Axel aka Schmaxel

by Kyle O’Donoghue

Hi, everyone, Kyle here from our red tent in the wilderness on Ellesmere Island. Today’s blog is about the dog that I have been skijoring with for most of the trip. His name is Axel.

Axel, or Schmaxel as I refer to him, is one of the brothers in the back. Our brothers in the back are Axel and Larry, and Larry skijors with Hugh, and Hugh and I are generally at the back of our queue. The Brothers in the Back is also the hit single, which was written by John Huston, and if you ask him, I’m sure he will sing you Brothers in the Back on his return.

Axel’s real ambition in life however is to be at the front of the queue. He is incredibly, incredibly strong. It’s an amazing thing with these dogs how strong they are. It’s difficult to actually put into words until you experience the raw power of an Inuit sled dog really digging down and pulling you. It’s an amazing, amazing thing, so I basically abuse Axel for his strength and in return at lunch breaks, he comes and sticks his head on my knee for a piece of bacon, and so it’s a pretty even relationship.

Kyle and Axel

One of my main tasks out here is to film the expedition and it’s quite tricky when there are four people with their dogs and eight sleds between us and very rough ice. And one has to maneuver with your dog and the dogs all want to be together. So pulling one dog out of the equation changes things. It means that first if you’re in front, all the other dogs want to run straight to the dog that is sitting with you while you film. So it’s a bit of a process, but over the course Axel has learned to very patiently, and against his nature, to sit under my tripod while I film. And he then follows me back and put on my skis and we follow everyone. He’s a really sweet dog and doesn’t know how strong he is. He’s probably pulled me off balance while I was filming about ten times and I fall flat on my back much to everyone’s amusement. So that’s Axel and we’ll be updating you on some of the other dogs as well.

We’re currently camped under the magnificent White Mountain on Axel Heiberg. Tomorrow we plan to climb to the top and to look over the vast area that Sverdrup mapped. It’s a really great place to do that and the weather report looks good.

Everyone is doing really, really well. We’re currently having our dinner, but it is 5:30 in the morning. So we are a little turned around from traveling at night and can’t believe that we only have two weeks left of what’s been a really incredible adventure so far. So more soon and greetings from everyone.

Daily Expedition Data
Date: 5/20/13, Day 51
Location: 80°37'N, 90°00'W
Traveled: 6.75 hours, 13.5 miles
Temperatures: 24°F am, N/A pm