Well, its been three years since my last visit but I’m back up in Pond Inlet, Nunavut; this time for a full floe edge season running a tourist camp on the sea ice. We’ve spent a couple days loading up qamutiks, arctic sleds towed by snowmobiles, and sending equipment out to the cache. Tomorrow, we’ll probably head out and start erecting tents and hooking things up.
Pond Inlet is a community of about two thousand people set in one of the nicest locations in the arctic. The Inlet itself separates the community from Bylot Island to the north, most of which is covered by Sirmilik National Park. The midnight sun drifts along a line of rugged mountains and three glaciers streaming into the ocean. On the frozen ice between Bylot and town, dog teams, winter camps and qamutiks dot the ice. Spring is just starting here and this temporary ice community will only grow in the coming weeks.
Baffin Island itself is a pretty impressive place, the Arctic Cordillera runs along its western coast (actually most of Baffin) and snow-covered jagged peaks lead right up to the ocean. A nice floe edge, the place where the sea ice meets the open water, can be found in several places along its coast. The floe edge becomes a gathering place of sorts in the spring and early summer. Narwhal, bowhead whales, belugas, seals and polar bears patrol the ice edge, most of them drawn by the productivity of plankton in the sun-drenched waters.
The sun will not set until mid-July and as the temperatures gradually ‘warm’ the ice edge will retreat closer to town, marking a series of floe edges accessible to tourists and local hunters. The local arctic economy still really relies on ‘country foods’ and skins harvested from animals along the floe edge, mostly seals. Pond Inlet will be a busy place for the next couple months.