Baffin Island Backpacking in Auyuittuq National Park: Part II
Our second week of backpacking on Baffin Island in Auyuittuq National Park involved retracing our steps from Summit Lake back to the fjord, an hour away by boat from Pangnirtung.
Although we could have done the return trip in about four days, we took a week – with a rest day in the Rock Garden and a slower pace compared to our hike in. In hindsight I would have chosen to do the Auyuittuq Traverse (Broughton Island across Akshayuk Pass to Pangnirtung) so I never had to retrace my steps.
We did have a layover day at Summit Lake before starting back.
Everyone in the group except me – because of an exceptionally sore ankle – hiked under sunny skies for about 24 kilometers to catch the view of Mount Asgard – a flat-top cylindrical rock tower – that can be seen in the opening shot of the James Bond movie – The Spy Who Loved Me. I’m sorry to have missed this view but figured it was better to look after myself than not.
The cylindrical shaped Mount Asgard – Photo credit: Matthew Lawrence
I spent a long day in camp by myself – catching up on laundry, reading and exploring. I did meet two American mountain climbers who hiked in that day with plans to climb a few of the surrounding peaks over the month of July. They’d shipped all their gear and food up from California ahead of time – by plane and snowmobile – so it was waiting for them at Summit Lake. I’m curious as to what mountains they successfully summited.
The view out our tent window at Summit Lake
On my day in camp I also hiked back on some of the moraines leading to Mount Asgard and wandered around with camera in hand looking for subject material.
Lichen covered caribou antlers
There’s a trail through the moraine heading to Mount Asgard
What a rocky, desolate world up north
Early in the morning on the day we left Summit Lake the sun was out for a short time. Then the weather changed and ended up being one of the more miserable days.
Summit Lake at about 5 am
We had rivers to cross again on the return. I couldn’t help marveling at a group of male hikers we ran into – all of whom looked like they had more outside their packs than inside.
A hiker with more outside than inside his backpack
Heading towards Mt Thor under cloudy skies
Mounds of heather on the trail
There were lots of Ryvita crackers eaten for lunches in the second week
We spent a few nights in what has been called The Honeymoon Suite” – in effect a giant rock garden with boulders that were quite literally the size of Mack trucks. It was easy to spend a day exploring the area.
Massive boulders – perfect for climbing
Our tent looked out at this view in the Rock Gardens area
Mount Thor sits in the background
Our tents are dwarfed by the boulder field
On our second to last day of hiking we climbed the sandy moraine around Crater Lake and stopped for a break at the top. By now the ice had left the lake so four of the gang decided a swim was in order. I think they just wanted to check out their gasp reflex.
Yes- Crater Lake is fed by meltwater from a glacier
I think you get the idea that it’s cold – really cold
Would you jump into a lake with a temperature just above freezing?
After the swimming interlude we continued on – past what looked like sand castles but was ice covered by sand.
They look like sand castles but aren’t
The hiking was easy for the last few days and our packs felt like they weighed nothing at all.
Lost in conversation
Drinking water right from the streams
I’m still happy to take a break whenever I can
The hiking is lovely – especially since there are many more wildflowers out
I’ve never seen this before
This must be in the azalea family
One of the last rest stops
One of the few signs of civilization
Our last night was wildly windy
Our last night was an interesting one. We know that the winds clocked 110 kilometers an hour in Pangnirtung – so I’m sure we had the odd gust that was close to that. One tent had a set of poles snapped and there were times we could barely stand.
By the end our thoughts were all about hot showers, soft beds and clean clothes. I’m glad I did the two week backpack but I’m in no hurry to repeat the experience.
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