Minor mishaps and merry mayhem

Hello everyone, Richard once more… checking in from camp …er, uh…camp number 11 (I’m reliably informed), on behalf of the merry band of winter wanderers.

We are still on Committee Bay, on the sea-ice. We expect to leave the sea-ice tomorrow, to then head West inland onto some river systems toward Kugaaruk.

We awoke to some high winds this morning. They had changed direction during the night. We always pitch the tent so that it is inline with the wind. By morning though, it was hitting hard from the side, putting the tent under some stress and we did get a broken pole. That’s fine, we do have spares —that’s what we planned for.

Moving North today across the sea-ice the wind continued to hit us hard on the beam, which made for some challenges. Blowing very, very strong sometimes, it tended to blow our sledges off-centre, out to one side, as we advanced. An erratic wind, really. One moment it would be blowing hard, (@ 35 km/h estimated) then we have various periods of no wind at all, then the next minute it would be blowing ‘hooey’ again. Despite wind and ice conditions, we did achieve about 21 kilometres to the North.

On the lighter side

Frank has been a nightly source of entertainment, for David and I, as he continues work on his boots due to foot-swelling and his boots not being quite big enough or flexible enough. Early on in the expedition he began first of all, to cut holes in his boots to widen them, to then reverse-engineer them to reseal them, so they’re not letting in the cold. You’ve heard of McGyver, well, Frank is McGyver! Give him some tools and superglue and he’s away. We fully anticipate that by the end of this trip they (his boots) will just be a pair of sandals on his feet.  We’re taking pictures!

My apologies to everyone. I did get cut-off the other night, (to David’s relief) so will relate some of what was lost now. 

Basically, David was in the lead. We had two sledges, one behind the other behind each man, and I was behind David at one point. His rearmost sled detached…he was pulling so hard, the cord broke and he left one sled behind, to disappear into the distance, entirely oblivious to the fact that he’d left one part of his 200 pound load behind him, which I thought was very funny, and again, Frank took some pictures for the record. Eventually, David realized the problem when we called him back. He had probably been wondering where this bit of human superpower had come from, and likely attributed it to his Snickers Bar snack break and the reason it had felt so easy.

Return of the Gremlin? We had this incident where some mischievous gremlin at one part of the trip had placed a rock on David’s sled (‘I wonder who that was?’ David says in the background)

We don’t know who that was? So Frank and I did have much hilarity in taking the pictures, as David disappeared into the distance with this rock on his sled, all the time wondering, we imagined, why it was quite so hard. We want to again mention, that he’s been hallucinating —that he’s been seeing fish on the ice. 

This morning the gremlin was about again. I started to pull off, the last in line, everybody was already disappearing into the distance and notice my sledge just wasn’t pulling quite right. I came to notice that somehow, mysteriously in the night, a carabiner had been attached to one side of my sled, which had me pulling in an uneven, ungainly fashion. Frank assisted me with resolving that, but no one has claimed culpability for that one. We think it was a wolverine who comes to visit us at night who has done that. 

So yes, we have to take these kinds of moments (of humour?) to break up the day, otherwise it’s just one foot in front of the other as we push due North on average skiing between 08:30am and 5:30pm  – we’re usually awake by 6am, a couple of hours of melting snow, getting ready and breaking camp. In the evening we usually have camp sent up fairly quickly by around 8 o’clock. Frank reads his book on the ‘kon tiki’ expedition, I strip down and prepare the shotguns and David puts his head down straight-away, and snores…and it’s lights out about 9. A very good division of labour as I’m sure you can all see.

The days are getting a bit longer which is very nice. Richard [Frank and David]

Oh, an yes —A big AR thumbs up!  Arcteryx, have kindly provided the Team with wind-pants and jackets, which we wear every single day. Invaluable they are, just to keep the wind off you. A really, really good item of kit, one we’re all very happy with. (arcteryx.com)

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