Week 04 Details. Checking Details... Check!
Date Posted: 3.14.2011
Location: 49º00'N 97º10'W Emerson, Manitoba, Canada
and 47º49'S 74º38'W Beagle Channel, Chile
Weather Conditions: Windy, 12ºF (-11ºC) / Sunny, 52ºF (11ºC)
The Polar Husky gang, Joar and Jim crossed the border into Canada at about midnight on Sunday; once the Canadian border patrol had unloaded the carefully packed trailer to check every single item in every single bag. But, didn’t matter—just another detail.
There is one lesson that never seems to escape every adventure learning expedition with the mighty Polar Husky sled dogs:
They were safe, and after consultation with the Chilean Navy the Sea Dragon was given the 'all clear' at 0800 local time to proceed and head north to cross the Golfo de Penas.
Our thoughts are with those in Japan during this devastating and challenging time; as they are with our fellow student and teacher explorers in Hawaii, Korea and all other places affected by this devastating force of nature.
Turns out, the Polar Huskies too might have to take on a shift-schedule while in Chukotka running the Nadezhda race! Back in Norway, Joar is no stranger to waking up his dog team for take-off after just a few hours of rest and running in the middle of the night—that’s the way of many long-distance dogsled races. Nadezhda is indeed the longest race on the Eurasian continent, actually on any continent outside of North America… But it is also a kind of a stage-race.
That means that all participating dog teams gather at a check-point – all but two of them a community – to rest for the night, and the clock stops until everyone takes off at a set time together the next morning. That is very different from for example the Iditarod dog sled race that takes place in Alaska right now. Joar explains, “in that type of race there is a lot of strategy, and even slower teams can get ahead if the dogs and the musher have endurance and strength to keep going steady. But in a stage-type-race, its usually all about going as fast as possible.” We knew this all along, but as we knew it, the distances between check-points were not too far...
Then, we finally received the regulations with details for the race this week, like what is mandatory equipment for us to carry in the sleds during the race and details on distances between checkpoints... “In Russian that is!” laughs Mille. None of us speak Russian...
Joar having read racing regulations before sure came in handy, as Mille armed with dictionaries came up with some pretty creative translating of the documents!
In reality, we are not running one expedition here—we are running two; so two lists of logistics! And, a to-do-list getting longer and longer! Actually, there is never one list… There are many! A whole “expedition bible” of them! And nothing is checked off any one list just once!
It's a “check, double check, and triple-check” process—and one that may seem excessive. But, consider for a moment that every single item carried on the sled is with us for a very good reason, and once on the trail we cannot just run to the nearest store to pick up what might be missing. Being prepared for the environment and having the right tool for a task can be a matter of survival.
For months on end its been all about making daily progress, attending to even the smallest details, keeping at it no matter what and eventually all of a sudden it is really time to load those dogs—and the trailer. First to be loaded: the four sleds, then, the loads of dog food pile in. Two large tarps are spread out on the ground – one for the Alaskan side of Beringia, and one for Chukotka. Each item going on the expedition is taken from the Expedition Barn, placed upon a tarp, and highlighted on the list. Once everything is accounted for, Mille goes over it all for one last time. Then, it is finally loaded into the trailer when Mille puts the final checkmark on our list. Each big checkmark is followed by a triumphant smile for a job well done!
Observing this commotion, the Polar Huskies know without a doubt that this means take-off!!! Every move we make is being monitored very closely, and when it becomes time for them to be loaded: it is an explosion of excitement in the dog yard! The Polar Huskies simply cannot get in their boxes fast enough. Aside from being out on the trail, there are actually few places a Polar Husky would rather be than in a dog box, on the dog truck, going somewhere!
Kodiak is so laid-back that he preferably eats on his side, just lifting his head up to put it in the bowl and grab another bite. That’s Kodiak in a nutshell. Super-cool and different, he prefers to do things his very own way and is never one to follow the pack. He has always been very independent, never one to be seeking much attention. But don’t let that fool you. Kodiak loves affection, is very playful and is super-charged! An extremely hard worker, he can run anywhere in the team, but great as a point dog he will throw himself into the air and bark commands over his shoulder to make ’em move!