The ancient Greeks had their list of the seven wonders of the world: This one is is entirely my own subjective list of the seven natural wonders of the Arctic, because I haven’t seen everything in the circumpolar world.
But I challenge readers of a Date with Siku Girl to suggest other places that belong on the following list:
1) The Fossil Forest on Nunavut’s Axel Heiberg Island: the Geodetic Hills are pinkish and rounded, streaked with darker lines that mark the remnants of forests that grew 45 million years ago. A tall, lush forest flourished there when the average mean temperature on Axel Heiberg ranged from seven to 15 Celsius. Worried about life? Climate change? You can contemplate eternity here while you look at those ancient stumps.
2) Northern Ellesmere Island in Nunavut’s High Arctic: best to visit this beautiful place in the summer, when you can see something. Then the hills come alive with wildflowers, but maybe only for a couple of weeks or perhaps a few days. There is a valley north of Carl Ritter Bay that I would like to return to some July to once again see this view extend before me.
3) Sunset over Mt. Pelly near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut: from every angle, and particularly at sunset, when it catches the last rays, this flat 200-metre-high esker looks great. And its an esker with a backstory: Inuit lore says Ovayuk and two smaller hills are a family of starving giants who were crossing Victoria Island looking for food. The father, Ovayok, died first. His bladder burst, creating the lakes left below.
4) Northern Norway’s fiords: why take a cruise? Drive: A surprise awaits you around every twist in the road as you travel from Kirkenes south to Tromsø. It’s hard to focus on the road because the scenery — mountains, fiords, fields, sheep and reindeer — is so awesome. Luckily, there are lots of places to stop, including the World Heritage Site for the Alta rock drawings and the Riddu Riddu indigenous arts festival north of Tromsø. So there’s no hurry at all.
5) Finnish lakes at sidsummer: Okay I’m biased because the Finnish language and summer in Finland is part of my life, but there’s nothing more heart-warming to me than to see the sun dipping down and staying on the horizon for hours, while the sunlight seems to make everything glow. I just want to stay there forever.
6) Iceland’s geysers and algae balls: take your pick, they’re both wonderful in a weird way.
The “lake balls,” the strange, ball-shaped algae called “kúluskítur,” or “balls of shit” in Icelandic, or “Cladophora aegagropila” in Latin, only exist in two lakes: Lake Akan on Hokkaido Island in Japan, and Myvatn, which I visited on a Canadian state visit to Iceland in 2003.
The geysers seemed to be everywhere, and, during later trips to Iceland, I grew to love their smaller, less explosive relatives, hot springs that keep swimming pools steaming.
7) Pangnirtung, Nunavut: this fiord can’t look bad in any light… and it’s as beautiful now as it was in 1993 when I took this photo.
(And there are other sights worthy of mention which I have seen, such as Nuuk, Greenland‘s Sermitsiaq mountain or
Nunavik’s plateaus in spring or fall when there are no mosquitoes or
the flowers of Nunavut’s Bathurst Inlet in July or
the floe edge in north Baffin or
As well, there are places I have not seen that I am sure would rival these sights, such as Little Diomede off Alaska or lush southern Greenland in the summer.
Have you read my “Like an iceberg” series? Check them out here:
Like an iceberg: on being a journalist in the Arctic
Like an iceberg, 1991…cont.
Like an iceberg, 1991…more
Like an iceberg, 1992, “Shots in the dark”
Like an iceberg, 1992, “Sad stories”
Like an iceberg, 1993, “Learning the language of the snows”
Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Spring”
Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., “Chesterfield Inlet”
Like an iceberg, 1993 cont., more “Chesterfield Inlet”
Like an iceberg, 1994: “Seals and more”
Like an iceberg, 1994, cont., “No news is good news”
Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., more “No news is good news”
Like an iceberg, 1994 cont., “A place with four names”
Like an iceberg, 1995, “More sad stories”
Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “No place like Nome”
Like an iceberg, 1995 cont., “Greenland”
Like an iceberg, 1995, cont. “Secrets”
Like an iceberg, 1996, “Hard Lessons”
Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “Working together”
Like an iceberg, 1996 cont., “At the edge of the world”
Like an iceberg, 1996, more “At the edge of the world”
Like an iceberg, 1996, cont. “Choices”
Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq”
Like an iceberg, 1997, more “Qaggiq”
Like an iceberg, 1997, “Qaggiq” cont.
Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Qaggiq and hockey”
Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Brain surgery in POV”
Like an iceberg, 1997 cont.: “Masks on an island”
Like an iceberg, 1997 cont., “Abusers on the pulpit”
Like an iceberg, 1998, “Bearing gifts”
Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “At the top of the world”
Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “A bad week”
Like an iceberg, 1998 cont.: more from “A bad week”
Like an iceberg, 1998 cont., “Memories”
Like an iceberg, 1999, “The avalanche”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “An exorcism, followed by a penis cutting”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., more on “the Avalanche”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Robins in the Arctic”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Fossil hunting”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont., “Where forests grew”
Like an iceberg, 1999 cont.,”And then there was Nunavut”
Like an iceberg … the end