Holiday water report 2019
brought to you in part by
THE BREATHTAKING BEAUTY OF TORNGAT MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK, NL
Photos courtesy of : Tom Comet, Droneboy
HOLIDAY WATER 2019 - TORNGAT MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
By Suzanne Forcese
Torngat Mountains National Park
Jagged peaks and glacier- carved fjords plunge toward icebergs in the indigo waters of an area covering 9,700 sq. km of incomparable wilderness where polar bear and caribou roam amidst some of Earth’s oldest rocks. Stretching from Saglek Fjord to the northern tip of Labrador and westward from the Atlantic seacoast to the Quebec border, it is a land where the Inuit hunt, fish and travel just as they did thousands of years ago. Torngat, meaning “place of spirits” is set in the highest mountains in Mainland Canada east of the Rockies. Here lies a place of unusual geology created by some of the world’s oldest rocks where you can experience nature in its most raw form.
From Labrador, St. John’s or Montreal you can charter a flight then a 40-minute boat ride to the Park Base Camp and Research Station - all part of the experience. Be prepared for weather delays and pack the right gear including rain wear, sturdy hiking boots, warm outdoor clothing and a cold weather insulated sleeping bag, as well as flexibility and a good sense of humor.
Join Inuit to experience spiritual and cultural sites and harvesting trips as they gather food for the Base Camp -- a seasonal solar powered tent camp and research station. There’s no internet but there is potable water. Showers, flush toilets and all meals provided make it the all-inclusive spot where you get to hang out with Nunatsiavut and Nunavik elders as well as scientists as they embark upon research from anthropology and physics to climatology and oceanography.
Because it is a remote location the journey requires planning, registration with park officials and the right equipment. No roads, no campground and no signs to tell you what to see, Parks Canada staff recommend that a visitor engage the services of a trained Inuit polar bear guard when hiking in the park. Parks Canada also provides interpretive programs, visitor reception and orientation services, including safety briefings at the Torngat Mountains Base Camp. The Base Camp on Sglek Fjord outside the park, the main access to the park, operates from mid-July to the end of August.
Excursions into the park by air, sea or on foot deepen visitors’ understanding of the connections between the majestic wild nature and the enduring cultural traditions of the people. Travel by boat through fjords amid whales and icebergs, learning about spiritual places from Inuit grave sites to a Moravian mission. Hike across tundra, on the look- out for caribou and bears. Encounter waterfalls and a pristine lake for a swim enjoying the company of local Inuit over a fresh Arctic char lunch and a welcoming cup of tea.
Visitors can explore the park on guided/unguided day hikes and interpretive walks, overnight camping trips, multiday backpacking treks and technical rock-climbing excursions with help and logistical support from TM Base Camp.
Parks Canada also sets up satellite camps each summer to provide support for visitors that are looking for an overnight hiking experience. These camps are big enough to hold 5-6 pup tents enclosed by a temporary bear fence. Visitors can do day hikes in the company of a bear guard.
Enjoy a half day zodiac tour of up-close visits with majestic icebergs. Accompanied by a Parks Canada staff and an Inuit Bear Guard, spot polar bears roaming the rocky shores of the outlying islands. Expect to see seabirds, seals and whales while learning all the local Inuttitut names.
Get close to small arctic flowers plants and insects on a half day moderate hike.
Discover the hidden stories of the Earth’s Mantle on a half day excursion by zodiac that will allow you to walk on ancient pieces of rock. Some have been recorded as being over 3.9 billion years old. Along with a light interpretive hike, staff and visitors will savour a traditional Inuit shore lunch of freshly caught Arctic Char.
Another highlight is the “I am from PitukKik” journey. Stand alongside an inuksuk built to mark one end of a historic travel route that connects Inuit of Ungava Bay to Inuit on the Labrador Coast. Celebrating and honoring the connection between Inuit of Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, it is the highlight of a full day boat trip to the north side of Saflek Fjord at the delta of PitukKik. Watch for black bears fishing for Arctic char and walk the beginning of the traditional Inuit travel route in the company of Inuit who have personal connections to this place.
Parks Canada can arrange travel with an Inuk on a multiday backcountry trip for the experience of a lifetime.
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