Beginning one week tests of an ARGO float, with Claudie, José and Christophe.
It's Saturday, time for usual excursion to one of the neighbouring icebergs for our fresh water supply. For the first time, all four of us is skiing! With the help of our two dogs and two sleds, collecting ice is also a very nice ride.
Despite some breakdowns on board Vagabond (central heating, generator, stove, spare generator...), which are hard to repair during this period of intense activity (GreenEdge project), such family trips on the ice are necessary to recharge our batteries!
Although it is early in the season, the girls are pushing us to go camping. Piculi and Ponyo enjoy following us through hummocks until the end of the first fjord, north of Qikiqtarjuaq. Our tent is quickly set up, then the sun can gently heat it up while we climb a bit to enjoy the view and play and slide on slopes. At 5pm, the cold falls again and inside our family cocoon, the -30°C will not reach the children, warmly wrapped up. Meanwhile, the full moon give us a show, between shadows and illumination, all over the surrounding mountains.
On Easter Sunday, it takes a while for our children to look for eggs, so well hidden on the ice and in the snow. We even find some lemming tracks going across the fjord on the sea ice!
Back to Qik on Monday, we take part in ice sculpture competition (adults), snow man competition (children), then various races, as well as the famous dog sled race with his specific rule: only one dog, a child on a sled, an adult leading ahead. Leonie gets ready with our dog Piculi... and wins!!! Helped by her mom, breathless to run with heavy boots in the snow!
This day is closed by a feast of frozen or cooked caribou, raw seal meat, and fresh clams seaweeds.
Bear looking for seal, bear passing by, bear swimming, bears curious from Vagabond in any season, we could observe so many of them... And since 4 years in Nunavut, how many bear skins stretched on frames, bear skins cleaned at home with the ulu.
One of them was hunted not far from here and, what is not usual, was brought back and cut up in the village. This is the first time I see a dead bear, intact. To see it so close, still warm, feeling his muscle mass, stroking his fur, warming up my fingers on the hot meat, touching his huge tongue already frozen outside but not yet inside, admiring his claws and fangs, wide legs... Impressive. The bear is on the back, back legs held open attached with a rope connected to the tuk, ready for butchering. Naked bear, all pink... Butchering fast, before the meat freezes. And tonight, for the hunter's family, a delicacy: the bear paws!
The past three weeks were rich but did not let us much rest. The set up of the ice camp was intense and the film crew who came in order to make a report for French TV on clams harvesting monopolized us full time. With this two projects at the same time, our daughters, who had to follow us many times on the sea ice, are asking for a family break. We are happy to prepare our first camping trip for Easter week end, and to spend time at our rhythm, even if it is still -30°C at night!
The sun shines higher and higher, but there is still very little algae under the ice. This is what is showing the first ice cores and the first water samples from the Niskin bottle. "No biomass, we did not miss anything!" Flavienne said, when processing the samples in the laboratory on loan from the school, "which allows working under very good conditions."
On April 1st, it is also the anniversary of Nunavut. In Leonie's class, children sang in three languages (Inuktitut, English, French)!
The whole team is gathering on board Vagabond for lunch, before the arrival of the cargo plane in the afternoon. This is the fourth cargo that comes directly from Quebec, over a ton of freight in each flight, two more are expected before Easter! The base camp is full, the big lab is becoming increasingly crowded, as the tent at the ice camp! All this material is telling us how much work is about to start...
Potluck at Qikiqtarjuaq's Arctic College tonight, we celebrate the end of Inuktitut class.
The icemeter is out. As part of the partnership between Takuvik remote sensing team and the Canadian Ice Service, we did a sixty kilometres ice survey in the region, towing the EM31 and observing carefully the areas shown on the radar image. A beautiful and rewarding trip, on a fine day. Many bear tracks near the ice camp!
A small detour by Bubble Lake, just to check if the lighter flame ignites the gases emitted by the lake... unconvincing experience, we will come back with a more sophisticated protocol to solve the mystery!