Dose of Awesome # 285

I need to interrupt my tales of the John Muir Trail to write about the awesome with which I’ve been blessed over the past few weeks since I returned to Kuujjuaq. I’ve not found much time to write, let alone even think about writing, so much has been going on. But, thanks to a long weekend and gloomy weather that goes oh so well with pj’s, coffee and my blog, I feel inspired to write.

I returned to Kuujjuaq on the 9th of August, and was swept away by all the beginning-of-a-new-school-year awesome. Potlucks and lunches allowed me to bond with colleagues, and meet new teachers. Kuujjuaq’s annual Aqpik Jam music festival allowed me to enjoy four nights of great live music from artists from all over the arctic. A birthday full of celebrations with close friends sent me into my 33rd year with so much love.

My return to work was rejuvenated and filled with the excitement of setting up a new classroom and getting ready for a year with new kids. This year I am teaching sixth grade – a lovely class of 11 students whom I’ve gotten to know quite well over the past few years since moving to Kuujjuaq. We’ve been back to school two weeks now, and we’re off to a great start.

Two weekends ago, I was given the opportunity to spend a few days hiking and camping in Pingualuit National Park. Pingualuit is a 1.5 million year old crater believed to have formed when a meteor hit the earth. It is also said to have the purest water in the world. I drank it, and it’s delicious.

In the spring, I’d put my name on the waiting list to take this trip, but I’d resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn’t get to go. The trip was full, and since I’d had the chance to go to Kuururjuaq last year, open spaces would be given to people who hadn’t gone before (as far as I understood). But, luck was on my side, a spot opened up at the last minute, and I received a phone call two days prior to departure.

Accepting the opportunity, a small group of us (7 teachers and 2 women who work elsewhere in the community) boarded a chartered Twin Otter bound for Kangiqsujuaq (a small village approximately 2 hours’ flight north of Kuujjuaq). There, we met Maali Tukirqi, who picked us up at the airport and gave us a tour of the village (which started at the Nunavik Parks office and Pingualuit Interpretive Centre, and included a drive around the village, a stop at the beach to see the iceburg, and shopping for snacks at the Northern Store).

An hour later, we were back in the plane and on our way into the park, and less than an hour after that, we’d made 3 gut-wrenching swoops over Manarsulik camp’s tiny landing strip (the landing strip is a short clearing in the tundra covered with gravel, which is not maintained so much as cleared by the swoops of the plane before it lands). Excited, we were settled into our charming little cabin on the lake before dinner and a little walk to an archaeological site not far from the camp showing where camps used to be.

The hike around the crater took 8 hours, much of which was sunny and with just enough wind to keep the bugs at bay. Hiking together in the beginning, we enjoyed great conversation and a picnic lunch at the halfway mark. Afterward, we spread out a bit more and hiked at our own pace, enjoying the quiet and solitude as it came.

We got back to camp just in time for an amazing sunset and a beautiful rainbow over our camp as we ate, chatted and played numerous rounds of Yahtzee together.

We were hit by stormy weather the next day, which put a damper on our plans to qajak on the lake and go on a smaller hike. Our flight also got cancelled, giving us another day at the camp. I took the opportunity to work on my sewing project and read almost an entire book (something I don’t get to do in one day very often). We were running out of food, but our guides were generous and brought out all kids of country food – tuttuvinik (caribou), nikkuk (dried caribou) and mattaq (beluga) filled our stomachs that night.

The wind was strong and shook our cabin all through the night, and, though the fog lifted, it still gusted well into the next day. Fortunately, for the sake of work, a classroom that needed to be set up by the following afternoon, a grocery order full of frozen food that was scheduled to be delivered to my house in Kuujjuaq that afternoon, and a few things I had planned over the next few days, we were able to fly out. Our plane arrived at Manarsulik around 3 pm. It was bumpy, but we arrived in Kuujjuaq 2.5 hours later safe and sound.

Awesome was the opportunity, the adventure, and the fact that everything works out, even when they don’t go as planned.


Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 210

I am at the airport in Montreal, extremely early for my flight to Kuujjuaq (so early, in fact, that I arrived at my gate before the flight before mine even started boarding. Needless to say, I am excited. And I just wanted to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee without the thought of soon having to go through the whole rush of airport check in looming over me).

I don’t know when I will have the internet after I take off. Thus, I don’t know when my posts of awesome will resume. But, if my move to Kuujjuaq goes anything like I hope it will, I suspect that there will be no shortage of awesome taking place.

1. Awesome was reassurance. Yesterday, as I sat in my Moncton apartment, all packed and eagerly awaiting my 6 pm flight to Montreal, the skies opened up and let out several disconcerting rumbles of thunder and a whole lot of rain. I worried that my flight would be canceled on account of the lightning. Growing more and more stressed and unable to stand it any longer, I called a cab an hour or so earlier than I really had to leave, and went to the airport. Seeing all the other people milling around, waiting and boarding planes, and watching the planes take off reassured me.

2. Awesome was take off, and on time at that!

3. Awesome was arriving in Montreal to a message that put a smile on my face 😀

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 208

1. Awesome was a day of hiking in Fundy National Park. This time we did the Bennett Brook trail – a 15.5 kilometre (round trip) trail through forest and river, which is said to be one of the park’s most strenuous trails.

Bennett Brook 1
My sister and I at the start of the hike – at Bennett Lake

Bennett Brook 2
Bennett Lake.

Bennett Brook 3

Me at the first of two river crossings.

Bennett Brook 4
Second river crossing.

Bennett Brook 7
Picnic spot

Bennett Brook 6
Little guy, just chillin’.

2. Awesome was perfect weather – bright and sunny with a refreshing cool breeze.

3. Awesome was an amazingly delicious meal of homemade chili, homemade molasses bread and fresh organic salad at a cute little café in Alma after the hike. Topped off with a cup of coffee and a nanaimo square for dessert, it was the perfect way to end such an active day.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 206

1. Awesome were sudden, intense thunder showers, which I always find to be an awesome, yet strange combination of exciting and relaxing.

2. Awesome was a mini road trip, with a brief visit to Sackville New Brunswick (where I lived and studied for 4 years during my undergrad) and a walk along Joggins beach.

Joggins 2

Windmills at the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border.

Joggins 1

Panoramic view of Joggins beach in Nova Scotia. 

3. Awesome is New Brunswick. Happy (belated) New Brunswick day!

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 193

1. Awesome was a full day of hiking in Fundy National Park, starting with the Coastal trail, which brought us to the Upper Salmon River trail, which then brought us to The Forks trail. Fifteen kilometres and 5 hours later, we emerged, soaking wet and eager for dry clothes and a cup of coffee at the Laverty Road entrance to The Forks, but we were an hour earlier than anticipated, so we hiked approximately 3 more kilometres up Laverty Road until we met up with our ride.

July 23 3
River crossing at Upper Salmon River.

July 23 4
River crossing at Upper Salmon River – so much for dry feet.

July 23 5
Selfie at lunch.

July 23 6
Acting silly, looking for the next part of the trail.

July 23 7
Posing after lunch.

July 23 9
Second of three river crossings at Upper Salmon River. It’s at this point that it started pouring and, thus, I put my camera away and didn’t take any more photos. 

2. Awesome was the cable at the third Upper Salmon River crossing that saved me from plummeting to my doom amongst a bed of slick-from-rain craggily rocks and hostile, unwelcoming river.

3. Awesome was a hot cup of coffee, a long warm shower and a change of dry clothes after hiking approximately 8 kilometres of our 18 kilometre hike in the pouring rain, and driving the hour home in dripping wet clothing. Life’s luxuries have never felt so luxurious!

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 191

1. Awesome was yet another new personal best in my CN Tower stairclimber climb challenge – 2600 stairs in 33:59!

2. Awesome was the opportunity to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in approximately 7 years. Last time I’d seen him, we were drinking Cosmos in my Queen Street apartment in Halifax, getting ready for a night out on the town to celebrate my 23rd birthday. We also met up with another friend, who I hadn’t seen in approximately 2 years.

It’s interesting how much people change over time, yet they’re still, in many ways, very much the same.

My friend Steve and I after coffee with our friend Trisha (who refused to get in the photo 🙂 )

3. Awesome was a cool end-of-summer evening. Though it’s not yet the end of summer, yesterday evening was the perfect combination of summer warmth (still  welcome break from a long arctic winter) and autumn chill (my favourite time of year). As I walked home from our coffee date, I relished the uniquely refreshing feel of a temperature that welcomed both t-shirts and sweaters, as the smell of wood fires emanated from distant houses.

Daily Dose of Awesome – Day 190

1. Awesome was a new personal best – 2600 stairs in 34:47 (I was shooting for 35:30, but far exceeded my expectations!).

2. Awesome is the excited anticipation of the awesome that is to come.

3. Awesome is hike planning. I absolutely love hike planning – almost as much as hiking itself.

If all goes as planned, I’ll be back in Fundy National Park at some point this week hiking a portion of the trails that make up the Fundy Circuit. Starting at the Herring Cove Road entrance, we will hike the Coastal East trail, connect with the Upper Salmon River trail, and then The Forks trail, (as well as, time permitting, the Moosehorn and Laverty Falls trails loop). The hike will total just over 15 kilometres without the the Moosehorn and Laverty Falls loop, 20 kilometres with. Here’s to hoping for perfect weather!