was fun sitting with folks who have become close friends through traveling the world's polar regions together. Nothing like sharing a dinner with good folks.

Then it was back to Ilulissat, one of the most ice-filled paradises Sarah and I have ever visited. This visit offered more amazing views of icebergs, more whales, and yet another fantastic visit to the community there. This time when we saw the whales one of them was resting on the surface, taking a little cat nap I suppose. This time we were able to send off a few postcards while we were in town with a post, we
did a little bit of shopping, and enjoyed quite a nice coffee at a local shop. We also bought some sweet Danish coffee we have been drinking this week in Guam. After we left we had a fabulous dinner on deck to enjoy the wonderful view of icebergs.

When we left Ilulissat it was back across the Davis Straight towards the Canadian coastline. This time I was ready with the perfect motion sickness combination and was able to enjoy our entire day at sea. Sweet. Our evening ended with a fun party, but this time

a Welcome to Canada instead of Welcome to Greenland.  Different games, still red and white colors, and other silliness personified by sea swaggering goofiness. The pictures illustrate the fun times.

Can anyone say the word Qikiqtarjuak? Because that is the name of the next community we visited as we came out of the Davis Straight. Out of all our visits this was the only place that did not just overflow with crazy happiness when our boat of yellow-coated travelers descended upon this little community. Can you blame them? They were still great but they were not doing the happy dance.  A wonderfully peaceful town settled at the base of some hills near the water. While we were visiting I discovered some apple cinnamon cheerios and of course bought them as I had not seen any for years! Don't worry I checked the date on the box.

After hiking around town, visiting one of the local churches, and enjoying a beach with ice washed up onshore - it was super cool to walk down a beach with ice washed onshore - we zodiac-ed back aboard the boat to head for Sunneshine Fjord.

Can you name a place something better than Sunneshine Fjord?  Not only did it have a sweet name but it came with the opportunity to

jump off the boat and go for a hike. I was with the chargers who basically hike without really stopping to look at anything (seriously we missed an Arctic fox), and we busted our move up the mountain. What a great hike!   We kept trying to get to the ridge to look into the vast Arctic expanse but many false summits only led to more hills rolling off into the distance. So we turned back with downtrodden faces and left defeated. Next time mountain, next time.

In the evening we explored the fjord a little bit further in to see three different glaciers all depositing into one fjord! Not only were we in a fjord where maybe no one else had ever been, or maybe in a really long time, but as we explored one of our Quark experts spotted blows from some walrus. Walrus! One of the three Arctic creatures we kept looking for but who kept eluding us - narwhal, beluga, and

walrus. Sarah and I spotted the blows but we never saw any tooth walkers (as they are called at times) above water - argh. It was still pretty neat as now I know how to recognize them when they are hiding and only come up for a little bit of air. Crazy hiding walrus.

Well we did not see the walrus but the next day when we went to Cape Mercy we did see this... a female polar bear swimming in the water!!  Two of our zodiacs
were exploring and came upon a female polar bear backstroking through her own little cove. That's what they said anyway. By the time we got there she was swimming normally, looking at us, deciding what we were and what we were doing, and then swimming some more. Then she got out of the water and wandered off to her happily ever after.
Later as we were getting ready for a hike some bears wandered up on the other side of some water. Our zodiacs all came back to haul us off to complete safety but not before we got to see this magnificent momma bear and cub! Look at those beautifully fat and healthy looking specimens. Wow. This photo was shared with us by another traveler.

After seeing some awesome bears again I want to just end this post with while everyone is happy and thinking about polar bears. There is one more photo from beautiful Pangnirtung and then another up close shot of the female bear. Our little jaunt off into the Arctic was over and it was time to head back to Guam. Please go if you ever get a chance (to the Arctic or to Guam but especially the Arctic)! It is a magical wonderland of amazingness and awesome.

Our trip ended with a trip up the fjord past Pangnirtung. Look at those amazingly still waters and picturesque mountains!

There is a link at the bottom with more photos - including more polar bears and great landscapes. Make sure and take a look at the awesome pic a fellow passenger took of one of the bears.

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