ELLE (Canada) - - World -

It’s the fourth day of my five-day hik­ing ad­ven­ture, and I’m happy to spend it at the Sheep Creek Sta­tion base camp with my fel­low hik­ers and a few park employees. (We’re all glad to give our feet a rest af­ter three days out on the un­even, tus­socky ter­rain.) At the cook­house, Diane Wil­son, the park’s Western Arc­tic field unit su­per­in­ten­dent, is busy decor­at­ing

a cake to cel­e­brate the fact that the base camp, which was built in 1989, is get­ting a new name at a cer­e­mony to­day. Danny Gor­don, an el­der and hunter from Aklavik who’s also a mem­ber of the North Slope Wildlife Man­age­ment Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil, helped in­spire the name change. “Im­niarvik,” I’ve been told, means “place where sheep are born” or “meet­ing place for sheep”—but now Gor­don, who ar­rived this af­ter­noon on a bush plane with other mem­bers of the coun­cil, tells us it means “the place where sheep are har­vested.” (There is a nearby an­i­mal-pro­cess­ing

site that dates back 650 years.) I look over to Wil­son, who, for just a mo­ment, seems to be taken aback by the al­tered def­i­ni­tion. “Trans­lat­ing

Inu­vialuk­tun words can be nu­anced,” she says with a smile. In the end, though, the of­fi­cial con­sen­sus on the mean­ing is “where the sheep are.”

Cof­fee cups in the Im­niarvik base camp’s cook­house; white pines grow­ing in a south-fac­ing val­ley (be­low); an­other ce­les­tial mo­ment on the way to Half­way to Heaven (be­low, left)

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