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Baffin Island Backpacking In Auyuittuq National Park

Baffin Island Backpacking in Auyuittuq National Park

Our second week of Baffin Island backpacking in Auyuittuq National Park involved retracing our steps from Summit Lake back to the fjord, an hour away by boat from Pangnirtung.

Although we could have done the return trip in about four days, we took a week – with a rest day in the Rock Garden and a slower pace compared to our hike in. In hindsight I would have chosen to do a Baffin Island backpacking trip called the Auyuittuq Traverse. It starts at Broughton Island, crosses Akshayuk Pass and then you hike back to the start of the trail where the boat drops you off from Pangnirtung so you never have to retrace your steps.

A layover day at Summit Lake before the return hike

Everyone in the group except me – because of an exceptionally sore ankle – hiked under sunny skies for about 24 kilometres to catch the view of Mount Asgard – a flat-top cylindrical rock tower that can be seen in the opening shot of the James Bond movie – The Spy Who Loved Me.

I’m sorry to have missed this view but figured it was better to look after myself than not.

Baffin Island backpacking and enjoying mountain scenery near Summit Lake
Mountain scenery near Summit Lake

I spent a long day in camp by myself – catching up on laundry, reading and exploring. I did meet two American mountain climbers who hiked in that day with plans to climb a few of the surrounding peaks over the month of July.

They’d shipped all their gear and food up from California ahead of time – by plane and snowmobile – so it was waiting for them at Summit Lake. I’m curious as to what mountains they successfully summited.

Baffin Island backpacking with a view out our tent window at Summit Lake
The view out our tent window at Summit Lake

On my day in camp I also hiked back on some of the moraines leading to Mount Asgard and wandered around with camera in hand looking for subject material.

Lichen covered caribou antlers
Lichen covered caribou antlers
There's a trail through the moraine heading to Mount Asgard
There’s a trail through the moraine heading to Mount Asgard
What a rocky, desolate world up north
What a rocky, desolate world up north

Early in the morning on the day we left Summit Lake the sun was out for a short time. Then the weather changed and ended up being one of the more miserable days.

Summit Lake at about 5 AM
Summit Lake at about 5 AM
Our campsite at Summit Lake
Our campsite at Summit Lake

We had rivers to cross again on the return. I couldn’t help marveling at a group of male hikers we ran into – all of whom looked like they had more outside their packs than inside.

A hiker with more outside than inside his backpack
A hiker with more outside than inside his backpack
One of our cloudier days
One of our cloudier days
Mounds of heather on the trail
Mounds of heather on the trail
There were lots of Ryvita crackers eaten for lunches in the second week
There were lots of Ryvita crackers eaten for lunches in the second week

The Honeymoon Suite

We spent a few nights in what has been called “The Honeymoon Suite” – in effect a giant rock garden with boulders that were quite literally the size of Mack trucks. It was easy to spend a day exploring the area.

Massive boulders - perfect for climbing
Massive boulders – perfect for climbing
Dwarfed by boulders
Dwarfed by boulders
Our tent looked out at this view in the Rock Gardens area
Our tent looked out at this view in the Rock Gardens area
Baffin Island backpacking means lots of views of Mount Thor
Mount Thor sits in the background
Baffin Island backpacking with our tents are dwarfed by the boulder field
Our tents are dwarfed by the boulder field

On our second to last day of hiking we climbed the sandy moraine around Crater Lake and stopped for a break at the top. By now the ice had left the lake so four of the gang decided a swim was in order. I think they just wanted to check out their gasp reflex. 

Baffin Island backpacking past now ice-free Crater Lake
Yes- Crater Lake is fed by meltwater from a glacier
Would you jump into a lake with a temperature just above freezing?
Would you jump into a lake with a temperature just above freezing?

After the swimming interlude we continued on – past what looked like sand castles but was ice covered by sand.

They look like sand castles but aren't
They look like sand castles but aren’t

The hiking was easy for the last few days and our packs felt like they weighed nothing at all.

Baffin Island backpacking Lost in conversation in Auyuittuq National Park
Lost in conversation
Drinking water right from the streams
Drinking water right from the streams
I'm still happy to take a break whenever I can
I’m still happy to take a break whenever I can
Baffin Island backpacking with beautiful hiking through wildflowers
The hiking is lovely – especially since there are many more wildflowers out
Baffin Island backpacking past beautiful, vibrant coloured wildflowers
Beautiful, vibrant-coloured wildflowers
Another beautiful wildflower
Our last night was wildly windy
Baffin Island backpacking and one of the last rest stops
One of the last rest stops
Baffin Island backpacking and one of the few signs of civilization
One of the few signs of civilization
Our last night was wildly windy
Our last night was wildly windy

Our last night was an interesting one. We know that the winds clocked 110 kilometre an hour in Pangnirtung – so I’m sure we had the odd gust that was close to that. One tent had a set of poles snapped and there were times we could barely stand.

By the end our thoughts were all about hot showers, soft beds and clean clothes. I’m glad I did the two week Baffin Island backpacking trip in Auyuittuq National Park but I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience.

For more information on Auyuittuq National Park visit their website.

Further reading related to Baffin Island backpacking in Nunavut 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Backpacking Baffin Island in Auyuittuq National Park

 

 

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 31 Comments
  1. Lovely photos and once again thank you for sharing with everyone. I absolutely admire your lifestyle! Yay! Kim

  2. You sure have had an incredibly awesome summer, filled with beauty and adventure. This looks like an awesomely remote trip!

  3. You manage to stay in camp to get healthy and still take the most incredibly beautiful photos, Leigh. The scene framed by the tent is superb! You really must send/post on their FB page the photo of the Nature Valley bars. They always have printed on the bars, Where did you eat your Nature Valley bar. I took a photo of one we had on the south coast of Crete — it was great fun being part of the contributors and seeing photos of bars from all over!

    1. @Jackie Great idea about putting the photo on the Nature Valley FB page.I’d sprained my ankle a month earlier walking my dog on Calgary – by falling flat on my face off the curb. You don’t need an adventure to do stupid things.

  4. It looks an amazing hike. I’m not sure about jumping into that freezing crater though! Woah it looks cold. Your pictures of the scenery have me rushing to get my hiking boots to head for the hills!

  5. What a great way to end your hiking trip, Leigh. Such spectacular scenery especially Mt. Thor looming and Crater Lake. I hope your ankle feels better. You amaze me with what you’ve accomplished on this trip and even with a sore ankle, you manage to find some of the most beautiful spots.

  6. Beautiful photos Leigh. I love seeing how other people have photographed the same trip I’ve been on. It all seems like such a long time ago now 🙁

  7. oh WOW I can only but dream of doing a hike like this. AMAZING scenery. GORGEOUS. Thank you for taking us along. I hope your ankle is feeling better. What an amazing trip you have had.
    Happy travels.

  8. I especially like the photo of the mountains reflected in the lake and the beautiful, blue skies of the 4th & 5th photos. Too bad about your sore ankle. Mine’s been giving me trouble for going on 2 years, and I’ve about had it. It’s great that the stream water is pure enough to drink.

  9. Thank you, once again, for taking me somewhere I wouldn’t probably visit (I am not much of a hiker!!!)
    One day I’ll find the stamina to start working out to go to places like these.

  10. Wow Leigh, this place is simply stunning, I would love to do this some day, the images are just amazing. I love all the shots esp the one from the tent….that water must have been so amazing and freezing!

    thanks for sharing Leigh.

  11. Wow. These photos and your story are simply fascinating. It does look cold and desolate up there, but so serene as well. It must be a popular place to hike since you ran into so many groups!

  12. Wow, another great adventure from my hiking hero! Two weeks — amazing! (The longest I did was only 9 days in Kilimanjaro and I felt it was going on forever). You definitely made the right decision to miss the view of Mount Asgard to nurse your ankle. The sceneries on your trail and camps are beyond spectacular. I love all the photos but I couldn’t take my eyes off the Lake Summit reflection shot. I also enjoyed all the beautiful wild vegetations. I have to salute those people who dove into the freezing water- such hardcore!. I wouldn’t be able to take my clothes off in the cold much more jumped into freezing water. Thanks for sharing another great hiking trip. You’re so inspiring.

    1. @Marisol Thank you for your wonderful comment. I was definitely not one of the ones diving in the water. I’m far too wimpy to do that. As much as it’s never fun to miss out on something like a hike, it was the smart thing to do.

  13. Great shots of very spectacular scenery! The waters of Crater Lake are the same green as those I saw at Lake Louise last September.

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