Northern Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada

Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
Willis,
Since you asked, here is a brief trip report on that trip a friend and I took in July-August 2010. We wanted to experience paddling the arctic and meeting the people that have lived there for generations. We chose the hamlet of Pond Inlet at the northern part of Baffin Island in eastern Canada as our starting point because it had scheduled flights AND was pretty far north. It is 430 miles above the Arctic Circle and near the eastern end of the Northwest Passage. We paddled folding kayaks (Feathercraft K-1 Expedition and my friend was in a Feathercraft Khatsalano, the wrong boat for him for a couple of reasons). Sorry, but canoes would have been the wrong boats for these waters which can get rough very quickly and had open water crossings. I actually practised rolling the fully loaded kayak which included deck gear and was surprised to find it rolled more easily loaded than empty! These kayaks travel well on planes and are tough as nails. We researched, planned and prepared for this trip for seven months. We were to spend 21 days out on the land paddling Eclipse Sound and west. We were each carrying about 200 lbs of food and gear. This may seem like a lot (it was!) but we needed winter gear, weapons and ammo (polar bear country) and four weeks of food which accounted for 60 lbs each ( I still lost 15 lbs in 21 days.) We had an extensive first aid kit, general repair kit, a dry bag of 10 small battery powered infrared motion detectors to set up an early warning perimeter around camp so we could sleep without standing watch (did you know the male polar bear is considered the largest land carnivore?), SAT phone, a SPOT to track our position for the entertainment of the folks back home. The ice broke up about a week before we flew up there so we had the opportunity to paddle in pack ice and see icebergs. I have a photo presentation in Picassa that I prepared for a few presentations I have given, all captioned, that pretty much tells the story. Here it is:
https://picasaweb.google.com/101178211036772879744/2010JulyBAFFINISLAND#
I'd go again in a minute!! It was great.
Enjoy
Dave

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Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Messages
105
Location
SE MI
What an expedition. That looks like it was a lot of fun. Nice report and great photos. Thanks for posting.
 
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Holy smoke! And WOW! What a trip. It gave me chills and from the looks of all that ice, it likely gave you chills too.
 
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Dave, I just got back from a walk and was thinking about your trip the whole time. The logisitics, the requisite courage, the remoteness, and the required sturdiness are just so impressive. I love the pics too.
 
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I have some questions:

Yes, you had weapons, but you still sleep uneasily at night? Did you hear sounds that had you thinking bear? How many hours did you spend paddling most days and how many just watching? What do miss most?
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
137
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Many thanks Dave. Sea kayaking from Pond Islet is on my 2014 list. Any tidbits you'd like to share with me and the members?
Ted
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
137
Location
Ottawa, Canada
I'd rather do this trip solo, so I'm quite interested in those battery operated bear alarms. Were they expensive, brand name, are they somewhat rain proof, that kind of thing would be helpful.
Were folding kayaks the only available option and, if yes, how did they stand up to pushing ice, shore landings and bergy bits. I read in your great photo album that one of them developed a leak.
I notice that the few expeditors that do yak trips out of Pond Islet do not demand dry or paddling suits yet you guys seemed to have wore them all the time. So your photos changed my mind and I'll take mine with fleece long johns underneath - I have the feeling that the water might be a tad cold :)
Cheers Ted
 
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@ Shearwater

I'm so impressed by all the places you've paddled. There's a line in your blog that's worth remembering where you recognize the dwindling time remaining to you and paddling is how you want to spend it.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
137
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Hey thekat, thanks for the cudos but really, compared to my tripping heroes like George Luste, I'm still a newbie and beginner.
cheers, Ted
 
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Ah, Ted, there's always someone who's paddled more than us, but that doesn't diminish your gumption. Gumption is good.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
Thekat and Shearwater,
Thanks for the enthusiastic comments and questions. Thekat---sleeping at first was tough, 24 hr daylight, sounds, quiet, etc. I guess I slept the whole time with one ear open. we had the motion detectors placed around the perimeter of camp and the first time one went off .....well, it got the adrenaline pumping. Birds set them off, an arctic hare set one then another off. We decided to take two tents for two reasons: redundancy in case something happened to one tent we both could use the remaining tent; and to spread the bait around. Polar bears sometimes pounce on a tent. if we were both in the same tent there was a good chance of not getting out. At least there was another tent with the other guy with a weapon to scare the bear away (or kill it if necessary). My buddy had a slug loaded 12 GA in his tent and I had the .444 Marlin rifle. When we broke camp or were setting up camp we left one weapon up at the camp and one by the kayaks as we trudged back and forth carrying gear. We spent anywhere from 2 hrs to 8 hrs a day paddling but didn't paddle every day. We took some hikes inland on the tundra (tough walking) and just took in the magnificent scenery. We didn't get as far as we had wanted to but had a great time anyway. Shearwater-- research and plan ahead. Plane tickets got more expensive the closer you got to the date you wanted. We made reservations in Feb for a July25 flight to Ottawa then to Iqaluit and smaller plane to Pond Inlet. we spent 3 weeks out paddling and living on the land. The Feathercraft folding kayak that leaked was 25 yrs old. Mine was impressive--the best expedition folders in my opinion. This is not canoe country. The water is deadly cold. The one company that offers a trip there (Black feather) is nuts not requiring dry suits. They require them on their Mountain River canoe trip but not 430 miles above the arctic circle on water that was solid ice a week previous. The ice broke up around 19 July and we arrived 26 July. One day about a week into it the pack ice had drifted back in and was so thick we didn't know if we could make it through. The motion detectors were about $20 apiece and we had 10 or 12 to give overlapping coverage. I bought them online (just google "motion detectors") They were designed for people to use in hotel rooms. I put a plastic sandwich bag over each as a raincoat and tested a couple in my back yard to see how long the batteries would last. One set did the whole trip just fine. I left them up there with a fellow who was helpful to us. Since my computer died I lost all the website info on who I got them from ( as well as all my equipment lists--arghhhh!!). You could do it solo but having an extra person as backup makes too much sense. It is remote, it can be dangerous, you have to be aware and thinking all the time. If one of us wasn't comfortable with something we didn't do it. It worked for us. I'd be glad to give you more info when the time comes.

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