Going to Labrador was quite an expedition and one of the most enjoyable trips I've ever taken. Leaving in late September, I drove to Deposit, NY and then headed for Montreal, Quebec. Next stop was Goose Bay, Newfoundland (1100 miles north) to catch a plane, which took us to Lake Kamestastin, Labrador another 200 miles inland. The timing of this expedition was to catch the Georges River herd of caribou. We were not disappointed.
Responding to and acting on an invitation from the Tshikapisk Foundation in Sheshatshit, Labrador, a small group of 7 artists and 1 photographer went to Lake Kamestastin to meet the George River herd of caribou on their autumn migration, as the Mushua-Innu have for 7500 years. The intent of this expedition was to explore the landscape, plant life and animals around Lake Kamestastin, to be inspired to create images, which reflect the beauty, diversity and value of the region.
The long trip began on September 28, with the drive from Philadelphia, PA to Montreal, Quebec, via the Binghamton area of New York to meet with Cole Johnson, one of the other artists going on this trip. The next morning, with my 500 miles and Pierre’s spectacular dinner under my belt, the crew of 8 loaded the 2 vehicles we’d be traveling in and began the long, bumpy and long drive (over 1100 miles and 3 days) to Goose Bay, Newfoundland. It was from here, we would be taking the 75 or so minute flight into Labrador and to our destination …. Lake Kamestastin.
Before we went on this trip, most of the crew had never heard of a Twin Otter plane. As we flew over the landscape, the anticipation of what we were all about to experience began to build. Looking out the windows of this small two-engine plane, I could see the landscape below, which was shaped by the glaciers during the last Ice Age. It was barren and vast, covered with rock and various size lakes and ponds.
Landing on the tundra on the "banana strip" (curved landing area) added to the exhilaration. Once on the ground, with the plane unloaded and gone, the reality and excitement of the adventure began to sink even more. First, all of the gear would have to find its way to the camp, approximately a little over a kilometer (3/4 of a mile) away. And… although the tundra was relatively barren, the various berries, lichens and changing leaves, provided endless colors to the rocky landscape.
Once settled into "camp", each of us began to plan our approach to exploring all the things Kamestastin had to offer. Each of the crew began to focus and discuss the best way to accomplish the prime objective: Find and photograph the caribou. Of course, caribou don’t have a schedule, so as it turned out, it took several days before we began to see the numbers we had expected and heard so much about. Then, early one brisk morning, hundreds and hundreds of caribou entered the water from the south and swam the lake to continue their long journey north. It’s hard to describe the sight of so many animals swimming across in that cold water. There were cows, calves and big bulls and they just kept coming. They were all around us.