March 4th (Day 7)

Eight inches of fresh snow dumped last night. Temperature is steady at –24C but at least winds are calm. Another layover day in camp. Breakfast is oatmeal and bacon. Still feeling somewhat of an outcast, I take off early to explore south of camp. The sun comes out and sparkles off the fresh new fall – my spirits soar. Impossible to be sour surrounded by such pristine beauty! My favourites are the larches and the way their bare nubbly branches support a disproportionate amount of snow on bare branches. I learn the hard packed wind drift is easy walking compared to the unsettled fluffy piles between spruce bases. Occasionally, I hear a muffled ‘boom’ – it’s the snow settling as I walk around.

By lunch the temperature has risen to –14C, the warmest day since leaving Sept Iles in the rain 6 days ago. After lunch (leek-onion soups with cheese and cornmeal bannock), I walk out on the lake to see how the fishing is going. No luck! Ric joins me and we retrace my steps of this morning….the snow is definitely harder and we sink in only to about mid shin (vs this morning when it was knee deep). The wind is throwing ice pellets into my face and I leave the camera inside my coat.

The sun’s setting – the orange ball reflects of the sheen of the snow. Clumps of already nibbled willow buds offer lean picken’s to the hungry. I head back for dinner, the stars are coming out, wind getting stronger and temperature dropping. Everyone gathers to eat split pea soup with sausage in our tent – the dishes get done and then the four others leave for their tent by 7:45pm. Seems early bed is the rule in spite of (or perhaps because of?) the heat inside.