WWF-Canada Blog:

Arctic update: Something for the paddlers

If you love paddling, then the North is the place to be in the summer.  After dealing with frozen rivers all winter, and mosquito-filled forests and tundra during the summer, nothing beats retreating to the sanctuary of the many lakes for fishing, rivers for running, and if you adventurous, to the Arctic Ocean for exploring.

arctic sky

Fishing on the shores of Billy Lake, Paulatuk, NWT.

Today, I met with a group of four adventurers from Vancouver and Ireland who are attempting to navigate the fabled Northwest Passage by row boat.  Kevin Valley, one of the expedition members, explains how he has wanted to travel the Northwest Passage all his life, but because of climate change, it is only now possible to complete the passage in summer.  He fears however, this will be “the new normal” for the sea ice in the Canadian Arctic.  Along the way, he and the crew will be doing some real science and taking samples of the salinity, depth, and other features of the Arctic, and sharing this data with scientists working in the region.  They are also filming a documentary about this trip.  They are leaving Inuvik, NWT tomorrow (Oceans Day) and will be paddling to Pond Inlet, NU.  They anticipate the journey will take them 75 days, but it’s possible to do it in 50. Follow their adventures here.

Nanuq, Dan, and the crew stand in front of "The Arctic Joule", ready to cast off for the Northwest Passage.

Nanuq, Dan, and the crew stand in front of “The Arctic Joule”, ready to cast off for the Northwest Passage.

Meanwhile, in freshwater news, another group of young guys are taking on a similar adventure- paddling six rivers in the Peel watershed over two months, covering over 1500km from Yukon to Alaska.  Cheer them on at this site.

I feel lazy only writing about all these adventures. So, myself, I am getting into the paddling spirit by taking course in traditional qayaq paddling and rolling (check out this youtube video).  The course is through the Inuvik Qayaq Club, and lead by Kevin Floyd, a professional kayak guide and Inuvialuit who is revitalizing the qayaq culture in the western Arctic. So far, I have just been practicing in the pool, but hope to make it out onto the lakes and one day the Beaufort Sea.

Now if these stories haven’t motivated you to get off your butt, get to the Arctic, and get in a boat, then perhaps this contest through Mountain Equipment Coo-op to win a four-day arctic camping trip to Ivvavik National Park for four people in 2014 will do the trick! Visit the website for the Outside Moves Me Contest and submit by July 10th.  If you win, drop by to visit the WWF office in Inuvik, although you may see a sign on the door that reads: gone paddlin’.