Iqaluit couple to dogsled 4,000 km to Igloolik and back

Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer plan to circumnavigate Baffin Island by dog team over the next 120 days. It's the latest in a long list of adventures for the Iqaluit couple and one that is also a journey in time.

Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer plan to circumnavigate Baffin Island by dog team

Sarah McNair-Landry (right) looks at a log book from her parents' 1990 trip around Baffin Island, with her mother Matty McNair. McNair-Landry and Eric Boomer are setting out on the same trip, by dog team, this week. (Tamara Pimentel/CBC)

Two people. 14 dogs. 120 days. 4,000 kilometres.

An adventurous couple from Iqaluit plan to embark today on a Baffin Island adventure by dog team, half over land and half over sea ice.  

Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer's "Way of the North" expedition will take them from the capital to Igloolik and back, as well as through Pangnirtung, Qikiqtarjuaq, Clyde River, Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay.

They have already sent food ahead to cache in communities in preparation. 
Sarah McNair-Landry and Eric Boomer are circumnavigating Baffin Island by dog team. They expect the trip to take 120 days. (Tamara Pimentel/CBC)

The plan is to make a documentary about the self-funded expedition and write a book about dogsledding.

McNair-Landry says she's aware of the inherent dangers such as open water and dogs getting hurt.

“The good thing with travelling with 14 dogs is it’s pretty hard for a polar bear to sneak up that close to our tent without them jumping up and barking and making noise. So they’re the best warning we could have,” she says.

And she’s no stranger to worst-case scenarios, such as a close encounters with a polar bear.

“(The) last birthday I spent on the ice I got attacked by a polar bear the day before,” she says laughing. “Hopefully this one is a little more pleasant.”

Circumnavigating Baffin Island is the latest in a long list of adventures for the couple.

McNair-Landry has travelled the poles of the Earth by dogsled, kayak, kite-ski, and even farm tractor.

But this trip from Iqaluit to Igloolik and back is special.

When the 28-year-old and her 30-year-old partner set off on their expedition,  they'll retrace a journey McNair-Landry’s mom, Matty McNair, and her father Paul Landry took exactly 25 years ago.

McNair-Landry says this journey will be a comparison in time and technology. As the couple travels along a route with many new place names, they hope to note changes in weather patterns.

This time around, the equipment and tents are lighter and the dog teams rely on kibble more than seal because it’s lighter and easily to deal with.

However, McNair-Landry says there won’t be as many elders along the route to pass on traditional knowledge.

Matty McNair has been helping with some advice for daughter.

“As soon as you sit on the sled you're putting 150 pounds on, that means three more dogs, you need a fourth dog to carry the food for the three dogs, so it makes a huge difference if you`re not on the sled. You can keep warmer too.”

But she says she knows the pair can handle themselves and isn’t fretting.

“It’s more dangerous driving in Montreal.”


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