Half day tour to Bylot island
June 10-17, 2014
Half day trip to Bylot Island within Sirmilik National Park, one of the most scenically attractive area of Nunavut, where there are moraines of extinct glaciers, archaeological remains from ancient Eskimos and tundra vegetation that includes a variety of flowers such as arctic ranunculus and saxifrage. At the beginning of summer the sea is still frozen, so it's easy to get to Bylot island, by just driving snowmobiles over sea ice.
Pictures of Bylot Island. Bylot Island is located north of Baffin Island in Nunavut, in the heart of the Arctic and inside Sirmilik national park. The island is a paradise for geologists, as most of the rocks are exposed, but also for archeologists and botanists.
In June the sea is still completely frozen, making it easy to get to Bylot island by snowmobile.
Komatic and snowmobiles are parked on the sea ice off the beach, while some pack ice around the island is negotiated with an easy hike around the ice sheets.
Getting on Bylot island on foot through some pack ice.
Pictures of Bylot island. Once on Bylot island, the landscape looks dominated by moraine of old glaciers, now much retracted or extinct.
A moraine ending on the beach.
Bylot Island is part of the protected area of the National Park Sirmilik. This national park was established to protect, in addition to the unique nature, also the archaeological finds in the region. In these photos, the basement of a summer house built by ancient Eskimos approximately 4000 years ago. The whale bone visible in the center of the photo was probably used as a door.
A curious artefact consisting in a bone with some nails inside. The features of the nails suggest that this finding could be traced back to a few centuries ago and was maybe left here by some exploratory expedition.
Photos of tundra. Where conditions permit, Bylot Island is home to a soft tundra, a cluster of vegetation consisting of mosses, lichens and other plants never higher than 20 centimetres. A further growth in height is in fact not possible, due to the winds that sweep the region and because of the permafrost, which prevent the development of a root system suitable to support larger plants.
The plants usually having a woody stem, tend to crawl on the ground instead of growing in height, for the reasons explained before. The growth of these "trees" is very slow and the stem pictured in this photo may be very old.
Photo of Arctic cotton, so called because it has a feathery flower that, when fully bloomed, it looks like a cotton ball.
Pictures of Arctic ranunculus, also called snow ranunculus (Ranunculus nivalis).
Picture of orange lichen.
Photos of saxifrage. Another classic flower of Arctic regions, that can be found on Bylot island, is the saxifrage. It is a true "pioneer" plant that creates, by slowly transforming stony ground into a kind of "real" soil, a suitable environment to accommodate bigger plants.
Pictures of pack ice off Bylot island.
A cabin on Bylot island that can be used by Inuit hunters or tourists in case of need.
After the interesting hike in Bylot island and Sirmilik national park, it's time to go back to the basecamp by snowmobiles and komatic.