Great Trail Sign

Katannilik Territorial Park

Katannilik

Katannilik is an Inuktitut word meaning “where there are waterfalls”, and refers to the numerous waterfalls cascading down the valley walls into the Soper River. The Soper River is a Canadian Heritage River which was designated in 1992 for its outstanding natural and cultural heritage values, and its incredible recreational opportunities.

Introduction

Walking part of The Itijjagiaq Trail on Baffin Island for two weeks is one of the highlights of our walking days. Be aware that this walk occurred before I owned a Garmin GPS receiver. As a result the GPS track provided below is very much an approximation of where we walked. Anyone wanting to walk the trail in Katannilik Territorial Park is advised to plan the walk and consult the appropriate park authorities to register and obtain up-to-date trail information.

Bruce Downie

Our Invitation & Inspiration

We were invited to do this walk on Baffin Island by friends, Bruce [Dr. Bruce Downie, PhD] and Lindsay. Bruce was part of a team hired by the Government of Nunavut  to help design the territorial park. "In 1993, Bruce Downie wrote a guidebook on the Itijjagiaq Trail and created names to facilitate interpretation of route information, (The Itijjagiaq Trail starts on Frobisher Bay, crosses over the highlands, and follows the east side of the Soper River to Lake Harbour.) Descriptive names have also been added for river features." (Source: https://park.org/Canada/arctic/soper1/soper1.html) Bruce invited us to walk from Mt. Joy (approx. 63.2663462, -69.6476446) to Kimmirut (Lake Harbour) following the Soper River.

The Area

Glaciations scoured the highest elevations of the area, leaving exposed bedrock and a barren plateau area near the 610 m tall Mount Joy and the 535 m tall Mount Moore. The Soper River originates on this glacially scoured plateau, where shallow basins drain away the melting snow each summer. Numerous small creeks, cascades and lakes combine their waters to form the Soper River, which cuts increasingly deeper into the rocky landscape as it flows rapidly southwards toward Kimmirut. We started our walk at Mount Joy, where a gravel airstrip allows charter flights from Iqaluit to land, offloading.

The Challenge

We accepted the challenge. I was about 55 and had never done a two-week backpacking walk like this one. Bruce planned the whole excursion. It amazed us. He purchased all the food we needed for the two weeks. He had the food packaged into indivual meals for four people. We were ready and, yes, a bit apprehenive. It was not until the day we walked into the village of Kimmirut at the end of the walk that we learned that Bruce did have concerns about us three. Apparently he wondered if one of us might "hit the wall", as the idiom goes, during the trek. The total distance in two weeks was not that much but it did involve walking with heavy packs.

The Dates

August 5, 1998 - Travel to start of walk near Mt. Joy, Baffin Island (details below)
August 6 - 18, 1998 - Walk to Kimmirut
August 18 & 19, 1998 - Overnight at Kimik Co-op (real beds & hot showers)
August 19-20, 1998 - Fly to & overnight in Iqaluit
August 20, 1998 - Back to Kitchener via Ottawa & Toronto

Getting To Mt. Joy

On August 5, 1998 Jan and I flew from Toronto (YYZ) to Ottawa (YOW) and then to Iqaluit (YFB). We purchased enough naptha gas to fill our two fuel bottles. Bruce and Lindsay arrived from B.C. The  four of us, our gear and a few canoeists boarded a Twin Otter (a charter Air Inuit, I think) and were flown to the air strip near Mt. Joy. The canoeists had to wait for the aircraft to return with their canoes. The canoeists went downstrean for the night and we never saw them again. Since it was late in the day we pitched our tents, had dinner and turned in for the night. They night there was a bit of rain and wind. The fireglass rod in one corner of the tent kept bending inward frequently and repeatedly all night due to the gusting wind. A lower profile tent would have been best in such open and potentially windy locations.

Inuksuk

1998AUG06 Thursday

A beautiful day. We headed north by north east toward Panorama Falls. We travelled up "Twin Hearts" mountain - we named it this because at the top you could see two hearts together - one broken. We had quite a time coming down the steep parts of the mountain - we called it our descent of the Broken Hearts. Our view of Mt. Joy to the south was beautiful. Our day hike this day was a leisurely seven hours. No rain. Lots of wind. Not too cold at night.

1998AUG07 Friday

We got up around 8:00 or 8:30 and B & L have been preparing a breakfast of oatmeal. Today we broke camp and divied up all the food. It was lunch time before we were ready to leave. Us two do not seem to have the hang of things yet. We had a rough day of back packing. We did only two hours of hiking in half hour stints. We were very tired. At one point Bruce piggy backed all the packs, then Lindsay and then Jan across a river. Jan says Bruce is so brave, so awesome or not too swift. To be decided later :) By the way, when Jan says across a river it means a tributary to the Soper River. Bruce chose to do these walks in early August when the water levels are usually lower and crossing the tribultaries would be easier. We camped on sand right in the path of the caribou. Twice in the middle of the night we heard caribou running through. Caribou are very curious animals . They blend in perfectly with the earth and we see lots of them. It wasn't unusual, during breakfast, to have a small herd pass by us a short distance away and look at us. We thought maybe the caribou were wondering, "What are those things over there eating oatmeal?"

1998AUG08 Saturday

We started an hour earlier today with better packed bags and a good hearty breakfast. We ate Bruce's oranges today to lighten his load (he had the heaviest pack). We travelled  south along the Soper River and lunched at some beautiful flat rocks with fast moving water. The water to drink is so refreshing right out of the river. We also passed a small waterfall. Bruce did some more carrying across tributaries today - twice! Jamie used his boots to cross. I think Bruce must be getting very tired. We made it to the Warden's Group shelter around 4:30. It is a lovely cabin, well built with outdoor toilets and a trash bin. We will stay here a few nights (avoiding pitching our tents) and do some day hikes (out and back).

1998AUG09 Sunday

We had a leisurely start to our day. It was cloudy but not much sign of rain at least for awhile. Quite cool. We headed up to one plateau after another. The levels are beautiful. We walked on big boulders as well as peat moss. We were able to see the layers: the young moss plants with their reproductive structures, then the decaying moss below that layer and then the peat. We travelled over to Cascade Falls and followed Cascade River (approximately N63.17698 W69.64427) back around to where we crossed the river with our packs the day before and headed up to the shelter. We are happy to be here because it has started to rain fairly hard. We had a nice surprise at the shelter - Benjamin. He is from Paris, France and was resting for the night. He spoke very good English. He was alone only because his friend who normally hikes with him got sick. Benjamin said that he got a bit lost earlier in his walk and thought there was an error in the trail guide. We pointed out to him that Bruce was the author of the trail guide. Benjamin had Bruce autograph his guidebook and then Bruce showed Benjamin that there was no error and how Benjamin had gone wrong. Benjamin was a real hiker and was covering a lot of ground each day. We shared our super with him and he showed us how simply he packs. Robbie would love his stove - very light and runs on alcohol only. On our hike we did not see Mt. Joy but we could see the ocean beyond Kimmirut.

1998AUG10 Monday

Benjamin was off mid morning after we took a few pictures. We decided to hang out here for the day since the weather is cold, cloudy and rainy. We decided to read and rest and eat to lighten our packs.

1998AUG11 Tuesday to 1998AUG17 Monday

For the next few days we continued our trek. One of these days we did venture away from the Soper River. We had been drinking water from the Soper River. During the time away from the river we purified our water.

1998AUG18 Tuesday to 1998AUG20

Overnight at Kimik Co-op (real beds & hot showers) in Kimmirut; fly to and overnight in Iqaluit; back to Kitchener via Ottawa & Toronto

Pictures

The pictures below are from the scanning of positive 35 mm sized photographs taken with a SLR film camera. As a result the quality is not that great by standards today (2020).

 

Landing Strip Near Mt. Joy

Arriving near Mt. Joy

 

The Four of Us with Packs

The Baffin Group

 

Our Daily Visitors - Caribou

Our Daily Visitors - Caribou

 

Caribou Up Close

Caribou Up Close

 

"Reindeer Remains" (Caribou)
Caribou Facts - Canadian Geogrpahic

Caribou Antlers

 

Katannilik Territorial Park Waterfalls Along Our Way
“Katannilik” is an Inuktitut word meaning “where there are waterfalls”,
and refers to the many waterfalls cascading down the valley walls into the|
Soper River, a Canadian Heritage River.
(Soper Heritage River PDF)

Soper River Valley Waterfalls

 

Jan at Old Shelter Circle

Jan at Old Shelter Circle

 

Breaktime

The Four of Us

 

Jan & Lindsay with Packs

Jan & Lindsay with Packs
 

The "Ferry Master" Transported All of Us Across the Soper River
(Holy Moly! Bruce brought and carried an inflatable dingy.)

Crossing the Soper River

 

Help Across Tributaries of the Soper River

Jan & Lindsay with Packs

 

Lunch Beside the Soper River

Breaktime

 

A Shelter and Benjamin from Paris
(Benjamin: bottom picture, wearing toque)
Most nights we slept in our low-profile tents.

The Shelter and Benjamin from Paris

Resource Maps

Here is a link to three maps (PDF) that may be of some value. The maps show the approximate route (in blue) of the side trips we took. >  3-page PDF


Itijjagiaq Trail (red line)


View Larger Map


 

GPS Tracks for Download

HELP: If clicking on the links does not provide a download option, try RIGHT clicking the link (especially the .gpx file) and then choose "Save Links As" (or equivalent) from the drop-down menu. Pick a download location (e.g. desktop) for the file.

SoperWalk.kml and/or SoperWalk.gpx