NNSL Photo/Graphic

NNSL photo/graphic

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Trip to cabin turns into an adventure
Teamwork gets truck out of ice before nighttime encounter with muskox

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Saturday, January 30, 2016

A recent trip with some family and friends to a nearby cabin got a little more exciting than Jimmy Qaapik and company were expecting.

NNSL photo/graphic

Muskoxen are a common occurrence around Grise Fiord. They are usually no threat to humans but it is a justified precaution to turn and run in the other direction when coming across one up close in the dark. - NNSL file photo

He and a group were travelling in two trucks to a cabin at Nunaviniq, also known as "Old Village," about 10 km west of Grise Fiord last week.

Qaapik finished making a trail up the land to the cabin from the shore ice, but when he drove his truck back down the trail, a thin section of ice had formed between the sea ice and shore ice and his truck got stuck big time.

"The wheels went down and then the bottom of the front wheel axle area touched the ice on top of the ice where I was and it got stuck," said Qaapik.

"The wheels were onto that newly formed ice and that ice couldn't hold, the truck was too heavy. It was sinking."

He had to build up a ramp with chunks of ice underneath his tires so that the group's second truck, driven by Liza Ningiuk, could tow him out of the spot.

"There was a part of the ice we couldn't chip away because it was right under the front axle and I was afraid if we chipped that off, the truck would slide forward, making it even harder to pull out," said Qaapik.

But after many tries, and with some good communication and teamwork between everyone involved, Ningiuk managed to use her truck to pull Qaapik's truck out.

"We couldn't do it without the help of others who were with us, my wife, Geela, her friend from Resolute Bay visiting town," said Qaapik.

If that second truck hadn't been there, Qaapik said he would have been stuck overnight for sure, because his radio wasn't connecting with the hamlet either. Luckily, the cabin was nearby and the group had a place to stay in the event of an emergency.

But the fun wasn't done then. On the way up to the cabin, Ningiuk's truck led the way, and the young boys in the group ran ahead to make it to the cabin first.

It was so dark they almost bumped right into a standing muskox.

"I don't know how far they were (from it), but they were quite close to see it in the dark," said Qaapik. "It was right beside the cabin."

He said muskoxen are not rare in the area and thinks it was resting beside the cabin.

"I think it got up on its four hooves and it was standing when the boys were walking to the cabin, facing them, and one of the boys ahead didn't see it right away, but the other boy, Abraham, saw it, and they ran back toward the truck, they were actually chasing the truck to get on it," chuckled Qaapik.

Though muskoxen are not usually a threat to humans, they can be aggressive when encountered up close. There was an incident reported in the hamlet of a young girl being chased and bit by one.

Qaapik was just glad the cabin trip worked out, despite the unexpected adventures.

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