This awesome ice inukshuk welcomes travelers to Iqaluit in the Arctic. These iconic northern features mark trails or food caches. They were also used by caribou hunters to herd the animals toward an area for harvest. No feature, other than the stoic polar bear, is more recognizable in the open Arctic tundra then these, usually stone inukshuks. An ice one captures the soft colors and light of the region!
Northern lights season is upon us in Churchill and these Aurora Domes about 10 kilometers outside of town are a prime location to view the aurora borealis. With a comfortable warm environment when the temperatures out on the tundra are below zero, travelers can take in the most spectacular northern lights in the norther hemisphere! If you can ever make the trip to Churchill during January through March, make sure the domes are on your itinerary!
Iqaluit was -35C recently and some fun was had by Jinny Lamontagne with this slow motion video of spraying some hot tea. Winter can be long in the Arctic so new experiences are a way to make it through and stimulate the mind. This video reminds us all of the popular image of about a year ago of the same activity. It’s a pretty cool reaction when the hot liquid meets the frigid air. Enjoy the clip!
For a second consecutive year the Hudson Bay Quest dog sled race, that runs from Churchill to Gillam every March, has been canceled. The ongoing saga of a washed out train line, known as the Hudson Bay Line, after runoff from two late-season blizzards in 2017 has again wreaked havoc on the region’s lifestyle. Without the train line to transport dogs and supplies for mushers, the expenses would be too steep for those wanting to compete.
“Normally what would happen was we would have our sponsors bring the mushers’ dog teams either to Churchill or from Churchill, depending on which direction the race was going,” said Bill Dingwall, Hudson Bay Quest committee chair.
“But this year, without the train, we couldn’t guarantee that the teams would either be able to get to the start or the finish, or home from the finish.”
The alternative would be returning by land with the dog teams after the race finishes and the cost for most mushers would be prohibitive
“That was quite a daunting task for a lot of the mushers and it would have cost them a lot more money,” said Dingwell.
“Once we put out that you’d be on your own to get to the start and home after the finish, I think it was an easy decision for a lot of the guys.”
Last year the Quest was canceled as well by one of the severe blizzards that buried the open tundra and made the trail too treacherous to run the dog teams.
“We were very disappointed last year because it was such a last minute decision to cancel,” he said. “This year we knew going in not having a rail line was going to be extremely hard to do with logistics of moving mushers, moving handlers, moving even our race marshal, our vets, and everybody … It wasn’t safe to do it, honestly.”
The Hudson Bay Quest is well known among the heartiest mushers as one of the most challenging races in North America. it annually draws mushers from all over the world and some use it as a stepping stone to bigger races such as the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest. On a smaller scale, mushers are self – sufficient out on the land just like those races.
“It’s not as long [as others] but it’s a hard race … It’s so hard that if you finish the race, you get your registration money back. Doesn’t matter when you finish, we have a timeline, but if you finish we give your registration money back just because it’s that much of an accomplishment, we feel.”
In a “normal year”, which in the north such a phrase carries a completely different meaning, the Quest will draw from 12 – 16 mushers and dog teams. This year only four had entered this far and three of those opted to defer their registration fees to next years event with the hope that the train line will be repaired and the region will be back in business. A decision to only proceed this year if a minimum of six racers entered was made early on. With the deadline to enter looming race organizers officially pulled the plug on this one.
The race has been an iconic event for the region for a long time and once the rail line is repaired it will happen again. Churchill, in particular, has suffered extensively from the lack of train service. The polar bear season was a needed boost to the morale and economy of the town but a long-term solution is needed. Town officials expect news soon on the transfer of the port and accompanying rail line and the future of the Hudson Bay Quest. Stay posted to our site for upcoming news on the ongoing drama in the north!
It’s seal hunting season on the Hudson Bay ice pack north of Churchill. After an incredible polar bear season and a frigid last couple of weeks of November, the bears headed onto the ice pack to build their fat reserves for the winter. With northern lights season is underway and the spectacular sights of night will be brought to you in the next few months, we all can’t wait to the beautiful polar bears return in the spring. Enjoy!