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Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Queen Charlotte Islands, perched the very edge of Canada’s Pacific continental shelf, is located 80 kilometers west of British Columbia’s mainland coast. National Geographic  Traveller rated Gwaii Haanas National Park in the Queen Charlottes as Canada’s # 1 national park, and it is one of this girl’s favourite places to go.

When we arrived this year for our sea kayaking trip, a northwesterly was blowing.  The warm sun felt good and song birds flirted around the yellow fragrance of the flowering scotch broom.  Leaving behind our Blackberries and street clothes, we load up our groceries and gear, take a look at the map for an overview of where we will be traveling, and head south into the wilderness.

The tide was low when we reach the the ocean shore. Some of us had traveled over 15 hours from our home airport to get here and it was their first chance to look around to where we have traveled. We see carpets of golden rockweed algae, bald eagles soaring silently, and sunlight filtering through the hemlock fronds. Lo, our 22 year old petite 5’2’ 100 pound local guide will transport us into the Park. She offers her knee as stepping platform for a 6’ 180 pound male to board her craft. We travel 60 kph past cedar lined narrows. The wind is calm and the sea glass  as we pop out into Laseek Bay where humpback whales are feeding everywhere. We kill the engine and float silently, holding our breath and pointing our cameras to the sound of the whales exhalations. Water spouts break the silence and pectoral flippers churn the sea, as prey is directed to the surface. Tail lobes raise silently as the whales dive—we count over 30, and three or four of them are heading directly toward us. 

This is Haida Gwaii—the beautiful islands. Over our shoulder we see hues of purple and blue as jagged points mesh against a backdrop of islands and peaks of the 3000’ rugged mountain range of the San Cristobals. Arriving to our drop off, we step ashore on a beach still warm from a sun high in the western sky. It is 8:30 at night. After moving our gear to above the high tide line, we set up our tents, cook chicken fajitas over a cedar fire, crack a beer and learn more of each other. We are a couple and a best friend from Chicoutimi, Quebec, another couple from the Netherlands who have taken 4 months off to travel in some of Canada’s most pristine wilderness areas, one from the heart of New York City and one from Vancouver. Our ages range from 44 to 68 years of age. We are instantly enjoying each others’ company. 

The morning dawns to the  chorus of Hermit Thrushes and Townsend Warblers followed by the  ruckus of the red billed Black Oystercatchers and the high pitched call of the Pigeon Gullemont.  The coffee tastes as good as the weather is fine.  After breakfast, we go over how to pack, paddle and dress for sea kayaking and soon after launch for the short crossing to the abandoned village of Tanu. 

Armed with 110 year old photographs, we explore this now abandoned Haida village of 545 inhabitants with an estimated 30 to 40 hundred meter square cedar houses. The success of these villages depended heavily on the numbers who lived there, as up to 20 men were needed to pull a cedar tree out of the forest for roof beams, totem poles, or canoes; cedar planks and strips of bark were needed for house walls, baskets, nets, traps and weirs. LIfe hummed alongside the elders buried high on the mortuary poles in cedar bent wood boxes. Kids laughed. Stories were told, and adzes blazed out artistic carvings. 

5 years after the small pox endemic hit the Queen Charlotte Islands, the life of the Haida as they knew it then ended; their successful villages of that day lay buried today under the collapsed, moss covered cedar remains. House poles carved with raven’s wings, bear’s eyes, humpback tail and eagles talons  lay decayed beyond recognition, going back to the earth under a canopy of 100 year old fifty meter Sitka spruce successfully seeded in the nursed  life-giving cedar  remains. We are walking in silence by the time we reach the far side of the village where we honor the monuments of Charlie, a Haida who converted to Christianity before his death more than a century ago; and to Tanu chief Miles Richardson and Bill Reid, whose mother’s family came from this village. Reid’s work contributed greatly to the world recognition and appreciation of the Haida and their art. We return to the beach where we left our kayaks anchored, in awe of the Haida.  A perfect way to start our 2 week voyage through their land.

We cross over to Lyell Island on the ebb tide. A breeze from the southeast sets up a two foot chop which has us ease out to a set of rocks. While resting in the lee of these rocks, we watch some male Harlequin ducks take flight. These beautiful ducks mate for life, with the pair making an annual flight as far east as the Canadian Rockies to mate. The female then remains beside the mountain streams to incubate and raise the chicks while the male returns to the coast. Later summer, the female and chicks will return to the coast to reunite with the male.  We marvel the fact that these birds can find each other, separated over a 1000 km, year after year. Further along, we paddle underneath a cathedral of black lichen covered basalt cliffs dotted with yellow Cinquefoil and tussocks of grass. Steep ravines echo out a pair of Peregrine falcons’ shrill call.  We arch our heads back to witness the falcons chasing off a bald eagle venturing too close to their nest

The headwind slows our pace as we pull to Windy Bay.  Here we have entered the watershed too beautiful to log.  This watershed was where the 10 year struggle between the Haida, environmentalists and loggers that eventually won the honor to create the Gwaii Haanas national park reserve. Two eagles fly silently through a clearing made possible with the natural fall of virgin timber blanketing the peaceful salmon and trout filled river valley. The climax forest is evident with the towering Western Hemlock and  Red Cedar.  900 year old Sitka Spruce invade our senses. These are some of largest and oldest trees in the world.  I can not help but invite everyone to place their palms on a great tree, and feel the energy. Even the most skeptical leave walking a lighter step and sporting a more peaceful smile. This forest is home to a greater mass of life than even the  tropical rain forests, with trees taking hundreds of years to decay, and those decayed logs giving home to thousands of species.  In this forest, we see evidence of the Haida everywhere still: ancient cedar  standing tall, still alive, with bark and cedar planks removed from over a century ago. 

We catch the tide south to Murchison and as we approach our next camp, we hear our first trumpet calls from the Humpback whales. Humpbacks are migrating from Hawaii to SE Alaska, following the migration of the Herring through the Queen Charlotte Islands. We usually see these 12 meter whales further out in Hecate Strait, but this year they have come in closer to shore. Tail lobes, exhalations, pectoral flaps break the silence of these misty isles as we sit next to our crackling fire. Hours later, as we prepare to dive into our sleeping bags, we hear a mother and calf pair come close to our camp. We linger a little longer on the rocks, watching this magnificent pair navigate the narrow channel of water.

The new moon is in the northern hemisphere, and is in it’s closest orbit to the earth. This perigean moon is responsible for next  few days of zero foot spring tidal lows.  We wake to explore the many colourful invertebrate animals and seaweeds that are often seen only by divers. There is an impressive array of encrusting sponges, red flowering tube worms, sea cucumbers, sea stars and more. 

After a breakfast of eggs benedict, we paddle to Hot Springs for an afternoon soak. Humming birds buzz past our ears to flowering salal; NW crows craw, the skyline of the San Cristobals cap the scenic beautify of Juan Perez Sound. Haida elder Kathleen Hans, known locally as Goalie, comes to Hotsprings every year. Some of her cedar hats line the shelves at the long house and she teaches the younger Haida some words in their language. She greets me by holding one of my cold hands in her warm hands for close to 10 minutes.  She tells me of her busy day filleting the halibut Kevin gave her, preparing the clams and kelp the others just harvested with the low tide. She sits in her easy chair beside the glass door where I can see the cedar rack airing the thin halibut which will dry within a days with the salt air. Goalie sits back, places her book high on her lap, flexes her wrists back and comments hon how she just loves it here on Hot Springs. “When I die, I want some of my ashes to be spread just along the shore here—the other half of my ashes can be buried next to my husband”.  

When she hears how bookings are down this year with tour operators, she reflects that they’ve been busy as ever at Hotsprings. Archie, another watchman leans back in his chair and laughs, saying “Here in Haida Gwaii we are the center of the universe. The world spins around us”. And so it feels as if it does with the bounty of spouting fish, a richness and diversity to earn this place to be called the Galapagos of the North. We push off in the early evening, with the sun still high in the sky for our camp a mile away overlooking the Juan Perez sound. En-route we fill our water bags. In camp we watch the humpbacks feed in the kelp bed less than 200 ‘ from our beach. We fall asleep with the waves lapping the shore. We are well rested. 

Join us in 2010: http://www.legendaryex.com/expeditions/list/queencharlotteislands.html


Monday, December 8, 2008

Brent and Dee Cowan write after their Ellesmere kayaking expedition

“We thoroughly enjoyed our Northern Experience and are your ambassadors in Southeastern Alberta.

We had heard good things about your company and the northern trips. We have a mission to do what we can do while we can still do it and to travel Canada. Ellesmere Island sea kayaking sounded like something that appealed to us and so over the course of a year we got ready for it!

As the trip came closer we became excited/apprehensive; confident/unsure. On July 28th we left our home with apprehension-we spent 2 nights/days in Yellowknife to acclimatize to the North (not north at all upon our return). July 30th we flew to Resolute-North on the outside but in the local hotel we did not really feel the north. Resolute-the town-was a bleak introduction for us-cold and very windy 24 hours a day at the end of July-we didn’t know what to think.

July 31 we teamed up with our new friends and travel mates from Calgary and Toronto and flew to Alexandra Fiord on northern Ellesmere. We became aware of its beauty from the air as we circled before landing. The air was clear, the water clean and we saw Narwhal from the plane. A great beginning!

We met our guides Dave and Andy-said “hello and goodbye” to the preceding group as they were leaving. We proceeded to acclimatize ourselves and went on a hike ot look at fox dens while Andy sorted out the food. Our days quickly turned into nights as we stayed up until 5 AM to watch a spectacular solar eclipse from the shore. What a way to begin!

The trip was amazing. The water, the ice, sea life, fox, hare, flowers, kayaking, hiking, silence, sea ice crashing, walrus breathing and archaeology were all amazing.

On top of all this, we had two excellent guides who took very good care of all of us and were a wealth of information with all the questions asked of them. They were always (not most of the time but always) friendly, cooperative and cheerful. We realized how much time they spent preparing meals, organizing and helping everyone with everything and were always congenial with us. The guides were great, the scenery spectacular, the tents were warm and dry and the kayaks served their purpose well.

The meals were five star-we ate better on the rocks on Ellesmere than we do at home with all the amenities of a modern stove. It is amazing what can be prepared with only 3 burners and a few pots! Your company, the people who prepare the food and the guides are all to be commended as each day we looked forward to new and varied creations. GREAT!

We wanted this to be a trip of a lifetime for us and it was-the North is truly magnificent and gives us a whole new appreciation of Canada and past generations who inhabited this part of the planet.

We feel honored to have been there and are thankful to the new friends we made along the way.

We ventured out of our comfort zone and were richly rewarded.

We thank Whitney & Smith and all of your employees for being patient with us and making this a most memorable adventure of us."

Monday, August 25, 2008


We are selling Marmot Thor 2 man tents $ 350, North Face VE 25 Expedition Dome tents $ 350 and Klepper Expedition 2 man kayaks $ 2000. They will be set up on August 30 here in Canmore at 933 16th Street. Contact us if you are interested. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nuriassiq—the beautiful land

In the Arctic, for one month only, temperatures rise above freezing for an extended period of time. The land is bound in sea ice for 9 months of the year. The sun sets in October and rises again in February. Winter temperatures can plunge to —40° C and can stay for days. Storms are frequent. 40 mammals call the Arctic home, and half of these are sea mammals. Although 100 species of birds breed in the Arctic, only 10 live here year round.

Traditionally, the Inuit have lived in balance with their prey. If hunts were too successful, the animals declined and the people starved and died until balance between hunter and prey was redressed. Animals gave them everything they needed to survive as the land only offered sod, stone, ice and snow. The population of many hamlets on Baffin Island for example have stayed more or less the same for the past 4 thousand years.

By April this frozen landscape is bathed in 24 hour sunlight and within a month Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Northern Fulmars, King Eider, Gyr and Peregrine Falcons to name a few will return to this land to breed. Narwhal, Bowhead, Atlantic Walrus swim the waters at the ice edge while Ring and Bearded seal sun themselves on the pack ice near their breathing holes. Polar bear tracks litter the pack ice. By mid May you can truly appreciate why the Arctic is called the beautiful land.

This spring we traveled to the Baffin Floe Edge. When we first arrived, we were greeted by the midnight sun glistening over the pack ice back dropped by the cliffs of Bylot Island. Glaucous gulls shrilled out across the quiet landscape while kids played in town and young mothers carried their babes in colourful amultees. We left the next day with 2 Inuit guides, Tommy and elder James along with James's grandson Tommy. We travel by sled to the floe edge where we set up a base camp which would become our home for the next 8 days. After anchoring our tents and collecting ice for our water, we stood and looked out across the land . There was a dark purple sky to the east where the open water lies. It is very quiet here. One of our Inuk guides, Tommy, says he loves this land. He likes the cool fresh air. He then speaks of the shipping traffic that is starting to come through here in the summer to bring supplies to the new lead zinc mine opening up and how the noise from the ships scare the narwhal away. He spoke how he traveled to their traditional caribou hunting grounds near this new lead zinc construction...”we drove 8 hours by ski doo to get there and we only caught one caribou. We tell the mining company every chance we have that their mining activity is scaring away the caribou, scaring the narwhal away. But they don’t care” he concludes angrily. When I suggest they speak up to other government organisations, he replies “We do”. Tommy then looks across his beautiful land and says “Whose land is it anyway? We’re just numbers. I love this land”.

The next day we wake to a glorious sunny morning and travel along the floe edge. We meet three locals camped next to the water where they are hoping to see narwhal. Polar bear tracks run right through their camp. Thick-billed Murres and Black Guillemots flock in great numbers. Further along the ice edge James spots a female polar bear with two cubs. We watch through binoculars how the mother has to spread her hind legs to keep from falling through the thin ice, while the cubs bounce along behind her without a care in the world. An hour later we see a male polar bear. Returning to camp we are lucky to witness a pair of Peregrine Falcons stoop a Black-legged Kittiwake in mid flight. We are able to sneak up behind some ice to try to photograph and watch the one Peregrine Falcon feeding while the other waited it’s turn a 100 meters off.

Late one night I hear Tommy call my name outside my tent. “Jane, Jane....there is a bear about a kilometer out feeding on a seal.” I hear the snow falling outside and I find it hard to find the will to get out of my warm sleeping bag. I haul on my boots and climb outside to see the bear. There is another hunter approaching it, and we see the bear start to run away. Suddenly the bear stops and turns around, heading back toward the hunter. We then see the bear disappear, as though it fell through a lead in the ice. We later hear that an ice berg had blocked the view of the bear from the hunter and when the hunter came around the berg, he wondered where the bear was. He had stopped close to the bear who had decided to hide in the seal lair from the seal he had just hunted, which laid out on the pack ice. The bear then realised it was not the best hiding place, and from afar through our binoculars we watched the bear resurface on the pack ice, and walk over to the ice berg which he climbed and proceeded to hang out, snoozing, shaking his head, looking around....waiting for the human disturbance to go away. It was another perfect opportunity for us to watch bear behaviour as he rested on top of walls of blue ice, snorting, clicking his teeth in warning...his black nose snorting again and again. We stood above the seal lair and checked out the bear teeth marks on the seal. Back in camp, James was trying to train his dog, pointing out to the bear saying “nanook.....nanook” while his dog only looked at him, tail wagging, howling to the word ‘ nanook”.  It made us all laugh.

We enjoyed traveling along the steep dolomite cliffs on the east side of Baffin Island to Cape Graham Moore where as many as 320,000 thick-billed murres and 50,000 black-legged kittiwakes utilize these cliffs. Other birds we see this trip include Greater Snow Goose, King Eider, Long-tailed Jaeger, Long-tailed Duck and Northern Fulmars. We visited many Thule sites, some many hundred years old. James tells us about his family life growing up in a sod house near Guys 
Bight. He recounted a story when his mother was giving birth in the sod house, she commanded the kids hide under the blankets and wait until it was all over. “It was so hot under those blankets, I was sweating. And then when I heard the baby cry, I was afraid to come out from under them”. We also heard how James, as a young boy, wanted to drive his dog team to Pond Inlet, but he was too shy to arrive into the ‘big town’. So he tied up his dogs and rode in with another hunter.

We end our journey traveling back to Pond Inlet over the pack ice, oftentimes scoured by wind the bare ice was too slippery to walk on. Pools of water formed on top of the ice and leads opened up looked like rivers. We found a warm sunny place out of the wind behind a cliff to have a hot lunch when we saw a Raven’s nest. Raven chicks hatch in March, well ahead of other nesting birds up here.  When we arrived into Pond, the purple saxifrage were blooming, a large dark solitary bee ‘ Bombus Polaris’ zigzagged crazily amongst the newly open flowers. Snowbuntings sung and flited from their nest hidden in the boulders. A pair of snow geese flew overhead. Spring arrived here in the North.

We will board our plane early next moring. It is always hard to leave Nuriassiq—the beautiful land.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Jane Whitney, owner operator of Whitney & Smith

Guide Dave Quinn writes for Adventure Kayak a piece on Jane Whitney

From her backyard office in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Canmore, Alberta, Jane Whitney takes a break from her computer to look back on over 30 years of adventure tourism work. “The last indoor job I had was for two months in 1976”, recalls Whitney. “I started guiding cycling, skiing, and paddling trips in the rockies that summer, and have never looked back”. For over 30 years years now, Jane has been leading kayak, trekking, and documentary expeditions to some of the last remote outposts of wilderness on the planet. She began sea kayak guiding in the early days of Ecosummer, at the time one of the only companies leading commercial trips to remote wilderness areas. Her training as a biologist led her to the Canadian High Arctic, to work months at a time in self-supported camps studying migratory birds. Jane and her former partner Steve Smith formed Whitney & Smith Legendary Expeditions in 1987, specializing in exotic, remote, and wildlife-rich destinations across the globe. “We originally thought that we should bring people to all the amazing places we worked as wildlife biologists, to experience, for example, the ancient murrelets on the Queen Charlottes, thick-billed murres on Leopold and Coburg Islands in the Arctic, magellanic penguins in Patagonia. All these places we were lucky enough to work in had the perfect combinations of wilderness, wildlife, and spectacular scenery”. “Whitney and Smith is all about giving people a trip of a life time, where we all travel as a team on self propelled expeditions; giving people a better understanding with why it is so important to protect our wilderness and it's wildlife”. This leading edge adventure company is truly a family business, and Jane has become adept at balancing the needs of the business and the joys of being a mom. “It was originally hard to leave my 7 month old baby to guide on Ellesmere or in Patagonia”, explains Whitney,”but I always came back as a better mother with my cup filled with the beauty of the wilds. Getting Navarana out with me has been my priority. As a baby, Navarana woke up smiling when heard the shrill call of the Oystercatcher in the Queen Charlotte Islands and she learned to walk on Prince Charles Island, Baffin Island. When we were exploring Tonga for possible trip options, Navi and I would home school at night by candle light”. Thirteen-year-old Navarana is now Whitney and Smith´s youngest guide, joining Jane on trips when space and Navi`s busy school, dance, and ski schedule allows. In between her duties as a supermom, guiding and running a business, Jane has made time for exceptoinal personal adventures, including a 60-day kayak expedition the southern Chilean coast (it rained for 58 of 60 days), and extended ski tours across the Greenland and Patagonia ice caps. “The next 30 years will be as full as the last 30”, predicts Jane, whose current projects include searching out new wild trips in Patagonia, Kamchuka, Greenland, Baffin Island, South Georgia Island, and the Auckland Islands.“I also plan to do alot of travelling with my kid”, explains Jane with a supermom grin.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Whitney & Smith coming to NYC, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary!

We will be in the following cities speaking at the adventure travel shows. Please be sure to contact us if you would like to meet for a drink, have time for dinner or would like to plan an informal slideshow for you and your friends! Be sure to stop by our booth at the show. We'd be delighted to see you!

New York City: Jane Whitney & Charlie van Straubenzee will be in town from Friday, January 11 to Monday, January 14. The Adventure Travel Show, sponsored by National Geographic Adventure will be at Pier 94, 755 12th Avenue between 54th and 55th Streets. Hours are Saturday, January 12 9 to 6 pm and Sunday, January 13 11 to 4:30 pm.

Vancouver: The Adventure Travel Show will be at the BC Place Stadium. Show times are Saturday, February 16, 2008 ~ 10 am - 6 pm and Sunday, February 17, 2008 ~ 10 am - 5 pm.

Toronto The Adventure Travel Show will be at the The International Centre 6900 Airport Rd, Mississauga. Show times are from Friday February 22, 12 Noon - 9 pm, Saturday February 23, 10 am - 6 pm and Sunday February 24, 10 am - 5 pm.

Calgary The Adventure Travel Show will be at the Roundup Center, Stampede Park from Saturday, April 5, 2008 ~ 10 am - 6 pm to Sunday, April 6, 2008 ~ 10 am - 5 pm.

We hope to see you!

Friday, January 4, 2008


These trips take place in the famed roaring forties. As naturalist and writer George Gaylord Simpson said in his classic Attending Marvels “all we had to do was sit down and all of Patagonia will blow past you". 

Some years we find ourselves paddling these trips with little to no wind, day after day. But in 2007 our expedition members awoke nearly every day to building winds and seas, and, more often than not, spent at least part of the day exploring the interior of Peninsula Valdes, where arrowheads, boleador balls, and even human skeletons eroding from the wandering dunes tell the tale of the Tehuelche aboriginals that once called this Patagonia their own.  Herds of guanacos, a large variety of birds, and even a Patagonian viper or two kept the group company on their wind-bound days.

One of our groups this year were lucky enough to discover a beached sei whale - 16 meters long and relatively fresh.  A quick phone call to Mariano Sirioni, the Argentine Whale specialist, brought him and his colleague, Dr. Michael Moore of Woods Hole, to the beach for a necropsy.  Our team was enlisted as very keen recruits to help the biologists with the necropsy.  Blubber and meat was hauled off to allow organ samples to be gathered, and all smaller bones were hauled into the dunes for the armadillos to clean.  The larger bones will be left for the petrels and the sea to clean.  This is only the second sei whale ever to have washed up on the shores of the peninsula, and Sirioni will return in several years for the skeleton. 

A record number of whales were sighted this year - Mariano told the group that over 1100 southern right whales had returned to the peninsula this year - a record.  This population is still growing at 7% per year, and the mothers and calves are still a highlight of this trip.  On one day Dave and Juani and the group counted over 30 pairs of whales while paddling and in front of their camp!  They even saw a rare white calf, which kept them company for several days.

Unfortunately, the biologists have also noted a record number of whale deaths this year, with over 75 dead whales washing up along the shores of the peninsula.  Dr. Moore was hoping to discover the cause of these deaths through his samples, and indicated that a possible early suspect was an abundant red-tide algal bloom the previous summer.

All-in-all the trips were full of lots of laughs, great sunsets, fresh sea food, invigorating swims, and another wonderful Patagonian adventure.  Ah, yes, and don't forget, on these trips you get to sample the great Argentine Malbec wines!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Great Bear Rainforest

We are just back from running the Great Bear Rainforest trip where we day paddled beneath 4000' granite cliffs to visit salmon running rivers from the comforts of Raincoast Conservation Society's 70 ' sloop 'Achiever'. Brian Falconer and first mate Doug Jodrell were on board, who helped make this trip a fantastic success. On one day we saw 2 sprit bears in the morning (it is quite rare to see them!) and counted 9 grizzlies and 1 black bear feeding on the salmon about 3 meters from where we sat. We didn't see wolves but heard them howl in the night and saw fresh tracks, headless salmon (they eat only the brain) and some diggings. We also had nice sightings of Humpback whales. We left the Achiever on Sept. 21 to paddle the wild rugged west coast of Campania Island, over to Pitt Island, through Union Passage to the small Gitga'at community of Hartley Bay. Here we met up with Marven Robinson to go see 2 more spirt bears! This trip was rated as 5 star as being for the soul! We especially enjoyed seeing many sea birds which included Sandhill cranes, Common murres, Harlequin ducks, Scoter ducks, Ruddy and Black turnstones, Hooded mergansers, Pacific loons, Common loons to name a few! You can see the images of the trip from our guests by going to the following site: picasaweb.google.com. The username is: greatbearrainforest The password (named after John's now-legendary fishing exploits) is: fourfish. You can also read up about the trip in this month's issue of National
Geographic Adventurer. Attached is Doug's recording of some of the wolves we heard on evening. Howling Wolves 01.wav

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BBC Natural World: Sisters of the Snow

BBC selected Whitney & Smith to help them with their natural history filming project Sisters of the Snow on Ellesmere Island. Whitney & Smith guide Mike Farris joined Mike Diliger and Ian McCarthy from early June to first of August. Bob Saunders returned to Ellesmere with Mark Smith from end of August to September 8. Mike reported in that he was looking forward to 'getting out of the sun after close to 55 days of 24 hour sunlight. Bob said Mark Smith couldn't believe the food Whitney & Smith provided, and 'he even photographed it to show the others back home'. Mike Diliger sent us a quick word of thanks :

" In short, we thought the whole trip was incredibly well run by you and your team. The food was wonderful, all the various ways of transporting us across the ice/sea worked perfectly and everything was incredibly well marshalled by Mike, whose dedication to the job was flawless. He not only coped with two demanding Brits for 8 weeks, but worked incredibly hard, was always thinking ahead and was also incredibly practical when it came to building a tower with nothing more than a couple of ski-runners, a pallette and some driftwood! Thanks also to you and your team for providing such wonderful support and so ably sorting out all the incredibly complicated logistics which went with us staying out in the field a couple of weeks longer than planned."

We'll keep you posed when Natural World: Sisters of the Snows airs!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Islands of the Taiga, East Arm, Great Slave Lake

We are just home from paddling the East Arm, Great Slave Lake! You will be able to read about the trip with Patrick Kane's article in the March, 2008 issue of Up Here Magazine. Jamie Whiteside played great music on the guitar by the fire most nights, Navarana Smith made great desserts and Don Carpenter and Hannelore Achenbach caught beautiful 8 pounder Lake Trout. This trip was Mary King's of Hay River first sea kayaking trip ever. She did great! We enjoyed watching the bald eagles and hearing the beautiful calls for the Common Loon and migrating geese and the visit of a 2 year old black bear.