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Adventure Magazine

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There & Back
Untouched Nunavut
NAME: Carolanne Markowitz
DESTINATION: Burnside River, Nunavut, Canada

Photo: Burnside River
A bird's eye view of Nunavut's Burnside Falls

Photo: Adventure reader Carolanne Markowitz
You could call Adventure reader Carolanne Markowitz (pictured) and her husband, David, of Storrs, Connecticut, repeat offenders—when it comes to world travel, that is. They've hiked Patagonia twice, are planning a return to New Zealand, and will do a second Northwest Territories trip in June—this time rafting the Nahanni.
Why I Went
I was drawn to the Arctic—it seemed so wild and challenging. My passion is photography, so I was eager to see Nunavut's prolific wildlife—the migrating Bathurst caribou, the grizzlies and wolves, and the huge assortment of birds. The area is so remote it's accessible only by floatplane. Fewer than 40 people rafted the Burnside River last June and July, the only time of year the weather's not so frigid.

Twenty-four hours of daylight was like nothing I'd experienced. We arrived in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, on the first day of the summer solstice. The city was kicking off an annual celebration that would last all summer, with street parties, music festivals, and canoe races to fully enjoy the warm weather and constant daylight. But once we got on the Burnside, sleeping became a challenge—our tents were bright yellow, so at all hours it felt like the sun was pouring in.

Rapids Redux
My husband and I had never been rafting before, which made us feel pretty daring—or crazy. The Burnside is a Class III river and a good primer for beginners. Early into the trip, we hit our first whitewater—Bellanca Rapids. Because the river changes from year to year, we tied up the rafts so the guides could scope the course. When the pioneer raft made it through the rapids without a hitch, the rest of us, still waiting our turn, heard a triumphant "yahoo!" from downriver.

Arctic Upstaging
On the eighth day of our trip, our guide mentioned that we'd be crossing the Arctic Circle. It wasn't possible to pinpoint the exact moment, but for about an hour, we knew we were in the general area. The real thrill was watching an enormous herd of caribou cross the river, making its way to the Bathurst Inlet, a safe haven from wolves.

After 11 days and 125 miles (201 kilometers) of paddling, our group headed on foot to see Burnside Falls, which drops into the Bathurst Inlet before eventually flowing into the Arctic Ocean. We hiked for a full day to where we could walk along the edge of the gorge. Listening to the roar as the river churned through the steep, narrow canyon, I was glad we weren't seeing it from the raft! On our flight out, the pilot circled back to show us the spectacular view from above.

Photograph by Terry Parker
Portrait by Carolanne Markowitz

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, December 2004/January 2005

There & Back: The Arctic Circle and more on a Nunavut river trip

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There & Back Submissions

We want to know about your globetrotting. To contribute to There & Back, send letters and photos to adventure@ngs.org. Please include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.

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December 2004/January 2005

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