About 12 days ago we left our first depot.
It has been a bit of a shock to the system being back on the trail after everything that has happened, however Jamie and I have been trudging away the miles. We have constantly been looking for that elusive flat and smooth ice where we just effortlessly and gracefully fly over the surface. Sadly we haven’t found it by any stretch of the imagination, and we now have first hand knowledge of what really rough ice looks like. Our standards of what we can expect have certainly adjusted.
We had been advised the area we were heading through had very rough ice. The locals kept saying its the worst it has been in years and they have been skirting around it. This process is much quicker on a skidoo and for us the maths made the tougher, more direct, route the unfortunate winner.
We made it to a large bay (Home Bay) that we needed to cross but it was difficult to envisage the vastness of it due to the thick fog that hugged the surface of the ice and the setting sun. Waking the next morning, we were met by beautiful blue skies, vast inlets, glorious mountains and ahead of us a rolling sea of broken ice. It was disheartening as our pace slowed to a crawl. It was like being in a constant scrummage with an opponent that lasted for the entire day plus part of the next. For every step won forward you could feel the energy being sapped out of you. Even at -30C we could feel ourselves breaking a sweat, something which we try our hardest to avoid as it clogs our clothes with ice. Being the slightly hotter-running team member, this comes from bitter experience as I squeezed myself into a ice-crunching jacket the following morning.
Despite the tough ice we have been touched by glorious weather, excluding one day where we and our tent were rattled by the 30mph+ winds. We awoke far earlier in the morning than the usual 5am. Although we stayed wrapped in our sleeping bags for as long as possible, we soon had to depart this safety blanket and meet the day head on. The snow swirled round our feet all day. It was impossible to spot a reasonable path through it all. Despite the balmy temperatures in the mid -20s, the wind made the perceived temperature plummet and every millimetre of skin needed to be covered. Despite our best efforts, we would walk along constantly adjusting as the wind managed to squeeze its icy fingers into any gap. It also made the experience of going to the bathroom, regardless of what it was, a very chilling, quick but necessary experience. There is only so long you can wait and unfortunately the weather doesn’t seem to correlate with toilet stops.
After all of that we finally made our way to our next stash of food and fuel! We are now sitting here appreciating some warmth from some left over heating fuel in a good friend, Jaypooties', hut. We are enjoying munching through some treats, plus some of the surplus goodies that we have.
The next part of our journey sees us heading over the final stretch of Home Bay and then towards Clyde River, an Inuit community. It’s still a fairly good chunk at around 200 km. Possibly more importantly it marks, to Qikiqtarjuaq's relief (!!), the transition from being closer from one to the other. Chris and Halie in Qik can finally relax knowing that we aren’t going to spring up and crash in the police station.
So now just to push further north.
In doggy news, Colin and Tala are getting on incredibly well. Colin whines and pines after Tala when she goes about her wanderings each day. It does give us a slight headache but provides bears with a disincentive to approach. A win overall we have concluded. It might also explain why Tala's trundling goes off into the distance until she appears to be a little speck before bounding back…particularly when she senses we are stopping for food. Her nuzzling Colin though suggests she does quite like him after all.