Questions & Answers Wk 04

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

The dogs are like family to us. They are our very best friends. We know them from the day they are born to the day they pass on, and we spend almost everyday of their lives with them. We go on our expeditions together, having incredible experiences with them that they make possible!

The Polar Huskies are all very unique with strong personalities. We all have dogs we really like to hang out with—or work with—for various reasons. But it tends to be that, as the dogs get older, they are the ones you are really close with since you have traveled with them for so many years, been to so many amazing places, they have saved your life, been your friend, and they are what makes all of this happen. They are simply just amazing animals for which we all have the greatest admiration.

Sometimes you appreciate the shy ones, and sometimes you just want to hear the howl of one of the “crazy” ones. When the terrain gets rough, you look to the strongest pullers, and when the route gets complicated, you turn to the leaders. Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses—just like people. So we can't really say which one is our favorite, because they all are. They are all important to the success of this expedition and to our survival on the trail. We love all of the Polar Huskies!

What are the explorers favorite dogs?

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The Polar Huskies do not need to wear booties or coats.

They are bred for what they are doing. They are Native to polar conditions (thus their name!) and we carefully nurture to keep their characteristics that enable them to survive and be healthy in Arctic conditions. That means Polar Huskies are burly dogs that cannot be sprinting all day or they will overheat. The trick is their double layered coat which covers all areas that could otherwise be exposed and prone to frostbite— including in between their paw pads, and even inside their ears.

Do the dogs wear snow booties like the dogs do in the mushing races?

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Polar Huskies have was is called a "double-layered" coat. Closest to their skin is a thick undercoat of wool for insulation and warmth; and the outer coat is made up of long, oily "guard hairs" that protect the wool from getting wet. This means they are very protected when outside and that they easily overheat when inside.

So, on the expedition, we will dig holes for them in the snow. If there is any wind, it will pile snow to make a small wall blocking them from the wind at the end of the day. The Polar Huskies then curl up to cover their nose with their tail and let the snow drift over them like a blanket.

Learn more about the life of a Polar Husky on the Polar Husky World page in the Dog Yard.

How do the polar huskies stay warm in the snow?

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This year we will be using a komatek sled. You can learn more about the komatek in the igloo!



What type of sled are you using?

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The quick answer is: We don't.

We either heat up our food to eat it or we simply eat it frozen, attempting to warm things (like Clif Bars) in our mouths. At times it is rather challenging.

How do you keep your food from freezing?

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When we area at home at Expedition Basecamp, the Polar Huskies have the choice of sleeping under the stars or sleeping in their individual dog houses. While puppies, we work very hard at socializing them so that they are comfortable around and not afraid of people. To do this, they will sometimes go and live with a family for a few weeks to a few months. During this time, they usually live in the house just like any other house dog.

While out on the trail, the dogs sleep staked-out outside. They will curl-up in a ball and sleep the night away.

Where do the dogs sleep at Expedition Basecamp?

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Our three favorites are: GORP (mix of chocolate chips, M&M's, nuts and raisins), dried apricots, and the Chocolate Brownie Clif Bar. Yuuummiii!



What's your favorite snack while you are traveling?

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Depending where we are in the Arctic, this can vary greatly.

Where we traveled in Arctic Sweden, Norway and Finland last year during GoNorth! Fennoscandia 2008, every little town we were in had all the amenities that you can think of. It was very different in Chukotka, Russia the year before - or even in Alaska. Electricity in these communities are not necessarily a result of an electric line running into the building or dwelling. Typically then, electricity comes from generators. We've been in communities before that have had to conserve energy and as a result, turned off all generators at certain times of the day and night!

Bathrooms in communities vary as well. Out on the trail, we are accustomed to using the great outdoors, and in some communities only larger buildings like community centers and schools have toilets, showers etc. It may not always be the case with individual homes. The permafrost will often-times prevent the necessary plumbing required for running water so flush-toilets are not always available, and otherwise you will see the pipes run above ground; or as is the case in many Alaskan and Canadian communities there is a truck that comes around once or several times a week to empty out the sewer. That means you really have to watch just how much water you use, and how much flushing you do. A great away to save on resources :)

When you have traveled to villages on the various expeditions, what kind of modern conveniences do the villages have?

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All of them! Each of the positions are equally important! Watch the great movie Teamwork to learn what makes a Polar Husky Team!


What is the most important position?

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This is a very good question!! We always, always, always stop for lunch. It is important that we keep eating to help maintain our weight and strength. When "nature calls," we stop. In the evening, or when we have reached what Mille has determined to be our location for the night, we stop and set-up camp.

That said, we can usually go an hour or two between stops. Depending on what kind of terrain we are traveling and what the conditions are, this could mean anywhere from 1 mile to 5/6 miles. At average we calculate to travel about twenty miles in a day. If the wind is at our backs, maybe we can go a bit more. But when the headwind blows, the load is heavy and the route is exhausting, we may only travel as few as five miles.

How far can you usually travel without a break?

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