Moon Walk: Ice Breaking and Fish Jigging

Trip Start Aug 01, 2010
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16
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Trip End Feb 16, 2012


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Flag of Canada  , Nunavut,
Thursday, December 23, 2010

We woke up on our first morning in Gjoa Haven and the snow covered world out the window was a light grey. It was a relief to see some semblance of light outside.
Treva called shortly afterwards to tell us she'd heard there was going to be a dog sledding race out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in an hour so we hurried with our breakfast and dressing in layers and layers of warm clothes.  When we got outside we could hear all the dogs of the hamlet barking, everyone wanted to run! We saw a bunch of dogs and snowmobiles congregated out 500 yards so we started walking out.  Sled dogs were running alongside snowmobiles at top speed, wow they were fast!! Then all of a sudden the race began without warning.  The course took them 15km out onto the ocean and then back.  
In a quick minute the racers were out of sight so the meantime we took a walk around on a little frozen peninsula.  Snow and frost had accumulated on many random objects left out on the tundra.  It is a true frozen world up here.
To the NorthWest of us we saw some people congregating on the ice again, and it looked like two poles were set up, perhaps the finish line for the sled race? We waddled over in our 'space suits' of head to toe arctic-wear.  Everyone was friendly and we made friends quickly.  Turns out, they were setting up for another race.  Men were lining up with spuds and what can best be described as 'giant spoons' to race to see who could make a hole in the three feet ice first. (Ice at this time is supposed to be 6 feet but as I mentioned before, they are having a warm spell).  I asked my new acquaintance, Rachel, who she thought would win and she replied, " probably the strongest man".  In about three minutes the ice was broken and the strongest man was awarded $100!! There were also second and thrid place prizes.  Once all the men had broken holes in the ice, it was the women's turn to race for who could catch a fish the fastest!  All the women set to work jigging with a stick or a piece of bone and some bacon or orange peel on the hook.  We saw the first fish caugh, a giant cod!!  
By this point we had been outside for nearly two hours and we were starting to get very cold.  The dogs were finishing their race off in the distance as we head for home.  They still had uniform speed and extreme will to run but we could see that they were not as fast as when they started out, even 15km can tire out these wild canines.
There was nothing better than crawling under the warm bed covers with to two snuggly lap dogs and a cup of tea afterwards. I started reading the Dean Kootz novel, 'Icebound' which seems very fitting to this setting (little did I know that it would come back to haunt me during the blizzard).

Later in the evening we decorated the tree and got the house ready for Christmas...
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