Notes from the North

Day 1 — Departure

All went very smoothly today. We had a long and successful day. Our primary goal was to reach Yellowknife to be prepared to fly to Gjoa Haven.

Kyle is an excellent pilot and the Duncan’s plane is perfect for this mission. There is not a moment that goes by that we do not thank them for their generosity. We are also extremely thankful to a major anonymous donor who helped us, literally, to get off the ground. Dr. Sylvia Earle’s generosity and support is a true inspiration to all of us. Sylvia and I spoke right before we left and she wished us will on our mission. We also very thankful for the generosity of Adam and Kara Rhodes, Peg and Lou Cassano, Mag Cassano and Tom Way, and BlueWater Advisory group. Special thanks to BlueWater advisory group in handling our outreach to the media for this trip. Another special thanks Richard Theiss of RTSea Productions. Richard is volunteering his time and talent as our cinematographer. I also want to send a heartfelt thanks to Jeff Mahoney, City Creative Group, whose friendship and his incredible skill in graphic design and communication has kept me on track, motivated and inspired from the beginning of InMER.

We flew non-stop from Santa Barbara to Spokane, Washington. After leaving Spokane, we flew to Edmontaon Alberta where we picked up our last team member, Clayton Neufeld. Clayton is a pilot based in Edmonton with a significant amount of experience flying in the Arctic. It is great to welcome Clayton to the team and to have both his flying expertise and local knowledge help us on this mission. After flying almost 2000 Nautical Miles we arrived safely in Yellowknife.

Yellowknife is located in the Northwest Territories. It is the seat of government for this territory. It is a beautiful city situated on the Great Slave Lake. A little bit of history. The great Mackenzie River flows from this lake. John Franklin launched two overland and canoe expeditions from this area in the early 1800’s, one ending in disaster with the loss of many men, the other a near disaster.

Tomorrow we leave for Goja Haven. We will fly above the Arctic Circle and enter the realm of the midnight sun. Many of us know that in the Northern hemisphere, the North Star is a great way to orient yourself and find which direction North is.. Mariners and other navigators also know that you can determine your northerly latitude by measuring the height of the North Star above the Horizon. The North Star is part of the star constellation known as the big dipper. The big dipper is also know as the the great bear. The word Arctic it self comes from the the Greek word Arctos, meaning bear. As the explorers of and societes of old look North they looked to the land od the Great Bear, the Arctic.

The Arctic is the land of the great bear, powerfully there is another great bear besides the heavenly bear that calls the Arctic home,the polar bear. Now more then ever the polar bear is becoming a symbol of the threat to this great land. But it is not only this great land that is under threat; it is the very planetary system we call home that is threatened.

Those of us who live south of the Arctic used the North Star to connect us to the North. Today we are learning and more how are connected to the North in many other ways.

Tomorrow InMER ventures to land of the great bear. Where the North Star is higher and higher in the sky and where the polar bear, the Bowhead whale and the Inuit have lived for millennium.