There is so much that we could tell, but some stories take time to unfold. And this is the case of my journey in Kuururjuaq National Park, a pure beauty hidden in the lands of Nunavik. It has been more than an month since I came back, but I still feel the magic and spirit of this place running in my veins. I'm writing this short text as a thank-you gift for those who made this weekend possible, and as a ode to the incredible chance that I was given.
Based in Kuujjuaq for the summer, I have had my share of breathtaking sunsets, infinite landscapes and endless days. But this weekend trip was completely surreal. I've been amazed by the generosity of our guides and their willingness to share with us parts of their incredibly rich culture. I've been amazed by the steadiness of the valleys, the purity of the water, the magnificence of the Torngats. Everywhere around was just pure beauty.
Our little group of departed from Kuujjuaq airport early on a Friday afternoon on a Twin Otter. Those planes do miracles: they have the capacity to take off and land in almost all conditions. Unpressurized, they can fly really low, and it feels almost like you can touch the tips of the trees. The weather was so perfect that the crew from Air Inuit decided to bring us to Mount d'Iberville, an unplanned trip that allowed us to appreciate the highest point of this divide. When even the pilotes take their phones out to capture the moment, you know you are lucky. And so, for more than an hour, the sky was ours. It was the perfect welcome to the Torngats, while reminding us of how small we really are.
We landed on a strip that was no bigger than a bowling alley, next to where we would spend our two nights. The camp was built only a few years ago, and is composed of four dormitory rooms and one open space for the kitchen and a few chairs. We were welcomed with millions of mosquitos, and it didn't take long to hide our faces behind those must-needed nets. Exploring the outsides of the camp, we saw some fresh bear paws, a gentle reminder that we were in their kingdoms.
On the same day, as the sun was falling down behind the mountains, we walked to the Qurlutuarjuq waterfalls, about 45 minutes away from our camp. The sound of the water hitting the rocks was music to our ears. As it was not enough for a day, we were also treated by our guides with nordic delicacies, some raw and dry Arctic Char. The wildfire kept us going at night, while the stars were starting to glow.
We woke up on Saturday morning with a shining sun. It was ideal for the trek that was awaiting us. Being a bit adventurous, we had in mind of climbing the highest unnamed mountain next to the camp. And so we did.
For more than eight hours, we walked in the middle of the wilderness, most of the time in silence. There are things that words can't express properly. It's an incredible feeling of knowing that you are one of the very persons on this planet who was given the chance to step on those lands. There was so much beauty all around us - from the black bear that we spotted five miles away, to the caribous paws, the courageous lichen, the smallest trees of all, the freshness of the wind, the leftover snow from the previous spring, the turquoise waters spiralling through rows of mountains. We came back exhausted, but amazed and grateful of this magical experience.
On Sunday, we packed our bags, went to the river, and took all the beauty in for one last time. We left, knowing that we should have stayed longer. As if the lands wanted to tell us more about their own past. As if, despite the incredible luck that we had, there was more to it.
The lands and waters of Nunavik are comforting. They nurture your soul. They fill you up with a richness, an history, a culture, a spirit that is indescribable. It's impossible to lie to yourself while you are in the middle of the Torngats, with the infinity as a playground. And so, as you face the wind, you are forced to reconnect with yourself. And for once, you gladly do so.
A part of a well-kept secret was shared with us during this trip. Kuururjuaq is only one of the three national parks of Nunavik. I've heard incredible stories about Pingualuit and Tursujuq. They are certainly worth a stay, and I am counting the days until I have another opportunity to hoop on a plane and experience the warmth of the region. Until so, I live by the memories and will continue to share the beauty of Nunavik.
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