30th November 2015

6 years ago  •  By  •  5 Comments

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.


The ice often does not freeze in one go and this results in a lot of jumble ice.

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.

musicVideoBlue 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

Comments 5

  1. Christine
    cool, see you in february!. Skeeter says hi.
  2. I would love to have easy access on your site to a map. I'm curious if the Eagle to Dawson portion follows the Yukon Quest route. I'd love to be able to pore over the maps now, then follow you on trackers in Feb/March. I have a class of 5th graders who are studying the archaeology and history of Alaska, from Beringia to the Yukon Gold Rush to the YQ and Iditarod. Thanks, this is a big undertaking, and I look forward to following along with my 5th graders. Mary Lynn
    • Hi Mary Sorry for the late reply. In answer to your questions I am going to try to get o my google earth link ,that gives more detail of the route and all the way points etc so you to get a more detailed look at the route, up on the site. We will not be following the quest route from Eagle to Dawson all the way. We are going to stay on the river as our sledges will be heavily loaded. Running a race team and a freight sledge team is a different experience. By comparison we plod along compared to the light weight race sledges with 14 dogs. We will only be running seven or eight dogs but they are dogs that are used to hauling big loads. We are starting in Eagle as that is where the dogs come from and where we are going to end up so it fits pretty well with the planning.To get to Inuvik we decided to sledge to Dawson as it gives us an opportunity to shake down the sledges and dogs for later. We are flying to Herschel for the start of our replication of Amundsen’s journey instead of sledging because if we sledged we would still need a depot of dog food on Herschel and that would have had to be flown in anyway.Amundsen made his journey starting at Herschel Island. We hope that starting at the end of February when the risk of Arctic storms is less and being back in Eagle by the beginning of April, before any risk of river brake up, will increase our chances of success. With the climate change the window of opportunity is increasingly getting smaller. Please say hi to your 5th graders for me and I hope they enjoy following our journey. Tim
  3. Okay, last question for now: why are you doing the sled/truck/plane route to get to the start?
  4. Thknas for taking the time to post. It's lifted the level of debate