The Spaniard’s big, cold, very big, very cold, EPIC adventure



Bylot Island, by Lawren Harris

Hello dear reader!  It’s great to be back with another story for you.  I haven’t posted much since we moved off our houseboat a year and a half ago – the adventures I’ve been on since that time have been very different – of the quiet, internal, personal exploration sort.  (For instance I’m just completing my yoga teacher training course, which has been a life changing experience.)  But today I’m here to tell you about a big trip the Spaniard, my husband Martin, is embarking upon.


Martin in Pond Inlet (summer 2014), with Bylot Island in the background

Those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while may remember our kayaking trip to Baffin Island a few years ago.  Our guide on that trip was David Reid, a fine fellow to spend time in the wilderness with.  Well, as things go in the north, one adventure leads to another, and amazing opporunities present themselves.  David subsequently invited Martin to join the Bear Witness expedition.  This is a fully sponsored, self-supported ski trip to circumnavigate Bylot Island, a large mountainous island just north of Pond Inlet, off the northern trip of Baffin Island.


Martin, David and me, summer 2014

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The expedition website is, from which one can read further details of the expedition:

In April 2017, an international team of explorers will circumnavigate Bylot Island, by ski. A historic, remote and uninhabited island in the Canadian High Arctic, the island lies at 73 degrees north, more than 700 kilometres above the Arctic Circle.

Marking and celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday, this ambitious journey will be a world first. The expedition will represent the largest island in the world ever to be circumnavigated on skis. This ambitious 500 km journey will take close to a month to complete. The expedition will include traveling through the eastern entrance of the fabled and historic Northwest Passage.

The entire Bear Witness Arctic Expedition will take place within the boundaries of the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area. Lancaster Sound is an incredibly rich Arctic ecosystem; polar bears, narwhals, bowhead and beluga whales, several species of seals, walrus and hundreds of thousands of sea birds call it home. At this time, the area remains unprotected.

The twin goals of the BearWitness Arctic Expedition are to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and bear witness to the changes taking place in the Arctic. The project will celebrate, document and interpret this remote and important part of the world. The expedition team will provide a (close to) real-time perspective and interpretation of this important and challenging environment.

The Bear Witness Arctic Expedition will look back 150 years and at the same time look forward 150 years. With the rich oral history of the Inuit, who have lived in the region for thousands of years, insight into what the sea ice, environment and climate was like almost 150 years ago, can be found.

The expedition will look forward and ask important questions. Given the changing Arctic climate and environment, will such a journey even be possible in the not so distant future? With sea ice conditions in certain areas becoming less predictable, the challenge is not so much whether the expedition can succeed now, but will it even be possible 50 years from now?  The expedition will let Bylot Island tell the story – one that is rich, compelling and fascinating.

 The expedition will be documented, photographed and filmed. With a comprehensive social media strategy in place and the intention to fully document the expedition for book and film components, the Bear Witness Arctic Expedition will reach an incredibly large audience. Canadians from coast to coast to coast and adventurers throughout the world will be able to follow along, experience and feel part of this celebratory and important journey.


Bylot Island from Eclipse Sound, summer 2104

The team of four, David (from Scotland, living in Canada), Martin (the Spaniard, living in Canada), Eric (from France) and Ingrid (from Germany, but living in Spain) have all arrived in Ottawa last night, and have a couple of days to do last-minute shopping and organizing.  Nearly all the gear (I didn’t inquire about underwear!) for the expedition has been provided by some very generous sponsors.  Martin was busy last night sorting through it all and he says it feels like Christmas.  They will have everything they need for a month of traveling and camping in the high Arctic in winter.


but they won’t be wearing this traditional caribou and sealskin garb

The four team members, traveling on skis and pulling all their gear and food for the month, will be assisted by 4 locals – a team of sled dogs picked up from the Inuit community of Pond Inlet.  The role of the dogs is to act as bear deterrents, and an early warning system, although they will likely pull a sled with their food on it too.  I haven’t a photo of the actual dogs, but we did meet some when we were in Pond Inlet.  They look like a wild bunch to me – they are not pets and aren’t treated as such – so it should prove interesting to have them along.  Not perhaps easy.  However the north part of Bylot Island has one of the highest densities of denning polar bears in the world, so bear encounters are expected. (And yet the Spaniard can’t quite understand my worry about him on this trip!)


Pond Inlet, summer 2014


Northwest Passage, summer 2015, photo by Ken Burton

The team flies to Pond Inlet on Monday, and will depart on their trip on Tuesday.  While they are away, they will be uploading a daily post on the blog, found on the website, starting tomorrow.  Join me in keeping track of the Spaniard on this adventure.  I’ll be in the comfort of my cozy bed, with a good cup of coffee at my side, heart in my throat at times, trying to imagine the wonder and splendor and vastness of it all.  And waiting for the Spaniard to come home again.


About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
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19 Responses to The Spaniard’s big, cold, very big, very cold, EPIC adventure

  1. Judy says:

    This sounds so exciting, and I am sure that Martine will enjoy every minute and have a great story to tell when he arrives home, I wish the team great adventures and great success and above all safety in their travels.

  2. Kate Coffey says:

    I’ll be following every update closely Tandi. God Speed to Martin and his team xo

  3. Oh dear goodness!
    May all the love and light in the universe guide him and guard him until he’s back home with you.
    Love, K

  4. Pingback: Bylot Island in the Canadian High Arctic | Bowen to Bangladesh

  5. Lynne McFetridge says:

    What an incredible adventure. Epic hardly begins to touch it! All the best to the crew and lots of love to you dear one as you wait for Martin to come home.

  6. Garry Gregson says:

    Tandi, thanks for the reminder of this great adventure that Martin and company are about to embark upon….you have set the stage so well, that I look forward to each days report from the expedition !

  7. Judy Cave says:

    Thanks for sharing Tandi, love and hugs to Martine and of course SAFE travels! It’ll be exciting for us to keep up on this “adventure of a life time” with him.

  8. Good to see you back Tandi. I send my very best wishes on this great adventure. I look forward to sharing the excitement on your blog.

  9. Tandi says:

    Thanks so much! Its so good to be back – I’ve been missing the blogging world. 🙂

  10. Wally Brodie says:

    Tandi, many, many thanks for this opportunity to follow this journey.I have only one regret. That I could not be there too.

    • Tandi says:

      Thanks you Wally. I feel that way too, but. Then I think of comfortable beds, my warm fire and lovely coffeemaker and I get over it!

  11. Joan Hawkins says:

    What an amazing adventure. Your mom was telling me a bit about it. I wish them luck .thanks so much tandi for keeping us all abreast of this endeavour. Love Joan are a great writer.

  12. Looking forward to hearing & seeing more of the splendour and vastness too! Preferably also while drinking coffee indoors.

  13. Marja Moore says:

    Hi Tandi,

    It’s nice to see that “The Song I Live By” is back!! Hope you are well.

    Epic adventure is an understatement!! Martin told me about this trip a while back at Apex, and now it is happening. He is a brave guy. Good for him. He is such a capable man, that I am sure he will be safe.

    Next week my sister from NH and cousin from Finland arrive for a week. They are here to celebrate both my Birthday and my cousin’s Birthday. I will be joining them back to NH for another week. I want to spend as much time with them, since I can’t imagine getting to Finland again. I usually go with my sister, but at 76 time is running out for her! It’s a good thing that I plan to stay young forever!

    My cousin who is coming here, has a son who made Finnish polar expedition history, a few years back! Their seven-man team skied from the Canadian coast to the geographical North Pole in two months, twice! How they didn’t freeze to death, since they ended up IN the ice water a few times, is beyond me! They made a beautiful book about it, and I was fortunate to get a copy.

    Take care sweetie, Marja

  14. Mona Chernoff says:

    Thanks Tandi and have been enjoying every post and can’t wait for the next one to come.
    The posts makes me feel like I’m on the adventure with them (only from a nice warm house).Wishing them all good luck and love. Can’t wait to hear all the stories Martin will have to tell when he returns.

  15. Joan Hawkins says:

    So neat to be hearing fro u again. Sounds and looks like a wonderful adventure. So much going on in the article theses days to say nothing of the fact that the ice melt is happening six times faster than anywhere else in the world. Cheers joan

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