The best laid plans of moose and men do often go arye. Planning for this Arctic adventure if nothing else, has certainly taught me to be flexible.
I am now set to depart to the Arctic Tundra in MID-OCTOBER. And according to Sue Aikens, winter is already at the Kavik River Camp. Her water lines have already frozen, temps are in the teens and she gets regular dusting a of snow every day. This does not rattle her a bit because she is so accustomed to it. I on the other hand, having no experience in these kinds of extremes shared my reaction. Clearly, Sue sees the world differently. Here is an excerpt of our dialogue from an email:
Sue: "I suspect it will probably reach -20F by the time you arrive."
Me: "Holy sh*t! I've never been in anything that cold! Hopefully all the warm layers of gear I'm bringing will keep me from becoming a Katie-cicle...in any case, it's sure to be one hell of an adventure!"
"Wheeeeee"? I couldn't help but chuckle aloud when I read that. It made me even more excited to meet her in person. She is evidently, one of a kind.
In re-packing for the umteenth time, my pack weight went from a respectable 60 lbs to a seam busting 96 lbs. My gear weight limit on the bush plane is 100 lbs. Any more than an additional Cliff bar will be scrutinized and evaluated for utility and necessity.
Winter gear is heavier than Summer gear. There is no getting around it. And you can't exactly say, "Well, I guess I don't REALLY need these extra base layers." Or, "Maybe I'll pack a lighter jacket."
At least not without expecting to risk hypothermia or frost bite.
Understanding that I will no longer have the Bears as my main concern, rather sub-zero temperature to respect has changed the game a bit for me. I am very excited, certainly, but also the tiniest bit nervous. This is after all, the kind of weather that can snuff you out in a heartbeat.
I leave in a few short weeks. Each passing day bringing colder weather, shorter days and snow. I guess now is as good a time as any to ask myself, "What the hell have I gotten myself into this time?!"