The second and third days were fun filled and action packed. No bulls worthy of harvest were spotted but we enjoyed the antics of hundreds of cow and calf caribou, some of them within yards. Not an hour went by that we did not learn more of the tundra, the country and culture, which added fascinating additional dimensions to the adventure.
Much of the lore and folktale came from the Camp Reále staff. Though administered by Safari Nordik, day to day management of the camp was a family affair. Ralph, the venerable, jovial camp manager WAS father to the two guides, Kerry and Calvin. Annie, a peach of a heavy set woman was queen bee of the culinary and Ralph’s wife. The laughs, jokes, and good natured ribbing between Ralph and Annie made us all roar with laughter on more than one occasion.
The family had obviously been around the outfitting block. They knew how to organize and run a camp, knew the land, and were intimately familiar with the habits of caribou. Ralph ran the hunting operations. Annie, although she craftily allowed Ralph to believe he was in charge, was the unquestioned camp boss. Her grub was simple, sumptuous, and plentiful. Her homemade bread, cherry tarts, tundra berry pies, and other snacks and dessert goodies were absolute treats. On more than one night I stole into the darkened kitchen, hours past the magic generator off, lights out, witching time of ten PM and wolfed down yummies.
Annie’s rule of the kitchen roost was complete. She was more than accommodating to requests, but she set the schedule and the menu. A smile rarely left her face, and she was kind hearted, attentive, and industrious. Our boots had grips like winter road treads for walking on marsh filled lands. The camp was set on a beach and invariably it would be my boots that would track sand into Annie’s sanctuary. I learned the very first day that sweeping up after myself was a key to avoiding starvation.
To be continued…