Torngat Diaries – Episode 16

It’s a small tent—really, really small but cozy. I’m half asleep, but even then can feel a heavy weight on my chest. I don’t want to wake up—it’s still dark outside and that with the quiet of the environment acts like a kind of a cocoon. I can’t move anyway, because the weight on my chest is keeping me down—now if you’re reading my adventures you know I’m in the Torngat Mountains in northern Labrador, and you know I have two bear guards with me to ward off possible bear attacks. But no, it’s not a polar bear sitting on my chest—though that would make the story more interesting: it’s just my mastodontic backpack! I’m hugging it close to my chest to protect my equipment—mostly my camera!—because the morning’s dew is causing condensation on the tent and I’m a tad paranoid.

But the day beckons, the husky morning wakens; fog and clouds start to play together, slowly unveiling our path through the mountains. “Taavity!” Eli is calling me by my Inuit name. I’m instructed to always answer “Aaa” when called to up here, but I can’t seem to remember to, though it shouldn’t be hard. “Like the first letter of the alphabet,” say Eli and Andrew. But I always get it wrong and reply “hey.” Eli laughs and Andrew follows.

The kettle is already on the open flame, and the scent of tea wafts out of Eli’s cup. Peanut butter, jam, bread and warm sunbeams coming from the crest of the mountain make for a perfect beginning to the day. The golden light strikes through the clouds and in a second everything changes—the grass is brighter, and the water streaming down the mountainside sparkles. The breeze is cool, and it’s a strange feeling not having to know exactly what time it is, no rushing, not having appointments to get to. Getting ready for the day’s trek, yes—but at a different pace then when we’re trapped in the crazy city schedule.

The tents go down, and in a matter of minutes we’re ready to go, it’s hiking time! The path is a little bit tougher today, and I’m still getting use to the weight of my backpack as I trek. We soon leave the soft grass, and big rocks take its place—now “walking” becomes hopping from rock to rock, and my ankles start to feel the weight of my pack at each jump, landing becomes harder. Just the photo gear mostly though, and the camera with the big lens hanging around my neck—I can’t leave it in the pack, need to have it at hand, just like Andrew and Eli with their rifles.

We continue trekking, and all I can think is wow, this sure is big land! Andrew and Eli are always searching, always on the lookout, their level of attention never wavering. They’re looking to make sure we’re following the right path, consulting their GPS devices, listening to the radio for any kind of communication, and keeping an eye out for bear tracks.

They play it safe, and on a new path it’s the only way to go. The hike finally brings us to a lake (at elev 411 m, Lat: 58.7335 Lon: -63.28906), and it’s a perfect spot to take some pics, set up the kettle, pull up the tents and go for a swim—forget the word shower on the Torngats!