Commuting to Esker

By Curtis Coaster, Field Assistant

Travel is a significant part of working in a remote camp. Esker Camp is in the marshy James Bay Lowlands, so our methods for getting to work change with the seasons.

A bird’s-eye view of the Ring of Fire during plane ride to Esker Camp.

We start out with a travel plan organized by our Logistics Coordinator, Catherine Niemi. Depending on where you live, travel days can begin bright and early at 6am, then we start our long journey to Esker. We take a shuttle to the Nakina Airport during the winter and to the Nakina sea base in summer. Nakina is about 300 km north of Thunder Bay, and from there, we travel by plane to Koper Lake. I had my first ride in the front seat of a small plane while commuting to Esker, something many people have not experienced.

In winter, the plane lands on the Koper Lake ice strip. From there, we take a skidoo the remaining 10 km to camp. For this reason, we have to put our winter gear on before we even get on the plane in Nakina! In summer, we arrive at Koper Lake by float plane and a helicopter takes us the rest of the way.

My favourite travel season is fall. Spring and fall are known as “break up” and “freeze-up” seasons when we fly to the Webequie First Nation Airport about 70 km west of Esker, then catch a helicopter lift to start our work rotation.

And there you have it…that is how I get to work for my rotation!

Watch the video below for a better look at our commute: