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The Lisburne Traverse—An Arctic Flash Flood

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I awoke to Govi’s voice with a start, ready for a bear in camp. “There’s water in the tent,” he stated matter-of-factly, working through his sleepy confusion. I unzipped the front door to see a wave train roaring past. The brown water lapping at our feet was an eddy, and it submerged a third of our tent. I looked upstream. “The boats are still there,” I said, and then grabbed my two food bags from under the water and chucked them to higher ground.

The Ipewik was no longer a shallow river of bothersome gravel bars. Now it raced past brown and humming. Before setting out, we let it drop from its peak, enjoying two cups of coffee beside a hard-won fire that we started with athletic tape.
Caribou grazed in groups of ten, thirty, fifty; almost always visible grazing the river bank or laying in respite on a field of snow. We probably saw 500 of them throughout the course of the day. Birds were plentiful: golden eagles, curlews, geese, Eider ducks, peregrine falcons, gyrfalcons, rough legged hawks, ptarmigan, gulls and of course, Arctic terns. A fox with a huge bushy tail trotted past, unaware of us. A chill west wind had us racing to bed just before midnight.


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