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Great view of Mt. Thor from a distance
Great view of Mt. Thor from a distance

Across the Arctic Circle on Foot on Baffin Island

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My introduction to Baffin Island wasn’t a warm one – as far as the temperature was concerned. And it didn’t really get much better for several days. Fortunately though the scenery did. Our plan was to hike along the Weasel River to the high point at Akshayuk Pass by Summit Lake, crossing the Arctic Circle in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island in the process.

Although distances were short, the hiking was slow because of the 50 – 60 pound loads we were carrying. Most days we did only 10 or 11 kilometres – a few hours outing if I’m hiking normally in the mountains – but the better part of a day with a load.

Heading out - on the beach for starters
Heading out – on the beach for starters

What it’s like to backpack in Auyuittuq National Park

From the Weasel River to the high point at Akshayuk Pass by Summit Lake it would take us about a week. Our days fell into a rhythm pretty quickly. Coffee at 7:45 AM, breakfast at 8 AM and hiking by between 9 and 9:30 AM. We’d stop for lunch around noonish with lots of boulder breaks to rest our bodies along the way.

Most days we’d finish between 4 PM and 5 PM. Then we’d set up the tents. We all had that down to a fine art in a hurry. Inside the roomy tent everything had its place too – or you’d be hunting for stuff all the time.

Here’s a look at some Baffin Island scenery – all of it in Auyuittuq National Park.

Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island offers a view up the Weasel River towards Mount Overlord
A view up the Weasel River towards Mount Overlord
Dinner the first night - notice how many clothes Natalie our guide is wearing
Dinner the first night – notice how many clothes Natalie our guide is wearing
Juxtaposition of sand on the moraines and ice
Juxtaposition of sand on the moraines and ice
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island you pass ice covered Crater Lake
An ice covered Crater Lake
Hikers looking for a way across the river
Hikers looking for a way across the river
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island doesn't have much elevation change but heavy loads
Not much elevation change but heavy loads
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island requires fording icy streams
Fording an icy stream in Auyuittuq National Park
A small tarn above Windy Lake is bathed in sunshine on Day 3
A small tarn above Windy Lake is bathed in sunshine on Day 3
You're more likely to drown in the park's rivers than kill yourself on Mt Thor - or any other mountain in the park
You’re more likely to drown in the park’s rivers than kill yourself on Mt Thor – or any other mountain in the park
Tents are dwarfed by the mountains in this landscape
Tents are dwarfed by the mountains in this landscape

Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island

Somewhere around here – we will have crossed the Arctic Circle at a latitude of 66 degrees and 33½ minutes. That means that on June 21st  any point above it has 24 hours of sunlight and on December 21st and point above it has 24 hours of darkness.

Hardy wildflowers and one of the 97 types of lichen
Hardy wildflowers and one of the 97 types of lichen
Mount Thor sits in the background
Mount Thor sits in the background
My share of the food to carry
My share of the food to carry
Michele doing dishes; it was a good way to warm up your hands
Michele doing dishes; it was a good way to warm up your hands
Me - probably looking for a rock to rest my load
Me – probably looking for a rock to rest my load
Guys being guys on big rocks
Guys being guys on big rocks
Another stream that's a snap to cross - especially when you're wearing neoprene booties
Another stream that’s a snap to cross – especially when you’re wearing neoprene booties
Matthew climbing a sandy moraine & probably cursing as his boots are glued together now and sand is his enemy
Matthew climbing a sandy moraine & probably cursing as his boots are glued together now and sand is his enemy
My husband John testing his balance
My husband John testing his balance
Dessert one night
Dessert one night
We had to cache the food far from camp every night
We had to cache the food far from camp every night
Heading for the Mt. Thor basecamp. Mt Thor has the highest vertical face of any mountain in the world - 1675 metres
Heading for the Mt. Thor basecamp. Mt Thor has the highest vertical face of any mountain in the world – 1675 metres
The Mt. Thor emergency shelter
The Mt. Thor emergency shelter
Beautiful evening light on the mountains
Beautiful evening light on the mountains
he Arctic hare is one of the few living things we saw regularly
he Arctic hare is one of the few living things we saw regularly
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island doesn't see much elevation change but loads are heavy
Not much elevation change but heavy loads
Crosssing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island means quite backdrop for a campsites
Quite a backdrop for a campsite
Always dwarfed by the landscape when crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island
Always dwarfed by the landscape
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island in view of Mt Thor
In view of Mt Thor
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island offers yet another scene with the dominant Mt. Thor in it
And yet another scene with the dominant Mt. Thor in it
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island where there's still ice in the Weasel River near Summit Lake
There’s still ice in the Weasel River near Summit Lake
Hikers making their way to Summit Lake
Hikers making their way to Summit Lake
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island offers great views of Mt. Thor
Great view of Mt. Thor from a distance
Crossing the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island you see wild willow
Some sort of wild willow
Pretty wildflowers high above the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island
Pretty wildflowers high above the Arctic Circle
Wild looking clouds around the mountains
Wild looking clouds around the mountains
Our campsite at Summit Lake
Summit Lake marks the high point in Akshayuk Pass – above the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island

Could you see yourself backpacking across the Arctic Circle on Baffin Island?

For more information on Auyuittuq National Park, visit the park website.

Further reading related to backpacking in Nunavut 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Across the Arctic Circle on Foot on Baffin Island in Nunavut

 

 

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