Heading further north with a glimpse at the tail of Canada’s longest river

I flew over the MacKenzie River delta, awestruck by its size and beauty. Canada’s longest river flowed into the Arctic Ocean, and we followed its course as we headed to Tuktoyaktuk for the day. The island was situated in the Arctic Ocean. In the winter, a highway joined the outpost to the mainland—an ice road, but in summer, the road was part ocean. With global warming, the future of the winter ice highway is uncertain, and it will be a problem for the residents to maintain their supply route.

We flew above the tundra where Arctic swans dotted the mossy landscape, flat with an occasional pingo—a geological formation unique to the north. We landed in Tuktoyaktuk where we met our guide—Eileen, an Inuit resident. At her house, she treated the three of us to the local cuisine—muskox, beluga whale and smoked white fish, proud that she and her husband were the last Inuit pair in their community who still hunted during the winter.

Next, we descended a ladder into the ground near a traditional Inuit house. Beneath the surface inside the community’s refrigerator, I got my first close up peek of what permafrost looked like. It was freezing because the ice didn’t melt, so a perfect place to store the summer and winter catches. The underground freezer had separate rooms where Eileen showed us fish she and her husband had caught.

Our last stop before returning to Inuvik, was a dip in the Arctic Ocean. I was already wearing a warm coat despite it being “summer,” so I opted out while the other crazy two tourists froze in the icy ocean.

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