22 Jan_2

Day 17, 22 Jan 2016

A challenging day!

A wonderful night in our tiny little cabin that in the end was blisteringly hot. That night we enjoyed looking at the full moon illuminating our tracks which covered over 6 km on the enormous lake.
What a contrast in the morning when the temperatures had risen to -5c and the cloud had descended.
On paper the first “leg” of 2.4 km should have been very easy across, as this was relatively level ground. We were totally hampered by “flat light”. Unable to distinguish between up or down. Conrad “went off” 3 unseen edges that deposited us in 3 metre deep gullies; very testing.
Our hopes were raised when we discovered fresh skidoo tracks that headed in our direction. Visibility consequently dropped to 20 metres, but at least the skidoo tracks were going the right way.

Decision point:

The skidoo tracks headed vertically uphill towards the “summer route”, what do we do? We followed into a maze of rocks and decided it was not right. Retracing steeply downhill we tried to follow the “Winter route” in a labyrinth of unseen knolls that caught us by surprise, coupled with the fact that the sled wanted to take the short cut downhill. Very tricky.
We had 17 waypoints in the GPS for the day and had to “feel ” our way through the maze downhill, until we eventually hit the lake. The last 5km across horrible wind crusted snow, really capped off a trying day. Nonetheless, we reached the hut after 7.5 hours, and within an hour had forgotten our exertions.
A challenging day, but quite satisfying to know we were the first to do it this winter.