Our ride home touches down


Expedition to the Torngat Mountains

Day 16: Friday, August 24
The flight home

Last night was my worst night out camping yet, ever. I did not start falling asleep until around 5:00 a.m., after spending most of the night watching the tent walls squeeze in around us and supporting the poles with one hand when the wind threatened to flatten the tent completely. Went out twice during the night to check the guylines. Each time the gusts died down, I allowed myself false hopes that the wind was settling down. But they were just that: false hopes. When it started up again, it seemed to grow in strength and duration. What a lousy night.

I get out of the tent at 8:30 to a somewhat milder wind, relatively speaking. The tent is full of sand and so are my eyes and ears. Casualties this morning: my tent has two broken guylines (from rubbing against the rock piles), one torn vestibule guy-down strap and a small tear in the fly, which is fortunately close to the ground. Vinh, whose tent suffered a broken pole the previous afternoon and who spent the night in Normand's old tent, slept without a fly, which tore off with the wind during the night. Normand's tent has two broken guylines. Not too bad, considering the force of the wind. Now, if only the plane would come and pick us up.

For once, I spend a day not feeling hungry. I lounge around camp, gather wood, eat snacks, explore a rockfall near camp with Lisette, wait for Normand's call to the air dispatcher and watch as mounting winds begin flattening my tent again. We begin preparations to move my tent to a more sheltered spot in case the plane cannot come for us, and discover blown grommets on the guy points as well as bent sections on two of the poles. Mental note to send the tent off for repairs when I return.

At 5:30 p.m., Normand gets on the satellite phone and receives confirmation. The plane is on its way. The Twin Otter touches down at 7:00 p.m. Huguette, the pilot, has some chocolate to share with us, bless her heart. On the flight home, my face remains glued to the little window, at times recognizing places where we had hiked or camped, and feeling both relief that I'll soon be home to a hot shower and the chocolate in my pantry and regret that the expedition is over. I'll miss this place, this landscape. I'll fondly recall this trip in the future, but for now, I'm heading for home sweet home.

- NB, 2003, Canada -

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