"Randy's got a surprise"

A week and a half ago, Delia, Jessica Martin and I completed a 100 kilometer hike in the Auyuittuq National Park through the Akshayuk Pass. It was my first time through the pass, as it was for Jess who came to visit us in the north. The hike was awesome. It's quite challenging in the sense that it requires high overall competence from the hiker: you have to be fit and you have to know what you are doing. The feeling I got was that I couldn't afford mistakes there. Nobody is going to come and help you, at least not before the next day. And threats were everywhere, ranging from icy cold river crossings to thundering rockfalls at night close to camp. It's no place for the inexperienced.

At the end of the hike, we got picked up by boat at the end of the park. We felt kind of ready to go home but kind of not. I felt accomplished and at ease in a way that you can only feel outdoors. But I smelled. At home Randy, a carpenter, was installing new flooring on our house and I was looking forward to seeing how that was progressing.

"Randy's got a surprise for you", said Billy in the boat. He was not allowed to tell us what it was but was probably dying to tell us. A surprise from Randy was never good news.

"You guys smell like noodles."

The windows and back door of our house were boarded when we got home. There is only one reason to board up a house. Even though at first we were trying to convince ourselves that there could be other reasons, Randy's surprise was soon revealed. The house was condemned and we were evicted. During floor work, the carpenter had discovered that the whole floor was rotten and had black mould in it. The structure was so soft and mouldy that the house was completely unfit for living and had to be demolished. The cause was a retrofit from the 1970s that created an effective way to trap moisture in the structure. Black mould is deadly.

I think "never a dull moment" accurately depicts the north. It's why we all like living here. At times it's a monstrous pain in the butt.