Questions & Answers Wk 07
Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!
We disturb the snow when we travel across it and when we make camp. We also melt snow to drink and the Polar Huskies eat snow. We pack out all of our garbage, food bags, tissues and such. But we do leave our body waste behind as do the Polar Huskies. We use fuel to melt snow, cook and occasionally heat the tent. The exhaust goes into the air. Other then all of that, we leave the environment untouched.
What modifications do you have to make if any to where you stay? (Environmentally friendly?)
Enstad's Geo. Classes
At the beginning of training, physical is the hardest part. As with most types of training the physical gets easier over time and then the mental prep becomes the biggest challenge... whether you are getting closer to game day, a big race or an Arctic expedition.
Do you feel it was harder to prepare for this trip mentally or physically?
It is very difficult to keep batteries charged in the cold. On the trail we need battery power for our communication equipment (laptop computer, satellite phone), digital camera, video camera, head lamps and GPS (global positioning system).
The most important thing is to ensure that the electronics do not collect moisture on the inside parts. To avoid this, it is very important that we warm all the equipment up to inside temperature (inside the tent's temperature) before we try to turn it on. And we keep everything in Ziploc bags and as airtight as possible for the same reason.
So, when we need to use the computers on Education Day, the morning starts around 5 am to get the heat going in the tent. Then, we take the computers and lay with them in the sleeping bags, for example. It easily takes 3-4 hours to get everything—cords, computers, cameras, etc. warmed up from the time we wake up. Then we need to power everything—including the batteries for the cameras that we use during the week.
We can charge our batteries in one of three ways:
1. Solar Power. We have a flat solar power panel which is then hooked up to a gel-cell battery. Draw back: only works when enough day and sun light.
2. Generator. team NOMADS have a little 1000 W generator with them. Draw Back: it needs fuel. The unit and fuel weighs a lot. Can only carry limited amount of fuel.
3. Expedition-Grab-It batteries. These are special batteries that work down to -40 F (which equals -40 C) for so many hours. Draw back: they are not rechargeable. When they die, they die. This is our back-up power.
Since you have to keep in touch and send us pictures and information, how do you keep your computers from freezing?
Leah & Michaela
Excellent question. That is an important part of the logistical planning.
If a Team Member, two or four-legged, gets hurt or ill during the expedition, we are trained to deal with whatever is possible in the field. We have an extensive first aid kits - one for the Polar Huskies and one for the humans.
We also have both a veterinarian and a doctor on call while the expedition is going. So that as long as we can get connection with our satellite phone, we can call with any questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If either us or the dogs are hurt or sick, we will most likely take a rest day if possible. Otherwise, we may tie either down on the sled. Yes, that is indeed scary but sometimes necessary. Safety is of the utmost importance so if necessary, we will call for a rescue to transport the Team Member or Polar Husky out for care.
if someone gets sick on the journey how do you treat them?
Polar Huskies want to chase! Especially the lead dogs and the point dogs are big hunters always on the run, looking and listening for what is out there.
When in camp the Polar Huskies are very respectful of approaching animals. We have often had wolves come into camp and the dogs interact very kindly actually even play with them, just like they often howl back and forth with wolves. Polar Bears, well most Polar Huskies are frankly afraid of them - that is why a Polar Husky like Timber, who is now retired, was so valuable in that he would literally stand nose to nose with a bear and bark to warn it off.
When running on the trail the Polar Huskies are very much like a pack of wolves running together getting excited if they see something or we yell to them that "there is a biiiiiird." But, first of all the Polar Huskies are pulling a heavy loaded sled and for example when they run in the midst of a big herd of caribou, at first they run at a very high speed but they realize that they are not going to catch anything so they actually come to a point where they are still excited, but they know they are just running along. Secondly, the Polar Huskies know very well what we find to be acceptable. It may not be that they learned that specifically as it comes to 'chasing animals,' but for example in that they have to sit before they can eat their food when being fed as puppies in the kennel. If they get up, they get told to sit down again and they are finally given their food and a lot of praise when they do as they are told. That way they are taught that there are rules through 'positive reinforcement.' This combined with that they consider us the 'pack-leaders' mean that they very much want to please and make the best out of situations.
That does not mean that the Polar Huskies never forget! Sometimes they do and then we have to reinforce the rules. It is most often younger dogs (for example this year, Chitwa, Chukchi, Kinupok, Luna, Pingo, Qannik, Sisu, Sunrise, Yoik) that 'forget the rules.' This also has to do with being street smart - or being a veteran.
Do you ever see any wild animals, do they scare the dogs?
Beacon is GREAT! He is soooo happy to be back in Nunavut.
Arctic Transect 2004 (which took place in Nunavut as well) was his very first expedition so he is very excited to be back here during Nunavut's 10th Anniversary year.
Be sure to read his Blog every Thursday for his first-paw account of what is going on! :)
How's Beacon? I love him....
We personally have not seen bees in the Arctic, but they do exists here!
We are reading about bees. Our book said bees don't live in Antarctica, but they do live on all the other continents. Have you ever seen bees in the Arctic?
As you know, extensive climate change is taking place there right now, so it is an important problem that we all need to get interested in. We need to understand how our actions are causing these problematic changes ... so that is why Team GoNorth! chose to go there: to make you aware of the problem so that you can do something about it!
Why did you chose Nunavut to explore?
Polar Huskies are all about power, not speed. Sometimes called the dump-trucks of the Arctic they have a steady unwavering pull no matter the load. All positions on the team are important as they are all necessary to function. The lead is chosen based on respect from the rest of the team, an ability to sense the environment to help us steer the sled and intelligence to pick up on subtle clues like the scent of a polar bear or the feeling of thin ice.
And with all that responsibility, the lead dog needs to be able to warn us and the whole pack while we are moving! Because the lead dog cannot just stop the team or send us a text message (poor reception on the trail) he or she will communicate with body language and barking.
who is the fastest dog on the team ? do you put the fastest dog in the lead ?
What matters most is your attitude, your skill level and your ability to work as part of a team - even under extreme physical and mental stress.
Do you have to have any special training to be able to be an explorer and go on the expeditions?