Top Ten Canada Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Hike the Land That Never Melts
By Bill McRae
Auyuittuq National Park
Circle in the snow: Explore the Arctic in Auyuittuq

It's a trip back to the Ice Age: Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park preserves stunning mountain landscapes and incredible vistas of a primordial ice cap. After all, in Inuit, the name Auyuittuq means "the land that never melts." Crowning the park is the 2,200-square-mile Penny Ice Cap. Fingers of ice edge down into the lower valleys and cling to the towering granite peaks. Cliffs rise directly from a milky-green sea, terminating in hornlike, glacier-draped summits 7,000 feet high. And it's here you'll find the world's longest uninterrupted cliff face— more than half a mile of sheer rock.

During the summer's brief sojourn, experienced hikers travel to this preserve of cliffs and ice-bitten crags to make their way across the Pangnirtung peninsula. It's a walk that takes you into the Arctic Circle, down into solitary Owl River Valley, and to the waters of North Pangnirtung Fjord, a total of 60 miles from Overlord. From here you'll need to catch a ferry and a plane back to your starting point at Pangnirtung.

Although a trip across Auyuittuq guarantees high adventure, experienced, in-shape hikers with the right gear should have no problem enjoying this Arctic trek. In summer, the trail is free of snow and ice, and the days are long and warm.



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