It was Thursday afternoon. We were waiting for Crystal to arrive with the truck to transport us to the airport when the phone rang. It was the guy from the airport.
His questions were a little startling at first. Are you leaving today? How many of you are there?
There were too many people booked to leave Deline for the regularly scheduled flight to hold. Not to worry. They would send another plane over from Norman Wells for the extra.
So Pete and Linda boarded a tiny plane for a direct 30-40 minute flight to Norman Wells while Scott, Mel, and I joined five others on the regular flight that stopped in Tulita, a First Nations community located on the banks of the mighty Mackenzie River near its junction with the Great Bear River that flows from Great Bear Lake.
The flight path from Deline to Tulita followed the Great Bear River for much of its length. At one spot the river was a stunning aquamarine color. Along the way we saw several lightning-strike induced forest fires smoldering away. As we landed in Tulita Scott spotted some Sandhill Cranes near the runway.
Thirty minutes later when we arrived in Norman Wells, there were more Sandhill Cranes feeding in the grass and Linda and Pete were waiting for us in the lounge. Sahtu biologist Alisdair had already been there to greet them and plan our itinerary. Our day ended delightfully. Perched high up on the shore of Jackfish Lake, broad mountains curving above us, loon calls echoing below us, we listened to Alisdair’s tales of muskox and caribou and bears and sheep. A family of Gray Jays swooped in like giant silent chickadees but left when they found we had only liquid refreshments. As we drove back down towards town around 11, a massive white orb of a moon hung low over the horizon.