After months of anticipation, all seven expedition members are finally united in Iqaluit. Inuit partners Theo Ikummaq, Simon Qamanirq, and Lukie Airut arrived right on time with 24 sled dogs in tow.
The group spent several hours shuttling the dogs and gear from the airport to the base camp and out onto the ice. The two large komatiq sleds were pushed to the house, where walrus, caribou, and seal meat were loaded in a makeshift outdoor freezer. Both Theo and Lukie’s wives and daughters make the trek from Iglulik as well to see the team off. The small base camp, which was quiet all week, began to buzz with activity.
After a busy afternoon, the team gathered in the evening for a pizza dinner at the Frobisher Inn. Conversation was lively, touching on expedition logistics, trail conditions, life in Iqaluit compared to the United States, and a host of other interesting topics. The team met bright and early the following morning to talk over the logistics of pack-out in more detail.
Spirits are high as the two groups get to know each other and learn about different styles and techniques. Contrasts can be seen between contemporary and traditional clothing (seal and caribou fur versus nylon and polar fleece), tools (knives and spears versus axes and saws), and dog gear (nylon harnesses with metal clips versus seal skin harnesses and bone toggles). Both groups seem eager to learn from the other while sharing their own knowledge of life on trail.
The team will spend the evening celebrating the expedition and upcoming departure at a dinner party hosted by polar explorer, Maddy McNair.