A Summer Night On The Delta

I know it's been a long while since my last post. Summer has brought with it an deluge of unexpected and amazing things.

The first of which was a quick boat trip out on the east-delta, a branch off of the main Mackenzie River that flows right past Inuvik. In my next post I'll detail my boat-trip tour to Tuktoyaktuk and back.

For those unaware the Mackenzie river system is the largest river system in Canada and the thirteenth largest in the world. Streatching over 4,000km across northern Canada. It's massive, fed by literally thousands of lakes, streams and rivers.

My friend Kylik, who runs a local tour company, (Up North Tours) had offered several times last year for me to tag along on one of his tours but things never seem to work out. This year things worked out awesomely.

When he asked one evening if I wanted to go on a four hour trip out onto the delta I grabbed all my camera gear and met several other arctic adventurers at the boat launch.

I had a great time during those four hours and I have the photos to prove it.

The East Channel

One of Several Shipped Parked Near Inuvik On The Channel

Another View of The Nunakput
Just north of Inuvik on the river is a boat landing crowded with barges, cargo ships and even a three-story floating camp.

Vast Stretches of Flat Tundra and Grasses

Kylik Holding a Jackfish (Northern Pike)

We Passed Through Several Small Channels During The Trip

Along The River Rises An Escarpment And Series of Rocky Hills

The landscape out on the Delta can be misleading, if you aren't paying attention it can appear endlessly flat. But if you look closely scenes of intense beauty exist out here. Sweeping vistas of verdant green shrubs and lichens, endless grass choked waterways glimmering under the ever present summer sun, and air so clean you can see for kilometers farther than you would expect.

Hidden out in the flat spongy tundra are dozens of varieties of alien looking plants and fascinating animals you would not expect to find in a place that stays frozen solid 9 months out of the year. Summer here is intense and glorious, and the delta shows that better than anywhere else I have seen here.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I Present The Arctic Tern

The Sleek Little Birds Have An Overabundance Of Character

Intensely Curious and Courageous Little Things
The Arctic Tern is a fascinating bird, lazily flitting on wind currents with ease and incredible grace. They can hover on a dime, and frequently did so to curiously check out the occupants of our boat from above. I was warned by several people not to approach their nesting grounds unless you want to be dive-bombed full of sharp little beak holes. Regardless, we did approach pretty close and only got warning chirps and restless hovering.

Another Common Bird During The Arctic Summer... Swans

The Herd Didn't Stick Around Long
Inuvaluit Turkey... that's how a pair of laughing woman elders described swans to me up here. Yes, the locals here eat them. Why not, just another source of protein. It is amazing how many there are up here, herds (proper terminology for a group of swans) are everywhere up here. The one we saw that night had more than thirty members as well as a large number of small ducks and sandpipers.

The Main Mackenzie

The main Mackenzie is massive. Wide, deep and rife with incredibly swift currents. If you stumbled across it by accident you would think you were looking out at a lake or sea.

Eroding Riverbank

This Cabin Has Skis So They Can Move It During The Winter
The banks on the delta are rapidly eroding in places, the permafrost melting into the waters of the Mackenzie. In some places so much so that peoples cabins must be moved back or be swallowed by the mighty river. Every year, the river widens spreading out and devouring the land.

Surprising Animals Spend Their Summers Here, This Is A Bald Eagle Nest

There Are Beavers Everywhere Up Here

The Evening Provides Hours Of Sunset

Its Getting Late, Time To Head Home

Inuvik was beset by a pair of eerily close forest fires and everyone was nervous that the wind was going to change direction. Town was nice and clear when we left on our trip, but things were very different when we got back to town.

Smoke On The Water
All of Inuvik was blanketed with thick smoke and a hellish foggy red atmosphere.

The Inuvik Docks Were Even More Smokey

The Sun Hung Large And Red In The Sky

The sun was bright red, breathing on the edge of uncomfortable and concerning given last report that one of the fires was less than 6km out of town. Turned out to just be the fault of the wind, Inuvik is still here, but it was hard to breath that night in town.

I had an incredible trip, and soon had another one when I got to go to Tuktoyaktuk.

I'll post about my trip to Tuk shortly.
Until then, I hope someone found this interesting.


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