Saturday, 27 October 2007

Arctic Belle Update

Since returning from the Arctic I've been rather busy and have only just updated the blog to give a description of our incredible journey across the Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island.
If you are new to the site I suggest you visit some of the older blogs first in order to follow the journey from beginning to end! You'll see how I went from being an Arctic novice, nervous mothert of two young children, to trudging 11 hours a day across dangerous icy terrain and camping on ice in minus 25.

After our 11 day walk I interviewed the Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier at her home in Iqaluit. She must be the most amazing grandma in the Arctic - and she also makes fantastic Arctic berry pie! To read the interview about her environmental campaigning click on:,,2154270,00.html

I have also just heard the good news that the Telegraph will be running the feature on our Baffin trip on Saturday November 3rd. There will be some fantastic photographs and possibly a tape-slide show by David Hempleman-Adams so keep a look out for that. You'll also be able to find out - Did we encounter any polar bears? Did anyone get any frostbite? How did we cope with the rapidly melting ice? How much weight did people lose? Would we do it again?

A lot of people have been asking, 'What's your next adventure going to be?'

As Amelia Earhart once said, "When a great adventure is offered - you don't refuse it."

I hope, after reading this blog, you'll realise why I didn't refuse this adventure.

The Last Day

Our last day was a 20 mile ski towards Pangnirtung. Lynne and I kept each other going. We were tired, oh so tired, but we shared Arctic thoughts and dreams and kept moving when the adrenaline was fast running out. I was sad to think that our Arctic Adventure was nearly over yet at the same time desperate for a shower and a decent meal.

As we approached Pangnirtung some Inuit children ran out to greet us and we gave them some sweets from our Munchy Bags. I immediately thought of my two children back home in England. Walking into a building was weird after ten days on the ice. The warmth hit me and that first shower was something else. Despite the length of time I stayed underneath the water I still didn't feel clean - however hard I scrubbed.

Larry, Lynne's husband, gave each of the group a phonecard - which was very thoughtful. I called Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier and, amazingly, she answered the phone and invited me to her house in Iqaluit for the interview the next day. Throughout the trip I had been hoping I'd be able to do this interview so was very relieved when she said, in a typical Canadian relaxed kind of way, come round.

The group spent the evening nursing various minor injuries - mainly to do with feet! Thanks to the experience of our leader we had no major injuries to report. We later heard that other members of groups crossing the park at the same time had suffered from frostbite. We had been in very good hands.

That night, as I lay on a bed for the first time in ten days, I felt sad the trek was over but excited to be meeting a Nobel Peace Prize nominee the following day. The walking was over..the talking was about to begin.

It may have been the end of our journey across this vast wilderness, yet I knew it marked the beginning of my passion for the Arctic.

Most Stunning Campsite View

Mount Thor sounds like it should be in The Lord Of The Rings. And, yes, there is something very dramatic about this Mount. It is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the park. The 4000ft cliff face attracts climbers from around the world. We were lucky to camp beneath the shadow of Mount Thor and wake up to the most stunning view.

Bubbles Suspended in Ice

If someone could create a perfect piece of art for me this would be it: bubbles suspended in ice. On Easter Sunday we stepped onto Glacier lake where I could not believe the vision below me. I peered down to see bubbles suspended in ice. I did a double take. The view was simply mesmerising as I crunched across the ice on crampons. After Glacier Lake we walked onto Summit Lake where the mountains hugged the shoreline. then it was into the Weasel Valley where we climbed down iced waterfalls and came face to face with open water. Once again, we made an unexpected detour which only added to the drama of the expedition. My brother offered to test out the ice/water but his heroic efforts were turned down. Thank God. I wouldn't want to lose my brother. Earlier on in the trip he thought he'd lost me when I went grey in the tent one night. He checked I was still breathing and, even though I looked like death warmed up, I was happily snoring away enjoying Arctic dreams

High Winds

Ohmygod, it's minus 25 and it's so windy I think I'm going to be blown away...and I don't really care. I later find out that we were suddenly hit by a 40 knot wind in minus 25. All of a sudden we were putting up tents and I was wondering which tent I should be in. I was too cold to think or express any kind of logical thoughts so what did I do? I swore. Ooopps. Thank God everyone else was swearing and trying to put up the tents. Afterwards, a member of the group, who shall remain anonymous, confided that he had loved this survival experience because he had wanted to taste real danger and excitement during the trip. Once we were safe in our tents that first mug of tea in front of a stove never tasted so sweet. Looking back, I remember being alone in the middle of the tent (because I was the smallest) as everyone struggled to get the tent up and then threw in their gear. I wished sometimes I was stronger. I packed each person's gear away in their corner and prayed we'd all get in safe and escape the winds. It was the most fantastic feeling when we were all in the tent, huddled around the stove, sipping tea. We had survived. We were there...each one of us was tired and cold. We'd been through this extraordinary experience together..we slept so well....