Questions & Answers Wk 03

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

With nothing on the sleds, they weigh about 200 lbs. You may not think that is a lot but consider the size. The sleds are 14 feet long!

Fully loaded with all of our food and gear, the sleds will weigh close to 1,500 lbs each.

Approximately how much does the average sled weigh with all the gear?

submitted by:
Abbie, Heather and Colleen

How long it takes to build a sled depends on the type of sled.

It takes the longest for us to build the large freight sleds - the komatek. The first step in building any of the sleds is to make the runners. That's the "skis" of the sled. The plastic that the sleds glide on is at the bottom of the runners. Because of the very heavy loads, long distances and many years - year after year - that we are looking to use the sleds, we make sure the runners are built as strong as can be. We have our runners made by carpenter Mike Falls in Wisconsin. A very good friend of Mille who she has known since she pretty much sat foot on her first sled here! "I have never run a sled on an expedition that did not have runners made by Mike Falls" says Mille. The runners are made using a form that Mike has made based on the original design that we are looking to use. So for example, our komatek sleds are made using an original design from Greenland. Mike took the pattern, and made forms for the runners from the pattern! He then takes the best possible wood for the task (depends on the sled, but often white ash), and glues a ton of smaller pieces together, using the form, to make up the runner in its entirety. Mike actually often starts at the beginning by taking the tree down himself, drying it out, sawing it up and then, eventually making the runner. So, if when talking about how long it takes, you start from the time the tree comes down -- well, then it is a really long time! Once Mike stars putting the runner together, it takes him a week or two to get all the bigger pieces made that make up the sled, then everything needs to be painted and varnished. And then that's when we most often come into the picture: to help assemble the sled. So for example, on a komatek sled pretty much everything is tied together with rope.. that is our job. If we set out to build sleds from scratch we would plan at least a month or two from start to finish. Now, all four sleds that are being loaded in the trailer to head out on this journey here pretty quick, they are old sleds have traveled thousands of miles in the Arctic already. The komatek sleds were built in 2000 and the basked sleds - now our racing sleds - they are we think back from 1995  / 1996. We have had to replace pieces and parts, even a runner here and there over the years, but all of them have pretty much gone around the circumpolar Arctic!

How long does it take to build a sled?

submitted by:
Brehndan and Nate and Will

Great question!

This is what a typical day of 'trail food' looks like:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, granola, or pancakes with 1/2 a bagel and 2 breakfast sausages.

Lunch: Soup or ramen noodles with cheese (and butter when really cold), salami and nuts.

Dinner: Pasta or rice with cheese, butter and meat (bacon, chicken, or sausage).

During the day: 2 energy bars, 1 candy bar, dried fruit and "gorp" (a mixture of nuts, raisins, m&m's and chocolate chips.

What do you eat in the arctic?

submitted by:
Brehndan and Nate and Will

We use dogs for many different reasons. Some of them are...

First of all you get much closer to the land when you travel by dog team, You see things - like wildlife - you will never see from a snow machine.

You also get closer to the people. The areas where we travel traditionally used dog teams as their primary mode of transportation. When we pull into communities with the dog teams we are always welcomed, because we come by dog team. The Elders love to see the big dogs again, and so do the students!

We also travel in places - wilderness - where it is not possible, way more difficult or dangerous to travel by vehicles. 

The good thing about dogs is they never break down! We travel in very remote areas, often where you can not get a lot of help, there are no "gas station" around the corner to fuel up or get a new engine. As long as you love your dogs and make sure they are well feed, they just keep trucking.

The areas in which we travel - like the tundra - also tends to be very fragile. We leave less impact by traveling by dog teams.

Finally we find that the Polar Huskies are very important for our education programs. We all seem to learn better when guided by the dogs!

Why did you choose dog sledding out of all the things you could do?

submitted by:
Korbyn and Abby