Flying to Tuk

Inuvik The End Of The Line

I’ll take you to a place up north
Like you’ve never seen before.
So pack your woolies, hats and things
Adventures we have in store.

Whether you start in Delhi, London or LA
And all those towns are fine,
When you reach Inuvik
You’ve reached the end of the line.

What do you do when you reach the end of the road? We decided to go a little further. Not by road since we could not drive but we flew to Tuktoyaktok, a native village on the arctic ocean. I had once dreamed of kayaking the 100 miles from Inuvik to Tuk. But that might take more time and we did not bring the necessary equipment and would we need a guide? (Susan always answers ‘yes’ to this question.) To get the experience we met with the local adventure travel agent to arrange for a small boat trip to Tuk and a flight back. But it didn’t work out. We kept trying to contact the agent for the trip details but could not reach him. We drove to the office and the staff informs us he is out on an emergency, his grandfather was out on a boat trip on the route we want to go and there was a problem, four of the 5 people on the boat are dead or missing. All available boats are out looking for survivors and in any case all such boat trips are canceled for the next several days. So we arrange for a day trip to Tuk by plane. And this is an experience worth doing. Tuk has about 900 people and there is no road there in the summer, only the ice road in winter. It is 90% native and the people still live off the land. Our guide hunts caribou and geese and also catches fish and beluga whales. The whole town lives this way. In the summer the town is mostly deserted as the locals have to moved to remote fishing/hunting camps. There is exactly one hotel/restaurant in the town but it is closed for renovations although we saw no sign of renovation going on. The town has exactly 6 bed & breakfast rooms to house any overnight visitors. Our guide shows us the fur clothes his wife made for winter hunting. The polar ice cap is visible from town until early June.
One of the traditions of tours here is that visitors dip their toe in the Arctic Ocean and we are eager to comply. Frank either goes a bit nuts from all the 24 hour sun or maybe needs a bath but he goes swimming. He says “come on in the waters fine” but Susan, sometimes thought to be the smarter of the two, just dips her toes. The area is well known for its pingos, which are frozen lakes that are raised to hills, We get a good view of several pingos form the air and its also a wonderful way to see the MacKenzie delta which spreads as far as you can see even from an aircraft. In Tuk we see a helicopter winching a boat down to the ground, we hear it is the fatal boat from the previous day and feel so sad, but this underscores the fact that this is a harsh land. The weather here is very changeable and one needs to be prepared. Susan and I have often thought about living in some of the more remote places we have visited, but it didn’t take much to concur that this was not one of them. Fascinating to visit but I don’t want to live there.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Congrats on making it all they way up! I looked at my globe, and it looks like it is downhill all the way back! ha-ha. Your CRD is tested-by-fire (mud) now, and you will find some of that mud underneath 10 years from now (another trip souvenir). Have a safe trip back down, and keep posting.