Ellesmere Island Expedition Update Part Four 2023 – Final Update

As I noted in Part Three of this saga, as I did not partake in the Ellesmere expedition, I cannot write a full trip report of the team’s experience in the field. However, I noted I would update with a final post once I could catch up with the group and hear more about their experiences on Ellesmere. The group did return to Grise Fjord as planned late in the evening of March 15 and flew back to Resolute Bay, where they overnighted. They arrived in Ottawa a couple of days ago, the first chance I had to catch up with them for a quick text debrief.

Reports were temperatures during the expedition were reasonably warm, initially around -20º Celsius, before becoming much colder around the -35º Celsius mark. Likewise, the journey began with little wind, gradually increasing throughout the expedition with what was noted as a ‘significant wind chill’ later in the trip. Temperatures did drop below -50º Celsius. The team managed to get as far north as camp two. Canadian North’s inexcusable delays and subsequent mismanagement of plane weight limits and luggage allowances dashed the hope of getting further north. Although Camp two is a reasonable distance from Grise Fjord, it is still at least a day’s travel away from our planned objective and two full days away from Eureka Sound (a known wolf hot spot). There had been recent wolf sittings around camp three, and reliable intel meant that was the group’s best chance to find and photograph the Arctic wolf.

With the expedition cut short and not time to make camp three without turning around the following day, it was fortuitous that the Inuit guides found a Musk Ox carcass (a recent wolf kill) near camp two. The carcass was surrounded by fresh wolf prints, making it the ideal place to build a base to wait for the wolves and search the surrounding area.

The wolves remained elusive during the team’s field time despite the setting and Musk Ox carcass. I suspect the wolves came in at night during the dark hours to feed on the remains.

Although the team had some excellent wildlife photographic encounters with the Arctic fox, Ptarmigan and Musk Ox, they did not have any direct encounters with the white Arctic wolf. The local guides located many fresh prints, and many hours were spent searching the area, but the wolves remained true to their name – ghosts of the Arctic.

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