To go back and see 2011 Expedition go to:

Monday, July 30, 2012


From 3,000 feet MSL

Undisclosed location - close up
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Nunavut)

Undisclosed location - close up - enhanced
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Nunavut)

Arctic Mirage to the West

Arctic Mirage
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Cambridge Bay)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Polar Bear eats my Video Camera

On my last hike on the coast there on KWI I saw a cluster of seagull activity so investigated to find a small musk ox carcass being fed on by a polar bear.  Also saw a couple of arctic wolves there about too.  Like the prior kit fox video, I was hoping to get some up close video by leaving the camera there.  When I approached within 200 yards the bear ambled off over a nearby rise so I placed the little GoPro camera strategically there and vacated.  When I came back several hours later the camera was gone, with just a couple of plastic shards of it nearby.  I guess attaching a string like the last time wouldn't have helped?

I have seen now how difficult it must have been for the Franklin men to hunt in this particular place,  Except for caribou, which you can approach fairly close (if they happen to be here, I did see very few tracks in the muck flats).  The musk ox herd I videoed saw me one mile away and immediately began to move off once I remained still.  Same with the snow geese.  I was amazed at their eyesight and attention.  Whenever I came over a rise they would immediately waddle away (never fly) from a minimum distance of 1/2 mile away.  I measured it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Boat Place

Before I leave this place, had to visit the famous "Boat Place".  It is truly a remarkable spot.  A finger of land jutting out to the ocean, surrounded by brown sandy colored muck tidal flats.  The icepack looming out in the open ocean. I could her the occasional booms of the ice shifting and cracking.  To me it sounded like duck hunters in the distance - shotguns unloading.

As I stood there and looked out in all directions, I could just imagine the desperation and despair.  For me, just after a few days of hiking this land, it is unthinkable to imagine being stuck here for even weeks, let alone months or years.  And here I am hiking and camping in the good weather.  How much suffering did they endure through the winter after leaving the ships?  Unthinkable.

They all must have certainly died here that very first winter, after all leaving the ships for the last - that desperate march towards the Back River.

Pictures and a video of Boat Place below.

The tomb at "Boat Place"
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

The plaque at "Boat Place"
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Video - The Tomb at "Boat Place" (click here)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Searching 45 miles of Erebus Bay Coastline - King William Island

The flights east across Victoria Strait from Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island to King William Island in the early mornings, when the weather was stable, was spectacular.

Flying at 3,000 feet MSL eastbound over Victoria Strait to King William Island, 7:00 am.
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Nunavut)

Landing and parked inland lake on KWI
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Musk Ox herd near coast of Erebus Bay, KWI
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Spent the past several days alternating flying and hiking a good part of the southern shore of Erebus Bay, logging about 45 miles on my handheld GPS, zig zagging on foot.  Three seperate locations stood out for further investigations where I observed odd looking wooden objects from the air. 

On my way on the first hike, I found very old two tent rings.  In general, tent rings date as back as old as 800 to 1000 years and up to recent times.  These rings are particularly intriguing because of they are on the Franklin trail.  They are located along the the northern front of a small rocky enscarpment that rises only maybe 5 or 7 feet - and are placed there for a one reason - protection against the wind.  But in reality, there is virtually no protection there, or anywhere here.  One can see though that there was absolute attention paid to topography when they chose this location in an attempt to use any slight edge that the terrain contours might offer.  This edge was practially nill, as it is with almost all the areas around here - very flat with the ocassional boulder.  They are probably Inuit because they are circular.  English patterns were square. 

Tent ring A
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)
Tent ring B
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)
To get to these, the closest I was able to land was 2.5 miles away inland.  I used two lakes for these puposes.  The average depth was 8 feet with fair water clarity from the air, to avoid bouders and shalows.

This was the routine for shore hiking.  I was not about to land in the ocean and leave the plane with the tides.  The tidal flats are fairly mucky and in some spots, boots sink to lower calfs.  I kept my ankle straps loose on my hipwaders just in case that I would have ro roll out of a bad situation, which almost happened a couple of times.  I found that when my foot would sink deep in a certain spot, my inclination was to accellerate forward, fast - but you have to avoid this.  Best to stop and back track because many times it gets worse.  And then this could possibly happen:
On July 15, 1988, a tragic accident on the mudflats of Turnagain arm near Portage, Alaska claimed the life of newlywed, Adeana Dickinson. She had become mired in the wet silt that is exposed twice every day by the outgoing tide. The ATV driven by her husband had become stuck in the mud and while pushing the vehicle, her leg sunk to her knee. Unable to free her, her husband summoned help, but it arrived too late. The incoming tide rushed in and inundated her. Hypothermia was also a factor as the water was extremely cold.

Here is a picture taken from 300 feet MSL of the typical sand / muck flat on KWI.

Tidal flat, at Erebus Bay shoreline - mid July, 2012
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Erebus Bay, King William Island)

Below are some pictures of those items.

Subject 1
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)
Two finds were more very interesting.  One, a rectanglar column or beam, the other maybe a column or post - definitely man made and definitely old. 
Most intriguing, from my notes from overflights from these same spots last year 2011, these articles were not there then.  They are probbaly new.  I may be wrong - but possibly pushed up by this year's pack ice. 

Or I missed it all last year.

Also some other wooden objects found, one very large, very old and man made.
Detail of subject 1
Had no tape measure, but crudely it is 8 to 9" wide by around 3" thick.
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Detail of Subject 2
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Some type of column or post....

Below - It appears that this pole could be part of a mast.  The rope in the middle turned out to be fur and guts from some animal and there were no unusual markings or sign of holes or places where bolts or other attachments could have been.  Have to try to determine what type of wood this might be.  Did not touch or turn over, perhaps there were markings on bottom.

Subject 3 - top end
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Subject 3 - mid length
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Subject 3 - almost full lenght - lighter exposure
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (King William Island)

Some videos below.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Preparing for Return Mission

Winds gusting out of the northwest hard. Luckily I refueled right after I came back 2 days ago while the weather was better. No way to be on a ladder alone today filling the wingtips in these winds and rain. Was checking on the plane every 4 hours yesterday during the storm. 2 am last visit, all secure. Took this picture this morning, clearing skies, but still windy. Hoping tomorrow is the day to depart again.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Erebus Bay - Some New Finds

After flying a large part of the southern shores of Erebus Bay and taking pictures of the shallows and deeper waters of the bottom of the ocean there, have made some intriging finds.  A couple of compelling targets. 

Also found a spot from the air with some interesting objects which appear to have been washed up by a tidal flat.  A very straight pole, like part of a ship’s mast.  Or more probably a driftwood tree trunk.
But another item nearby that looks to be man made, and unusual. It's just intriguing because there is other small unusual wood debris in this area too.

I suspect that these pieces were pushed up by the melting ice pack, and very recently, because as one can see in the picture below, the pole has moved in the short term.  I think it was ice pack movement from this year because it sits just out of the boundary where the tide comes in and recedes, in other words - it is just barely outside of the light camel brown sandy muck zone which creates the high water line.

There looks to be some kind of marking on the pole, near the middle.  Or maybe just a weed.

And nearby - a plank or column of some sort.

Pole and beam object
Close up on beam or column object from another angle
Will back get out soon as soon as the weather clears here.  It's 48 degrees F and a storm right now - NW gusting wind. 

Overflights - O'Reilly Island and Grant Point

O'Reilly Island, looking from the northwest to the southeast

Nordenskiold Islands, looking from the southwest to the northeast
(enroute from Cambridge Bay to O'Reilly Island)
Just completed over flight missions to the areas of O'Reilly Island and Grant Point and other intriguing spots along the north shore of the Adelaide Peninsula, then in addition - Erebus Bay. On one of the trips, searched some other nearby hunches, scanning the shallows offshore. Was surprised at the clarity of the water. The key was waiting for sunshine coupled with low winds.

Took over 500 pictures from exactly 3,000 feet MSL with 24.5 megapixel Nikon D3X with 80x400ml lens with polarizing filter, zoomed out all the way. The imaging was as spectacular as hoped.

Kirkwall Island (upper island to the north)
Uppermost north in the group of islands to the northwest of Grant Point

A couple of typical shots from 3,000 feet MSL.
Note how clear the water is. 

After getting back and analyzing some of the data, found three interesting targets to start. With the altitude set, these all sized up to be between 100 and 150 feet long.  But after doing my own imaging enhancements with different tools, and comparing those to my similar enhanced changes of the over water picture that is published from the HMS Investigator wreck, I concluded that these targets are improbable - most likely natural anomalies.

Many more images to sort through.

A target?

Two other targets

Below -
HMS Investigator (example) 
Original photo and 2 levels of enhancement.

Flew north across Storis Passage to Terror Bay to look around. Took a picture to my left of the place that was described by the Inuit ancestors as the "Bad Place". A location where a handful of Franklin men were purported to be in tents in wretched condition from scurvy, after having cannibalizing the dead, languishing to their sad end. It was said that inside a tent was a crude cooking pot with human parts in large spoons.  Here below is a picture of that place.

The "Bad Place"

Then back to Cambridge Bay.

Searching Certain Bay and Shorelines on a Hunch

Spent a few days at a remote location, not on KWI, on a hunch that the ship or ships that may have retreated here - late in the summer of 1848 or 1849.  There may quite possibly have been a warmer summer and ice pack conditions with earlier melt off.  If so, a handful of the men could have hastily made it back to one or both of the ships  in order to sail back to the north.......or even west.

This was one of my most physically exhausting endeavors ever.  I hiked - in all - about 40 miles, through all types of terrain.  Of course I didn't do this all at once or in a day.  Biting swarms of July mosquitos were the rule.  The challenge was keeping them out of the airplane when turning in for sleep.  Also, keep your mouth closed at all times.  I probably choked on a few dozen before I adapted.  The weather was haunting with fog and squalls moving in and out for half of the time there.

Arrival (video - click here)

Hundredss of biting mosquitos swarming

In addition, I flew over the water on 2 sorties, covering almost all of the surface area of the bay and mouth to the ocean.  One could clearly see the bottom, especially at the bottom of the bay.  In certain parts, which are well protected from the pack ice, like at Beechy Island's bay, there was interesting rock terrain and small rises suitable for a camp.  But no sign of there ever being a human here.

Had some scary moments with the engine sputtering several times about every 5 or 8 minutes.  On the last occasion it practically quit. Of course it always happens when you are at the most remote point from base, right?

I was at 2,000 feet with nowhere really suitable to glide and land.  There was no warning when it would happen.  It was sudden and alarming.  No time to limp to a safe landing spot, so I had to constantly try to manufacture an out.  Luckily in the end, I finally ascertained that I was getting carburetor ice, so applying the carb heat in the engine system quickly took care of that.  It made sense - there was a lot of low wispy fog on the ocean shoreline coming in, from the condensation of the melting pack ice.  And the weather was overcast with small squalls.  All the perfect ingredients for icing up here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Videos from Hadley Bay mission

Here are some videos from the journey up past the 72nd parallel:

Arrival at Haley Bay - at a river mouth. (click on picture)
(above) an arctic char swimming near shoreline

Within minutes, can see the tide dropping - up and down 8 feet every 6 hours.
(click on picture)

Caribou peeking around corner 1/2 hour after I arrived.
He probably saw me land and came over to investigate.
The animals here are very curious and approachable.
(click on picture below)
Here is another caribou, in the evening.  (click picture above)

Arctic char practically every cast. (click on picture)

Trout too

2 month old Arctic Fox kit nearly stole my camera down his hole.
(click on picture)
(But I outfoxed the fox - the camera was tied above to a big rock).

Here is a candid shot of the little mischievous one.  If you look close, you can see the mosquitoes hovering that are annoying him.
© 2012 - Ron Carlson (Cambridge Bay)


Then I left this area to fly north looking for polar bear.
Footage is from north of the 72nd parallel.


Low, following the leads. (click on picture)

Simulcast - North Hadley Bay, past the 72nd parallel.
 Looking for polar bears - following leads icepack.
Very low, 20' to 30' above sea level.
(click on pictures together below)

Simulcast - North Hadley Bay, past the 72nd parallel.
 Looking for polar bears - following leads icepack.
Into the sun, glassy water.
(click on pictures together below)

More vidoes looking for polar bears - following leads icepack past 72nd parallel below

Small icebergs. (click on picture)

Over island shore with jagged rocks. (click on picture)

Over sand island shore. (click on picture)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Made It Past the 72nd Parallel North

The only 2 large lakes at my initial search area where I am hoping to camp for a few days, to do some major hiking and beach scouring, is still 50% ice.  I can land, but if the winds shift and the floe moves, I'm trapped.  Waiting one more week, then should be good.
So after doing some over water recon there, left - Hadley Bay was the next destination.  I had planned for this 2nd stop and had 6 hours of fuel to include it, allowing some time for low over ice pak flying.  Polar bears inhabit this place because of higher densities of seals here.  Hadley Bay is not quite as big as Hudson Bay, but the same idea.  These are only "bays" if you look at it from very high altitudes - like outer space.

Below - Landing at a river mouth with limited space, taxi up and tied up.

Lot's of caribou...

Crystal gin clear waters, un-fished...
...Arctic Char every cast

Arctic Char - every cast a hit


Below - On the way back, skimming the cloud tops at 5,000 feet MSL.
Rainbow halo centered on shadow of Beaver.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Some great low level icepack overflight videos to be posted in the next day or two.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -