Kugluk, or Bloody Falls

On the evening of the 1st of September we arrived at a settlement called Kugluktuk. Our main objective here was a hike to Kugluk, or Bloody Falls. Partly because of the history, partly because of the beauty and partly because we were looking forward to a good hike!

As we arrived, coming in between small islands, wind dying out and the water becoming smooth (we had an awesome day sailing all the way up to that point!!) we knew it was a possible perfect night to spot the Northern lights. The previous night had been said to be the best, but the sky was overcast and although we saw some light shimmers, we could not really distinguish colour or shape. So this night we were hopeful as the sky was only partly cloudy and the sun had already set. After dropping the anchor at 23:30, we went downstairs for a well deserved drink, with one person sneaking outside every now and then to see if there was any activity. At 00:15 the first lighter clouds started appearing and we went outside. And at 00:30 we called everybody out of their beds as the sky was lighting up with green flashes and the light was dancing from left to right.

Some of us withstood the cold and stayed up till 01:45, watching the skies and the lights. The light got slightly more modest after that first show of about 20 min, but was still very beautiful.

The next day (breakfast a little later) a group of 9 prepared for the hike. Knowing it was going to be at least 30 km hiking, we packed our lunch and some biscuits and set of with a quick step. We soon found out that the trail was marked most of the way, but that we had to share and walk through the tracks of quad bikes. The small 4 by 4 open all terrain motor bikes. For the most part this was not a problem, for the wetter parts, the tracks got somewhat muddy and swamped, but still, there was a track.

The hike was spectacular. The views over the hills, with the river running through really was something else for a change. After mostly flat and sandy surroundings, all of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by rock formations, stone carved out by the river, sediment running back to when the land was lower and the plain we walked over was actually the delta of the old river, before the last Ice age.

We had heard stories of bears, grizzly bears, and one person we met on the track told us they had been spotted the day before, a female with cubs. So we stayed with the gun once more. On the way there, we saw some ground squirrel, Cranes (birds), gees (Canadian and snow), but no bears, luckily! At a sandy patch we did found their foot prints and again we stayed with the gun. We also saw a big dog footprint and joked around that it might have been a wolf, but hey, would there be wolf here… no probably not. So we came to the conclusion, maybe someone walked their fairly large dog beside the bike..!

To our amazement we encountered a few trees as well! Higher, this time, then a human being! They looked young and there were only a few, but trees!! It has been for ever since we have seen trees!

As we got closer to the Bloody Falls we started walking even faster, curious to see this place. We walked over some dunes and were rewarded with one of the best views! The river and its fast running water over some rapids, the height of the shores, some small canoes and some bigger new age boats fishing on the river and the sun came out!

The name Bloody Falls, comes from an event long ago where some first nation, or Indian people came into an altercation with Inuit’s that were hunting at the falls and there was a big fight. In some stories it was a massacre of the Inuit, in other stories there was really just one family staying there and the were killed in the fight. But at the Bloody Falls, there was nothing to memorize this history. The only thing that is memorize there is their old ways of hunting and gathering. Statements of Inuit elders are posted on plaques with their memories of when they were young and Kugluk was a place the Inuit families would go in the summer to gather food for the winter. It is a place were they are reminded of their old ways and to stay true to their inheritance.

And the young people we saw they were there. They were fishing their hearts out! Standing on the ledge of a rock with a rod, throwing in the line, hooking a Arctic Char, running down the ledge over slippery rock to a lower part where they tried to haul them in. It as amazing to watch! And as we were there, only shortly, we saw at least 4 Arctic Char’s being caught! Skills!

We also saw three of our crew mates on the other side of the river! They did not attempt the 30 km, but rented a boat and guide to take them up the river and back. We waved at each other, and then we set off for our hike back. It had taken us 4,5 hours to get there (including lunch stop and many picture breaks).. if we wanted to be in time for dinner, we had to start making our way back.

That morning, we had started of with flurries, thick clouds and some wind, but on our way back the sun had come out and it got really comfortably warm! We set a strong pace, no more stops, only to stay close to the gun. We set an awesome time of 3 hours and 30 minutes for the hike back. In the end, we hiked 37km to the fall and back.. I (Jet) did not hike much the last few weeks, but I really wanted to go on this hike.. and boy did I know it. The last 5 km were done on character!! We got back on board just after 19:30 hours, to find Sam there with dinner all done! Lamb from the oven with potatoes and salad, what a treat!!!

We shared stories with the others who went ashore, had a glass of wine (I could no longer get out of my little corner where I had dropped as soon as we were back) and found out that the guide of the other party told them about the bear, he had spotted it the day before at only 70 meters from him and his little son. He had been anxious to keep the party close to the gun as well!! But also, the footprints we had seen were in deed of a wolf!! It had been spotted as well and was fairly common.

I am getting called outside now, the Northern light is getting prettier! Strong green and even a little orange! More stories tomorrow!