By Tim Mutrie
Ellesmere Island is the most northerly of the Canadian Arctic islands and on Monday afternoon, June 13, the odd-couple Ellesmere adventurers—Jon Turk, 65, and Erik Boomer, 26, who are attempting to circumnavigate Ellesmere’s 1,500 mile perimeter—were on its rugged north coast when they called in via satellite phone. On Day 38 (out of 100-something anticipated days) and 600-plus miles into it, Turk and Boomer were in good spirits—even if they were also staring down the crux of the route. “We saw a fly today and that was very exciting,” Turk remarked, laughing, at one point.
Listen to a version of the sat-phone interview here:
They reported that they had yet to use their kayaks as boats, and instead were pulling the kayaks over the ice and snow on their rapidly-deteriorating ski gear. They also both described the next 109 miles of the route—across a zone notorious for “horrendous” pressure ridges spinning south off of the Arctic Ocean—as the “crux.” “At every moment we expect the possibility that we’re gonna run into big trouble,” says Turk.
He adds, “Basically this is a sea kayak trip, but we’ve been dragging our sea kayaks on the ice for a little over 600 miles, so we laugh at ourselves every once and a while because this is kind of a goofy sea kayak trip because we haven’t been sea kayaking yet. Zero. The paddles are lashed to the sides of the boats and we haven’t picked up the paddle for one instant.”
Meantime, “Boomer’s skiing on half a ski … and both of my skis are cracked,” Turk says. “You know, we’re watching ice melt, which isn’t much of a spectator sport. But it’s really exciting to be in this huge mass of ice and snow and emptiness and just the two of us; we’re getting along phemonemally well. Boomer’s like way strong and he helps me when I falter … It’s a wonderful trip.”
“We’re hoping we have 100 miles left of skiing, and then we’ll be at the open water. … We definitely feel like we’re at the crux. This next 100 miles will make or break the route … it’s totally unknown … we have no information.”
See earlier C&K reports from the Ellesmere adventure here:
• And the latest from the Ellesmere Expedition blog, on Turk’s website, jonturk.net/content/blog.