Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #6

Greenville, Maine

Temperature H/L: -8°C/22°F

  Weather – Crazy wind, sunny, whiteout, Ground blizzard

Distance – 8km/5miles

Animals – Humans!!!!

B:  Made with Local Oatmeal, Bacon, Coffee

L: Bacon fat fried PB&J&Butter, M&M’s!

2nd L: Cheeseburger, fries and all the fixins’

D: Philly Cheese Steak bomb, fries and a large pizza

Haiku

Life is beautiful

When opportunity knocks

We make lemonade

I woke up this morning because I had to poop and pee really badly.  I over did it on our remaining food supply last night and I mean way over did it. Never being one to turn down a challenge, I was hungry and there was food to be eaten.  We generally took turns rising first in the morning.  Until the fire is lit and water starts to boil there really isn’t anything for the second person to do, so they get an extra hour of sleep and get the joy of waking up in a hot tent!

We had a really hard time with the fire last night.  The blustery conditions made for a lot of down drafts. Also, the wood we choose wasn’t the best, it was standing dead pine with the bark still on it, I should have known better. The best wood is standing dead spruce/ pine/ cedar that has no bark on it.  This is most often found in swamps, a place you just can’t camp in the summer but in the winter they provide all the things we need most; standing dead trees, small green spruce for boughs, a little bit of hardwood and open space to set up the tent.  Unfortunately the weather most often predicts were we camp.  Shelter from the wind is the most important of all.

We had a pretty leisurely morning in camp but eventually we grew tired of fighting with the fire and we got cold.  Last night was the coldest of the trip, getting down to -13°C/8°F.  This morning was no different, combined with the wind it was likely closer to -20°C/4°F.  Packing the sled this morning was difficult too.  When it gets cold enough, one needs to be able to do almost all tasks with their mittens on.  We also wear thin finger gloves if we must take our hands out.  Non the less, its a cold job, untying knots, buckling straps, handling cold things and generally not moving very much.  Once the tent came down we didn’t hang around very long.

As we walked out of our protected cove we realized how great of a spot we had picked.  The wind was howling down the lake and we really had to work to stay warm.  The snow had firmed up quite a bit over night and the dogs had a much easier time moving around.  We only had about 8km/5miles until we could indulge in cheeseburgers.

About half way to Greenville, we spotted to figures skiing towards us.  It turned out that Jenny Ward (our shuttle driver) and another AMC Staffer and Greenville Local Steve Tatko thought it would be fun to come out and guide us around the bad ice and open water right into Greenville.  We welcomed the company and the M&M’s they brought with them!  These were the first humans we had seen in 4 days and talked to in 5.  We didn’t chat much because the wind was blowing so hard we couldn’t really hear each other and it got cold very fast.

We spread out a bit as we skiied.  You could see the blasts of wind coming down the lake, sometimes in the form of small tornadoes.  Watching them twist and roll was fascinating and exhilarating to feel them slam into you or somebody else.  I will never stop finding it amazing, being able to watch the wind move. It is very similar to the way water flows in a river, eddies, rapids and with enough observations predictability and order.

As we got closer and closer to Greenville we started to see more snowmobiles.  This was great because they created a packed trail for us to follow.  The dogs were put back into harness and we sailed right along.  Greenville caters to a large snowmobile tourism industry and this allowed us to ski directly to a local pub for a well deserved burger and pint.

We are going to take the next couple of days to warm up, eat a lot of food, unpack and for me travel back to Nova Scotia.  We look forward to sharing more pictures from our trip and will update you with a post trip blog in a few days time.

Thanks for following along,

Dave, Dan, Kyro and Osa

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

 

 

 

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Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #5

Burnt Jacket Penninsula, small cove SW side

Temperature H/L: -5°C/24°F

  Weather – Clear skies, wind, cloud, flurries, blowing snow, ground blizzard, clear, Stars!

Distance – 7.5km/4.5miles in 8 hours!

Animals – 3 Ravens

B:  Granola, blueberries, Bacon, Coffee

L: PB&J&Butter, Soup Noodle, Trail Mix, Chocolate, Salami & Cheese, Lasagne, Coffee

D: Beef Stew, Italian beef with Veg., Soup Noodle, Lasagne water, Chocolate

Haiku

Long hard day today

Water boiling on the woodstove

Dan snores real loudly

Kyro and Osa’s Observations

I’m not too sure about this whole camping thing. I mean I find it strange that these humans feel the need to pack up all of their things into those silly orange sleds and drag us all around this lake when I could be back home lounging on the couch. I mean don’t get me wrong, being a noble Alaskan Malamute as I am these snowy conditions don’t do me any harm. I sleep outside every night anyways. I can’t say the same for Osa, she is a bit of a mutt and had a really hard time last night and today. So, we had a little heart to heart in dog talk and we agreed it to be okay if she slept inside the tent tonight with her human. She has been great though, I have learned a lot from her.

Our progress we really slow today. The snow is getting harder packed from the wind but it is not strong enough for us to stand on yet which makes a significant amount of work for us to break trail. We spend most of the day following behind those crazy humans. The other thing that made today really hard was the wind. As northern bred dogs we have a really thick undercoat but when the wind blows from behind the snow can be drivin’ through our guard hairs and right into our skin. So, instead of letting this happen we would prefer to face the wind. The problem with this is our heads are so close to the ground, we can’t see anything and the snow is blowin into our eyes. You just can’t win sometimes. Anyways my boy is going to mark our territory, I should go help me.

Kyro

Boy, today was a long day but we made it to this really nice camping spot. I love camping, I just don’t understand why these humans need so much stuff. I am ready to go all the time! Kyro seems to be getting the hang of this business. I know he has had a pretty ruff year and it has been great to see him out here enjoying all of these things. It has been dramatic, and beautiful and terrifying and cold and amazing. I really love being out here with my boy. And am I ever happy they took pitty on me and let me in the tent tonight. I didn’t sleep very well last night. Maybe the boy will even let me crawl into his sleeping bag!?! Anyways I’ve got dreams about bacon to be had. Bye.

Osa

 

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Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #4

Sugar Island, small cove SW side

Temperature H/L: -3°C/28°F

  Weather – Clearing, Sunny, Snow Squalls, Blowing snow, white out, calm, Stars!

Distance – 8km/5miles

Animals – 2 domesticated dogs (ours), we didn’t see anything today!  Again the weather wasn’t very nice.

B:  Made with Local Oatmeal, Bacon, Coffee

L: PB&J&Butter, Soup Noodle, Trail Mix, Chocolate, Salami & Cheese, Coffee

D: Soup noodle, Lasagne, Chocolate

Haiku

The dogs have settled

The end is in sight

Don’t want to leave the trail though

We woke up this morning really early, 5 am and got the woodstove going to melt snow and make breakfast. It continued to snow throughout the night leaving a lot of snow on the ground. By the time we packed up camp and got on our way it was 8am and the horizons were clear, we got see the far shore and decided it was a good time to make the 5.5km/ 3.5mile crossing to the head of Sugar Island. We walked a straight of a line as possible while making the crossing making sure not to have to walk any further then we had to. The pulling conditions were very hard and took a significant amount of energy. We kept at it for 5 solid hours, only stopping a couple of times to pee, drink water, have a snack and look around. It is a pretty humbling experience standing in the middle of such a big lake. You feel very small being so exposed.

The wind started blowing half way through our crossing. This was expected and pretty normal following such a storm. But with that wind came blowing snow causing yet more white out conditions. Being in a complete white out is very disorientating. It is nearly impossible to see any difference between the ground and the horizon, everything is white!

Upon reaching Sugar Island we pushed on another 2.5km/1.5miles to a protected cove. By the time we reached this spot it had stopped snowing and we were completely protected from the wind. The deep snow had been really hard on the dogs and they are sleeping soundly now. Soon we shall be too.

Dave and Dan’s Dilemma

Broken Equipment

            OH NO!   We have had a major piece of our gear break on us. One of our sleds has worn a hole right through the bottom of it. The ice can be rough sometimes and rocks are not impossible to hit, but we still cannot believe this has happened. We still have 25km to travel before we reach the end, where a major repair can happen, that’s a 2 day walk from here. The hole is about 5 cm long and 1 cm wide.

But have no fear, we brought a repair kit filled with odds and ends just in case something like this happened. It is always important to plan and prepare properly for such accidents ahead of time.

Check out what we have in our kit and help us come up with some ideas as to how we can fix the hole in our sled! Don’t forget, we have lots of other items with us that may be useful, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Material:

duct tape                    a metal bar         wax

metal wire                  grommets            heat (woodstove)

zip ties                        rope                       Ziploc bags

scissors                       Advil

a knife                       band aids

Remember to share your results with us, in the comments below!

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Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #3

Temperature H: 0°C/32°F   L: 0°C/32°F

  Weather – White out, Heavy Snow

Distance – 5km/3.5miles

Animals – 2 domesticated dogs (ours), we didn’t see anything today!  All smart animals were hiding.

B:  Breakfast Skillet (eggs, sausage, onion), Bacon, Coffee

L: PB&J&Butter, Soup Noodle, Trail Mix, Chocolate, Salami & Cheese, Coffee

D: 2 boxes of Kraft Dinner and a dozen hot dogs, Chocolate

Haiku

Everything is wet

All is white in a white out

KD for dinner!

This morning we did not set an alarm to wake up.  We decided to sleep in as long as we could and see what the weather would do. When it snows on a canvas tent you can usually hit the sidewalls and the snow will shake off of it. This morning however when we tried to do that there was no room for it to fall. When we opened the front door to go out for a pee the whole world was buried in snow. A fresh 45cm or 18 inches had fallen over night, burying everything. The sleds, shovels, snowshoes, skis and even the dogs where under a blanket of fresh snow.

Osa has traditionally slept in the tent with us but given the size of Kyro and there being a second dog we decided it only fair for both dogs to sleep out. The temperature was still mild and she did not have a problem with this. Although with the woodstove out, the temperature in the ten is the same as the outside.

We decided it best to break camp and travel as far as we could because it was still snowing and we had kilometres./miles to travel regardless. By the time we got back on the trail at 10:30 we were thoroughly wet. With the temperature hovering at zero, all the snow that we came in contact with melted. Snow was falling from the trees and was covering everything.

We decided to base our travel on visibility not wanting to make any major bay crossings without being able to have a visual of the other side. The skiing was really difficult. Breaking trail in 45cm of fresh snow was an exercise in of self-control to not sweat. Getting wet from melting snow is one thing but to get wet from your own sweat can be very dangerous in a winter wilderness environment. Potentially causing someone to get dangerous cold.

We did not travel very far today, only 5km/3miles but it took us over 5 hours. But those are 5km we don’t have to ski tomorrow. We really wanted to cross over to the other side of Spencer Bay but decided it best if we didn’t. We know there is open water somewhere between us and the other shore and without being able to see the other shore, we decided it best to not chance it. Hopefully tomorrow the visibility is better and we can make the crossing to Sugar Island tomorrow about 7km/5miles away.

We are both pretty darn tired and sore. Sleep will come easily tonight!

Dave, Dan, Kyro and Osa

 

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Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #2

Temperature H: 0°C/32°F   L: -5°C/28°F

  Weather – Overcast, Calm, Windy, Snow, Nor’Easter

Distance – 13km/7.5miles

Animals – 1 Red Squirrel, Chickadees

B:  Hashbrowns, Bacon (Thanks Kelly!), Oatmeal, Maple Syrup, Coffee,

L: PB&J&Butter, Soup Noodle, Trail Mix, Chocolate, Coffee

D: Noodle with Chicken, White sauce and Chili Mac with Beef, Chocolate

Haiku

This is a big lake

Nor’Easter is blowing in

How much snow will fall?

Dan was the first one up this morning, he lit the fire in the stove at about 530am.  The morning chores often take quite awhile to get through. They mostly require melting a lot of snow for water for various things we need.  We need water to drink (4.5 litres every day), coffee (1 litre), soup noodle (1 Litre), water for the dogs (2 litres) and some for our oatmeal.  Once all the water is made, we get dressed for the day, go to the bathroom, pack up all of our belongings into various bags, take down the tent, pack the sleds and sort out the dogs.  Today this took us 3 hours, we were back on ‘the trail’ 830.

We had really great conditions for the first 7km (4miles) of the day skiing up to Mt. Kineo.  Mt. Kineo is a real focal point for Moosehead Lake and dominates the landscape.  It is located right in the middle of the lake and can be seen from almost location around the lake.  On it’s eastern side, sheer rock cliffs drop almost 900 feet to the lake surface where they continue to drop another 200 feet underwater!

We had originally planned on camping in a small cove just south of Mt. Kineo but with the fair conditions and the coming storm we decided to push on to another spot we thought would be better protected.  When we rounded the point we could see 5km (3miles) across a bay to the next point.  We decided to go for it.  We made pretty good time skiing across the lake, stopping once for water and a snack.  About ten minutes after starting again we noticed bands of snow moving towards us east to west.  The storm rolled in very quickly and by the time we gained our shore the conditions were a total whiteout.  We had very good timing.

We found a spot that would be really well protected from north, east and south gusting winds and set up the tent and stove accordingly to best prevent downdrafts from coming through the stove pipes.  By the time we jumped in the tent for the night the Nor’Easter had settled in.  We shall see how much snow we get…

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Moosehead Lake Traverse:  Expedition Update #1

Temperature H: -3°C/27°F   L: -8°C/24°F  plus wind    Weather – Cloudy, Sunny, Warm!    

Distance – 14km/8.5miles

Animals – Deer, 1 Eagle, Fox/Coyote tracks, 1 small plane

Haiku

On the trail again

The good old north woods of Maine

Cedar smells so good

It was a long drive coming down here to Maine after all the packing, organizing and sorting out last minute details.  Before starting the 2 hour shuttle up to Northeast Carry, our starting point, we stopped in at the Game Wardens office to talk about the latest ice conditions after that we were on our way.  Northeast carry is a traditional portage route into the Penobscot river and has been travelled for millennia.  It is an honour to start our trip here.  

After all the driving and shuttles we managed to get 2 dogs, 2 humans and 2 sleds full of equipment to the start.  90% of the work completed and by far the most dangerous part behind us.  All we have to do now is ski to the bottom of the lake! 

Finally out on the lake, we had spectacular weather, it was clear, calm and really hot in the sun!  We both got burnt! The going was really good, so we made the most of the sunshine and travelled until 5pm.  Knowing a big Nor’Easter is blowing in only motivated us more to cover some miles.  As the old saying goes, when the going is good, the good get going.

It took us nearly 3 hours to set up camp tonight and dinner wasn’t eaten until nearly 8:30.  It has been a long day full of driving, skiing and setting up camp.  We are going to sleep really well tonight.

Dave, Dan, Kyro and Osa

 

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