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Crawling up a hillside with above zero temps and wet snow.

Heat Wave

Date: May 07, 01
Position: 70.5N 91.48W
Weather Conditions: Rain 5C/42F

Whipping wind and chilling temperatures are all we wish for right now!?! No, we have not lost our minds, but hot, panting Polar Huskies fighting their way just to walk forward make us long for a harder windswept surface and colder temperatures. Our sleds seem to be stuck in cement. As we left Taloyoak Thursday afternoon, the sun was high in the sky and it was getting warm. The snow was softening, but the first 15 miles, we were running on a hard packed snowmobile trail and we were flying at almost 6 miles an hour. That changed. Now, we are crawling at 2 miles an hour through deep slushy snow, with heat wave temperatures and drizzling rain soaking us, the dogs, and the gear...

You might say it is hard to make us happy, eh. For two months now we have been complaining about the windy cold temperatures. Now, when we have the complete opposite, we are complaining again! We seem to be experiencing a lot of extreme weather. Here’s an explanation: our favorite weather is between 10 above and 15 below zero Fahrenheit ( -12 to -25 Celsius) with little or no wind and clear blue sky. We figure we have had maybe a dozen of those days on this expedition so far, which is not many, but that's not highly unusual. It has definitely been more windy than normal. Such perfect conditions are not the “norm” until the arrival of Spring. Then warmer temperatures arrive, but its still cool enough for the dogs as well being calm, sunny, and light around the clock. It seem like we skipped that part.


Polar (right) and Charlie (left) don't care that it is hot and wet! With their long legs, shorter coats and strong spirits they just "keep smiling" pulling hard and wagging tails. For being steady players on Paul's team and their great mood the brothers and running mates earn the Polar Husky Star of the Week.

What we have now is the "heat wave extreme!” We are traveling in a thick layer of clouds, gray days, way too warm temperatures, soupy snow, and the worst, wet! As you might sense, we are not in a great mood about this. So, we actually decided to stop early today, set up camp, and have a little pow wow session. First, we let the dogs run around and have some fun. Then we made some hot tea and had an inspirational talk! Yep, we simply sat down looked at it all, talked about earlier (colder) hard times on this expedition, and the beauty ahead of us. It is important to keep a positive mind at any time. Sometimes it is hard, and that's when we, more than anything, need to support each other, keep smiling, and look at the bright side of life. A couple of times today Mille thought of her favorite song "Always Look At The Bright Side of Life.” It also helps to think about family and friends and those that inspire us.

One that often come to our mind and whose stories we carry with us is Will Steger. He has definitely inspired and, at times, guided us in the attainment of our dreams. Who inspires you? Join us this Friday to talk more about heroes and dreams in the "Heroes and Dreams" Collaboration Zone. We had a GREAT chat last Tuesday and that is something we carry with us out here, too. Sharing ideas and thoughts with students across North America about important issues is very inspiring. Another thing that is very important to both of us is to read -- to let our thoughts wonder to somewhere else instead of only focusing on the moment..

Actually, we both agree that we miss Gordon Wiltsie out here (he finally got on the air plane departing Tayloyak Wednesday). Gordon is a great story teller. Traveling around the world capturing incredible moments with his camera [www.alpenimage.com] he has experienced more adventurous moments than most. From breaking his back in an avalanche in Nepal to finding a mummy in the Andes to being stuck in bad weather at the South Pole for a couple of weeks, he has experienced more than his share of extreme conditions. While Gordon was with us, he would treat us each night to another chapter of his adventures. It was like a living book of entertainment (he actually is working on writing a book about his many expeditions). We guess it really made us appreciate the art of story telling and why this traditionally is such an important part of Inuit culture and nomadic lifestyle.

Imagine those long dark days in the igloo in the wintertime or sitting around the camp fire when out hunting and gathering eggs in the summertime (without any TV of course), not even a good book! Traditionally, the Inuit did not have a written language. All Inuit history, knowledge, values, and beliefs were passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. The information was contained in songs, stories, legends, and myths. Often a family camp would have an elder who was the historian or storyteller. The elder women were especially noted for their ability to recite legends in a way that made people feel as though they were part of that story.


After crawling another hill comes the reward - an incredible view and a Inukshuk showing us we are on the right track. If you just keep pushing, there is beauty ahead eh!

The story teller traditionally started by saying "I will tell it as it was told to me, I will not alter it..." There would often be chants and songs in the story with which the listeners got involved. Stories were often shared at special celebrations, or during a storm, but they were also told every day as a way to get children to sleep or behave or to give instructions in a skill like sewing or hunting. Inuit legends, like any other stories, almost always carry with them a lesson or a principle to remember. Hunting stories were often told in the evenings after a hunt as the men related what happened during the day. Young boys would listen, learning the ways of their fathers while receiving advice on how to do something better during a hunt. Remember the very respected elder Silas from Baker Lake. He told us how he, just this year, hunted his first musk ox (as you might recall he was in his seventies). Although he had never seen a musk ox being butchered before, he remembered the old saying that you could pull the intestine a certain way an the whole animal would clean out easily. He did as the story said and bravo! He succeeded!

Now, we learned a lot from hunters, too. Since they are often the people who show us the best routes and tell us about potential dangers. According to the hunters we spoke with in Tayloyak, we are now entering big time polar bear country! We have not seen any yet - though Paul saw some BIG tracks today crossing our path. He also saw a seal up on the ice way out in the distance. So yep, we are on polar bear alert as we head further north with heads and tails up!

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