Northwest Passage

July 18, 2017

This was to be our last day at Arctic Watch Lodge—weather permitting, as we well knew! But the weather prediction said there was no chance of our being stranded here today.

Today there were two half-day excursions on offer, one to the Northwest Passage and the other to view the belugas. We’d already been down to watch the belugas a few times and we hadn’t gone to the Northwest Passage before, so we signed up for that one. After breakfast we teamed up with Terry and Karen and went in the Honda 4-seater ATV. Terry liked driving and he was very good, so he drove in both directions.

ATVs at the Northwest Passage

ATVs at the Northwest Passage

The route was mostly familiar to us, up and down over the gravel plains. We stopped at the Thule artifact site again, and then continued on to Polar Bear Point, which was at the end of the inlet. Everyone who had done the trip before told us to expect very strong cold winds when we got to the Passage, but to our delight we had no wind, only blue sky and sunshine. And the people who had done the trip before were also surprised at how little ice was left along the shore.

Old ice floes

Old ice floes

Playing on the ice floes

Playing on the ice floes

We spent about half an hour at the point enjoying ourselves. We saw some polar bear footprints in the snow which were probably about three days old, and there were no live polar bears to be seen. On the way back to the lodge we stopped to watch the belugas frolicking in the estuary. Luckily we were close enough to get some photos of them spy-hopping, which we hadn’t previously seen.

Polar bear footprints

Polar bear footprints

Spy-hopping beluga

Spy-hopping beluga

Back at the lodge the wind was howling and it was very cold. But lunch was ready: a great-tasting potato, bacon, and fish chowder followed by bison burgers. No complaints about the food here!

Arctic Watch guiding crew

Arctic Watch guiding crew

At about 2 pm we all went out to the airstrip to wait for the plane. Unlike the day we had arrived, today was blue sky and sunshine, so waiting for the plane wasn’t too bad. By now we had all learned that a Unimog makes a great windbreak! The next group arrived, the plane was unloaded, then our bags were loaded, and finally we climbed on board. We were definitely sad to leave, especially on such a nice day.

Goodbye to Arctic Watch!