Experienced Arctic travellers, John and Sherrill Knight have visited us at both Arctic Watch and Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodges. John, a wildlife and nature photographer, shares some of their favourite memories and images from their time traveling with Weber Arctic.
In the late 1960’s, John Knight, while still a university student, spent his summers in the Canadian Arctic working as a geologist for the Geological Survey of Canada. “At this point in time, we knew very little about what was there.” Through his work, John was fortunate to see large stretches of the Canadian Arctic during a time when very few visited the region. Over a span of a decade, John’s work took him to Baffin Island, Banks Island and Herschel Island, and to Baffin Bay, Lancaster Sound, and to the Beaufort Sea in the west. “When I look back, I realize how lucky I was to have had those really neat experiences in a wonderful part of Canada, seldom seen and experienced by many Canadians.”
Over forty years after his first visit to the Arctic, John wanted to revisit the Arctic and share the experience with his wife Sherrill. John had taken up wildlife and nature photography in his retirement, and had heard about Arctic Watch as a destination to photograph Arctic wildlife. They landed on Somerset Island on July 11th 2014, to a frozen landscape still in thaw after a long harsh winter. “The frozen inlet was a reminder that in the Arctic, the weather and nature controls everything.” There would likely be no belugas to photograph during the upcoming week.
“Even though I had never been to Cunningham Inlet, I felt like I was coming home.” For Sherrill, it was her first time in the Arctic and she recalls being amazed at the silence and in awe of how small one feels in the vast Arctic landscape.
The couple share a passion for wild places and hold an appreciation for intimate and unobtrusive encounters with wildlife. “With wildlife viewing and photography, I always figure that it is an honour and a privilege to be allowed to be an uninvited guest in their living room. A successful photographic session for me is to photograph wildlife without disturbing them.” During that week at Arctic Watch, a highlight of their trip was the opportunity to spend time with a family of Arctic foxes. From a distance, the small group was able to sit for hours and quietly watch the young foxes interact in their natural habitat.
Since that trip, the Knight’s have returned a second time to Arctic Watch, and they visited Arctic Haven this past summer. “The Weber’s quickly made us feel like we were part of the family.” Sherrill’s warm and compassionate nature, and John’s interest and desire to connect with the landscape have made them an absolute pleasure to host.
On their second trip to Arctic Watch, they opted for private guiding. “We took our guide’s lead on what to see and do, and where to go each day, and we were never disappointed. The belugas were there in strength, and within walking distance from camp. We spent hours watching and photographing them from shore.” The private guiding allowed for an even smaller, more intimate group which gave the Knight’s the flexibility to be more mobile, and to view the wildlife and landscape at their own pace.
When asked about what motivated a trip to Arctic Haven, John replied: “We wanted to see the different terrain and migrating caribou at Arctic Haven that we had heard about from the Weber’s.” Above the Arctic Circle, Arctic Watch sits above treeline in a barren High Arctic landscape which experiences twenty-four hours of daylight for nearly the entire operating season. By contrast, Arctic Haven is situated at the treeline where vibrant colours carpet the tundra in the autumn, and it is located in the Aurora belt. On clear evenings, the northern lights can often be seen from the lodge. “Arctic Haven has the same great staff, food and accommodation, as at Arctic Watch, but is a completely different experience.”
“At Arctic Haven we were able to creep up on a resting herd of Muskox, get some good images, then leave without disturbing them. Some of the muskox seemed to be aware that we were there, but they were comfortable with the distance and how we behaved. It was a real privilege to see them just relaxing and resting, and to leave them the way we found them.”
John and Sherrill’s desire to seek out new experiences and a willingness to try new things has made them a perfect fit for our operations. We couldn’t be happier to call them friends. Even after a decade of summer trips to the Arctic, John still can’t seem to get enough. “I still crave for more Arctic.. it’s in my blood!”
Written By Emilie Gibeau : Guide at Weber Arctic. Born and raised in the Rocky Mountains by a grizzly bear biologist, Emilie is as comfortable in the Northern Arctic as she is climbing granite peaks. Having studied documentary filmmaking, Emilie seeks to connect people to a place through story. When she’s not a guide and resident blogger for Weber Arctic, Emilie spends her time rock climbing, back country skiing, trail running and perfecting her fly cast.