Dispatches

Torngat Diaries – Episode 22

Eli Kicks it Harder Than Anybody.

Getting to stay at Base Camp is spectacular, and having a chance to organize such an adventure almost makes you feel like you’re in a movie. Everybody helped brainstorm ideas about the route we would take, the time it would require. But Eli took charge of planning the path we would follow. His knowledge of the land goes far beyond maps and GPS devices. Gary Baikie of Parks Canada tells me that Eli “just knows the land,” and I didn’t get it when he said it…didn’t know what that meant…until I had the chance to hike with Eli. Gary was right.

Eli tells me he has his own CD (and I’m impressed), and I can imagine it easily. His voice sings songs of old in Inuktitut, and he graces many photos related to Torngat Mountains National Park and the Nunatsiavut government. He doesn’t talk a lot, is reserved, and at 57 (almost 58) is supremely tough—I mean really tough!

On the path through the mountains he is focused, vigilant on anything that moves in the distance. Hiking side by side I came to understand and to see what Gary meant. Eli tried to teach me something in Inuttitut, but he sort of gave up after the third day. Andrew tried too, but except for a couple of good laughs, I don’t think I impressed my teachers! Here I am, implying I didn’t learn a thing on my journey in the Torngats. But of course that’s not true...I got more that I wanted: Eli and Andrew (Nakurmiik), thank you!

Nov. 30, 2012, 9:56 a.m.