Friday, 29 August 2008

Polar Bears, Musk Oxen and Huskies

A polar bear and her cub playing in the water

I had two years in the Arctic in 1985 and 86 as a member of the Steger International Polar Expedition. What an amazing chapter in my life. Face to face with polar bears, attacked by Musk Oxen and gliding over the Arctic Ocean with dogs and sledges. Nights in Igloos and homes of Inuit (Eskimo) and surviving at minus 70 oC.

With Will Steger and team, I did some remarkable journeys such as down the Mackenzie River Delta and across the Arctic Ocean to Point Barrow Alaska in 1985 and the following year as a warm up to our unsupported trip to the North Pole, spent 3 months on Baffin Island training in the middle of an Arctic winter, and the late winter on Ward Hunt island.

A camera-shy polar bear. He seemed wary of me when I took this photo in 1986

Mum playing with her two cubs

Musk Oxen near Eureka on Ellesmere Island

Driving the first team of dogs with Brent Boddy with the next team, en route to the North Pole 1986

Bob trying to contact base during training before heading to the North Pole

Walruses on Baffin Island in 1986

Caribou in Arctic Canada, near Demarcation Point.

A young Inuit girl playing traditional string games. Baffin Island.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Another fascinating installment. Great photos. Interesting the Polar Bear is now becoming a political pawn, ans so the Inuit, for Bush's unquenchable thirst for oil. I recall you spent some time in Ely training. Was that with Steger as I know he lives there still? What was it like with him? Do you stay in touch? Certainly another interesting character in your well explored life. Well, off to rest Bob, have been diagnosed with bronchitis, so a bloody good thing I did not head off a few days into the Ruahines. Have a great day.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Hi Robb.

I hope you are recovering quickly. Yes Will Steger and I spent a lot of time together begtween 84 and 87 and lived in Ely for many months.

Yes he still lives in Ely and we keep in touch from time to time. A complex character at at times very basic with a simple outlook on the wqilderness. When you spend so much time along life gets sheared back to its basic dimensions and all the clap-trap gets pushed aside. Yet when you live in the real world as he does now, you have to deal with all the clap-trap, politicians and exploiters. Will has become a great advocate for the Arctic and global warming.

We have a mutual friend Paul Schurke who was with us on our 85 and 86 expeditions, and he lives in Ely, and is another amazing character. He has written a few books on the Arctic.

Sunday noon in Jakarta and have just come back from swimming with the boys.

Get better quickly Robb and thanks for your interaction.


Marja said...

Ah you have been to paradise. The photo's are absolute fantastic. The one with the cubs is wonderful as is the one from the inuit girl.
Amazing to see that some of the childrens games are international.
We made eiffel towers with these strings. She probably made an iglo.
Recently heard something about these bears who are drowning because ice was melting. There is a lot of changes going on.

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Good morning Marja: A beautiful morning in Jakarta. I have just finished my morning exercise and will be off to work soon at 7 a.m and huge traffic jams.

Yes the poor polar bear is suffering from our excessives in our lifesytles. Such an awesome animal.

Yes, we made eiffel towers as kids too. A universal game. The Inuit children play their traditional games but the Canadian education system has brought them the outside world, so they know our games too. Take care.


Paterika Hengreaves said...

Is there any other place on this planet that you have not visited and yet still is able to maintain that cheerful glow, youthful look as I'm able to gleam from your pictures and writings. Yes, I know of such a place, a place once called "The Bearded Fig Tree". LOL Anyways, those artic pictures are awesome. The Polar Bears are gorgeous. Oh, as a child, I enjoyed working out with string games. I taught my two kids some of the string game techniques. They loved it. That was when they were in Montessori school.It was so much fun way back then.

Thank you Bob for your memories and for evoking mine as well.


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dearest Paterika

This is the third comment I have found from you today on older postings. You are such a decerning reader and pick up fine detail. I find it encouraging a Poet Laurettereads my blog regularly. Yes, there is one place in the world I have not been to, Mainland Chins.

I plan to go next year. Take care.


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