After a couple of days into the expedition, I had gotten to experience what actual ice breaking felt like. When the ship broke thin ice, the walls either vibrated minimally, or not at all. However, when it hit the larger, thicker ice, the shaking potential greatly increased. I can say that I never had a problem with the ice breaking while sleeping, so it really wasn’t problematic at all since it felt more like a comfortable crib than a furiously shaking ship.
We eventually arrived in a coastal Inuit community named Pond Inlet where we first went ashore onto Arctic land. Pond Inlet was home to one of the most dramatic coastlines I’ve ever witnessed. It was this beautiful, gargantuan, thawed inlet that was flanked on all sides by jagged mountain peaks blanketed with glistening white glaciers that flowed down their valleys. We spent a while trying to figure out how we would get to land, however it’s not like we could just dock the giant ice breaker and walk in from the port. Instead, we did the same thing anyone else would do in our predicament, go via helicopter. It was my first time in a helicopter, like many others, and it was absolutely thrilling. Once we landed and got our floatation suits off, we walked down to the town library where we met with the locals and enjoyed a barbecue together. Shortly after, we returned back to the Oden and visited Pond Inlet one last time about 16 hours after making it back to the ship. The second day we were blessed with even more beautiful weather than the first, illuminating the breathtaking scenery that enveloped us. We were guided by locals who showed us around the northern community, visiting the shoreline cliffs, the local stores, library/museum. It was beautiful, and the people were extremely kind and very sensible when it came to humor. I thought of sitting on the cliffs with my friend Tristan, watching ringed seals barking off in the water, hoping that time would stretch just a little bit longer.
As everyone made their way back to the ship, members from the group, Ikaarvik, boarded the Oden with us for a quick workshop where they explained the organization’s role. The next day, we made some amazing discoveries. Rick spotted the voyage’s first polar bear and within one hour we spotted two more. They were such spectacular, beautiful creatures and we were incredibly close to them. It was completely different from witnessing them in a zoo, they exuded power and seeing them in the wild was completely mind blowing in a way that cannot be explained. Team BaMM was so excited that we started praying for whales to appear. Comically, within 30 minutes we spotted three bowhead whales. It was a magical day.