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Canada’s Arctic (part 1) - Baffin Island Longest Backpacking trail (15 days)

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  • Hello, I am looking for partners for a demanding backpacking trip next August. .

    The trip to backpack a wonderful peninsula for about 75 m/ 120 k with a few river crossings and rough terrain starting on a plateau and ending in the valley of a big river, with sides averaging 800 feet / 500 m. This is taking place in the Meta Incognita peninsula, often referred as Baffin’s Florida, in Katannilik Territorial Park.. The Itijjagiaq Trail follows a traditional pathway from Iqaluit to Kimmirut. It is item 18 in Canada’s longest hiking trails (see http://www.explore-mag.com/35_of_Canadas_Longest_Hiking_Trails )

    The highlights of this remote and challenging trail include the ecosystem fed by the Soper Heritage River, ancient geology, the high plateau of Meta Incognita Peninsula and the glacier-scarred valleys beyond. Wildlife includes wolves, foxes, caribou and perhaps even polar bears (For polar bears, we would bring bear bangers.) Flora includes dwarf birch, willow, Labrador tea, Arctic heather and grassland tundra. Hike in July and August to see the vibrant Arctic blooms; truly an unforgettable experience in Canada’s far north.

    I went many times to Baffin, mostly for backpacking but also for kayaking. A description of a similar trip, with three differences (i.e., we will do the whole trail and not just half, we will not fly to height of land and we will not have a boat on the river to carry our packs) can be found at http://arctickingdom.com/backcountry/paddling-and-hiking-the-soper-river/overview/. A closer description can be found in a brochure from Blackfeather that I can send by e-mail.

    The scenery is great from the valley but it is getting better once you climb up a bit to see it from above. As such, some days are planned to have less distance travelled so time is available to climb a peak nearby. My research is all done and I could coordinate many aspects. Next summer, the best dates to go, weather wise, would be from August 2nd to 16th when the bloom is good and the black flies less aggressive. At that time, the average temperature ranges between 4 and 10C or 39 and 50F in the valley. As well, this allow you to join in the other trip on Baffin (which is a backpacking and Alpine trip with more technical stuffs) that I also posted from August 16th to September 3rd. (see Canada’s Arctic - Baffin Island Highest Peak (Mt. Odin) and Mt. Asgard Base Camp BACKPACKING and ALPINE TRIP (19 days - next August)).


    This is an arctic trip that is reasonably affordable, safe and logistically manageable as you can get there with scheduled flights and the Park maintains nine emergency shelters. If you want to do some research, you can start by ordering the map of the trail from Nunavut Tourism at 1.8666.686.2888.

    The required budget could be as follows:

    1) Approximately 200$ for the Park entry and one boat ride.

    2) Accommodations costs can be avoided completely by camping in communities as hotels are, otherwise, very expensive. This is what I am going to do.

    3) Lightweight and rich food.

    4) Leaving aside the gears, the most expensive thing is the airfare. For example, the return flight from Ottawa is approximately 3000$ Canadian (First Air to Iqaluit for the way up and Kimmirut to Ottawa, via Iqaluit, for the way down) but it is still a lot cheaper than other arctic trip as you don’t need to add the cost of a charter plane

    As the packs would be heavy (approximately 30 kg or 65 pounds), a few weather-bound days are possible and well-though planning for weeks of autonomy respecting food and gears is critical, the composition of the group is very important. It is therefore important that interested persons be able to do at least one short group activity over the next few months, most likely in the New York State’s Adirondacks, in order to make sure that participants are compatible, capable, well equipped and fit enough. While I am asking how tall you are, it is not a key criteria by itself since the river crossings are not expected to be extremely challenging and someone that is relatively short can still manage the crossings.

    I am experienced, well-organized, mature, tall and fit. In addition to my personal gear, I have a light tunnel 2 person winter tent that can stand the possible strong winds. Here is the precise itinerary with the days, the objectives, intensity and, as needed, clarifications:

    Aug. 2 (Wed.); YOW-YFB (First Air (FA) 9 :15-12 :25) – Gas; Low I (Intensity);
    (Packs need 12 days of autonomy (noon on the 3rd to noon on the 15th))

    3; Boat ride and hike (3 m /5 K); Medium I; 4; Hike (8 m / 10 k); High I; 5; Hike (8 m / 10 k); High I; 6; Hike (3 m / 5 k) = 30 out of 120 k; Medium I; Option to climb a mountain

    7; Hike (10 m / 12 k); High I; 8; Hike (10 m / 12 k) = 54 out of 120 k; High I; 9 (Wed.); Hike (4 m / 6 k); Medium I; Option to climb a mountain (500 m)

    10; Hike (12 m / 15 k); High I; 11; Hike (12 m / 15 k) = 90 out of 120 k; High I; 12; Hike (3 m / 5 k); Low I; Option to climb a mountain

    13; Hike (12 m / 15 k); High I; 14; Hike (8 m / 10 k) = 120 out of 120 k; Medium I;

    15; YLC-YFB (FA 14 :50-15 :26); Low I; 16 (Wed.); YFB-YOW (FA 13:45-16:45 or CN 17:15-20:25) for those going south;
    YFB-YXP (FA 15:00-18:45) for those continuing to the next trip

    If you are interested, the next steps would be to participate into a discussion on Skype or phone in the next two weeks. In order to participate in that discussion, please send me an e-mail ([masked]) with your skype id or phone number as well as your age, weight and height with a description of your relevant experience for this trip (backpacking or other similar trip) and whether the airfare is an issue. If you are interested but can’t make it the next two weeks, please let me know and send me the above information as I will arrange other discussions in the following weeks.

    The first get-together weekend is been planned for October 28 to 30 at Marcy Dam near Lake Placid. Another one should be arranged at the end of November or early December. During these weekends, peaks would be climbed and rivers will be crossed without using bridge to recreate as close as possible the Baffin’s trip. As you can expect, participation to this event would be subject to future decisions by the team leader in consultation with participants that have been accepted up to that point.

    Thanks

    Stephen from Ottawa, Canada

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    NOTE: You are responsible for bringing appropriate gear, supplies, clothing, first aid, and lights. You should review topographic maps and trail features carefully; understanding topography of any hike is key to your knowing where you are, where you're going, and how to get back.

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  • Stephen R.
    Event Host

    I am just back from 3 week backpacking trip without resupplies across Baffin Island, I am now... more

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