Diane Haché is a 57-year-old grandmother who loves adventure.
Haché has worked for seven years at the Diavik diamond mine, but she quit her job to attempt to paddle from Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., to Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, this summer.
She hopes to complete the 2,000-kilometre voyage in two months.
“It's just a dream,” said Haché. “You have to follow your dreams. I have seen people, best friends dying left and right. I don't want to have any regrets.”
She is fully aware of the hazards she may face.
“I understand very well where I am going and I may not come back,” she said. “I am not scared of Mother Nature. I think it is all common sense to deal with the waves. Get to shore. Get the hell out of there. Get to security. The only thing I am scared of is the bears.”
Haché has packed her kayak with carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, rice, and granola. She'll collect her drinking water along the way from freshwater streams emptying into the Arctic Ocean.
This is not Haché's first northern adventure.
In 2009 she paddled the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence, N.W.T., to Tuktoyaktuk, an accomplishment she is very proud of. The year before she paddled from Yellowknife to Enterprise, N.W.T.
But the Arctic coast offers bigger challenges — large waves, ice, ocean currents and polar bears.
Haché's children worry for her safety.
“I have some issues with the oldest one. I have to admit we don't agree totally,” she said. “But now I have a gun. That was not negotiable with the kids. It looks like [it’s] from the movie Rambo.”
Haché is also equipped with a satellite phone and a GPS satellite beacon.
The SPOT device, as the beacon is known, will allow Haché's family to track her during her voyage. But rescuers could be hundreds of kilometres away.
“I told my son, 'If Mom’s not coming back, she will put up a hell of a fight.' And I am going to go out with a smile. Cause it's something I want to do and my last thoughts are going to be for them.”
Haché hopes to reach Gjoa Haven by Aug. 20.
This week she is taking five days to travel from Yellowknife to Inuvik, a long drive toward the start of her long voyage.