Our Three Most Memorable Hikes on Into the Northwest Passage

Where are the best places to hike in the Arctic? Enjoy these highlights from an Adventure Canada guest who shares his memories from three of his favourite hiking spots along his Northwest Passage expedition: Karrat Island, Ausuittuq (Grise Fiord), and Beechey Island.
Hikers in karrat fjord

© Danny Catt

My wife Carolyn and I are very keen travellers and also very keen walkers. We were really impressed on our Northwest Passage expedition cruise that there was ample opportunity to do plenty of walking (accompanied by knowledgeable Adventure Canada expedition team members) to thereby get a good feel for the local area. This didn’t just apply in the towns we visited (Sisimiut, Ilulissat, Grise Fiord, Cambridge Bay)—it also applied at virtually every stop we made. We were very happy.

I will concentrate on our three favourite walks.

Karrat Island

We enjoyed the long hike led by Chris Dolder which went uphill to a lake high in the interior of the island. On this bright sunny day, the views from the top were truly magnificent—plenty of ice to be seen by looking up at nearby Karrat Fjord, the odd whale spout, and the Ocean Endeavour at anchor. When we got back to the landing area, John Houston was on hand to offer us carpaccio of caribou with a scrap of seal fat.

Karrat fjord

© Dennis Minty

Karrat Fjord

Grise Fiord

My wife was thrilled to meet a “real” Mountie for the first time shortly after we stepped off the Zodiac. A small group of keen hikers set off with expedition team members Jens and Matthew and local guide Jason to climb Mount Greenlander. This was a tough climb—rocky and steep with no clearly defined path. Time constraints prevented us from getting right to the top before we had to turn back, but the views were certainly worth the effort. Along the way, Jason pointed out various moss and lichen that grow in the High Arctic and we were fortunate to spot a couple of amazingly white Arctic hares.

Don warnet and his wife carolyn posing for s photo with canadian mountie

© Dennis Minty

Carolyn and Don Warner

Beechey Island

Franklin expedition graves Beechey Island

© Dennis Minty

I actually felt a few goosebumps when we arrived at this amazing historic location. Along with the others who had signed up for Chris Dolder’s trek, we had an early morning view of the four legendary gravesites before making our way to the top of the small island. There, we saw the remnants of the stone cairn erected by members of the Franklin expedition.

Northumberland House Beechey Island

© Dennis Minty

The Northumberland House, Beechey Island

I recall that one of our fellow hikers was a descendant of Admiral Ommanney, who in 1850 was the first to find traces of the missing Franklin expedition. We all observed a minute’s silence. It was another glorious sunny day—we had excellent views from above the Northumberland House memorials and could see a long distance out to Lancaster Sound.

Polar bear Beechey Island

© Dennis Minty

On the way back down, Chris was alerted that a polar bear had been spotted not too far away. Fortunately, we were able to complete the descent without the bear coming too close to our group. We were grateful to still have time to also visit Northumberland House before returning to the ship. Not long after everyone was safely back on board, all of us had very good views of the lone polar bear, who by then had made his way to the vicinity of the four graves and was snooping around. What an adventure! This was a special day which I will never forget.

Each of these walks were very memorable and we are most grateful to Adventure Canada for enabling them to happen while ensuring a safe experience.

About the Author

Don Warner

Don Warner

Adventure Canada Guest

Don and his wife Carolyn were guests aboard Adventure Canada’s Into the Northwest Passage expedition between August 20 to September 5, 2015.