What an incredible journey so far. This will be just a brief travel update, as I can already tell writing about this trip may get quite lengthy.
"The purpose of a journey is to experience those things that can’t be explained and to forge the memories that will never be forgotten, the ones that change you forever." - Alex Messenger
After a beautiful flight over the southern Gulf Islands from Victoria, I arrived to a hot, dry afternoon in scenic Whitehorse, YT. Here, I stayed in a cute, modern B&B called the Midnight Sun Inn (highly recommend for your next Yukon vacation by the way). They sure live up to the name - I had reading light by the sun in my window until almost 11:30pm! I spent the evening exploring trails along the raging Yukon River near town and visiting historic sites before meeting up with a friend from Thompson Rivers University who is a long-time Yukoner. She showed me around town, stopping for dinner and drinks at a couple wonderful local establishments, before heading for a walk near the city's hydroelectric dam. With the Yukon experiencing record high water levels, the dam was raging with power - what a cool sight to see!
The next morning was an early rise, my flight departing at 7:30am. After a brief stop in Dawson, YT, it was straight over the Ogilvie Mountains and Richardson Mountains, before popping out over the Mackenzie River Delta and cruising into Inuvik, NT. To finally view these landscapes with my own eyes rather than flying around on Google Earth actually stroke quite an emotional response that I wasn't anticipating. After years of desiring this experience and months of working hard to make it happen, it feels surreal to finally be up here. Located 200km north of the Arctic Circle, Inuvik is located only 100km from the Arctic Ocean. In this area of the world, there are about 56 days/year of continuous sunlight and 30 days of polar night in the winter. Right now, it doesn't get truly dark here, however there is a sunset (12:50am) and sunrise (5:20am) - in between is just dusky. As I described in my earlier post, Inuvik is one of four communities located in the Gwich'in Settlement Area, while also being captured by the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Since it's development in 1953, it has been the hub city of the region.
"I want to know it all, experience it all, embrace the scene intimately, deeply, totally" - Edward Abbey
After checking in at my cabin where I'll be staying this first week, it was off the explore around the community. I have a good friend living in Inuvik, also from my TRU days, who I will be staying with the final two weeks of the trip. Rachel and I met up in the afternoon and toured around town some more before picking up some groceries. It was incredible to see the community and hear the history and stories from a life-long resident, and I am so grateful to A) see my great friend after many years and B) have that local connection in the community. The buildings here are all built on elevated foundations such as concrete pilings, due to the permafrost. There is a lot of really interesting architecture around town, including the church which is shaped like an igloo!
After turning in around 9:00pm last night, I enjoyed a solid 10 hours of much needed sleep, and I am now sitting in the morning light in my cabin, enjoying a warm coffee and writing about the journey so far. As I write this, I can hear a not-so-distant howl of the sled dogs (white huskies) kenneled on this property. There is a lake by the cabin that I plan to paddle, with plenty of walking trails nearby. The Mackenzie river is just a 5 minute walk down the end of the road as well. Last night I saw a Coast Guard ship travelling along it! This afternoon I'm heading out on the Tundra in search of aqpik (or cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus) with a local biologist.
So far, all is well and safe. I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to be here.