March 5 (Day 8)

Everyone is up by 6am – not a surprising, given our bedtime….all goes well until Alexandra can’t find her camera case. Is it buried under snow? No one  has a digital camera thus we can’t review camp pictures of last few days to back track. We spend an hour looking, probing deep into the snow pack, at the base of trees, trying to find it. Janet is sure that she took it off a sled and put it under a tree. Garrett has an identical case except it is twice as heavy. After 1 hour of searching, we give up and move.

It’s a blue sky and I’m anxious to get rolling. It’s a tough go with yesterday’s fresh snow. The sleds feel much heavier due to the resistance of sharp snow crystals. Like pulling a dead horse! I’m pooped by lunch and put on my over coat plus down vest for warmth. The wind is from the north, it feels frigid but likely only a breeze. We creep along the north shore of a small river. Camp is in a small bay a the river narrows. Since we know the drill, everyone assumes their preferred tasks: Garrett cuts tent poles, Leif cuts fire wood, Alexandra organizes the tent flattening and toboggan unloading, Ric and I haul wood and saw it up in camp. He has devised a good system to prop the log so that we can cut it with out kneeling, much easier on the back and more efficient. We laugh and kid around making light of the work. Alexandra shows me how to cut a hole in the ice using the ice chisel: she makes it look easy, chips flying out of ever growing hole at an encouraging rate. My progress is dismal, I flail around getting hotter by the stroke as the ice refuses to calve. We take turns, after 15 minutes, a hollow sounding thud signals the thinning ice pan – one more stroke and we break through, careful to hold the pole tight so it doesn’t go to the bottom of the lake!

Dinner is beef stroganoff with cherry cheesecake – I’m most impressed with the variety, quantity and quality of food. Expedition appetites have kicked in, we must be eating about 5,000 calories a day plus dipping into gorp! Stars peak out by 8pm. The sky is decorated green by some weak northern lights that arc from east to west. –28C and time for bed.