Accore [akor]: Refers to a steep, rocky coastline along which the depths increase rapidly and ships can follow closely.

The Canadian "Great North" is a mythical region for many city dwellers. These regions operate on the collective imagination an irrational magnetism, even romantic or idyllic. People forget too often that these territories were for millennia - and still are - the living environment of a lively and singular culture: the Inuit people. It is with respect and determination that the crew of the AKOR expedition will progress for 3 months in a portion of this territory of incredible beauty; a very modest duration for the scope of the mission to be accomplished. Their motivation? Paddling this territory to share it, for science and, above all, for fun!

The challenge of the crew of six enthusiasts in their twenties: canoeing the 1,500 km that separate the villages of Schefferville (QC) and Nain (T-N-L), in less than 90 days. The departure will take place on June 8, on the shores of Lake Attikamagen. Several icy lakes, followed by the DePas River, will have to be paddled before reaching the Wild Hut Lake, head of the mythical George River; a highway of water slaying Nunavik. The descent of these rivers will be more than sporty: it will be risky, since the crew will paddle in full spring flood. This will allow canoeists to progress quickly, but the rapids will be bigger than ever and every decision will be crucial. After 3 weeks of what will seem, at some points, like a winter expedition, the AKOR team will reach the Inuit village of Kangiqsualujjuaq, where they will receive their first food supply.

From there, it will be time to head for the Koroc River, which will be reached within a day of paddle in Ungava Bay, where the tides are among the highest on Earth. Then will start the most difficult section of the expedition, rarely undertaken: the team will paddle upstream the clear waters and the rapids of the Koroc River for 130 km, after which they will recover their second refueling. This river ascent will be done from west to east and will allow the young adults to cross the Labrador Peninsula. A rocky portage of 20 km and a small river to descend will enable them to live a masterly entry in the heart of the second largest mountain chain in Canada: the Arctic chain, which runs along the east coast of the Ellesmere and Baffin islands, and whose Torngat Mountains form the southern tip. Thus, they will achieve the goal they have dreamed of for 2 years: admire the majestic Torngat Mountains with their own eyes, sitting in their canoes.

The team hopes to have time to climb Mount Iberville, highest summit of Quebec, culminating at 1652 m altitude. However, after crossing the Torngat by canoe, those who are used to descend rivers will have to turn into sailors, as the remaining 500 km will be paddled in the Atlantic Ocean, without changing boats. Deep fjords, hostile temperatures, icebergs, intense winds and polar bears are on the menu. The capricious and untamed Labrador Sea is the biggest challenge for the crew. The difficulty of predicting in advance the speed of progress on the coast makes the preparation laborious, but makes the adventure even more exciting! Arriving at Nain at the end of August, the crew will finally be able to exclaim "mission accomplished".

This mission, in fact, does not strictly refers to the physical and mental work. Of course, the members of the team have a particular taste for sustained effort and surpassing themselves. However, more global and profound considerations motivated these young professionals to set up AKOR, an initiative that goes beyond mere expedition and is defined more as a long-term project.

Quebec's Far North is not only a place that stands out for its majestic beauty. It is also a region where the effects of global warming are among the most significant on the planet, particularly since the last two decades. The AKOR expedition offers a unique opportunity to study this exceptional ecosystem not only in a timely manner, but also as a whole. Thanks to the research expertise of Guillaume, a member of the crew and PhD student in forestry, a scientific research project is underway. Members of the AKOR Expedition will collect wood samples from the trees along the George River, a hard-to-reach area for researchers. The samples will then be analyzed at Laval University (Qc) to better understand the anatomical, mechanical and chemical properties of the wood. This aspect of AKOR shows how a simple canoe-camping expedition can have a significant impact on 21st century’s environmental issues.

Moreover, as the members of the crew are all former instructors and camp guides, sharing their experiences in this remote and wild region is an important dimension of the project. The expedition is primarily an excuse to convey their love of the outdoors and expeditions! This is why Nicolas has already started a series of pre-expedition conferences, in order to share young people the excitement and preparation of such an expedition. Since January 2018, he has met 700 students to help them discover the world of expeditions! Upon return from the trip, the goal will be to raise interest about Inuit culture and the « North », and to educate Canadian youth on the importance of protecting these vulnerable regions.

But to bring this project to a successful conclusion, the crew will first have to start by treading the icy expanses of Lake Attikamagen...

The numbers

- 90 days canoeing

- 1,500 km to paddle

- 130 km of river to paddle upstream

- 500 km in the Atlantic Ocean

- 600 kilos of food

- Longest portage: 20 km

- Average temperature in the Torngat in July: 10 degrees Celsius

- Ascension of the highest summit of Quebec: Mont d'Iberville (1,652 m)

- 5 parallels to cross

- 3 forest ecosystems: boreal, taiga and tundra

 

Written by Nicolas Roulx

Photos by Guillaume Moreau