South Baffin Challenge
Dates: 16 days by contract
This challenging dog sledding expedition takes you from Iqaluit across the sea ice of Frobisher Bay and up 700 meters onto the Meta Incognita (the great unknown), the name given to this southernmost peninsula by Queen Elizabeth in 1578. Our route follows the ancient Inuit dog sledding trail through un-named valleys, traversing the undulating frozen tundra before descending into the Soper River Valley and Katannilik Park. We then follow the river valley to the small Inuit community of Kimmirut (Lake Harbour on older maps), where you are invited to homestay with an Inuit family for an unforgettable cultural experience. After a day to rest and explore Kimmirut, we head back to Iqaluit on the standard route.
For this trip you must be in very good physical condition and willing to embrace challenges. You will be expected to help harness large dogs bounding with exuberance, steer the dog sled which involves hopping off and on a moving sled, plus have the stamina and endurance to walk/jog up long hills and travel 6 to 8 hours a day in -20 to -35 C temperatures.
NorhWinds supplies a polar guide, all the group gear such as; tents, sleeping systems, food, dog sledding equipment, and stoves plus outerwear including expedition parka and pants, anorak with fur ruff, insulated boots and expedition over mitts. You will need to bring your long underwear fleecepants and jacket, socks and ski gloves & liners. (detailed list available
Day 1 Welcome to the Arctic
* NorthWinds will be at the airport to meet you when you touch down in Iqaluit.
* Then it is off to NorthWinds for a light lunch (they serve you a late brunch on the flight north), welcome and overview of the program. After lunch we review your clothing system and outfit you with NorthWinds outer clothes. We head down to the dog yard to introduce you to the dogs and take a short run out on Frobisher Bay to teach you the basics of driving a dog team. This also gives you the opportunity to test your clothing system.
* Dinner at NorthWinds followed by a slide show of a polar expedition.
* Ronnva's B & B
Day 2 Heading out on Expedition
* After a hearty breakfast, we rendezvous at NorthWinds to load the qomatiqs (Inuit style sleds) and learn to lash them down.
* Then it's down to the dog yard to anchor the sleds, lay out the traces and harness your enthusiastic dog team. When all teams are ready, we pull up the brakes and we're off! Hold on! The trail takes us out through the pressure ice, caused by our 11-meter tides, onto the smooth sea ice.
* We travel across Frobisher Bay to the NorthWinds hut on Ferris Island . After we tie-out & feed the dogs we move into our small cozy hut.
* Soon the stoves have warmed the hut and melted snow for hot drinks. Hors d'oeuvres, dinner, dessert and more hot drinks will follow.
Day 3 - 5 Up the Armshow River System
* From the cabin we head over the island and down on to the Bay Of Two Rivers, through tidal pressure ice and up on to land. The sledding will become more interactive as we must help the dogs by maneuvering and steering the sled. We will set up camp for the night and learn how to erect our group kitchen tent. This will be your first cozy night sleeping in a tent.
* We continue up the Armshow drainage for the next two days. This is an area where few have ever traveled. As we ascend the valley, through the mountains, we climb onto the highland plateau of the Meta Incognita Peninsula , the "great unknown."
Day 6-7 Over the Height of Land and Down the Joy River
* We hope for clear weather and good visibility when we cross over the height of land between the Armshow River and the Joy River drainage. Navigation can be difficult, as the landscape appears to be a vast white plane of indiscernible hills.
Day 8 Down into the Soper River valley
* Our big challenge for the day is to descend either down the Joy canyon, where we will need to lower the sleds on ropes over ice falls, or take a route around the canyon and down the ‘elevator shaft'.
* A few kilometers below the canyon, the Joy River joins the Soper River under the immense rock face called Kiinaujaq . From here the Soper River widens and sledding requires little steering. We can layback and relax as we sled through the most spectacular scenery in Katannalik Park .
* We camp at the large Katannalik Park Group Shelter in the heart of Katannalik Park .
Day 9 Lay-over day
* After our hard climb over the Meta Incognita Peninsula we take a layover day at the Group Shelter. We can sleep in, hike up Mt. Moore or take the opportunity to compose photos.
* Note: This is an extra day in the event that we become storm-bound along the route.
Day 10 To Kimmirut
* A long day of dog sledding brings us to Kimmirut; a picturesque Inuit community snuggled in the head of a long narrow fiord.
* After meeting the Inuit family that you "homestay" with,
Day 11 Rest day in Kimmiruit
* After breakfast we head out to explore the town. There is a Northern Store (the old Hudson Bay Company fur trading post), the Kimmik Co-op store, the Katannilik Park visitor center and a quaint old church. Kimmirut is known for it's many famous Inuit carvers. On your walk about town you may see a carver shaping soapstone (serpentine) into the magical forms of dancing polar bears, walrus and birds.
Day 12 Return Journey up Soper River
* An early start heads us back up the Kimmirut Trail to camp at the Group Shelter.
Day 13 Climb out of Soper River Valley
* Our route now takes the standard route back over the Meta Incognita Peninsula . This is a hard day as we climb 2,000 ft. out of the Soper River Valley to camp at the High Land Shelter, a very small emergency shelter.
Day 14 Over the Peninsula
* We travel over the undulating high lands and drop down Windy Ravine to Shelter #2.
Day 15 Back to Iqlauit
* We have some very challenging descents before reaching the sea ice. A long haul across Frobisher Bay brings us home to Iqaluit.
* At the dog yard we say goodbye to our furry team-mates and push the sleds up to NorthWinds to unload before heading off to your hotel for showers.
* We celebrate our adventure with a farewell dinner.
* Ronnva's B & B
Day 16 Homeward Bound
* In the morning we show you around Iqaluit
* There is time to shop for art, gifts and souvenirs.
* A goodbye lunch will be served at NorthWinds.
* We will check you in to the airport and you will have the rest of the afternoon to explore Iqaluit.
* Depart for Ottawa .
NOTE: There are a number of route options between Iqaluit to Kimmirut. We may choose an alternate route depending on the snow conditions, weather and group. Each route offers it's own challenges and all have spectacular scenery.