Friday, July 5, 2019

Arctic Vacation, Arriving Arctic Watch Lodge, Somerset Island, Canada: July 5, 2019

After our week at the Arctic Watch Lodge
This is our vacation to mark milestones: our 30th wedding anniversary and my 65th birthday. Our few days at Arctic Watch were truly memorable and so fun. Dan called it "Adult Summer Camp" and it was all that and more. We had daily science based field trips. We hiked, kayaked, rode E-Bikes, and drove ATVs. Our meals were beautifully presented and oh so good. Breakfast offered lodge-made granola, yogurt, breads as well as other savory or sweet breakfast offerings. Dinners were also impressive with entrees like fresh trout from Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife, prime rib, baked ham, bison steaks, pork as well as creative salads and delicious desserts. Lunches in the field always included a tasty soup. There was an espresso machine with a lovely barista. Playing all day and consuming delicious foods that I didn't have to cook makes a great vacation. If not for our cats, I definitely would have signed up for another week.

The charter flight on Summit Air flew us 1500 km/932 mi from Yellowknife, Canada, to Somerset Island located above the Arctic Circle in the territory of Nunavut.


From the plane the ice pack was looked fractured and very much like a maze with small and large canals between sheets of ice.


From above, Somerset Island is muted shades of brown with patches of snow still lingering.




Even though the landing strip is packed dirt and gravel, our landing was smooth.


To get to the lodge, we walked a bit before jumping into rafts for a river crossing and a hill climb up to Arctic Watch Lodge.


Arctic Watch Lodge with the airstrip in the distance
"I am the Walrus, Goo goo g'joob"
Even though there are no walruses this far north, our rubber-walled cabin was the "Walrus." We had a queen-sized bed, a sink with running water, and a marine-type toilet. The bed had fleece sheets and a very warm, heavy quilt. There was also a portable heater to take off the morning/evening chill. There were no lights as during the six or so weeks Arctic Watch Lodge operates, it is never dark. Despite the comforts of our Walrus cabin, most of our down time was spent in the roomy, comfortable lodge great room equipped with WiFi (courtesy of and at the mercy of roaming satellites), comfortable chairs, a library, and heat.

We arrived to warm weather and cloudless skies.

Looking toward Cunningham Inlet, Gifford Point, and the Northwest Passage beyond
Polar experts Josée Auclair and her husband, Richard Weber, along with their two sons, Tessum and Nansen run Arctic Watch Lodge. Richard Weber completed five expeditions to the North Pole. During one of those expeditions he was accompanied by his oldest son Tessum (https://www.weberarctic.com/about). In addition to the impressive Weber family, there are at least 12 other staff members working as guides, two chefs, kitchen staff, housekeeping, mechanics--people necessary to keep such a remote location running smoothly. During our stay at Arctic Watch Lodge, there were a total of 15 guests from The Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and US.

Muskoxen Skulls

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