Week 02 Igliniq (Trail!)
Shadow is a stuffed husky traveling between students at Neill Elementary in the US state of Minnesota and Newport Elementary in the state of Illinois as both schools take part in GoNorth! Has your school signed up for a visit from Tracker?
Date Posted: 3.9.2009
Location: 44º54'N 92º47'E
Expedition Basecamp, Minnesota, USA
Weather Conditions: Light snow, 30°F (-1°C)
“Hi! When are you scheduled to arrive in Pond Inlet?? It would be fantastic for my class to meet your team and your huskies! by Julia Laundry in Pond Inlet.” This is one of the questions posted to the Q & A this week, and Mille is all smiles from ear to ear. “Just how incredibly cool is that! All the way on the very north end of Baffin Island, they are part of our team! It is going to be amazing to meet Julia and her class when we come across the ice into Pond Inlet. It is simply beyond exciting to me!” grins Mille.
It is beyond exciting for all us team members to see all you students online all over the world and to see the cool stuff you are up to in your classrooms, get your Send-A-Notes and see what you are already posting in the Zones! We even noticed a first attempt to draw a
suggested route across the sea ice that was posted in the Explore Zone!
The trail ahead and the schedule are indeed very much on our minds right now.
There are a lot of elements that we are simply not in charge of - like the weather! People that live off hunting on the land and the sea live with the seasons and the annual weather. Yes, there are annual patterns - like when the migrating whales will arrive, and that is nothing like what time the grocery store opens! And, if the weather makes for difficult conditions, they simply cannot travel. The early explorers’ schedules... we bet they had no idea when they would return once they set out. In today’s world with flight schedules and satellite phones, ‘scheduling an expedition’ is reality. Well, it is sort of a reality. Mother nature is always in charge! Even in today’s world with satellite maps, weather forecasting and Google Earth, the people on the land that are watching the seasons, know the landscape, the routes and traditional trails, their Native knowledge is what is most important to our team when we make decisions!
Mille has been calling ahead to be in-the-know on what is going on with the ice and weather conditions around Baffin Island. This is while we all stay hard at work checking off the “to-do-list” to get the team and the Polar Huskies on the trail.
“We have hunters out that way right now. They are out looking for polar bears. You will have to be careful now. There is a a lot of open water. Open water brings the polar bears in.” Open water and the polar bears are difficult to hear about as Mille prepares for departure. We can only read Mille’s expressions as she gets an update from the community of Pangnirtung on the expedition route. Though it is a serious subject, Mille is laughing a lot. That is very much the way of the North. You deal with what happens and smile! Seemeega Aqpik, who is the manager of the Mayukalik Hunters and Trappers association in Kimmirut, shares with us that he heard the Qimualaniq Quest dogsled race from Iqaluit to Kimmirut and back, that was on for next week was just canceled. Also, the snow now is powder - the kind of snow that will be making for slower travel. All is very, very valuable information and observations to us as it tells us a great deal about what is ahead. It is a wild thought indeed: Here we are hovering with the maps as we discuss and plan - trying to become as knowledgeable as possible in order to make the right decisions before our departure. “Soon we will be next to the sleds on the ice, with the mighty Polar Huskies ahead of us - just doing it!” says Mikkel.
We had terrific questions to our team on Thursday during the first chat of the program! One question, we promised to find out the exact answer to be included in this report - “How long it is from the front lead dog to the back of the sled where you are skiing?” A team of students asked this question from Cuyuna Range Elementary School. While Mille was answering the chat questions, immediately outside the office window Mikkel and Tony who train the dogs were putting together the two new ‘gang lines’ for the Polar Huskies to be pulling on the expedition. As soon the chat was over, Mille jumped out to investigate to get an exact answer. Tony, with measuring tape in hand soon figured out that it is 57 feet (19 meters). That’s longer than a semi truck! Imagine that going down the trail…
Not that we expect to be following many trails, or ‘Igliniq,' as we dogsled in Nunavut. In Inuktitut, the Native Inuit language, 'igliniq' means a “very traveled well-trodden trail.” A trail that is known to be going from one place to another, a route, but that maybe no one has traveled on, is called a ‘aqqutiit’! When we are in the communities we will talk with Native hunters and Elders and most often they will draw or show us on a map - the aqqutiit. We will follow their directions on the land looking for landmarkers and maybe even a inuksuit while our sleds leave ‘iniit’ – the Inuktitut word for trail made by the runners of a sled!
It has been a mess on the trails as we have been running the Polar Huskies this week. We started out with snow and perfect colder weather but we then had a big thaw and the last few days the Polar Huskies have been in muddy fields of running water! These are very different conditions than what we will soon find ourselves in once we get to Nunavut. This is crazy weather, but it is nothing compared to what GoNorth! students and teachers in Australia have been experiencing.
Reading the volume of wonderful messages from students in the Send-A-Note section, there were many messages from the GoNorth! students in Australia sharing how their region has been plagued with huge fires, floods and droughts. Many of them made reference to the notion that these hardships are because of climate change. While we had lots of questions from Australia during the chat, it was actually students here in the US that asked if we think “the expedition in Nunavut will be intense due to climate change?” We answered in the chat “yes and no.” If, for example, the rumors are correct that a glacier on our route, this summer has melted to such an extent that it makes for following the traditional trail up the mountain side a skating rink – then yes! But, even if it is so, our team can still not “see climate change”... Instead what we experience is that the locals are telling us that this is the traditional route that Inuit have traveled for generations, and they have done so without it ever being a skating rink before!
To talk more about observations on the land - traditional knowledge and science related to climate change, do not miss the chat on “Arctic Exploration” with our own GoNorth! Cool Scientist Shari Gearheard this Wednesday on March 11 at 1 PM CST. Shari lives in Clyde River along the expedition route. She is just returning from Greenland where she was out on the trail with Native hunters and Elders making observations on the changes they observe in the sea ice. We can guarantee you that if we team members can get away from the “to-do-list,” we will be sitting in on this chat to learn from Shari’s latest explorations as well. Shari moved to Nunavut a little more than three years ago, and she and her husband have their own dog team and we are sure she will share some first-hand insight on the snow and ice-conditions along the coast of Baffin Island. And while Shari has been living in the community of Clyde River, she has been learning Inuktitut! She may even be able to help out with a few words for different snow conditions!
Have you made any snow in your classroom? If so, share it with the rest of us in the Explore Zone!
Qannik is one of this week’s Polar Husky Superstars and her name means ‘falling snow’ in Inuktitut. When Qanniq was a puppy she was just a little ball of fur full of energy flying in every direction. She was like big fluffy snowflakes falling to the ground in a furry, and that is how she earned her name! Under all that fur, Qannik is, we think, the smallest Polar Husky in the Kennel. But, it’s not all about size. Trail or no trail, snow or no snow, Qannik is showing us how she can sure pull like the big guys!
Qannik was taught by a Polar Husky who happens to be the biggest one in the Kennel - this week’s other Polar Husky Superstar Baffin. There is nothing fluffy about massive Baffin. He is solid heavy muscle and he knows how to use it too. Baffin is about as gentle and lovable as he is big. He is also a good and fair teacher who is not to hard on his younger running mates and has a lot of “Polar-Husky-heart” to share. Yes, whether it is muddy trails, deep fluffy snow, or sheer ice along a glacier, Baffin leans into his harness like few others. He will pull us east and north in Nunavut up Baffin Island (yes, which he is named after!). We hope Baffin will pull us all the way to Pond Inlet so we can indeed visit Julia Laundry and her classroom sometime before the ice starts to break up!