Fri Feb. 13 (!)(day 5)

Wake to gloomy skies and ice pellets. I play footsies with Neil some nights, our feet competing for the same end zone. He’s regularly up at 6:30am (once I swore I heard his wrist alarm go), rolling his sleeping bag and mat before breakfast. I admire his discipline to get promptly underway with out relying on that java jolt.

  Almost immediately, we must follow a portage into North Sylvie Lake. This is a steep slope and takes 3 or 4 people per komatik, hauling them one by one uphill, using the chain gang method. One person is sent ahead to pack the trail while the others haul. With much grunting, some sliding and slipping an hour later we are across the 520m and on top of North Sylvie Lake.

The clouds are flying by in wonderful mystic patterns of dark light bands low in the sky.  Tears in the clouds make for sun hits and snow sparkles on the frozen lake. Now there are no tracks of skidoos or even animals. Snow devils swirl off the lake surface, mini twisting tornadoes spiraling white dance around me. My shoulders are hunched to keep the wind from driving snow down my back – I don’t want to put up my hood and miss the show, the light is too fantastic.

The next portage comes all too quickly – another steep uphill, long plateau section then short steep drop into Boggy Lake. It must live up to it’s (summer) name, a shallow pan filled depression surrounded by now naked tamarack trees. Already I can see the next portage across the lake! Boggy is only 500m wide – during lunch, I watch the winds play havoc across its small surface.

It’s a long 1130m into Dahinda Lake…the name rolls off my tongue many times as I concentrate on keeping the komatik on the trail behind me. Its relatively flat portage (compared to the others done today) so we are somewhat spread out along the trail. I enjoy the solitude.

By 4pm we are into Dahinda and are looking for a campsite. Tonight, all goes smoothly, the tent is up and smoke coming out of the stove within two hours. It’s still windy and overcast but a few hardy early stars peep between cloud cracks. The wind erased my footprints out to the waterhole. My turn to make dinner again, this time a variation of  lentils stew and ham. Oops, another miscalculation, I have to add dehydrated potato flakes to thicken it up. But with no one complains and with a lump of bannock in hand, it goes down well. Outside the wind plays tag with itself and temperatures remain mild.