By NG Young Explorers Grantee Sarah McNair-Landry
To inspire youth to get outdoors and get active, promoting a healthy lifestyle and a love of nature
Arctic Ocean, Canada
Something woke me at four in the morning, and it’s a good thing it did. A polar bear was about to attack the tent right above my head. As claws started to rip the fabric, I kicked and screamed. That woke my brother, Eric, who charged after the bear with a camp shovel. In the chaos I managed to ﬁnd our shotgun, ﬁre it in the air a couple times, and scare off the bear for good. Eric and I were attempting the ﬁrst kite-skiing traverse of the frozen Northwest Passage. We had set off in March 2011 from Tuktoyaktuk, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and hoped to end on Bafﬁn Island, Nunavut, where we had grown up. Our parents are adventure guides, so we spent weekends on dog-sleds learning to have fun in the cold. As teenagers we took up kite skiing—catching the strong polar winds with a kite to pull us over the ice and snow. Now we’re showing how it can open new routes by moving expeditions quickly over long distances. On this trip the native Inuit tracked our progress through the radio interviews we did along the way. When we got to a town, they were always waiting for us. After 85 days and 2,050 miles, we pulled into Pond Inlet, on Bafﬁn Island, where people welcomed us with a square dance. There was only one thing to do. We took off our skis and joined in.
[Republished from the October 2012 National Geographic Magazine.]