Snow, snow…everywhere there’s snow

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HELLO ORKNEY!  You have such a big part to play in this expedition. To the man, we could not be happier, more honoured or proud, to have this opportunity to shed light on a great Orcadian.

…So, were we to have even an imaginary glass with some Highland Park whiskey in it, we now do raise it. From the Arctic Return Team…

…a TOAST and a SLUNGE!!!  to everybody in Orkney, and all of Scotland, too!

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 We have made it across Pelly Bay, and we’re now on land on the shores of the very southernmost portion of the bay. Kugaaruk, is directly North of us. Tomorrow we will be taking a North by Northwest route across the sea-ice to begin a new chapter in our journey.

It comes with some relief that we will once again be on the sea-ice. For the last 4 or 5 days, travel has been a constant uphill (battle of sorts), even though we well know, the rivers are flowing to our advantage. Still, momentum over every inch of forward progress we gained, it has felt a CONSTANT, CONSTANT, CONSTANT uphill.

Snow Conditions The snow conditions are definitely not the greatest — quite sticky, in fact, which has made sled-hauling difficult the last several days. Breaking trail with the skis and the sleds…makes for a long day. It is skiing on ice, oddly enough, that we can really get some momentum going – there being very little drag created by our sleds.

It has been cold (-25C to -30C with very light winds) the last couple of days but the forecast is for it to warm up. Generally, this would count as comfortable out on the sea-ice, but skiing hard as we are over and in deep, sticky snow, a lot of body heat is generated and needs to be vented despite the cold temperature. Abruptly transitioning in an improper manner from  ‘hot to cold’  can be dangerous.The trick is, when you stop you need to layer off as quickly and effectively as possible; which involves grabbing our, Canada Goose, Skreslet parkas, right away. They are an amazing piece of kit …the three of us keep close at hand, all times. 

Our social calendar for the day Far fewer visitors today. The only Inuit we met, were two hunters from Kugaaruk, Lionel and Randy. We did  however see a lot of wolf, wolverine and Arctic fox tracks. And ‘on the land’ housing too. Kugaaruk, is still very near, made obvious by the amazing number of (hunting and fishing) cabins we saw. Some were very small, cobbled together affairs, others quite elaborate, and some that are best described as being, ‘ a bit worse for wear.’  Certainly an amazing number of them dotted the wider landscape around us.

April 15 spares and repairs report  We are all good, other than having to do some maintenance work on our bodies: feet, knees, fingers and toes. All seem to need a bit of attention, every night. In contrast, our gear is holding up very well, aside from a couple of broken (ski and tent) poles, minor tribulations that are easily covered off by spares or repair kits. 

Looking ahead It’s hard to predict how far along the team will get over the next couple of days. Determining factors on our progress will be: the temperature;  the depth of snow  we encounter and whether or not we will have to break trail. If we do,  the protocol is for one of us to take the lead and break trail upfront for 20 minutes, followed by the remaining two with all sleds in tow, on a revolving basis. 

And there certainly is a lot of snow where we are right now. Especially compared to the snow levels we experienced at Naujaat and surrounds, where constant winds scattered the white stuff,  far and wide across the vast beyond.

Richard, Frank and David, signing off, the evening of Monday, April 15

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