Mountains like these flank both sides of the Weasel River. Mt. Thor, my favorite, rises on the right.

Such an imperious commandment sounds more appropriate coming from Canadian artist Cory Trepanier or the North of Sixty project, both of which seek to raise awareness of the Arctic through art, personal stories, and multiple types of media.  After all, this was my first Arctic trip, a summer trek plagued by the vagaries of Arctic air travel and weather.  What do I know, anyway? I’m just a one-off white American tourist at this point.

It doesn’t take much poking around during flight delays to find that the beautiful, fragile environment and enduring, complex cultures circling the northern pole are at risk.  The economic and industrial development that brings the modern world to these remote places may ultimately destroy them if they aren’t balanced with environmental protections and cultural preservation.  When the World Wildlife Fund and National Geographic team up with sponsorship from Coke to deal with threats to the High Arctic, a comment in the Nunatsiaq online paper reads:

Why WWF, ITK, NTI, Inuit Orgs haven’t said a thing about over 30 dead whales off the shores of Alaska is troubling.  Is it global warming, radiation from nuclear power plant? Seas dying? Are they more interested in their shares in uranium and Nunavut oil drilling then concern for whales, seals, polar bears and Inuit people now?  Are the whales, seals, fish next to die in Nunavut?

Or is that the plan, constantly to traumatize people (William Sargent psychiatry effect) seeing they lost their sea/animals to seismic testing, oil drilling and land toxic from uranium mining making minds shut down.

Another commentor says:

Here is a thought;

Save the Arctic Ice – Do not drink Coke.

Down south, a can of coke has a carbon footprint of around 160grams. It must be way higher here where we have to ship it 1700kms north.

Instead, drink tap water. It only has a carbon footprint of .2 grams per glass. Added benefit, less obesity and diabetes.

This, in a nutshell, tells you why you should go north and see this mysterious, magical place while you still can.  “Down south”- below the Arctic- we’re a bit of a lost cause as we slide into WALL-E world, thinking technology will save us.  Up north, there are still people with memory of their roots, who live part of their old culture, and work to imbue the young with the resilience and creativity of their elders.  There is a grand, mysterious land infinitely reshaped by wind and water, decorated as a richly colored tapestry by diverse, diminutive vegetation where the soil comes to rest.


Stop back for updates

Over the next couple weeks, I will be posting my version of the journey, my lessons learned and tips for gear and travel, and my photos as I continue to process this trip and plan for my next Arctic journey in 2016.  There were other folks on this trip who have their own personal reasons for going and their own read on the story and the place.  This one is mine.