Travelers with Natural Habitat Adventures in Churchill last week were greeted by stormy snow squalls with periodic clearing in the night sky revealing constellations and glimpses of a ripening moon. Guide Karen Walker unveiled an Arctic experience-albeit devoid of aurora borealis due to the storm- that captured the imaginations of an avid group of many serious photographers. Magnificent pictures were produced that captured Churchill in the heart of Winter’s grip over the region.
A 36 hour voyage by rail culminating over the last barren stretch of the Hudson Bay Railroad line was a memorable beginning to the trip. Escorting three sled dogs for Kelly Turcotte and Churchill River Mushing provided a unique experience for the group and some particular dog – lovers within Karen’s clientele. During the trip, a couple of the canines broke loose in the baggage car and caused a stir before being corralled and returned to their crates. Karen was able to obtain a more proficient kennel in Thompson. A chilly late night, rather early morning walk in the Pas gave the dogs much needed exercise and stress relief for the second half of the trip. Just being a part of their transition from the South to their new home in Churchill will stay with these avid travelers forever. If not for them the trip would have been a “ruff” one indeed. By next Fall these pups will be pulling sleds over the tundra.
Arriving about 11:30 am the group made their way over to the stone inukshuk on the shore of the Hudson Bay just recently plowed out from a storm. This iconic symbol has taken on an welcoming tradition to travelers anxious to discover the Arctic’s secrets. The sentinel stone “sculpture” of sorts looms stoically before the vast frozen bay. For anyone who’s visited the north, this symbol is burned in memory forever. Also, personally, whenever I venture to an ocean destination I feel the urge to immediately go and take in the wild vastness of it all…frozen or not.
Native elders Caroline Bjorklund and Myrtle DeMeuelles presented their Dene and Metis cultural talks to the group and Myrtle’s caribou hair sculptures were eagerly purchased by many. Many of the native art and jewelery pieces in Churchill are unique, one – of – kind items only found up North. They all seem to be pieces of the land and derived from the fabric of the culture.
Some of the photographers opted to wake early mornings to capture the rich orange glow of the sunrise. While out around the outskirts of Churchill, some of the unique bird-life that resides year-round in the area was observed. Hairy red polls out at Bill Calnan’s property on goose Creek Rd as well as pine grossbeaks, boreal chickadees, and common red polls out in the boreal forest.
Wapusk Adventures and veteran musher Dave Daley provided a day of dog sledding fun despite the -51 C feel with the wind chill factor. if one is mentally prepared then the temperature can be handled for awhile …chalked up to an amazing experience. Some of these same dogs with be competing next month in the Hudson Bay Quest from Gillam to Churchill on March 16th.
All in all another cold though amazing tour in the beautiful North!