This week has been a trying and exciting time for our beloved adventurers, from polar bear encounters to injuries.
This week, Team AKOR descended upon a section of pack ice separating Devon Island and Cornwallis Island, to the south of which Resolute is located. Things started smoothly; however, to the great surprise of our friends, this section turned out to be "a polar bear highway."
They had the (unfortunate) luck of meeting no less than 10 polar bears in a mere three days, sometimes as close to the team as 20 meters. This influx of beautiful, yet terrifying creatures meant the men had to remain on constant alert.
The team found themselves in a state of continually surveying their surroundings, always on the lookout for hungry polar bears, which is "slightly" stressful, to say the least. They had to grow eyes all around their heads to avoid any nasty surprises.
This increased presence of polar bears is explained by the presence of a vast open water hole through which the bears hunt seals. Being in their larder, it was customary to come across many of them.
Fortunately, all the encounters with these majestic animals, most of which have never seen great apes like Näak's bearded explorers, went very well.
No bears were aggressive or injured - the guys are keen to tread the territory with respect for its inhabitants, human and non-human. They did, however, have to take turns standing guard one night when four polar bears were roaming around the tent. Thankfully, all went well, as one man verse four polar bears hardly seems to be a fair fight!
Since there was still open water between Cornwallis Island and the island opposite it, the men were forced to cut into the land. This was the safe choice since unstable and fragile ice is, by definition, treacherous.
They had one BIG luxury on the island: they stopped at the shelter of their Resolute contact, the mysterious Aziz, who is one of the few people in the community to have such a facility. They were able to warm up, dry their gear, sleep well and eat warm. They even allowed themselves a well-deserved day of rest.
They still had 80 km to go to get to Resolute, but they managed to do it all in 4 days and finally arrived at their first refuelling station.
However, the conditions that they arrived in could be better. Overall, it's safe to say that the team has been battling with some injuries.
Guillaume and Nicolas, not having foreseen that the humidity was so penetrating in the North. This led to developing quite deep epidermal irritations on the lower part of their bodies, making them suffer quite a bit.
Guillaume also has a weak knee that gave him a hard time, and he was getting exhausted.
On the other hand, Jacob is doing quite well and surely using his health to boast over the other two! They have all lost weight. Nicolas has entirely lost what he had gained before leaving (about 25 pounds).
Despite the injuries that will heal this week (that's their priority), they are in good spirits. They are thrilled to have finished this first of 5 sections. Aiming to reach Southern Ontario in October!
They managed to complete this portion of their expedition precisely in the number of days planned: 40 days, no more, no less. They had tremendous and beautiful challenges to face during this route. Yet, this is what the explorers trained for.
Their objectives for this week are simple: rest, eat, sleep, call their relatives, eat again, and then sleep again. They feel that they have done the most intense part of the expedition, acclimatizing to the expedition's rhythm and the northern environment.
Still, each section contains its own unique challenges.
Make sure to follow along on our social media accounts, @Naakbars to stay up to date with any breaking news and photos from Expedition AKOR. Be sure to read more about the team on our previous Blog Posts.