Friday, September 22, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 17

Word Total: 120,004

Year to Date: 750,065

Summary of Events:
Yukon wanted to get up and walk around, but the nurse, Samantha, told him he wasn't allowed to; she checked up for his friends on his behalf and then they got talking about other things, though. JT, Kyle, Alex, and Josh — all of whom had been released — came to visit Yukon and tell him Ryan had already gone home and sneak him out of his room to visit Ben for a bit. Yukon finally was released, but found himself not really wanting to say goodbye to Samantha . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""And I don't even have anything on me," Yukon said.
"For what?" Samantha asked.
"Well, to give you something," Yukon replied. "To show my appreciation and stuff."
"It doesn't really matter, you've said thank you," Samantha replied.
"But . . ." Yukon trailed off, looking down at her hands, still softly resting in his. "I feel like I should do more than just say it."
"It's fine," Samantha said.
"Do you like chocolate or something?" Yukon asked.
"Yeah, I like chocolate," Samantha replied.
"What kind?" Yukon asked.
"Straight milk chocolate mostly," Samantha replied. "Although I do like Toblerone too, but it's kind of expensive to get around here."
"I know," Yukon said. "Do you think I could send you something?"
"If you really want to," Samantha replied.
"What's your last name, though?" Yukon asked. "Just so that I can make sure I get it to the right Samantha."
"MacNaughton," Samantha replied.
"Not McNaughton?" Yukon asked.
"No," Samantha replied.
"Okay," Yukon said. "I'll try and get you something."
"Alright," Samantha said. "But I should take you down to your parents."
Yukon nodded reluctantly; not only not wanting to leave Samantha, nor see Tiffany again, but also because he didn't really want to let go of Samantha's hands.
She slid them out of his hold, however, and led the way out of the room and down to the lobby.
Yukon forced himself to smile for the sake of his dad and Tiffany, who were both quite happy to see him. When he got a glance out the hospital doors, however, and saw the pale blue eyes and eagerly happy face of Ulloriaq looking at him, he walked past them and out the doors.
Ulloriaq barked and her entire hind end started moving back and forth with her tail as she pranced with happiness at seeing him again.
Going down onto his knees, Yukon rubbed Ulloriaq over enthusiastically. It was nice to see her again. She looked so clean now, and she felt so soft, like she'd been taken to the groomers or something, and her wound was quite clean, with only a small bandage covering part of her leg.
He looked back toward the hospital and saw Samantha looking at Ulloriaq almost longingly.
Eagerly he beckoned to Samantha, and with only a moment's hesitation she came out to see Ulloriaq.
"This is your dog?" she asked.
"Yeah," Yukon replied, getting up off his knees. "She's friendly, you can feel free to pet her."
Samantha looked between the hospital doors and Ulloriaq before finally scratching Ulloriaq's head gently, prompting Ulloriaq to wag her tale and smile in her affable, canine way.
"She's such a gorgeous dog," Samantha said.
"Yeah," Yukon said. "She's beautiful."
"Thanks for letting me pet her," Samantha said, looking shy. "I should get back inside, though."
"It's only fair, considering everything you did for me," Yukon said.
Samantha smiled. "You're very welcome."
Yukon nodded and Samantha slipped back inside. Yukon wished he would've even snatched up her hand and kissed it before she'd left, but he hadn't, and now his dad and Tiffany were coming out the door and he had no opportunity to go back after her now."

Next post will be on September 30.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 16

Word Count: 114,111

Summary of Events:
Toward the end of the day the group finally sighted the buildings of Iqaluit, but decided to spend one more night in the tundra. The next morning they went to Yukon's great aunt and uncle's house; his great aunt and uncle then proceeded to take them to the hospital to be tended to for all their injuries from the trek. Yukon was coming out of anesthetic from the surgery to reset his broken ribs properly when his dad and stepmom came to visit, and his stepmom's mood wasn't making things pleasant . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Yukon grimaced and turned his head away from Tiffany's loud exclamations. His brain still felt foggy and her shouting didn't really help anything.
"Going out in the middle of nowhere!" Tiffany ranted. "Where's the fun in that? Or do you find it fun to scare people out of their lives? Hm? Did you hear me? Is that pleasant to you?"
Tiffany shouted the last two questions into Yukon's ear, making him turn away all the more.
"Ma'am, please, you're disturbing the patient," the nurse said. "I understand your concern for him, being as he is your son, but you must allow him to recover properly."
Yukon's brain revolted at the idea of him being considered Tiffany's son. Sure she had the darker hair like he did — although not as dark as his — but that was purely coincidence, they had no blood relation.
He couldn't summon the ability to verbally protest, however, so he grimaced some more.
"Actually, she's not his mother biologically," his dad corrected. "Yukon is only my son."
"Oh, I'm sorry sir," the nurse said.
"Don't worry, it's a common misconception, seeing as they have similar coloured hair," his dad said. "Yukon's mom was actually part Inuit, thus why Yukon spends so much time up here."
"Oh," the nurse said, sounding interested.
"Did you think about the heart attack it would cause us?" Tiffany demanded right into Yukon's ear again.
Yukon tossed his head in distress and gave the finger.
"Tiff, why don't you go get me a coffee?" his dad asked. "And get yourself a latte or something."
"I'm not going anywhere until I can be sure he's alive," Tiffany snapped.
"Babe, he's moving," his dad said.
"Even comatose people move, but that doesn't mean that they live," Tiffany replied.
"I'll still be here and I'll let you know if anything happens," his dad said. "Go get me a coffee, maybe call your mom and see how Carter's doing."
"Carter's fine, and he'll be fine too," Tiffany snapped. "But I'll go get you a coffee."
"Thank you babe," his dad said.
Yukon heard the sound of a soft peck before Tiffany's heels echoed off down the hall.
"She's definitely worrisome," his dad said, sounding as if he were apologising to the nurse.
"It seems so," the nurse said.
"But he's all good?" his dad asked.
"The wrist and ankle sprains were minor to begin with from the best we can tell," the nurse replied. "We've given him injections to help the healing process. From his records we found he was up to date on his tetanus, but we gave him a booster shot against tetanus and a couple other things because of the bite wound on his chest. The surgery to reset his rib was successful, but we will have to watch for potential overreaction with his bones repairing, as they'd healed improperly, so the rib had to be broken again. His lung should heal well now too, and we've been feeding him a nutrient-rich liquid diet so far. We're going to start adding solids over the next week and after that he should be free to go home."
"At least he's okay," his dad said. "I mean, any of them could've died out there.""

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 15

Word Count: 108,115

Summary of Events:
Ben apologised to Yukon for his behaviour and the group continued walking in much better spirits, although Ulloriaq started behaving unreasonably, to Yukon's stress; it was only when Alex got attacked by a bird of prey that they realised she'd been trying to warn them of the bird. Yukon spent much of the day thinking about his girlfriend and how much he missed her. The next morning their traps had failed to catch any rabbits, so Ulloriaq hunted a couple down before they set out for what they all hoped was their last full day of walking; although Yukon began to feel like they were headed in the wrong direction because he'd not sighted Frobisher Bay yet and started stressing . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"Ulloriaq nosed his leg and Yukon looked down at her. She gazed at him with concern; she'd sensed his distress with that uncanny ability of hers again. He stroked her head and wished that his stress over whether they were headed the right way could be alleviated.
A thought suddenly occurred to him and he looked down at Ulloriaq. She was a dog. Dogs had better noses than people. She should be able to smell the ocean if they were close to it, or otherwise be able to tell him if they were off track.
"Where's the ocean Ulloriaq?" he asked. "Go find me the ocean."
Ulloriaq jogged ahead, her head high, scanning. Yukon was pretty sure she'd understood what he'd said, and he had to admit that sometimes it impressed him that she could understand him so well. He wondered if it was because of how much he talked to her like she was another person.
Regardless, he hoped that she had, indeed, understood what he wanted, and was going to seek out the nearest saltwater to their position.
She picked up to a lope for a bit, but then slowed to a walk, favouring her bandaged leg. Yukon felt bad for her. He hoped they were on the right track for her sake as much as anyone else's. They were all in pain, and they probably all should've seen a doctor a long time ago.
Ulloriaq stopped and barked.
Yukon hurried over to her and looked. He couldn't see anything at first, but then he noticed a glitter just to the right of dead ahead. A relief and elation swelled within him like he'd never felt before in his life. Frobisher Bay — it had to be.
"We aren't stopping here for the night, are we?" Ben asked, startling Yukon.
"Just over there," Yukon replied, pointing. "Do you see that glitter?"
"Yeah," Ben replied after a moment's scanning.
"Frobisher Bay," Yukon said.
"We're almost there," Ben sighed, his voice drenched in the relief that filled Yukon.
"What is it?" JT asked.
"That distant glitter, that's Frobisher Bay," Yukon replied
Alex whooped with glee and everyone else hurried up to look, Ryan even lifting his touque to see, while Kyle quickly fired up his camera and focused in on the distant glittering of the bay.
"There it is," Kyle said, almost reverently. "The distant shore of Frobisher Bay. I'd like to know how in the world we're going to get there in only a day and a bit, but there it is."
"You know how we're going to get there," Josh said. "We're going to keep walking."
"Do we power walk now?" Ryan asked.
"If you want," Yukon replied.
"We're almost there, pack," Alex said, before launching into his generally pathetic howl.
Everyone joined him, even Ulloriaq, as if she, too, sensed the immense relief that finally sighting Frobisher Bay gave the rest of them."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 14

Word Count: 99,008

Summary of Events:
Yukon and Ben got into an argument before JT separated them and talked with Yukon about why the two of them weren't getting along. JT then tried to talk to Ben about the same thing, but he wouldn't listen. Wolves howling the next morning woke Yukon up; he was grateful to see, however, that they hadn't taken any rabbits from the snares, although he did see one approaching and threateningly ordered it to leave . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"The wolf came to a halt, almost as if startled, and rather hesitant. It lifted its gaze to him, its pale blue eyes looking confused and sad.
Wolves didn't have blue eyes.
Yukon's heart rate accelerated, causing his day-old wound to throb due to its proximity to the vital organ. He felt suddenly horrible, and yet elated at the same time.
He dropped to his knees and stared. He could hardly dare to think it, much less say it, but he had to.
"Ulloriaq?" he whispered.
The head lifted and a light came into the pale blue eyes while the tail wagged, just at the tip, suggesting there was still a fear and hesitancy.
"Is it really you Ulloriaq?" Yukon whispered, his voice coming out hoarse as tears threatened his eyes.
The wagging of the tail increased. Its soft thumping on the ground reached his ears.
"Come here," Yukon whispered.
Instantly she shot to her feet and quickly closed the distance between them. Yukon clutched her to his chest and sobbed. He would never have believed that she would find her way back to them after all this time. He couldn't begin to imagine where she'd been, and he could hardly believe that she was back. She was actually back. She was alive, and she'd come back to him.
With a puppy's enthusiasm her tail, as well as her whole body, wiggled as she tried to almost cram herself further onto his lap than she was, her big, soft, tongue leaving stripes of warm, wet saliva on his chest, arms, hands, neck, and face as she greeted him.
"It's really you," Yukon whispered, his throat still closed with emotion as he looked at her.
She sat back, her tongue hovering on the edge of her teeth in a wide canine smile that showed she was, without question, just as happy to see him as he was to see her.
"Where have you been?" he asked, sliding his hands into the thick, tangled fur about her neck.
She uttered a somewhat howl-like yip.
"Were you with the wolves?" Yukon asked.
Her tail wagged with enthusiasm.
"Why did you leave me Ulloriaq?" Yukon asked. "I was so worried about you. I thought you'd died Ulloriaq."
The happy expression on her face fell and her tail stopped wagging. She took on a contrite expression and lowered herself to her belly, her eyes seeming to brim with apology.
Yukon rubbed her head gently and watched as she barely moved the tip of her tail.
"At least you're here and okay, though, which is more than I could've asked for," Yukon said. "As much as I wish I knew where you'd been. Come, let's go tell everybody you're back."
Instantly the happiness was back on Ulloriaq's face and she hopped to her feet, following alongside him at an enthusiastic trot despite her limp."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 13

Word Count: 90,032

Summary of Events:
Cresting a ridge, the group was prompted to stop by the breathtaking sight of Lake Amadjuak which lay below them. Alex lost his cellphone when he nearly fell trying to take a picture of the lake. Yukon was woken up by a strange sound that Ben went to investigate before trying to fight a wolf for the rabbit it was trying to take; Yukon came to Ben's aid and successfully killed the wolf before tending to Ben's extensive wounds. Later on they stopped for a breather — being as Ryan was trying to walk more, and Ben was still rough from the attack — and Yukon and Kyle went down to the lakeshore to top up their water bottles before they moved on; on the way down Kyle dropped his cellphone . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""I need to find my cellphone," Kyle said. "Did you see where it landed?"
"In the lake," Yukon replied.
"It's waterproof to thirty metres," Kyle said, then furrowed his brow. "Or maybe it's thirty feet."
"Kyle, come on," Yukon said, putting on his socks.
"This is cold water!" Kyle shrieked.
"See?" Yukon said. "Come on."
"I have to find my phone!" Kyle cried. "Even if I lose my feet and legs in the process!"
"It's not worth it Kyle," Yukon said.
"I've got invaluable footage on it!" Kyle exclaimed. "If I want a complete documentary of our trek I need that footage!"
Yukon sighed. "Kyle, I didn't even see where it landed other than in the lake, we don't need to be held up for hours. We want to go home."
He stood on the shore and watched as Kyle scoured the waters frantically looking for any sign of his cellphone. 
Eventually Yukon tied himself back to his rope and leaned casually against the rock face, watching as Kyle desperately searched. He checked his watch. It was ten to the hour.
"You have ten minutes before I'm hauling you out of there and forcing you back up the hill without it," Yukon said. "I'm waiting no longer than that."
"I have to find it!" Kyle cried. "I refuse to leave it here!"
"Then you should've put it in a more secure pocket," Yukon said. "Not that the security of your GoPro helped it any."
"What?" Kyle exclaimed, looking at Yukon.
"Yeah, those rocks that hit your head cracked the face, I think they may've even corked the lens," Yukon replied.
Kyle swore. "Even more reason to– there it is!"
He scrambled off to the east and thrust a hand into the water that emerged triumphantly, the Toronto Blue Jays logo-adorned side of the case facing Yukon.
"Now to get some shots," Kyle said.
"Six minutes and we're out of here," Yukon said.
"I think it's literally frozen," Kyle said. "I need to thaw it out."
Yukon watched as Kyle pinned his phone between his thighs and stood there for a long time. It was three minutes to the hour when he finally got it thawed enough to take some shots.
"We're shoreside on Lake Amadjuak, just topping up our water supplies." Kyle narrated. "It took awhile to thaw this thing out, as it landed in the lake, but I would not leave it behind, and I thankfully don't have to. The water in this lake is way too cold for its own good, I'm surprised there's no ice cubes in it, but I have to say this is a way prettier sight than I expected."
"I think it's because of the fact that there's less heat here, which fosters the growth of algae and other bacterias," Yukon replied. "You have forty five seconds."
"Man, you're serious about your time limit," Kyle said. "I'm coming.""

Amadjuak: uhmahd'youack

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 12

Word Count: 84,010

Summary of Events:
Yukon and Kyle stayed up late talking about Canadian geography. The next morning Yukon woke up to the smell of cooking rabbit as Ben finally succeeded in catching one, to everyone's joy. Subsequently reinvigorated, they set out for another day of walking during which they spent a lot of time talking about advancing JT's career. Yukon was woken by the howling of wolves and couldn't help but feel uneasy . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
"The howls sounded like they were close by, and there was something else about them, something more haunting and cold about them. Yukon didn't know what it was, but he felt like there were ominous portents of danger in their calls as they rallied together.
For all he knew the wolves could be calling each other together into a big hunting pack to come after them; the wolves could've been following them for some time, and were wanting to take them down for food or something.
Maybe it was hunger he heard in their voices that made them seem more haunting and cold, more dangerous. Maybe the wolves were starving like they had been, and were seeking to take them down because they were big and meaty.
That thought made Yukon uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as the thought that maybe, just maybe, his imitation howls two days ago had actually encouraged the wolves to start heading in their direction, even though he'd been hungry at the time.
The wolves could possibly have been able to tell he was a human imitating them, and if they had, maybe they'd decided to rally together in an effort to take him down and eat him, as well as any others in his company — whom they would have assuredly heard and identified as non-wolves.
As much as he could pull off a good howl, Yukon wasn't sure what exactly he'd communicated by it. Wolves used howls to communicate all manner of different things, and that was part of the language that he didn't understand.
He knew they used them for rallying a group together to go hunting, and he was pretty sure that even news could be communicated by means of the howling, good or bad, and maybe even news of food, just based on the pitch of the howl, the duration, or how many undulations of the tone — to say nothing of any other possible differences that could communicate things.
Yukon hoped that his howling the other day hadn't attracted the wolves, and even if it hadn't, he hoped that the wolves hadn't picked up on their human scent at all, and that it was just coincidence and coincidence alone that had them seemingly being followed by the wolves wherever they went.
They were getting closer and closer to home. Yukon felt like they'd rounded a corner in their trip. They'd all been ready to give up, but they'd all dug in and found the strength to keep going, and now they were buoyed by food and the fact that they were only a week away from home, also, too, it seemed like they were ready to keep going with a renewed energy and vigour they'd lost rather early on in their trip.
He didn't want wolves to come and ruin that progress now, he didn't want wolves to come and demoralise the group. They were so close, but yet, in the same breath, they were also really far away."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Baffin Island: Day 11

Word Count: 75,017

Summary of Events:
The group came upon a rabbit hole, but Ben failed to catch the rabbit. Yukon found himself feeling quite irritable, and was encouraged by JT to take some time to himself. Yukon felt somewhat better after doing so, although he also felt a lot like giving up, which he first confessed to JT before deciding that he ought to tell everyone else as well . . .

Excerpt of the Day:
""I like that pack idea," Ryan said. "It's almost like wolves."
"That's kind of why I said it," Yukon replied.
"What do you mean?" Kyle asked.
"I feel like giving up," Yukon replied.
Kyle's jaw dropped. Ryan lifted the touque to look at Yukon for a brief moment before grimacing and putting the touque back down.
"Did I really just here you say that?" Ryan asked. "The Indefatigable Yukon Sarka actually wants to give up?"
"Yes," Yukon replied.
"Somebody better write that down," Ryan said. "Or are you rolling Kyle?"
"Not even close," Josh replied. "Unless you count the drool rolling out of his mouth as his jaw hangs slack in astonishment."
"I wanted to give up when we started this hunger trek," Alex said. "I don't see how activists can go on fasts for their causes. I don't have a cause and I don't ever want one."
"I was ready to give up when you told me this was all your fault," Ben said. "You've never been so obstinately self-condemning like that before. I never would've dreamed you would ever be so convinced that you're the bad guy in all this."
"I was ready to give up after Ryan nearly drowned." Josh said.
"I was ready to give up after the first day," Ryan said. "I'm actually enjoying this whole being carried around thing, except for my head hurting. But at least my legs aren't tired anymore."
"See, you are the last one," JT said.
Yukon sighed. "But to continue, as much as I feel like giving up, and I know that we all feel the same, we've kept going because the others around us have inspired us to keep going; after all, the only way we can get home is if we get ourselves there. Literally no one aside from us seven knows where we are, and they won't likely figure it out very soon either, considering that we've travelled over four hundred kilometres away from the helicopter, which is where they're going to go first."
"That's a pleasant thought," Ryan said.
"We have to get ourselves home whether we like it or not, and we've travelled four hundred kilometres so far, which is no small feat," Yukon said. "It's only because we're all in this together that we're going to make it the next four hundred kilometres."
"That sounds really inspiring, actually," Ryan said. "Like something some hero guy would say in a movie."
"I don't feel like a hero," Yukon said.
"You aren't really a hero, though," JT said. "It's not like we were in distress and you saved us. You're just the guy who's brought us together and held us together, even when we haven't really wanted to do this together. You're the one common factor we have, the glue that's kept us all together, and the one who knows the way home too.""