Trail Dispatch – Working Out the Details



day62_01.jpg Coordinates: 70.26.000 N, 68.37.00 W
Distance Traveled: 23 mi / 37 km
Temperature: 3 °F / -16 °C
Wind: 2 MPH / 3 KPH
Barometric Pressure: 1051 hPa
Cloud Cover: Clear
Sunrise: 3:34 a.m.
Sunset: 9:40 p.m.

Loading the sleds with full rations, hooking up the four dog teams for the first time in two weeks and mushing out of a village in front of hundreds of spectators provides lots of opportunities for adventure. The sea ice in front of Clyde River was much more flat and smooth than it had been near the shore of any of our previous community stops. Partly this lack of jumbled ice is due to minimal tides in Clyde River, contrasted with dramatic tidal fluctuations in Iqaluit and other villages further south. We all guessed that our departure from Clyde River would be less chaotic without the jumbled ice barrier to negotiate. Before getting too confident, however, we all tried to remind ourselves that anytime dogs are involved the potential for some chaos exists.

 

We did have some new factors playing into the mix; a film crew on several snowmobiles is joining us for this leg, we have three new team members and we bought several new dogs. We managed to hook up the dogs without much incident and mushed out of town, down the fiord. I was riding with Will and Lukie.

day62_03.jpg Because Lukie runs his dogs in the traditional Inuit fan-hitch style with long bearded seal traces connecting each dog to a main trace, he has to stop occasionally to untangle the traces. Lukie is quick at untangling the traces. As he untangles them he hands me each one and I thread the carved bone toggle through the main trace. Once all the toggles are threaded through, I fasten the main trace into a loop. This secures all the dogs to the sled.

Today our film crew, who is just beginning to figure out how to film around dog teams, sped past in their snowmobile just at the moment that Lukie had detached all the dogs’ traces from the main trace and was holding the tangled mess of traces in his hands. The dogs saw the snowmobile and instantly gave chase. Lukie held tightly to the knot of traces and dug his heels into the snow, but was no match for the fourteen eager dogs. The dogs pulled Lukie like a barefoot waterskier. I had two dogs traces in my hands and chased after him.

The film crew realized what was happening and stopped their snowmobile. The dogs, Lukie and I caught up to them where, luckily for us, the dogs stopped. We held them tightly as Will brought the sled up from behind. Lukie quickly finished untangling the traces and I reconnected them with haste to the main trace.

The film crew are quick learners and by the end of the day they were figuring out how to film our sleds without causing too much havoc. We are happy to have them along to help capture and share our experiences here on Baffin.

day62_04.jpg We expect to have at least one more day on the sea ice before we reach the end of the fiord. If the temperatures stay relatively cool, we should make good time. At midday today, however, it was warm enough that the snow was starting to get soft and mushy. Soft snow can slow down the dogsleds.

It was also getting warm enough that the big chunk of raw meat that Lukie has on his sled to feed his dogs was starting to thaw and ooze. I noticed it was lashed on top of my backpack and made a mental note to make sure, now that warmer temperatures have arrived, to keep my pack away from raw meat.

It is good to be back on trail. We can sense the excitement in our Inuit partners as they near their home and anticipate their reunions with their families.

Elizabeth

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