Hike the extraordinary mountain wilderness of Ellesmere Island on this two-week backpacking expedition. Quttinirpaaq National Park is the world's most northerly park. Situated on the tip of Ellesmere Island, it is less than 500 miles from the north pole. Stunning mountains and glaciers, muskox, arctic wolf and fox and many bird species make this a naturalist's delight. The route is a circumnavigation of the Ad Astra Ice cap - allowing you to see the most spectacular hiking areas of Ellesmere!
During the brief arctic summer on Ellesmere Island, the sun remains high in the sky bathing the land in continuous daylight. There is no darkness to mark the passage of time telling you when to sleep and when to wake. There are no trees to remind you of lands further south. The scale of the land is both immense and intimate at the same time. Intricate patterns of rock, frost-cracked ground, willows and wildflowers at your feet extend out from where you stand into endless vistas in the clear, dry air. Glaciers on a mountainside fifteen kilometers away seem to be details in a landscape within reach.
Animals in the park appear innocent in their lack of fear of people. Long-tailed jaegers may hover in front of you while caribou may approach you closely, each curious of your presence. The signs of men and women that came before you are still clearly evident even though some are 4,000 years old. A stone fox trap, a tent ring (a circle of boulders marking a campsite), and scattered remains of the equipment of North Pole exploration parties all speak of the courage and the adventurous spirit of those who first came to this solitude at the top of the world. They are all reminders that, regardless of where you have come from, you are a long way from home. On Ellesmere, you have come to Canada at the top of the world.
The hiking skills required are of an intermediate level. The route is very remote, the terrain varied and includes some stream crossings and travel around and in between glaciers. In some places frost heaving has caused hummocks making walking awkward. There are no great elevation gains on our main route, however it seems that nothing in the north is flat. You will be hiking on most of the days, but anticipate taking 2 ‘layover’ days en route which will have optional day hikes.
For those not interested in a full backpacking expedition, a base camp and photography tour will be available at the same time. Stunning mountains and glaciers, muskox, arctic wolf and fox and many bird species make this a naturalist’s and photographer’s delight. This basecamp is perfect for the adventurer who may not want to carry a heavy pack, and still enjoy the amazing Ellesmere wilderness. The program will be ‘based’ from Tanquary Fiord.