Wednesday, April 24th, 1985 (Log Day 7)

We all slept in this morning, and had brunch at 10:30 AM. It was another beautiful day at Lake Hazen and it was decided that we would make the trip to Fort Conger, roughly 50 miles to the southeast. Ten of us plus Peter and the flight crew left at 12:30 PM, and in about half an hour we landed on the sea ice in Discovery Harbour. It was 22 degrees below zero Celsius (8 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) with a cloudless sky and no wind. I had never seen the place as magnificent as it was today. We walked up to the site of Fort Conger and a brief lecture was given on the history of Hall Basin, Discovery Harbour and the fort which now consists of three wooden shacks and a considerable amount of scattered metal and wooden debris. Discovery Harbour was named for HMS Discovery, one of two ships under the command of Captain G.S. Nares of the British Arctic Expedition. Nares explored the area as far north as the present-day military station of Alert in 1875 and the Discovery wintered in this tiny harbour north of Lady Franklin Bay in the same year. From 1881 to 1883, Lieutenant A. Greely of the United States Lady Franklin Bay Expedition occupied the harbour and established a scientific station here in recognition of the International Polar Year (1881-82). He called the station Fort Conger. The three wooden huts now standing on the site were constructed by Robert Peary, who used Greely's old encampment from 1898 to 1902 on his first attempt to reach the Pole. Canada has declared this site a National Historic Monument.

The group took photographs of the historic site, the view of Judge Daly Promontory to the south, and the pressure ridges that lined the shore. Some wandered up the slope behind the site and others sat in the wooden huts to really get a feel for the place and its history. About 3:00 PM we boarded the Otter and headed back to Lake Hazen, crossing over the Hazen Plateau via The Bellows, one of three valleys that connect Lake Hazen to Lady Franklin Bay. John flew us along the north shore of the Lake over the Gilman River so that we could photograph the musk ox herds that were wintering on the high ground there. We saw three herds, one of which was quite sizable for this area; I counted twelve adults and one calf (most calves are born in early May). When we arrived back at camp, we ate a quick lunch which Debbie had prepared and then we packed up our gear and helped to close down the camp, which would not be used again by High Arctic International until next spring. We left Lake Hazen at 5:30 PM and headed for Grise Fiord with a refueling stop in Eureka. As we took off we had a fine view of the lake, Johns Island, Hazen Camp (a site on the north shore used by various scientific parties since 1957, when it was established by the Defence Research Board for research during the International Geophysical Year) and Henrietta Nesmith Glacier. We flew over Tanquary Fiord and Greely Fiord on our way to Eureka, where we landed an hour and three quarters later. Our stop was brief, just half an hour. Some of the group went down to the weather station to buy souvenirs, including T-shirts and hats. We took off after refueling and arrived in Grise Fiord at 10:30 PM (11:30 PM local time). John, Matt, Peter and Debbie headed on to Resolute. Some of us went by truck while others walked down to the community From the airstrip. The Grise Fiord Lodge, a hotel which has accommodations for 14 and which is run by the local Inuit co-operative, was to be our home until Friday. On arrival at the lodge, we had coffee with the Manager of the Co-op and his wife, Cecil and Pam Tucker. Pam showed everyone their rooms and we were informed about the community water shortage; we were asked to conserve water as much as possible and to space out showers. Because we were late and Cecil had not known exactly when we were coming until a couple of hours before our arrival, due to a breakdown in radio communications, we made our own supper of fried eggs and toast. Shortly after supper everyone retired to their rooms to get unpacked and go to bed.

copyright (c) 1985 Patricia Sutherland

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