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A landscape still covered in ice and snow – Shawn MacKenzie

A series of posts from the trip of 2009, never before published on the website.

Originally published at

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Posted by Shawn MacKenzie

Today we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel into the mainland a bit and do some work on a dog sled team. Nicole has described the details of our trip in her most recent blog entry, but I thought I would also talk about some of my favourite parts of today’s adventure. As we headed along the bay to the Coppermine River on our wooden sleds — basically big wooden toboggans, being pulled by the snowmobiles — we passed by the cliffs that line the shore and the small islands that fill the inlet. The landscape here is amazing. Today was so clear, with not a cloud in the sky; the white snow over the ice could be seen for miles. At the moment the cliffs are covered in ice and snow, but in the summer they are apparently filled with small shrubs, berries and many other types of vegetation.

We travelled to the home of one of our guides, located 20 minutes down river. He lives mostly off the land, bringing all his water from the river running past his house or thawing ice blocks in the winter. His dog team was housed outside where they live year round and seem very comfortable. We did our wellness exams on the dog team and then moved inside to warm up and were fed a great lunch. The cabin was small but very comfortable. It was filled with traditional Inuit tools and many pictures of the land during the warmer seasons.

We continued on down the river to the Bloody Falls. Here we hiked around a bit, sat on the edge of some cliffs and just took in the beauty of the place. At Bloody Falls the river narrows with large cliffs on either side. In the summer time a lot of wildlife migrate along the river, but we are still too early in the season to see the large herds of caribou coming through. We did see many tracks from ground squirrels, fox, ptarmigan and maybe even some wolves. A hawk flew overhead as we were sitting on a bench located at one of the hunting camps on the cliffs just above the river. The wildlife officers said in the summer the area is covered in rich vegetation, there are many different species of birds and mammals, and the water is so clear below the cliffs that you can see the char gathering in the pools below.

We reluctantly got back on the sleds and headed back to Kugluktuk. On the way back we stopped by a few ice fishing holes and tried to catch something, but had no success. When we got back we were all exhausted from a long day on the land and had another great supper, played a couple card games and called it a night. Tomorrow is a big day with 6 surgeries planned, 10 or more wellness exams, and, I’m sure, many other things showing up at the clinic door. I’d better get some sleep because I have the feeling it’ll be another long day.

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