Saturday, 3 August 2019

Auyuittuq National Park (Akshayuk Pass) : TOP TIPS

    The Akshayuk Pass has been one of the most challenging but equally rewarding hikes I have yet to experience. Now, you may be so lucky to have the opportunity - I highly recommend you take it! If you are here because you already have decided you will be doing the pass, I pass on some wisdom to you. Here are some things I wish I had known/advice I wish I had listened to/or a list of what you may find helpful as you prep for your hike:

1. Fly with Aeroplan points.
    If you are not familiar with Aeroplan, they are a loyalty program based on a points system you collect when you travel (Air Canada). Flying the north can be criminally expensive. If you do not live in the north, I will assume you will be flying up from Ottawa and then flying from Iqaluit to Qikitarjuaq or Pangnirtung (depending on which end you begin your hike). Even if you can use your accumulated points for just one leg of the trip, your bank account will thank you. Collect those points!

Aeroplan Website:

*Also! when you are booking your flight up island, try to get a window seat! Those views are out of this world.

2. Hiking poles. 
    I feel pretty comfortable hiking with my pack without poles; however, they are game changers when crossing those rivers (take two per person!). We only packed two poles between the two of us and it was a big regret! #ragrets

Not to mention they do actually really help take weight of your back when you need to hike 10 hours.

3. Neoprene. 
    Those glacial river crossings are absolutely no joke! When they say nothing can prepare you for the initial shock, its the cold truth. I admit, I was told to pack two poles and I decided to forego that advice - but neoprene boots, nobody said anything about.

The only reason I include this is because we saw one Austrian couple (absolutely put together - contrarily we are the couple that always has some makeshift gear in our pack haha) getting ready to cross the river and this is what they did: They put on some thin waterproof pants, wriggled into neoprene booties with velcro ankle straps, secured their waterproof pants buy tucking them into the booties and velcro-ed them snug.

Basically this couple made these river crossing look like taking candy from a baby and then there was us, regaining mental stability (that water is honestly that cold).

This is something similar to what they had - I found on the MEC website:

This is a photo of what I remember them looking like:

The trip would have been completely different with these. Just saying. (and the waterproof pants)

4. The Map. 
    Purchase the map. Parks Canada sells them to you at orientation. Buy it. $20.00
It's hard to get lost per se because you are hiking through a valley, but just in case it's nice to know where you are and how far away you have from rivers, emergency shelters, caches etc.

5. Baby wipes. 
    There's no way I see anyone bathing in any of those rivers.

Not an excessive amount because they add weight, but packing some will add simple pleasures to your multi-day hike.

6. Foxes. 
    They will steal unattended shoes! Make sure to keep them inside your tent. How much would it suck to lose a boot!

7. Weather Forecast. 
    Having a printed hard copy or a screen shot of the coming weather before you lose wifi is a great idea. Each emergency shelter has a radio that broadcasts daily weather conditions, but it's nice to kind of have an idea if you aren't able to make it to the shelter in time for the forecast or just want to have a general knowledge of what to expect.

8. When in Qikitarjuaq. 
    We arrived in Qikitarjuaq the day before we were scheduled to start our hike. We asked Parks Canada and they didn't have a problem with us pitching our tent outside their building in the back. What they did not warn us about are the children. You see, during the summer in the north, the sun doesn't set - this means neither do the kids. Basically they threw rocks at our tent all night and asking them to stop only made them more enthusiastic.

Little did we know, making the walk to the campground maybe/probably would have been worth the sleep we wish we had gotten.

9. Blogs. 
    One thing that I did do, which I'm glad I did, was read through the blog posts I could find of others who have also done the pass. I found they gave me a much better understanding of what we were getting ourselves into :).

10. Visitor Information Package PDF. 

Click on the link that gives you the pdf. It has just about everything you need to start your preparation and more. 

    I really hope that this post was in some way helpful and or insightful if you are considering the Akshayuk Pass. It was truly an incredible experience for me and I am so much more appreciative of where I live because of it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!



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