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.
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. 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.
Too 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.
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.
A lone caribou, with an injured leg, entered the landscape and moved on. “This is his land”, I thought. I am the interloper.
The aroma of Labrador Tea hung in the air.
Soon only the sound of the wind remained.