Well they’ve done it. Kayakers Erik Boomer, Katherine Breen and Eric and Sarah McNair-Landry spent 65 days paddling across Baffin Island in traditional Inuit style kayaks, completing their 600-mile expedition and arriving in Cape Dorset on Saturday, Sept. 21 to a hero’s welcome. The team’s goal for the expedition, called “Qajaqtuqtut” or Inuit for “they kayak,” was to reintegrate the traditional skin-on-frame kayak into Canadian Arctic culture.
“People were really excited to see our kayaks,” says Boomer. “The fact that we built them ourselves added a special element to this expedition. In a small way, it is nice to know that we are doing something to help keep the kayaking tradition alive in Nunavut.”
The team began the journey back in mid July in Qikiqtarjuaq. From there, the members trekked across the Penny Ice Cap and through Auyuittuq National Park to Pangnirtung. They then paddled and portaged a historic route from Cumberland Sound to Nettiling Lake, the Amadjuak River to Amadjuak Lake and through a series of small lakes to the Southwest coast of Baffin Island.
“The expedition brought many challenges including some that we hadn’t expected,” says, Eric McNair-Landry. “We all feel lucky to have had the chance to experience the incredible natural environment that Baffin Island has to offer.” At various stopping points, team members wrote dispatches updating the public on their progress. The brief online posts tell of encountering swarms of mosquitos, surviving epic storms and coping with tribulations from exhausted nerves.
The team is back in Iqaluit and will spend the next few weeks wrapping up the expedition.