Episode 15 – The Torngat Diaries

Wherever we go everybody talks about how important the food is, especially when you’re expending a lot of energy and burning calories. But at the first stop on our Torngat trek I really wasn’t so hungry…a hot white-chocolate mocha (my favourite drink!) would’ve been enough; but that stuff’s really hard to find up here in the Torngats.

The night, up in the mountains, can come really quickly. The temperatures can drop really fast, and with just a bit of wind and rain, the experience of a night in a tent can change completely. In the Torngats there aren’t many places to take shelter. We’re above the tree-line so there are no trees on the land at all (a strange site actually), and choosing where to put your tent is really important.

We set camp in the valley on the side of a mountain to protect us from the wind (at elev: 198 m, Lat: 58.784666/Lon: -63.289511). Taking the backpack off my shoulders is such a relief, and the sounds of the fire and the kettle overflow the sounds of the valleys and the mountains and the wind.

Eli and Andrew are ready with the kettle, and I reach into my tent for a bag of dry food; this is my first real meal after a day of energy bars. (Note on my small tent: just a bit bigger than a bivy sack, and tight enough to make you know what a finger feels like in a glove!) As I’ve mentioned I am Italian—so when the word pasta or lasagne pops up, say in conversation or just on the label, I’m reflexively skeptical. Tonight was lasagne night and I read the package hoping not to find the phrase ‘Italian-style.’ I unseal the pouch, pour in some boiling water, close the zip-lock and start shaking the bag.

Andrew looks at me and asks how it is—smiling, almost laughing at me. I slowly open the seal to see how my nouvelle cuisine lasagne is doing, and without waiting too long, dig in—the first spoonful brings out a stringy cheese chunk, and the smell isn’t bad. The first taste goes down, and it’s hot and I raise my head to look at the sky.

The first stars are popping out and the wind suddenly disappears. No clouds, no noise, and the night…it’s so dark, letting me see all the mountains around us. I’m not cold and also realize that I’m no longer tired. I know Andrew is still waiting to know if I like the lasagne and when I look back at him, I just nod my head—it’s good, really good actually, and I mean it.

That was my first meal in the Torngat Mountains—no expensive wine, but pure water poured straight from the mountain; no nouvelle cuisine, just steaming solid food when you’re hungry; no waiters to serve me, or chairs or plates or ceiling above us, except for the Milky Way; and just two new friends, Eli and Andrew, to enjoy the meal under the Torngat sky. And at the end, no bill—about as cool as it gets.