Friday, February 6, 2009
Paddle To The Ice Age
We all think about the coolest paddling trip, the one we'd love to make, if only we could! Like many people, every now and then, I have another look at my dream trip and try to work out the costs, logistics, partners, time-frame and so on. Each time, I reach a stumbling block, some factor which prevents the trip from actually happening. I'm beginning to think, however, that I'm coming to a point where either I have to get this trip on the road or give it up in favour of some other more practical trip given all the limitations this one has. So what's the trip, you ask?
Take a look at this Google Earth photo. The dominant feature is that blob of white. It's the Penny Ice cap sitting in the middle of Baffin Island, melting away faster than ever now that global climate change is with us. They claim this blob is the last of the giant ice cap which once covered much of North America. What a thrill it would be to walk up to it and touch it! Ten thousand years later this is all that's left and you can walk up and touch it. Imagine, your last chance to visit the fabled Ice Age!
Okay, now look to the southwest corner of the photo. The water you see is northern Foxe Basin, a great paddling venue, full of seals and walrus, ice pans and all sorts of ancient wonders worth visiting en route. The paddling distance from the nearest community is roughly 200 kms, about a week or so on the water. Now look at the coastline (best seen by clicking on the photo). There is a ruggedly indented shoreline which I've actually visited years ago during a caribou hunt. The landscape rolls gently as it slowly rises to the ice cap itself. The shortest route is about 70 kms, let's say 150 kms round trip.
Part of the adventure would be to arrive in July to give yourself time to build a skin-on-frame expedition qajaq and perhaps pick up some local Inuit up for the adventure. Given the prevailing ice conditions and other considerations, one ought to plan to begin paddling around the beginning of August to reach the Baffin coast sometime early in the second week. I'd give yourself about 10 days to get to the ice cap and then a few days to look around. Repeating this in reverse ought to see you back in the community around the end of the month or early September.
What a trip! What a story you'd have to tell! At the moment, I'm looking at heading out in 2010. What about you?