Paddling Labrador: The Inuit kid, the physicist and the Nobel Prize winner

Posted: Jul 13, 2012 06:05 am EDT

(Newsdesk) In April, after a 550 km sledge-haul expedition with Jerry Kobalenko, 24-year-old Inuit Noah Nochasak told ExWeb he felt like he was doing something right, “doing what myself and probably most young native men would like to do: connecting with a past that is so much a part of our culture.”

Last week Noah left on a kayak expedition; this time teaming up with two scientists, Lev Tarasov and Rod MacKinnon. On June 5th they left Nain, Labrador, Canada, to paddle 900 kilometers to Kangiqsualujjuaq via the Torngats, Killinek and Ungava Bay. Noah is paddling a traditional kayak he built himself.

Cabins and polar bears

Jerry Kobalenko wrote an update on the expedition’s progress on July 11, “Noah, Lev and Rod spent last night at a cabin at Nutak, near the old village of Okak.”

“They're trying to sleep in cabins as far as Saglek to minimize polar bear encounters. Although I know only what I can surmise from Noah's Spot position reports, I'm familiar with the area from my previous kayak journeys. I suspect they'll spend tonight at a cabin at Mugford Tickle, about 30 kilometers further. The cabin belongs to Tom Goodwin, owner of the Atsanik Lodge in Nain.”

“There are always polar bears in Mugford, I'm told. In fact, I had a very close call with a polar bear beside the cabin during a kayaking trip in 2007.”

Jerry explained about some difficulties, “The three of them had some trouble getting around Cape Kiglapait, a hulking cliff exposed to the open North Atlantic. They had to wait two days before conditions were suitable for kayaking the brief but exposed headland.”

Jerry added that the three kayakers are going to be dealing with white bears almost daily from Mugford north. “Southern eco-types get all soft and fluttery about the majestic polar bear, but believe me, when you're out there and a polar bear is poking around your camp every day at distances of 20 meters or less, it's a real pain.”

On April 5th, 2012 24-year-old Inuit Noah Nochasak and veteran Canadian explorer Jerry Kobalenko finished a 44-day, 550 km sledge-haul expedition from Nain, Labrador to Kangiqsualujjuaq, Quebec. The route was Noah’s dream said Jerry and what appealed to him about Noah's dream was “how pure and unaffected it was”.

Nain resident Noah Nochasak “works a temporary job then takes off on the land”. He has a diploma in Civil Engineering Technology but work is scarce where he lives he says. “I have no kids and no bad habits but you still might call me “unstable” because travelling is my priority.” Noah would like to work for Parks Canada.

Kobalenko gave the following detail about Noah’s team mates: “Lev Tarasov is a physicist who works out of Memorial University in Newfoundland. Rod MacKinnon has not done a trip of anywhere near this length before, but in subsequent conversations he has always sounded level-headed and well-prepared. As well he might: Rod won the Nobel Prize for chemistry a few years ago, for his work on potassium channels. Now he's working on Labrador channels.”


"Just gotta let the last coat dry. Every single piece of wood is from around Nain."
courtesy Noah Nochasak
"By making a smaller kayak, tighten the design in a few places its speed should be on par in the water." Noah built his own kayak; the traditional way.
courtesy Noah Nochasak
"Don't mess with the Kajak that has a 30.06 and Inuk driver."
courtesy Noah Nochasak
The team's position July 11th.
courtesy Jerry Kobalenko, SOURCE