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A 6 am start, to shower and fluff my hair, was pretty much a waste of time. Once I was out on deck, the gale force winds sweeping down from the mountains made quick work of my efforts, but I didn’t care. Travelling along this coast, taking in the cold, beautiful, pristine nature of the earth as it was unfolding in the early morning light, had my full attention. 57ountitled-6300untitled69ountitled-untitled-6

The channel we were in was flanked by 631 million year old rock that had been twisted and shoved by plate tectonics into voluptuous folds.59ountitled-1untitled

I felt very small and very young!

Overnight we had travelled in a more or less southerly direction into the territory of Canada’s Torngat National Park. Its 9700 acres stretch from Cape Chidley at the northern extremity of Labrador to Saglek Fjord in the south. The name comes from the Inuktitut “ torngait” or “ place of spirits”. As  we cautiously made are way up Nachvak Fjord in search of a landing, three polar bears meandered along the shore. The agenda changed. We now moved slowly through shallow waters in search of a polar bear free landing!

This rugged terrain was once the home of Inuit families who lived off the land and traded with the Hudson Bay Company.

In due time, the ship anchored and we disembarked by means of the zodiacs and landed on a narrow spit exposed by the low tide.51ountitled-6370untitled I couldn’t help gawking around as I walked towards the shore. I found my own place high on the cliff side, surrounded by ground willow and masses of blueberries. There I sat, in a sea of browns and golds, twisted branches and tiny autumn leaves.53ountitled-6360untitled

54ountitled-6352untitledThe more able in the group climbed high enough to see the distant mountains.

55ountitled-6351untitled I was content to lean against ancient stone and gaze back at the water below and our ship in the distance. The light was constantly changing. The wind danced on the fjord.

52ountitled-6368untitled-psToo soon, I made my way back down to the shore and out to the ship where lunch awaited. As I ate, the ship repositioned to facilitate a second landing. There, a short hike up a rocky incline opened into an expansive valley.

62ountitled-6450untitled-ps64ountitled-6475untitledOur polar bear spotter, Eli, positioned himself on a ridge and I reminded myself to be mindful of his whereabouts at all times.63ountitled-6456untitled-ps

I wandered and photographed. I gazed at the tent circles by the shore and wondered what it was like to live here. I imagined children playing.

Torngat National Park is beautiful beyond description. It is impossible to stand in this place and not feel the power of the land.67ountitled-untitled-2-2

A lone caribou, with an injured leg, entered the landscape and moved on. “This is his land”, I thought. I am the interloper.

Too soon the time to wander was past and the evacuation of humans to the ship began again.  66ountitled-6493untitled-ps A stream of yellow and red jackets headed down the slope to the landing.

The aroma of Labrador Tea hung in the air.

Soon only the sound of the wind remained.