The first steps: amazingly the wind completely died down overnight. It was soooo quiet, not a bird chirp, a tree squeak, a grunt, a howl, not even a rock fall. While waiting for Patrick to finish packing, I contemplate the next few days ahead. After the first tentative steps on the frozen river, I sat down and put on these red ice crampons (also from MEC, “Kahtoola Microspikes traction device”). These were a critical piece of gear as there was essentially no non-ice travel.

First time above tree line! Patrick looks very calm cool and collected, his typical camera personality. But inside, I’m sure, his heart was skipping like mine. Standing here, after his many months of chemotherapy, it was a dream come true. I was thrilled we could make this journey together. He started me on the winter camping path, it seemed only fitting that together we pass this landmark under blue sky and calm conditions. This was one of the best weather days on the trip, but of course, we didn’t yet know it.

Flash freeze. Weird to look down between your feet and see pebbles suspended in the ice.  I found entire sand dunes locked under the ice. What weather phenomenal or wind/water/temperature conditions are needed to form this frozen suspension?

Heaved pans of blue river ice. About 8” thick, these glorious clear turquoise slabs had been lifted by the freeze thaw forces. This ice was extremely hard, I discovered while chipping it to melt. The ice traction devices were not very effective on this extra hard ice, compared to regular white milky ice. Beautiful to look at, deadly slippery.

Just north of Windy Lake crater, a large expanse of wind polished ice. At least the pulling was easy! Our average walking speed, pulling sleds on level surface like this was about 3 kph. On a typical day, we would be walking by 10am and generally stop around 2 or 3pm. Countless minutes were enjoyed taking photos, sips of water, pee breaks, stopping to inspect something and just generally gazing about, soaking up the experience.