After a rather short night (And this is adding up the short periods of sleep I managed to get), the first full day at the lodge started with an early Polar bear alert wake up call. Bryan had moved and was lying right outside the fenced-in backyard of the lodge.
The advantage of an autumn trip is clearly the temperature: Some of us watched Bryan being a lazy bear in their PJs, without the danger of getting frostbites.
There are not many places in the world where you stand on the porch with a cup of coffee in your hand, watching the sun come up right over a sleeping polar bear.
The morning excitement was followed by hearty breakfast. Honestly, is there anything the Canadians eat without meat? Even pancakes come with bacon.
After breakfast we set of to explore some archaeological sites. Close to the lodge you can find stone tent rings dating back to the Thule and Dorset people a few thousand years back. We also found a place, where you can touch permafrost – but nobody had told us that the water over the permafrost STINKS!!!!! So I’m telling you now. Don’t say nobody warned you, when you go there, obviously touching the permafrost when you get a chance to do so, and your arm reeks. You will do it anyways, no matter what, I’m telling you here.
Besides the smell, the autumn tundra provided us with lots of colourful leaves and berries. On our way back we passed a flock of ptarmigans. Their plumage was starting to turn white, but right now they are still perfectly well camouflaged. To allow for easier shots (with the camera obviously) Terry demonstrated his special ptarmigans herding technique. Well, he actually was just shushing them towards us, but the birds performed perfectly. But the highlight of the walk were not the cute little birds with their fluffy feet, it was a young wolf we spotted in some distance. We all performed a good howling, but he didn’t have any of it and stayed away. Back at the lodge it was nearly lunchtime, an event never to be missed.
The afternoon walk surprised us with another wolf sighting and a short-eared owl. Also, sculls and bones are often lying around here, so there is always something to discover.
The evenings in the lodge are very relaxed. On one of the evenings, it might have been the first or second, Terry gave a presentation on Polar bears. I honestly wished I could remember things better than I do. There was a quiz a few nights later about the PB facts Terry told us and lets just say – I didn’t win. There was a fabulous prize, which I DIDN’T WIN. I’m not bitter about it or anything NONONO – just annoyed with my brain.
The evenings were crucial to set up the cameras ready for potential aurora sightings at night. Sadly also this night was blessed with a cloud-covered sky, which didn’t change much during my hourly aurora watch.