Muskox! Lots and lots of muskox. And mosquitos too. These along with wolves, falcons, Sandhill Cranes, geese, Jaegers, and Lemmings are what I found in the surreal landscape of Aulavik National Park. For 12 days our little group of 8 explorers paddled under the midnight sun, down the Thomsen river that meanders between primeval, low rolling mountains. These hills were covered in a glorious meadow of wildflowers bursting with colour during our brief visit.
On ridges, high above the river, we saw traces of peoples who lived here for thousands of years: the Thule, and before them the Pre-Dorset. Lichen covered stones of ancient tent rings, rocky food caches, stone tools, and leftover muskox and caribou bones of dinners eaten long, long ago attest to human resilience and resourcefulness.
There are no roads or trails in this park. The only way to get here is by bush plane – and that’s the only way out. There is no electricity or internet. There are no facilities of any sort. If you didn’t bring it with you, you will have to do without in this remote park on Banks Island in the western Canadian Arctic. The lack of modern amenities serves to remind us of what we human beings really need to survive. This wilderness adventure also really, really made me appreciate flush toilets and hot showers!