One other activity during the day of arrival in Resolute!

August 7, 2010

Just as well all of the photos taken have the date and time recorded since I almost forgot one other thing I did on the day we arrived in Resolute.  I took a hike up the hillside that forms the backdrop for Resolute.
Apart from wanting to get some exercise I also had a mission in mind, looking up at the Inukshuk I figured it had the potential for being a virtual geocache site. If you do not know what that is, check out :0)
So off I went, heading up a rather steep “slope” to the Inukshuk – the rest of the story being told by the following pictures. As for the meaning/purpose of the Inukshuk (..some spell it Inuksuk), it’s best to Google it and check out the various “opinions” for yourself. The Wick say things like “The inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache.”

Almost to the top of the ridge with the Inukshuk drawing closer

Wow, what a great shot of my foot :). You can see the "South Camp Inn" through the Inukshuk - I would have called this virtual cache "Aziz's Place" and to log it would have required the geocacher to take a photo with his/her foot in it - Alas, after submitting the cache I was abruptly informed by the monitor that virtual cache's are no longer permitted 😦

This shot alone made the climb up the ridge worth the effort, it gives a super overview of the hamlet of Resolute, NU. Note also how great the weather was - clear skies which could not be better for flying and +14C!! -- and NO flies!!!

I do not have a name for this "block of rocks" but someone obviousely took a lot of time and trouble to build it. I came across it as I wandered around "up there" -- and, oh yes, what a great photo of my shadow too 🙂

On the way down and another good view point of Resolute and Resolute Bay

Beauty abounds in the rocks and the fragile life they help to support

Beauty in the detail!

Somehow I do not suppose a graduating class are responsible for this one 🙂

A Canada Day to remember, the preceding blog, a flight from Cambridge Bay NWT to Resolute NU and a trip up to the Inukshuck, provide an overview of one day’s activity – and there was lots more that I have not covered!


An afternoon in Resolute, NU

August 2, 2010

If you ever consider visiting Resolute, or any other place in the close vicinity for that matter, be sure to make contact with Aziz Kheraj, known all over Nunavut as Ozzi!

Aziz originated from Tanzania, is married to an Inuit Polar bear hunting guide and has resided in Resolute for 32 years – he has a very talented daughter too. More than that, it would seem that Aziz’s entrepreneurial spirit has had a BIG influence on how business is done in Resolute, he owns the “South Camp Inn”, this is where we stayed and I would not hesitate to recommend it to others, has the cleaning contract for the “Northern Inn”, supplies fuel at the airport, has building contracts, stuff like that – and oh yes, was once the Mayor of Resolute.

Of much greater consequence however, Aziz is a very nice guy who helps you any way he can. I made contact with him last winter during the planning stages of this trip and made arrangements with him for fuelling GDOV at Resolute and Eureka. Without that the trip would not have been possible.

Anyhow, Aziz greeted us at Resolute airport and after we had secured the plane, anchored it to the gravel with our “claw” that is, he drove us to the “South Camp Inn” where, upon arrival, he invited us to choose two of the empty rooms upstairs and check ourselves in, which we did.

The drive from the "airport" to Resolute

It just so happened that we arrived just in time for the Resolute Canada Day Parade which was going to assemble down at the waters edge (..still hard to grasp the fact that it is the Arctic Ocean!) so off Jacques and I went heading in the direction that Aziz had told us to go. Not that any place is far to go in Resolute.

Jacques checking out the ice - it's melting

NOTE: Temperature today 14C!!!  — That’s PLUS (+) fourteen degrees Celsius!!

Looking back at Resolute from the Bay

Can you see the team of huskies?

Here comes the Canada Day Parade

In amongst the rocks is plant life

OK, name this plant 🙂

It is amazing to see plants growing out of what would seem to be a barren assortments of rocks, but if you look where you tread you will be sure to see them all around.

The leader of the Canada Day Parade in Resolute arrives - the fire truck loaded with happy kids!

Happy Inuit children - so easy to please!

The kids tumble off the fire truck to join the Canada Day Celebration

Watching the Inuit residents of Resolute Bay fly the Canadian flag, and looking so happy, left me wondering what it is they had to rejoice. Now please do not get me wrong, I am proud to be Canadian and love our country, but knowing how these people were treated by our Government does not sit very well with me. Maybe I should study the history some more but as I understand it I was watching the descendants of families moved from their homes in northern Quebec to a place that was uninhabited, in the name of establishing Canadian sovereignty in the region. And to think this happened as recently as 1952.

There are no trees in this neck of the rocks so an improvised wind breaker was put together from, presumerably, an old shipping crate.

An Inuit mother, with one of her children carried on her back, head for the nearby river

Many of the children head to the river to what is presumerably a normal practice this time of the year

Yep, something must be going on down at the river -- something like our New Years Polar Bear dip?

Inuit kids are oh soi cute -- and this one is not so sure about the dip :0)

Now that must feel cold - even for an Inuit!


This little tot is heading back to the party wind breaker

....but not all are ready to leave the river


It's party time!

I felt privileged, in a way, to have been able to observe and take pictures of this gathering of Inuit people. We had lots of smiles sent our way by the children, and the adults where very friendly too, but somehow you could feel their indifference towards you and just knew you did not belong. Having said that, we did have the opportunity to talk with some of them in a different setting and it was evident that they had a great sense of humour, a sense of humour that reflected knowing that we would have a tough time just to survive in their environment, a sense of humour that poked fun at us in their stories. What they may not have realised is that we knew they were doing it.

Tending a team of huskies

We chatted with a fellow who worked at the Resolute airport, his Japanes wife is shown in the picture, and he told us that he and his wife are looking after a team of huskies for a Japanese adventurer who will be traveling from Greenland to Alaska, alone. The team of huskies in the picture will be shipped to Greenland in the winter to meet up with him – oh boy, his life will depend on these huskies!

The team of huskies (13 in this team) are kept apart by tethering them to a chain that is spread out and anchored to the ground.

Now this is the real thing - a working husky dog

Much stronger than they look

I had heard stories about how dangerous huskies can be but was reassured that you will not come across a mean husky because if they showed that trait they would be shot!!

Looks like this fella was late for the parade - quite the set up! 🙂

Be careful where you tread or you might destroy something beautiful that barely hangs onto life

This bike has seen better days 😉

The Resolute Fire Truck can now return to standby status

Norm waiting for the tide to come in?

Photo op 🙂

The South Camp Inn

Resolute RCMP headquarters

Now you know how to spell STOP in Inuit

Hide stretching Inuit style

Our chef at the Inn - and a mighty fine chef at that

Jacque's trophies

Wanna box with me?

As you can see, I'm just a cuddly teddy bear at heart

No wonder my mind needed to be unravelled after getting back home from this trip – this is just the third day – and only two nights since leaving Echo Valley Ranch – and oh so many experiences!! Tomorrow we plan to head for Eureka, weather is looking great for the flight so it will soon be time to move on again.

The flight from Cambridge Bay NWT to Resolute NU

July 24, 2010

Now how many people have spent Canada Day in the North West Territories and the Arctic, on the same day, not too many is my guess but that is what we did this July 1st, 2010.

Today we left Cambridge Bay, NWT, bright and early and set off in exceptionally good weather for Resolute, NU. The flight would be of three hours duration and take us from Victoria Island, across Prince of Whales Island, over sections of the Arctic Ocean and down to Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island.

This blog will just cover the flight to Resolute and use pictures to try and convey just how incredible it was to have had the opportunity to fly over such a different land. The three hour trip has embedded itself into my memory and I can easily let my mind drift over the experience time and time again – it was a wonderful experience!

There are MANY lakes scattered around the tundra and in the unlikely event of there being an engine failure the plan was to pick one and land on the water (..or ice) as close to the shoreline as I could. Even without floats, this would be a better alternative to landing on the tundra which is by no means as flat as it may look.

The first glimpse of the Arctic Ocean lays ahead

The coast line of Victoria Island is now behind us and we are flying over a frozen section of the Arctic Ocean

The flight took us over ice that from time to time showed dark sections which we figured must have been silt that flowed onto the top of the ice from water coming from rivelets discharging into the ocean from some of the Islands - not sure though :0)

This was not unexpeted - we lost the HDG (Heading) function due to large magnetic variations after passing beyond the 65th parallel.

With no HDG function, and a compass that is also influenced by our location, we must now navigate by charts and GPS only.

The GPS and moving map display continued to function like a charm making navigation very easy. We kept an eye on how the entered waypoints matched up with what we saw on the land as we passed over them, just to be sure, all was well however so no difficulties encountered.

This is a large "esker" - you can Google it to find out more about these :0)

The north side of the Prince of Whales Island is ahead and the start of another section of the Arctic Ocean

You've just gotta luv that moving map display :0)

Heading back out over the Arctic Ocean - we had a life raft and hypothermia protection clothing but crossing over these stretches of the journey would have the worse consequences by far if we had an engine failure!

Flying over the Arctic Ocean and seeing the ice breaking up and open water becoming apparent was a beautiful sight to see - and the engine purred along ;0)

It was interesting to note that there was more open water to the north of Prince of Whales Island than to the south of it?

....wonderful to see

I took dozens of pictures of the ice/water - this will be the last one for this blog though 🙂

Cornwallis Island is within view now with Resolute Bay not far away.

Yep, there's an airport down there - can you see it? :0)

I've got my sites on it now ......


FINAL APPROACH -- Resolute airport, CYRB!!

Bloody 'ell, a Boeing 737 - and just look at the dust it is blowiing up!

Inuit Air waiting for GDOV to taxi by

GDOV shut down so that it would not suck up the apron!!!!

This just has to be as bad as volcanic ash from the Iceland volcano!!

At Vancouver International airport they would make a big deal about the dangers of having a baggage strap fall off on the runway and being sucked into the jet turbines - out here, planes taking off on loose gravel runways is par for the course!!!


One last picture, in sequence, of the jet encounter as Inuit Air guns the engine and backtracks down the runway for take off!

After being met by Aziz we take the road to the hamlet of Resolute, NU, the subject of the next blog.

Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay – still Day 2

July 18, 2010

So here we are in Yellowknife tucked out of the way of the main terminal and waiting for the Shell fuel truck to drive over and fill our tanks. We take the time to go over to the main terminal and on the drive over memories of the dreaded green eyed monster are brought back to mind by Jacques. On a previous trip up to Cambridge Bay we had stopped to do some pike fishing and while I was poking around the waters edge I saw this green eyed monster bobbing up and down inside a hole in the bank of the river. I brought Jacques over to see this creature and he thought I was kidding, it was simply a greenish coloured bottle with the bottom facing outwards, bobbing in the water with the sun glistening off it!

Lunch in the terminal was nothing special but OK.
I wondered around the arrivals area and took some pictures of what must once have been a magnificent Polar bear; huge and incredibly powerful looking, the taxidermist had done a superb job.

A magnificent Polar bear shown on an ice flow waiting for a seal to pop up its head.

Cambridge Bay is about a three and a half hour flight from Yellowknife and the weather is looking like good VFR conditions all the way. If it was not we would have been staying in Yellowknife until conditions looked suitable.
For this leg I did have a number of options if the weather was to change rapidly. I had been in communication with a pilot that flew regularly between Yellowknife and Cam Bay, as he called it. He had given me the coordinates of many emergency landing spots that are not on the charts, trade secrets as it were.

OK, GDOV is full of fuel, flight plan filed and away we go. The flight path was right on track for the whole flight, no deviations required this time, Over the top of ten entered waypoints at 9,500ft altitude, including distinguishable lakes, Ekati (CYOA) which is the landing strip for a BIG diamond mine, crossed Bathurst Inlet then an ADIZ line (Air Defence Identification Zone), Over Doris lake (CDL7) and finally down to Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, 460 NM in total.

The terrain was quite low and relatively flat now

Lots of lakes showing up

The PFD (Primary Flight Display) for GDOV

The moving map display for GDOV, a superb navigational aid!!

Endless miles of sparsely inhabited land

First leg of the journey complete as we taxi towards Cambridge Bay airport

A stuffed Muskox on display in the arrivals area of the airport

Upon arrival at CB our first priority was to secure GDOV, which we did with a super product called a “Claw”, an anchor that is secured by driving three pins/claw at an angle pointing toward the center, into the gravel, the result being the harder you pulled on the “Claw” the harder it would grip. Having done this our next chore was to refuel GDOV from 40 Imp Gallon drums of fuel and to do this it was necessary to contact “Renee”, who I had been in contact with earlier, since he had agreed to let us use his fuel pump.

It turned out that Renee was VERY helpful, not only did he let us use his  pump, but he also brought the drums of fuel to us and after we filled GDOV he drove us to the Northern Inn where we would be staying for the night! Incidentally, we also found out that Renee and his brother had the contract to supply all of Shell’s fuel at both Cambridge Bay and Yellowknife.

Renee brings over two drums of fuel for GDOV

Norm posing for a picture, pumping fuel from the drum into GDOV :0)

Today we had flown for seven hours but it is of course still light, it will be for the next seven days. After checking into the “Inn’ and eating a meal left for us in our rooms we took a fast walk around town, we intended to stop over in CB on the way back so did not do much exploring this time around.

Across the river are the remains of a Roman Catholic churh

Can you see the huskies - they are the real thing - as are the skidoos :0)

Lots of supplies/materials arrive in one of these

Then to bed for a good sleep before pushing further north to Resolute the next day.

The view, late at night, from my bedroom window

Day 2, Fort St John to Cambridge Bay

July 17, 2010

It is day two and it was not our plan to still be in Fort St John, a mere 2 hour twenty minute flight from home base. However, the plan was to let our schedule be dictated by weather conditions so on that account we are on track. The weather factor also meant that the trip length could be much longer than we really wanted it to be hence the understanding that we had no date set that we must be back by; without that understanding it is on the cards that we would not be returning in GDOV :0).

The ideal plan, if weather did not become an issue, was to get to Eureka NU as quickly as possible and then spend two to three days, on the way back, at Eureka, Grise Fiord, Resolute and Cambridge Bay. Yellowknife did not rate very highly since, for this trip, it is basically just another city compared to the other more northerly places.

After breakfast I checked the weather observations reported on the Nav Canada Aviation Website, a first class service may I add, and looked at the General Area Forecast (GAF) for the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and the METAR and TAF for Yellowknife and Fort Simpson. After consulting with the Nav Canada weather specialist, who also provide a first class, make that excellent, service, I decided to file a flight plan to Fort Simpson and leave the option open to change the plan by radio if weather conditions for Yellowknife looked more favourable after we had flown closer.

As you may have gathered, it was less than ideal conditions at Yellowknife, with actual conditions upon arrival, three hours plus after departing Fort St John, being unpredictable. There was the trailing edge of a weather system that we would be flying besides, to the east, and good VFR conditions to the west through to Fort Simpson.

It is absolutely necessary to have options when flying and the fact that they diminish rapidly the further north you fly is not comforting, we did have options however so the trip was still inside my comfort level, the edge getting closer the further north we would be flying.

For this leg we had lots of options which included 6 hours 30 minutes of fuel, weather reporting for Fort St John and Yellowknife displayed on GDOV’s Garmin 1000 “glass cockpit” system which let us see each step of the way how airport visibility conditions developed,  good weather conditions in the direction of Fort Simpson (albeit that it was off our planned track), GPS (Global Positioning System) that enabled us to always know exactly where we was even when we had to modify our course to stay out of clouds. The GPS and following the VNC charts was indispensible especially since I was following the edge of the weather system rather than fly direct to Fort Simpson, in the hope that we would be able to slip into Yellowknife.
When I filed my flight plan I advised the weather specialist of my intention although finding GDOV, if we had a premature landing, would not be an issue, GDOV is equipped with the latest ELT (Emergency Location Transmitter) that transmits the longitude and latitude to SARS (Search and Rescue Service) of GDOV when it is turned on either by myself or upon impact.

The terrain north of Fort St John levels out and unlike flying in the mountains you can deviate off your course without having to concern yourself about smacking into one of them. As it turned out, by the time we had reached about 20 nautical miles east of Fort Providence the weather ahead looked like we could change our plan and head directly towards Yellowknife, this we did and after radioing in to change our flight plan we pressed on, flew across the north arm of Great Slave lake and down into Yellowknife for what would be a brief fuel stop before proceeding to Cambridge Bay.

Sorry, no pictures taken this morning, but started to take them on the ground and in-flight for the rest of the trip. I guess getting to Yellowknife still did not feel like heading north (3.5 hour flight from Fort St John) – that was to change though :0).