Monday, April 2, 2012

Crystals forming on the snow

We headed back to Qaanaaq late morning as another glorious day broke out with cold (-20C) temperatures but bright sunshine. You know it is really cold when the snow starts to grow crystals. Basically any moisture that in the air is drawn onto the snow and crystallizes on it.

We had redistributed the weights so that the dog sled teams would be more balanced and set out together as a four sled convoy. Perhaps because we knew what to expect, the going was much easier than on the way in although the conditions were the same.

Doing pushups to stay warm
We stopped for a CTD station and were joined for a few minutes by the two skidoos that are used to ferry the freshly caught halibut in Qetortaq to the airport in Qaanaaq. These were the only skidoos we ever saw in the area and I was later to learn that skidoos in general were banned in the area in order to protect the traditional dog sled way of life.

While we were stopped for the CTD we also lunched on more than our standard chocolate bars and hot water. Avigaq beckoned us over to the lunch that all the hunters were eating and we ate with them - hacking out pieces from a whole frozen fish, eating strips of dried fish - think smoked, savory, fatty, fish ice cream. Unlike some of the esoteric food I have eaten this tasted great.

Lunch with Avigaq
To break the monotony of the trip and to stay warm we would often jump off the sled and run alongside. Other times when the sleds were taking a break - to rest the dogs, to untangle the leashes - we would walk ahead and then jump on when the sleds crossed us.