Trail Dispatch – Strong Winds, Cold Temperatures…

nancy_abby.jpgPosition: 68 25.8 N, 63 54.7 W
Distance Traveled: 12 mi/ 31.8 km
Temperature: -11 °F/ -24 °C
Wind: 28 MPH/ 45 KPH



The dogs woke us up today at 6 a.m. with a low chorus of howls. The early morning sun cast pink light on the hills surrounding our camp. Wind whipped the tent fly, making our sleeping bags seem cozier than ever. The previous night had been challenging with strong winds and cold temps. It was hard to keep extremities warm. Setting up tents was particularly difficult as it required fine motor skills. While helping set up a second tent for her teammates, frost bit Elizabeth’s fingers. She rewarmed them aggressively as soon as she could, but the damage had already been done. An assessment in the morning finalized the decision to evacuate her to base camp. Fortunately, we were camped close to town, and were easily accesible by snowmobile. Elizabeth will be sorely missed and will return to the field as soon as she is able. Nancy Moundalexis (dog trainer and base camp staff) arrived by snowmobile to fill in during her absence.

The first few days of any expedition are full of learning opportunities. There are systems to be honed, gear and equipment to be tweaked, a pace to be set and general routines to establish. For a group as diverse as ours, it is especially important that we communicate about these things. Traveling speed was a big discussion topic amongst the group today. We tried various arrangements with different teams leading in an effort to pace our dogs teams accordingly.

The landscape was beautiful, stark white and wind-whipped, and the terrain hilly. The snow drifts were deep in places, making it hard for the dogs to pull. At other times, the travel was fast, over glare ice and packed snowmobile trails. We arrived at camp in the late afternoon, staked out our dogs and set up our tents for the night. The wind has died down and the skies are clear and full of stars.




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