View from rear hatch small
Travel has become pleasant for us in recent days. We’re currently sprinting ahead of an incoming gale that promises to hit the region tonight or early tomorrow morning. Our meteorologist is calling for 35KN winds and snow so our intention is to find somewhere suitable to moor and set camp for the night.

Our route has taken us through an inland channel between the mainland of Victoria Island and the Edinburgh and Richardson Island group. We’re unsure at first if this inside line is the most advantageous for us and even toy with the idea of heading out around the island group, skipping the passage altogether, but we choose the inside line and are happy for it as it’s the most striking section of route we’ve seen so far.
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The landscape of Victoria Island we’ve been seeing to this point eases from the water and gently rises to form perfectly uninterrupted ridges that run to the horizon. The surface appears raked with a strong linear texture defining its surface. It appears as an endless series of high tide lines marching upwards and backwards in time.
muskox running small
The concept of time is different in the arctic. I heard a story about a traveller discovering whale bones high on the shores of a small island off Svalbard. The bones are fully intact and seemed to speak to a fairly recent passing but the traveller is perplexed because the bones are so far from the water line. How could such a large marine mammal be moved so far up shore so far beyond any possible storm surge? Astonishingly the bones are thousands of years old and simply speak to a different time in a place with a different sense of it.

The landscape changes dramatically once we enter the channel. The gentle slopes of green and brown are replaced by craggy walls and precipitous cliff. The rock appears to be different as well looking more like a granite or quartzite pushing up from the earth below, blocky and steep. It’s a stunning backdrop that draws in upon us as the passage narrows. Combs of rock rise out of the water and form islets marching down the channel. They appear like the sweeping backbone of some giant sea creature diving to the depths petrified in the moment.

The cloud and drizzle that’s been following us for days begins to thin and streaks of sun begin to wash our world of rock. The wind is calm but the current is strong and we maintain a brisk pace with little effort. The arctic is a shy and retiring companion with a predilection for moodiness and gloom but treated with patience and understanding will eventually share everything it has. It’s doing that now.
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We see movement on the shore and spy a grizzly bear prowling the bank. I’m amazed at the grace and ease at which it clambers up the cliff as we move in closer. We’re downwind and it can’t make us out but it’s still curious. It bounds upwards a few strides only to stop, turn back and search for the unidentified odour. It’s soon on it’s way and so are we.

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