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Sachs Harbour, Monday August 5, 2013

posted August 5, 2013

When the Northern Party under George Wilkins had established their camp at Mary Sachs Creek in September 1914, they wanted to head north up the west coast of Banks Island, to look for Stefansson and his 2 companions who had planned to cross the Beaufort Sea ice from Alaska. Wilkins tried to get around Cape Kellet with the Mary Sachs and could not. They tried with a smaller boat and could not, so Peter Bernard devised a wheeled “dog cart” from a dog sled and off they went! Does any of this sound familiar? We can’t get around the same Cape by sailboat (it hasn’t arrived yet), we tried with smaller boats and could not, and tomorrow we are headed north with two wheeled contrivances. Actually these wheeled vehicles are tested and true, a 4-wheeler ATV and a Polaris Ranger “side-by-side.” We will go to Sea Otter Harbour tomorrow, camp and explore there, then head for North Star Harbour the next day. From the HTC cabin at Meek Point we will be able to see Terror Island and Storkerson Bay, both localities important to CAE history.

Today we drove out to Cape Kellet in the Ranger to see how the rough ride would be for my back. It really is an amazing vehicle, traveling easily over the rough tundra, and I am confident that I can handle the ride. Cape Kellet itself is a magical place, even in the fog. A long low curving sandspit disappearing into the fog. Ice floes gently moving back and forth in the slight swell, an old Thule Inuit site with bowhead whale bones poking up through arctic daisies, fresh polar bear tracks in the sand, a cold foggy wind blowing, and three crazy men on hands and knees searching the windrows of fossil wood and tree fragments for the illusive Arctic “walnuts” that I know must be there because I saw one in 1998! The fossil trees that erode out of the banks here are about two to three million years old.

On the way back we searched for a small team of “geologists” who had flown into Sachs yesterday from the north end of the Island. John’s son Steven was working with them and I knew Clayton Kennedy from the Canadian Museum of Nature was likely there too. We found them in a gully close to the beach. It was one of the many “cool” connections we have experienced because Clayton, as well as being a former colleage when I was at the CMN, is also one of the many people from the Museum who contributed to our crowd-funding campaign.

I always take great joy in telling everyone what a wonderful bunch our funders are, and that this Expedition is 100% people funded. THANKS!