I stared out the window of our plane with awe as we soared above the Earth. The vast landscape of trees and small hills stretched to the horizon. To the north, a line was visible. the trees became thinner, smaller and not so dense. Then there were no trees at all. Just snow and ice.
The landscape from above looks like another planet. Inhospitable, harsh and barren. I wondered how humans could live in such a place. It sure is beautiful though.
After thirty minutes of waiting in the tiny airport “terminal” we boarded our plane again. There were now five passengers left, including Katrina, Gen and I. A further forty minutes of flying saw us approach Ulukhaktok airport.
Of course, the arctic is not an inhospitable place at all. Ulukhaktok is a prime example of a small town that is bustling, full of activity, warmth and acceptance. Upon arriving we were greeted by everyone who walked past us. Tristan guided us around town after dropping our bags off at our accommodations. The first day was a bit of a blur now that I think back, Days kind of meld together here. We also got to see one of only a handful of polar-grizly bear hybrids ever found (pictured above). It was shot just outside of town.
We have been working hard on our separate projects. Katrina is in high demand for her hairdressing skills. She has even taken on around 10-12 apprentices for her time here. There is also a few “hair nights” planned.
The days here are strange but I thought they would be stranger. It is not as hard as I thought it would be but it is also very different to what I imagined also. The sun rises at around 10:30 but isn’t full light until 11:30 or so. Then it begins setting at around 2:30 before finally disappearing at close to 3:30-4pm. All the while, the sun never goes higher than a few millimeters above the horizon to the south. It just barely manages to get its full circular shape visible before beginning its descent.
Katrina and I were also invited to the school to give a presentation on Australia. The grade 1 & 2s thoroughly enjoyed our slideshow of Australian animals, landscape and lifestyle. They were very interested in any animals that were big and scary – sharks and crocodiles. We fielded questions like “do you live in water? Do you have crocodiles in your pool? How big do waves get?”
The night after our presentation at the school, we had a walk around town. Katrina and I went out first to photograph the Aurora Borealis, which makes a nightly appearance here. We got some amazing photographs and then went home to bed at around 10pm, thinking we could get an early night for once.
For a small town, Ulukhaktok has a lot happening in it. Every night there is something happening, from sewing and skills classes to junior rangers (similar to scouts) and sports. The times are pretty irregular too, for example, tool making skills class is 7-10pm, then volleyball is 10pm to whenever everyone goes home. Consequently, nights are always busy and the mornings are slow.