Spring is here, temperatures are positive at mid day, snowfalls alternate with nice weather. This morning blue sky is calling us outside, Aurore and me, for various little jobs and for a picnic. Takuli is joining us and pulls the pulkayak. Leonie is at school, France is in town too, for filtrations in the lab, and to clean a seal skin I found last week on the ice, left by a hunter.
Last night, during the awards ceremony of the fishing derby, Sarah, Charlie, and other of our friends have received awards for the fishes they caught: the heaviest, the largest, the smallest, the first... The main event took place on a lake, at 3 hours by snowmobile, while for those who could not go, a sculpin fishing competition was organized in front of the village.
The lake is located in Auyuittuq national park. Inuit are free to drive and fish, in the park and elsewhere. Others have to pay to enter the park, to use their tent, to fish, and are not allowed to drive a snowmobile. The administration of Parks Canada finally granted free access for Aurore and Leonie, and asked us to participate in an orientation with Stanley, the local agent: environmental, safety, techniques for river crossing (which are not running in this season!)... Friday night, arriving near the main camp where families gather for the fishing derby, we decide to stay outside the park, for financial reasons, and we pitch our tent 3km away, alone. We learn the next morning that a tent burned in the night. And that a bear visited the nearby huts 3 days ago. For more safety, it would seem wise, one day, to facilitate the gathering of all participants on the occasion of this major event in the community life...
Saturday, Leonie patiently explains to our very surprised friends that her parents can not drive in the park, and she wonders "maybe I can?"! We find easily someone to drive our snowmobile to the lake. And Aurore is the first to catch a fish: "Mom, it moves, it takes...". She needs a little help to get it out, it's her very first fish! An Arctic char, 44 cm long. Besides two mini fishes, this is the only catch for the family, and we enjoy it the same evening, on the frozen lake. Beautiful day, great shared moments, sumptuous scenery and delicious fish.
Bad weather and nothing planned the next day, we decide not to return to the park and we leave for Nuilatuq, 10km north of the park. It's snowing and visibility is very poor, but the GPS allows us to find our friends cabins. Loassie is welcoming us with a dish of young seal, very tasty. Then, despite the falling snow, the girls prefer our cozy tent, so we turn down the cabin proposed by Philip. Life is peaceful on this small peninsula surrounded by sea ice, kids and adults are happy to share their stories and meals (caribou, ptarmigan... Brittany cake and candies!).
Comfortably installed on the muskox skin in the sleigh, Aurore and Leonie enjoy the trip. We love this feeling of freedom, being able to travel both on land and on the frozen sea, self sufficient for several days. This is the best time of the year to do so because it is not cold anymore and the snow has not yet melted.
Tuesday, it's time to go back to our routines after an exceptional 3 days break: ice cores, hydrographic profiles, water sampling, diving and collecting clams, sea urchins, amphipods and algae under the ice, filtrations in the lab...