Netsilik Lake hike

This fall again we went for a walk on the tundra. Our destination this time was Netsilik Lake located west of Cumberland Sound. Trip specs: take a looong boat ride to the end of Netsilik Fiord, chill out for a night, hike for five days from Netsilik Fiord to Netsilik Lake and back, chill out for a night and take another loooong boat ride back home.

And heavy emphasis on the chilling out. Last year we made a trip to Clearwater Fiord and completed a grueling hike. That was supposed to be a chilled out trip but was everything but that: painful, stressful, hard, desperate and ugly. Good hiking areas don't come easy here, and we had learned it the hard way.

Netsilik Lake area is a known area for hunting by foot. It's got ancient travel routes and is known for great caribou hunting. Or used to be: caribou have disappeared almost completely from around Pangnirtung (which means "the place of bull caribou") and Netsilik Lake. Due to its historical importance and good hiking, we were interested to check out Netsilik Lake.

Learning from last year's mistakes, we kept a compass handy all the time. The hiking turned out to be decent right away, and the compass gave us accurate directions (as long as we took account the 30+ degree declination). Strong southeasternly winds pushed us with medium effort to Netsilik Lake in two days. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't very difficult either.

An overnight at Netsilik was magnificient despite the increasing winds. The lake is massive and covers a huge area of land. It's got seal and tons of fish. The shores are littered with ancient markers (as well as a few more recent fuel drums), tent rings and other signs of Inuit presence in the past. We would have liked to have stayed longer, but the winds made us anxious to start heading back.

Then came the "not so fun part" of our hike. I guess it was to be expected. For three days we hiked into very strong winds, leaning forward and weaving our way back to our pickup spot. We did not take any risks and went back the exact same route as we came in. No fancy stuff this time - just keep it simple and get our assed out of there without unnecessary pain.

After returning to Pangnirtung, we got several congratulations for being the first qallunaat to walk to Netsilik Lake. Most people were proud of us. Some were not so sure. We could have "spooked" the caribou. I find that rather ironic but appreciate the concern.