Monday, April 22nd, 1985 (Log Day 5)

We rose to a clear day with temperatures much the same as yesterday except that the winds were moderate. We had breakfast early and prepared to leave Resolute, storing our extra gear in a back room near the kitchen. We went by truck to the waiting Twin Otter aircraft. Our pilot was Monty Stevenson, and co-pilot Matt Gacek. We were airborne about 8:30 AM, flying at 9000 feet over Cornwallis Island and cruising at 11,000 feet with an air speed of 135 mph en route to Eureka. We arrived at Eureka about 11:00 AM Resolute Bay time. Situated on Slidre Fiord on Ellesmere Island, Eureka is the most northerly civilian weather station in Canada. It was about 20 degrees below zero Celsius (4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit) with little to no wind. During our station stop, while the pilots refueled the aircraft, we went down to the station in the manager's truck to use the washroom facilities, and the manager was also kind enough to take us by Bombardier (we used two machines) to one of several icebergs located near the entrance to the fiord. We photographed a bergy-bit (an iceberg the size of a small cottage) up close and then headed back to the weather station from where we proceeded by truck to the dump located at the end of the runway. Here a group of five to seven wolves feed daily, encouraged with a few fresh scraps from the kitchen at the station. This is what Art and Chuck had come for, and they began work immediately, photographing and taking notes. At this point, we said our good-byes to the National Geographic team and drove back to the aircraft. We were airborne about 12:30 PM, at which point Debbie and I passed out the lunch of sandwiches, tarts and squares, milk and fruit that Dan had packed for us. It took about an hour and a half to reach Lake Hazen, the largest lake in the world north of 80 degrees. It is approximately 50 miles long by 7 miles wide and is about 500 feet above sea level. To the north of the Lake rise the British Empire and United States Range with some peaks reaching a height of 8500 feet. We flew in along the south shore, passing over the Ruggles River, and then we banked over the lake and landed on the bulldozed runway on the lake ice (which was about 10 inches thick). We saw four Arctic hare scurry across the snow as we came in for our landing below the Borek camp, our home for the next couple of days. We deplaned and, as the snowmobile and komatik (sled) was not there to meet us (Peter was not able to get the skidoo's engine started), we began carrying our gear and food supplies up the hill to the camp. The weather here was much the same as it had been at Eureka and as a result we had a spectacular view of the mountains on the far side of the lake. The living quarters, which consists of a number of parcolls (canvas-covered structures) put together to form a kitchen with 2 washrooms, two dormitories, and supply area which also housed the camp and flight crew's bunks, was warm and comfortably set up. Several members of the group helped Debbie make up the bunks, and everyone selected a bed and unpacked.

Debbie went through the camp rules posted on the wall in the kitchen, such rules as using the buddy system when venturing any distance from camp. A number of us went out to walk for a while before helping with preparations for dinner and assisting the pilots in rolling fuel drums from the cache to the aircraft. Debbie served us a hearty stew and apple pie for dinner at 7:00 PM, and most people went to bed early hoping that tomorrow we would be off to the Pole. The camp is equipped with an SBX-11 radio for communication with aircraft, Resolute. and other stations in the Arctic. We used the radio to make contact that evening with Camp Opal, an American Naval station located approximately 250 miles north of us out on the Polar pack. We had scheduled communication (scheds) with them on three occasions that night. The first sched told us that the weather was poor, but that it had improved from the day before, when there had been half a mile visibility in blowing snow. The report at 1:00 AM indicated that the weather was good enough for the Otter to fly up and leave a cache of fuel for the trip to the Pole, so Monty and Matt left about 1:30 AM while the rest of us slept the night away in our down and quallofil sleeping bags.

copyright (c) 1985 Patricia Sutherland

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URL: file - logDay5.html