A former Inuvik mayor and longtime community leader is making the most of the last season of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk ice road, spending this week crossing it on foot.
Peter Clarkson began his walk across the 184 kilometre road on Monday. The ice road connects Inuvik to the Arctic coastal community of Tuktoyaktuk in the winter months. This winter marks the final year of the ice road, which will be rendered obsolete upon the completion of the all-weather highway between the two communities.
"This ice road has played an incredible role," said Clarkson before setting out on his walk. "Connecting communities, connecting cultures, connecting sporting events... and so, I think... [it's] a good way to celebrate the role the road has played for the people of the Beaufort Delta."
Clarkson will not be camping on the ice road — instead, he is taking part in a "stake walk." Each day, he will place a stake in the ground, receive a trip back to either Inuvik or Tuktoyaktuk, and begin again from his previous location the following morning.
The walk's format has allowed Clarkson to invite locals to take part in sections of the walk — territorial minister Alfred Moses has expressed interest — though Clarkson said the only participant confirmed to be with him for the entirety of his journey is "Jane Doe, my trusty dog."
"Just get out and enjoy it," he encouraged residents. "This is the last season. I think there's just something very special about that ice road, and the role it's played."
Clarkson hopes to finish his journey by Friday evening, though he says he won't rush the trip, instead taking in the sights and sounds of a journey that will soon be obsolete. He said he's driven the road "probably 40, 50 times over the past 30 years," and is looking forward to thinking about how the area has been used over past centuries as he treks through the tundra.
"Just walking it, and thinking about what life would have been like when Reindeer Station was hustle and bustle, it was like a small community," he said. "Or what it would have been like 150 years ago, with Inuvialuit out sealing on the Beaufort.
"I think it's just an opportunity. You have plenty of time to think when you're walking all day."