by Tyler Fish
Location: Iqaluit, Baffin Island
Avg Daytime Temp: 0°F
Avg Night Temp: -20°F
Pounds of food packed: 270
# of discussions had on how to cut weight: 235
This week of packing, modifying equipment and training was capped off perfectly last night. Our Inuit friend, Meeka Mike, invited us to her house for an Inuit-style feast of fresh Turbot (tastes like Halibut), seal meat (which is tender and tastes like steak and fish combined) and vegetables.
The feast celebrated the birthday of John's friend, Livy (pronounced Lie-vee). Livy, who traveled a few hundred miles by snowmobile with John and Meeka in 2007, is an Inuit elder, an ace hunter, persistent comedian and a wilderness tough guy. Livy spends as much time as possible hunting caribou and seal. His forearms look like Popeye's.
Although he does not speak English, he is constantly joking with us and laughing with his huge grin of missing teeth. Many Inuit have a keen sense of humor. My uneducated guess, is that this develops from the need for entertaining themselves in small groups while hunting out on the land (wilderness) or while enduring the long sun-less winters of the Arctic. The lightheartedness and hardiness of our Inuit friends serves as a wonderful reminder to Tyler and I as we embark on what sometimes seems like a daunting ski trip. We know that it will be a difficult trip, but that the hard times will be a lot easier if we smile a lot and keep our sense of humor going.
This week we overcame a major logistical challenge. On Monday we were notified about delays in air cargo traffic flying from Iqaluit to Resolute, our last stop before the Arctic Ocean. Tyler and I adjusted our training schedule and by Wed early morning we had shipped 122 kg (270 pounds) of food and 84 kg (185 pounds) of equipment to Resolute. To our great relief it arrived successfully on February 21st, three days ahead of schedule.
Packing food is an enjoyable, but painstaking process. We measure every little bag of food to the exact gram and then look for ways to reduce more weight. Our diet crams over 7300 calories into about 2 1/2 pounds of food per person per day. For more on our diet you can look at the FAQ page.
Modifying equipment is an empowering experience. Everything must be easy to handle in the extreme cold and with the reduced dexterity that comes with wearing mittens all the time. We add long leashes to all of our zippers, make sure our tent lines are set up perfectly and add extra long straps to just about everything. We also take steps to increase efficiency, such as mounting our stoves to a metal board, so that we don't have to set them up each time we use them.
The Arctic Ocean is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. Our chances for success are greatly increased by giving our selves as much advantage as possible through our 'stitch in time saves our butts' approach to preparatory details and food choices.
Part of training is gaining as much weight as possible (this is not as fun as it sounds). Due to the extreme cold and heavy exertion, we will each lose at least 30 pounds during the expedition. We both now weigh more than we ever have in our lives.
It's one week until we hit the ice!