Wintergreen Cabin

February 10, 2009 8:41pm

Up early to feed the kennel of sled dogs, we find unusually mild
temperatures. And rain. We won’t set off on the lake before early
afternoon, after a careful review of all of our equipment and
clothing–what is appropriately referred to as “ systems”. The idea is
to refine the systems to the extent that only what is needed is packed
to save both weight and space. Even after careful edits of my checklist
before leaving, it turns out that I still have brought too much. An
extra pairs of underwear can add unnecessary weight. Keith impresses on
me the value of a carefully tuned and minimal pack. The same top and
bottom base layer will be worn for more than one month! I carefully
pack my newly purchased pulka or sledge, which in this case—and to
justify the five thousand dollar price tag–is the Rolls Royce of
sleds!  Not much to it as it turns out, except for a fiberglass bucket,
but in this rarified business, options and competition are scarce. This
sledge will be my lifeline for the forty days or so on the ice.

The mild temps and the rain make for very heavy conditions and I have
some trepidation pulling my 200 pounds of weight. As we set out, the
sledge starts gliding in the slush and before long my body temperature
rises to a steady sweat. This will be the biggest challenge in the
great North. Sweat can be deadly. The game hinges on how to regulate
the systems to maximize performance while minimizing body heat. After
two hours of skiing around the lake, we set up camp, build a fire in
the snow, and tell stories of polar travel around dinner. By 10:30 p.m.
it is lights out. Tomorrow will be the first test of endurance with
eight full hours of skiing. Outside, light flakes are falling and the
temperature slowly drops below freezing.

Leave a Reply