Readers of the blog may be aware that I recently travelled to Rankin Inlet. What you may not know is that I did not go to the capital of the Kivalliq just to write a guide and visit the Legion; I actually went for Justin's birthday and my first time on the land in Rankin Inlet. I flew into Rankin Inlet early Friday evening, lugging one large duffel bag full of camping gear and supplies. Justin was stationed in Rankin for about a month for work (check out his Instagram page for some awesome photos), including over his birthday. Rather than postpone the mutual celebrations, we thought, what better way to celebrate than to go out on the land for a couple days of camping?
So, Saturday morning we set out across the tundra and along Rankin's well-used trails out of town. The weather was a certifiably hot 26 degrees Celsius, the breeze light but strong enough to keep the bugs away. Thanks to our friends Christine and Nate, who led our band for the first day, we set out on a two-day adventure of mussel-picking, fishing, and wild Nunavut beauty. A fitting fete for a very special birthday boy.
Our convoy (four people, two ATVs, and a dog named Max) left Rankin Inlet around noon; the tide was low, meaning we could access Christine and Nate's favourite mussel-picking spot. Looping along the shore and then bearing north, we drove for about two hours before reaching the temporary island that would provide our dinner. I call it a temporary island because it only exists during low tide; once the water comes back in, the entire mound of rock and earth is submerged. And this doesn't take long: we had about ten minutes on the island before the surrounding water would have become too deep to walk back. That ten minutes afforded us just enough time to gather about four pounds of mussels, which we steamed at a great little campsite (again, found and secured by Christine and Nate).
One of Justin's birthday wishes was to catch or gather food for our meals. Thus, after our lunch of buttery mussels, we took another hour-long ATV ride out to a lake for a bit of fishing. Within an hour and a half, our team had pulled in three good-sized fish, two lake trout and one whitefish. Dinner in hand, we made the trip back to the campsite, where I stuffed the fresh fish with lemon slices, smothering their skins with garlic butter. Grilled over a hot fire with smoking heather, we had ourselves a veritable birthday feast, after which Christine and Nate headed back to town, leaving Justin and I perfectly alone with the sound of wind against our tent.
Justin and I woke early in the hopes of returning to the temporary island for a second round of mussel picking before heading back to town. After a hearty breakfast, we followed our own ATV tracks that were still visible on the ocean floor to the same mussel-infested spot. Only this time, we were crossing the exposed ocean floor as the tide was receding, not coming back in, meaning, we had ample time on the island to search for mussels. And by search, I mean, constantly locate; the super low tide exposed a whole new area of mussel mania, and within less than 30 minutes we had amassed over 10 pounds of fresh mussels. Needless to say, half of these molluscs went to Christine and Nate, as a thank you for guiding us to a perfect weekend on the land in Rankin Inlet. As for the other half, I went to the Northern in Rankin with an open mind and emerged with all the ingredients needed to make coconut adobo curry mussels for Justin's second birthday dinner.
Have you been on the land in Rankin Inlet? Tell me all about it in the comments!