A wonderful nearby boat trip, often saved for the last day, is a trip to the near islands, Bear Island and the south tip of Quadjuk. Our landing area sports one of the most ideal skipping stone beaches anywhere, and the huge massif of Ayuk towers above us. Golden eagles nest nearby and we often see them on the nest. The flowers are superb here, including mats of bearberry, blueberry, and Labrador tea, and tufts of arctic poppies on gravel terraces.
Even more fascinating are the stone structures left behind by the Thule and their Copper Inuit descendants. Rings of large glacially-rounded stones set side by side were used to stabilize caribou skin tents, home to the late Thule people in spring and perhaps in the fall as well. On Bear Island, we visit an unusual rock monolith, explaining our interpretation of its function, and the use of the many stone caches along the side of the island. We’ll look up at the thick diabase sill that overlies sandstones now metamorphosed to quartzite, and will search for copper staining along the contact zone.
We often see ringed seals from the slopes of Bear Island, occasionally even spotting a mother feeding her pup. Schools of arctic char patrol the edges of these islands, and those who wish can try fishing for them. In midsummer, thousands of silvery capelin spawn in the smooth gravel in the shallows, and flounders, gulls, red-breasted mergansers, red-throated, Pacific, and yellow-billed loons all join the feast.