We slept well in our tents last night protected from the strong North wind by our snow block walls. None of us slept well as the surface was quite uneven and uncomfortable. Today is our last day and we hope to soon hear the drone of the Twin Otter coming to pick us up.
A call back to the flight base did not provide a glowing review of the weather. Resolute was clouding in fast and they were holding off coming to get us until they knew they could get in and out safely. On Isachsen we were cloudy with some blue sky. More cloud than blue and there was a strong wind still blowing.
At about 9:30 the pilot felt the odds were in his favour and took off for the 2 hour flight to our location. While we waited for the plane we took down one of the tents and 5 of us packed to leave. The other 4 would need to wait for the second flight and we were all hopeful that would be this day and not some other day.
We had about 60 minutes to explore the base some more. I walked up to the large building with the radar dome on the roof. The door was open inviting me in for a look. As I walked in a few steps I looked down and saw paw prints and thought Puppy had already been in here. Then I looked more closely. These prints were a day or 2 old and they were huge. A local wolf had been exploring this building very recently. I was a little spooked by this but the prints did look old and Puppy was beside me and I know he would detect and wolf presence long before I could.
We walked in together and entered a world literally frozen in time. Chairs, tables, lamps, desks, magazines all set up just as you would have in a lounge, but this lounge had not been used in over 40 years. Everything was covered in a later of snow and it looked like a scene out of Stephen King’s The Shining. I expected an insane caretaker to pop out at any moment.
Spooky or not my curiosity was stronger and I walked further into the building. I explored the kitchen and another lounge area. I walked through a workspace and found the nowhere near current building code stairs to the radar dome. The very steep and narrow stairs were covered in snow and I crept up carefully. Afraid I may slip or they may snap under my weight. Safely to the top I stepped into the dome. No equipment or machinery was left in here and I stepped out the open door onto a small deck from which I could see most of the base. I could see 10 or more building of various size scattered about. I could see to the Arctic Ocean where there was a small port once used to supply this base and I could see the mountains that framed the base to the North West.
After a few moments I gingerly walked down the stairs and started to make my way out of the building. Several of the buildings were connected with a long steel tunnel and I started to walk down one. With no light it became dark fast and I turned on the light on my phone. The tunnel was choked with snow and there was no passage. When I looked down I saw the wolf prints also walking this path. To my relief I saw the go in and go out again.
I went to one more building and the door was so full of snow I had to climb up this small hill and slide through on my belly to access the building. This appeared to be the main living quarters. There were several lounge areas with the usual furniture and a set of stairs going up. I went up and entered the sleeping wing. There appeared to be about 20 rooms. Each like a small hotel room with bed, desk, armoire, and closet. Part way down the hall was a large shared bathroom with showers and a water fountain in the wall. There were two larger rooms with attached sitting areas and I assume these were for the base leaders. This space had all windows and doors in tack and no snow was present. We would easily have spent the night in here.
Before long my time was up and we needed to head to the air strip. We looked on our sleds for ne last ski 1km mostly up hill. At the airstrip we came across several more buildings that looked like shipping containers. Most were almost completely buried in snow, but a couple stood out on huge tires like a mobile base of some kind. The first looked like a generator plant and the second was living quarters. The door to the living quarters was closed, but unlocked. We dug it out and entered.
The inside had been well used over the years. At first by the researchers, scientists, and base workers, and more recently by explorers like us and the local Inuit Rangers. There were 2 sleeping areas with bunk beds, a small bathroom, a kitchen, a store room, and a lounge/dining room. The area was scattered with food supplies. Some original from the 70’s and some newer and left behind. Many who had stayed in this camp had written their names on the walls and we saw messages from 1977 right up to 2018.
At 11:30, exactly when we were told, we heard the Twin Otter buzz over the building. We rushed outside to see the pilot make a few observation passes and then land smoothly right beside us.
The pilots had to re-fuel from two 45 gallon drums of aviation fuel they had brought with them and we were soon jamming our sleds and skis into the fuselage and climbing aboard. The pilot Mike said he would be back for the rest of the group in about 5 hours. He was experienced and was going to fly when some may not.
All 5 of us fell asleep on the plane and we were soon landing on Resolute. We were shuttled to the hotel and had a late lunch of pizza and wings. Much better than freeze dried I must say. After a quick shower and shave I was in the gear room unpacking, sorting, and drying gear for our quick turnaround tomorrow.
The rest of the group arrived at 8:30pm and we had a late dinner together and wrapped up the trip with a great debrief.
We now have a series of flights to get us home: Resolute – Arctic Bay – Pond Inlet – Iqaluit – Ottawa – and finally Toronto.
This has been a very difficult but rewarding trip. I hope everyone on the trip enjoyed it as much as I did and I hope the blog readers enjoyed following along.
What is your next adventure?