With a planned departure from the hotel at 5:30 AM, everyone was wakened early. The predicted snow storm was well underway, with a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). We arrived at the Edmonton International Airport in good time for our 7:35 AM flight on board a Pacific Western Boeing 737. After a thorough de-icing of the aircraft, we left on schedule for Resolute Bay with an en route stop in Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories.
Breakfast was a welcome sight for those of us who hadn't had time for room service before leaving the hotel. We landed at the Yellowknife airport about 10:00 AM where we were allowed to deplane for about 20 minutes. Yellowknife, named for the Indians who inhabited the area. at the time of contact and who used knives and other tools of native copper, is situated on the north shore of Great Slave Lake. The gold-mining town has a population of about 15,000. We had flown out of the snowy weather, but the temperature was much the same as in Edmonton, and we could expect cold weather for the duration of the trip. We took off from Yellowknife in clear weather with a good view of the myriad of frozen lakes that dot the Barren Grounds. After lunch, everyone in the group was given an opportunity to visit Bob and Cal, the pilot and copilot, in the flight cabin. Over Cambridge Bay which is located on Victoria Island, Wendy, our stewardess, passed out certificates indicating that we had passed the Arctic Circle at 66 degrees 30 minutes North. Below us was the white and frozen world of the Arctic Archipelago, the largest island group in the world. Our plane landed at Resolute Bay on Cornwallis Island at 1:30 PM Central Standard time.
It was 23 degrees below zero Celsius (10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) with a light wind blowing. Bezal and Terry Jesudason of High Arctic International Explorer Services Ltd., the expediting company in Resolute, were at the airport to meet us. They took us by truck to the Narwhal Inn where we would stay until our departure for Lake Hazen. We had about an hour and a half to get settled into our rooms before heading off to Bezal's place to be outfitted with clothing for the trip north. Resolute Bay, named for the HMS Resolute which sailed the waters of the Northwest Passage in the last century, was established as a joint Canadian and US meteorological station in 1947. The town, with a population of approximately 160 people, consists of an Inuit settlement and a transportation and communication centre including an airport, weather station, hotel, base camp for the Polar Continental Shelf Project, and field offices and facilities for two charter air companies, Bradley and Borek. Bezal and Terry Jesudason live in a comfortable house in the Inuit village, where they are hosts to various groups visiting the High Arctic. We met Debbie, the cook who would accompany us to Lake Hazen, and our group was issued with pack boots and down clothing including inner jackets and pants, parkas, mitts, heavy wind pants, and face masks. Bezal advised us that because we only had one aircraft to transport our group, plus the two National Geographic fellows and the Hazen staff and food, we would have to cut down on luggage. We arrived back at the Inn in time for dinner, before which we enjoyed some good cheer provided by several members of our group. After dinner, a few slides of places we had visited and places still to see, as well as some of Arctic wildlife, were shown in the Inn's pool (as in snooker) and recreation room. We were planning on a 10:00 AM departure for Lake Hazen, weather permitting, so people went off to their rooms fairly early to re-pack and retire.