Sarah and I are not actively publicizing our Great Slave Lake trip. After all, we're only in the planning stages. No plane tickets have been purchased and no reservations have been made. Our imaginations have been fired up, however.
I do talk about the trip to family members and acquaintances on occasion. When I mention to people that I plan to be paddling next summer on the GSL in the Northwest Territories I often get the response that "Oh, you're going to the Arctic." Well, not exactly.
The Arctic is generally defined as consisting of "regions around the North Pole," which is not real specific. The cartographers have drawn the Arctic Circle on the globe at 66 degrees 33' north of the equator. This line marks the northernmost point where the sun is visible on the winter solstice (and southernmost point at which the midnight sun in visible during the summer solstice. Everywhere north of the line is the cartographer's Arctic.
This one-size-fits all approach does not account for differences in temperature and vegetation. Another way to define the Arctic is to place it wherever the summer high temperatures fall below 50 degree Fahrenheit.
This temperature-based definition transforms the Arctic into almost an oval-shaped area.
Another approach is to use the tree line as the marker for what is the Arctic. The regions in the north where the land is too harsh to support trees make up the Arctic.