There’s something surreal about spotting a row of paw prints the size of cast-iron skillets stamped in the snow thirty feet from where you’ve been sleeping.
On one hand, it’s exciting to know that we’d come within a distance less than the length of a tour bus between us and Nanor in the wild.
On the other hand, it’s terrifying to know that we’d come within a distance less than the length of a tour bus between us and a polar bear in the wild.
Had it not been for the dogs’ avalanche of low-pitched barks and growls shattering the stillness in the middle of the night and scaring him off, I hate to think what might have happened had any one of us stepped outside in the dark to answer nature’s call unaware of the wilder aspect of nature that had indeed, come to call.
The massive trail of prints leading up to and then away from our camp bears testimony to the fact that there is no word for ‘pet’ in the Tunumiisut vocabulary. Quimmer is a Greenlandic working dog. He lives, eats, and sleeps outside twenty-four/seven, twelve months a year.
Dogs have been an integral part of Eskimo* life for thousands of years serving as hunting partners, guard dogs, pack animals, and more recently, for ferrying adventure seeking tourists across frozen fjords and snow-packed tundra…
Their keen sense for detecting prowling predators, even from a dead sleep, is one good reason for posting these wooly, curly tailed sentries along the village’s perimeter
and around our dog sledding expedition’s first stop over night on Kap Swainson
where I was lucky to be one of the six who hunkered down in the hunter’s cabin and not in tents at the foot of the mountain with the other six.
Although, to be sure, at first I was as much concerned with my eyeballs freezing to my lids in my sleep as being a midnight snack for Nanor. Which, by the way, would no longer be an issue since the planned camping for the next two nights was called off for being too risky with the amount of recent polar bear sitings. But that’s a tale for next time…
* To be clear, with regard to my use of the word Eskimo – I am aware it is considered offensive in some regions and, as a result, has been changed to Inuit.
HOWEVER, I use the word Eskimo with deep respect and a sincere love for the people of the Far North who, in my experience, are kind, open, and welcoming when treated likewise.
Indeed, I have seen Greenlandic Eskimos wear t-shirts that say: I am not Inuit. I am Eskimo – a clear demonstration of the fact that there are twelve tribes in the Eskimo world, the Inuit being one of them. The others are the Tunumiut, Inughuit, the Inuinnaq, Inuvialiut, Inuppiaq, the Juppiaq, Aluuteq, Quutiaq, Aluuteq, Tjuteq and lastly, the Kalaallit of Greenland.
I’ve been told the general name Eskimo comes from the Cree word Askipuaq meaning The-People-Who-Eat-Their-Food-Raw. To this, an old friend often jokes, “I guess you could say we are the inventors of sushi.”
For a short read on the matter, you might want to check out Inuit vs. Eskimo.
To catch up on my complete Arctic adventure thus far, press HERE
Qujanaq to all for stopping by today!