07 Jul PAINT TO CANVAS
5:30 AM and I’m outside in my long johns trying to calm a wildly flapping tarp. The rain and wind has been hitting hard all night and tore our dinner tarp free from its pegs. A few minutes later and the tarp is stuffed into the tent, where I climb back into my sleeping bag, a little wet and I still very groggy. By the time we get back up for real, the wind is still howling but the rain has at least stopped.
I load up my painting gear, and we quite literally head for the hills. As we hike, we’ve come across muskox skulls and bones with regularity, and walk alongside fresh wolf tracks. We think we know who these belong to. We reach the far corner of the bend and climb it’s white sandy dunes. Paddling yesterday I noticed this anomaly, how does white, or light grey, sand show up here? The creek runs through the sand into the main flow, lined with green groves on each side. A closer look in that grass shows a recently killed muskox, fairly intact. Again those wolves come to mind.
Though the mountains aren’t particularly high here, the view offered once we reach the top is sublime. The Thomsen River cuts a huge swath through the stark landscape lined with Banks Island mountains to the left and flats to the right, filled with lakes. The river arcs off to the right as far as the eye can see, with low mountains trimming the horizon line where land meets sky. The white-coloured dunes accent the foreground and rugged bluffs cut diagonally from the right side. It’s a big scene and on my small canvas I worked feverishly to capture it in gale force winds. As I do so until around 11 PM, the sun pokes occasionally through the clouds to accent the view with rich bursts of colour. Packing down my painting gear, Ryan and I hike back to camp. At last I’ve begun my first painting in Aulavik National Park, and what a memorable experience it has been.