Trip Number: 13026A
Staff: Richard Gross and Marta Chase
- See Canada's newest national park, located on the northern coast of Labrador
- Be one of the first to hike the pristine wilderness of the Torngat Mountains
- Hike from fjord to fjord in the land of Inuit spirits and polar bears
- Floatplane flight from Barnoin Camp to beginning of hike
- Two nights at Barnoin Camp Lodge
- All bear safety equipment
Please note that the trip dates have changed from what was originally published. If you
have questions, please
Photo: Alain Lagace
If you dream of experiencing a place that is both pristine and magical, a land
of spirits and polar bears rarely seen by humans, this is the trip you have
been waiting for. There are no roads, signs, or campgrounds. The Torngat Mountain
National Park stretches from the northern tip of Labrador to Saglek Fjord in
the south, and west from the Atlantic Ocean to the Quebec border. It is a land
of 5,000-foot mountains, black bears, polar bears, caribou (Torngat Mountain
herd and George River herd), muskoxen, and small glaciers. We will penetrate
into the soul of the Torngats where we'll see spotless icebergs, turquoise fjords,
sapphire lakes, and mountains that touch the ocean.
Early explorers called this area the Ghost Coast because the strong winds could
sound haunted. It can be an area of extreme weather. There are strong winds
that blow across the area that can knock you off your feet. The park is located
above the tree line, and animals and plants have to grow during a very short
growing season. We will visit during that season.
We will be there during the summer season, which is prime time to see the waterfalls,
wildflowers, and the large and small animals. Hopefully we will also see nesting
We'll start out in a lodge where we will prepare for our trip and then fly out
in small groups to the Nachvak Fjord. From there we'll hike for 11 days to the
Komaktorvik Fjord, where we'll be picked up and return back for an additional
night at Barnoin Camp Lodge.
Day 1: We'll meet in Montreal and all fly together (cost of
flight not included) up to Georges River (900 miles north of Montreal) and then
to Barnoin Camp Lodge (25 miles south of Ungava Bay). There we will have a pre-trip
meeting to discuss the route and safety issues. We'll have dinner at the Lodge
and overnight there.
Day 2: In the early morning we'll be taken by floatplane on
a spectacular flight to Nachvak Fjord. We'll set up camp and hike to Mount Ford
to see an incredible view of the Fjord.
Days 3-12: We'll hike between fjords and mountains, encounter
waterfalls, and see magnificent landscapes. We'll have a mix of hiking days
and layover days.
Day 13: We'll get picked up by our plane and have another
spectacular flight on our return to the lodge. We'll have another gourmet dinner
and sleep overnight at the Lodge.
Day 14: Following breakfast at the Lodge we will retrace our
flights back to Montreal.
The trip leaders will coordinate the trip members in meeting in Montreal to
begin the trip to Barnoin River Camp, 25 miles south of Ungava Bay in Quebec.
Accommodations and Food
All meals and snacks, from dinner on day one through breakfast on day fourteen,
are included in the trip price. Please let the leaders know if you have any
particular food requirements. Our delicious meals will be lightweight backpacking
food except at the lodge. As usual on Sierra Club trips, all members help with
cooking and cleanup chores, with each person (as a part of a team) assisting
for a number of days.
Photo: Alain Lagace
There will be no trails, so the hiking could be difficult. We will be crossing
streams and may be hiking on wet tundra, so you may have wet boots much of the
time. We may have some rain and the temperatures may go down into the 40s. We
may also have days of sunshine and T-shirts. If you are prepared and can greet
adverse weather as part of the adventure, you will enjoy this trip. Most days
will be moderate in distance. Trip members should be in excellent physical condition
and have recent backpacking experience.
Equipment and Clothing
Trip participants are expected to furnish their own personal gear. The leaders
will mail out a detailed equipment list. The Sierra Club provides group equipment
including pots, cooking utensils, stoves, fuel, a cooking tarp, a satellite
phone, bear cannisters, bear repellant spray, flare guns and an electric fence,
a repair kit, and a first-aid kit. Please feel free to contact the leaders with
any questions about equipment.
Brochures from Parks Canada:
Link to videos about the park:
Canadian Geographic article: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/mj07/feature_torngat.asp
Map of the park: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/mj07/indepth/wildlife.asp
Photo: Alain Lagace
The Torngat Mountains National Park became the newest Canadian national park
in 2008. It is the 42nd national park in Canada. It is a region of approximately
9,700 square km in Northern Labrador and all south of 60 degrees.
The park is a result of two groups of Inuits (Labrador Inuit and Nanuavik Inuit)
working with Parks Canada as equal partners to create a reserve and then national
park. The three groups now share the resources and management of the area. It
is managed by a board represented by the three groups.
For additional information see Parks Canada link (http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/nl/torngats/plan.aspx).
This area has been occupied by the Inuit for many years. If we are lucky, we
may see evidence of the historic activities. In the past, the Inuit’s
beliefs focused on Torngarsoak, who was a powerful Inuit spirit that controlled
the life of sea animals and appeared as a polar bear. Today they still believe
that the spirits still live in the Torngat Mountains. The Inuit people still
hunt and fish in this area. However, people no longer live within the park boundaries.
We will try to set up a meeting with a representative of the Inuit groups prior
to our departure from the Lodge.
Travel in Alaska and the Arctic
Sierra Club outings in Alaska and Arctic Canada are special experiences in true wilderness, but they also carry an element of risk. Trip locales are often remote, away from the amenities of civilization, including sophisticated medical care and immediate evacuation possibilities. Many of our Alaska and Arctic Canada trips now carry satellite phones, but even with this technology, communication with the outside world can be difficult and emergency assistance can be days away. Weather in Alaska and Arctic Canada is unpredictable, and inclement weather can be severe. Among other hazards are cold river and stream crossings, tidal activity, calving glaciers, the psychological effects of remoteness, and the presence of large wild animals. You're in good hands, though, so don't worry: Your trip leaders have vast experience in the Last Frontier, and they'll provide all the guidance you need.
See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
This is Marta and Rich's 14th trip together. They have led numerous arctic trips that have included areas that were previously unexplored.
Rich Gross has been leading Sierra Club National Outings in Alaska, Canadian Arctic, Rocky Mountains and California for 23 years. He is also an avid mountaineer, having climbed a number of long alpine routes in the United States (including Alaska) and Canada. His very first backpacking trip was a Sierra Club outing in Yosemite, during which he made many mistakes resulting in his being cold, wet, tired, and incredibly thrilled. He has a particular love for the Arctic because it makes him feel small and insignificant. His other passions include music (he sings in the San Francisco Symphony Chorus). His 21-year-old son, Zack, has come on a number of the trips led his first Sierra Club trip last summer. In his real life, he works fo a non-profit organization that finances and develops low-income, multi-family housing.
Marta Chase has been leading Sierra Club National Outings in Alaska, Canadian Rockies and Arctic, Washington, and California for 16 years. An experienced backpacker and leader, she was also an American Youth Hostel leader. Her delicious backpacking meals have made her famous among trip participants. She will be bringing her husband along on the trip. He is a great help and loves to carry 80-pound packs. When Marta isn't out traveling, she is a consultant in the medical diagnostics area.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips