The ice is slowly beginning to form on the rivers across Northern Canada and Alaska. One of the expedition team, Wayne Hall who lives on the Yukon River near Eagle is cut off waiting for the ice to freeze enough to be able to travel on safely. This will be the ice that we will be sledging on next February from Herschel Island to Eagle.
Wayne’s year is clearly divided into two halves, for a month twice a year he cannot travel. The river is his road to the nearest town, either by canoe or sledge. In the spring the river ice breaks up and takes a month to do it and in the early winter it takes another month to freeze. This year the ice is slow in forming and taking longer than usual.
They have recently had their first winter snow and are beginning to train the dogs that we will use for the expedition next February.
Back in England preparations continue with logistics and marking up maps with GPS waypoints – with a little help from friends! Graham in New Zealand is working on sorting out some kit we still need.
When we start from Eagle on the 20th February next year and sledge to Dawson, we will have enough dog food and supplies with us to get us to Inuvik. We have a dog food depot in Inuvik so when we fly to Herschel Island, we will take all the supplies we will need to get us from there to Sheep Creek on the Firth River. We have our next depot at Sheep Creek that was stored there during last summer.
You can run a sledge for about six days before you have to resupply. The sledges will be heavily laden when we leave Herschel Island at the beginning of our 700 mile replication of Amundsen’s journey so we will need to be off them as much as possible to help the dogs pull the load.
Our next resupply after Sheep Creek will be an air drop on the Alaskan/Canadian border at the top of the Firth River. The depots of dog food are on the Coleen River, Fort Yukon and at Circle, they will be taken up there by Earl on his snow machine once the expedition has started.
You may have noticed on our website the Royal Geographical Society logo on the front page. We are really pleased that the expedition is supported by the RGS with the Neville Shulman Challenge Award. We hope to match up to the award’s aims with our expedition and on our return will be submitting a report.
If you’ve read the blog this far, you might be interested to see a little music video that my daughter Claire Oakley made using footage that I shot in Spitsbergen in 2013. I was part of Bjorn Klauer’s expedition looking into the disappearance of the Schroder Stranz expedition of 1912.Blue Notebook: Iskra String Quartet
Music by Isobel Waller-Bridge | isobelwaller-bridge.com
Performed by Iskra String Quartet | iskrastringquartet.com
Directed by Claire Oakley | cnoakley.tumblr.com
Edited by Sacha Szwarc | sachaszwarc.com
Shot by Tim Oakley | inamundsensfootsteps.com