<![CDATA[Polar Training - Day 8]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262199 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_526542_scale.jpg'><br />And that's a wrap! It's been a great week on Lake Winnipeg during this year's Level 1 Polar Training. I have to say, I LOVE Lake Winnipeg in Winter. It's like Antarctica and the Arctic met, fell and love and had an icy baby. OK maybe not, but still... it's a little like that.<br /> <br /> Personally, I'm in logistics mode which basically means cleaning and sorting gear, then moving all those gear piles from one place to another. By tomorrow at this time, I will hopefully be in Colorado. I like the ice, but it's always hard to be away from Maria and the kids. I'm also excited for Outdoor Retailer, the big national outdoor gear trade show which begins at the end of next week. This is the first time the expo will be in Colorado.<br /> <br /> I wrote a note to all of my clients who are now all heading back (to the various corners of the world from which they came) and I wanted to share it with you.<br /> <br /> Here it goes:<br /> <br /> By now you are all showered and have had a night in a comfortable bed. While it is nice to be clean (not really), I always find the end of any adventure a little bit sad. On the ice everything, we do has immediate consequences and to live in direct contact with nature and the elements day after day after day is something that, I feel, is often missing in our normal lives. I hope that you take pieces of this experience with you as you move through your daily lives.<br /> <br /> The friendships built from intense shared experiences are long lasting and I plan to keep in touch with all of you move forward from this point. Please feel free - at any point - to reach out with any additional questions or ideas.<br /> <br /> Thank you again for making this week such an incredible time. I'm not a huge fan of good bye. Instead, I prefer, 'until next time...'<br /> <br /> Think Snow!<br /> <br /> Image: The 2018 Polar Training team&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262199'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Mon, 22 Jan 2018 01:55:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262199 50.7186 -96.5235 <![CDATA[Polar Training - Day 7]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262198 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_549970_scale.jpg'><br />In traveling to remote locations, I've seen and heard my fair share of wildlife Still, it is one of those experiences that never gets old. Last night, after following wolf tracks as we skied for much of the afternoon, we heard a single wolf howl. Later in the night, a chorus of four other wolves joined in. It was incredible to be so close and I wondered if they might come into our camp for a closer look. In the morning, there were no new tracks.<br /> <br /> Today was the last full day of this year's Level 1 Polar Training Course as well as the warmest. I know I keep talking about the weather and ice conditions, but we've had a pretty wild swing from severe cold warning to just barely below freezing. Today was the first day in as long as I can remember where I didn't ski with in my Zeal goggles and nose beak.<br /> <br /> With temperatures so warm, we had a somewhat casual breaking of camp. It may be surprising for you to hear, but at 20 degrees Fahrenheit, 'hanging out' in our polar gear becomes fairly easy. Warmer temperatures make socializing easier as well and it's been fun to not have to suffer-fest through the simple act of packing up our MSR tents. Janice and Brad took it upon themselves to spell out POLAR on the Garmin GPS, a task that Brad, a physicist, and Janice a geographer, took upon themselves with great vigor. Dirk, their third tent made offered up his services to assist with some of the other tent takedowns. It was hard to pack up and go and we lingered in the snow for a little while longer savoring the camaraderie that adventure brings.<br /> <br /> Everyone has their system's dialed and we started skiing at a brisk pace back south. I watched as everyone fall into line. We managed to make good time until the we hit a large pressure ridge that extended for nearly a mile. On our way North, we had skied over a low section effortlessly. Now, with the warmer temperatures, water had seeped up created a long section of open water on the opposite side. I checked a few more spots, but we would have to go around.<br /> <br /> We managed to traverse the back side until the path narrowed enough where we took off skis and post holed through a few blocks and drifts. From there the snow conditions seemed to improve a bit as we hugged the bay versus cutting straight across.<br /> <br /> We pushed hard and eventually made it back to the cabin where we set up on the ice for one last camp.<br /> <br /> Image: The Polar Team&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262198'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Fri, 19 Jan 2018 23:50:02 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262198 50.7186 -96.5235 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 19 Jan]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262197 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262197'>View Post...</a>) Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:03:06 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262197 <![CDATA[Polar Training - Day 6]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262196 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_210145_scale.jpg'><br />With very little snow on the lake, we have been forced to stay close to shore snaking along meager amounts of drifted snow. Normally, we would be camped in the middle of the lake right now. Instead, we are nestled near the south end of Elk Island. <br /> <br /> The upside to a 'low snow' year is that the views of the ice have been incredible. Today, we skied along large swaths of windswept ice marbled and cracked in hundreds of different ways. At some point the lake froze, then broke up and refroze again leaving whitish slabs layered underneath clear ice.<br /> <br /> On the North end of Elk Island the wind had pushed large slabs of ice against shore and left a cracked and fractured mess - not too unlike the Arctic Ocean. For most of the morning we wound in between small pressure ridges and stacked 'plates' of ice. For Jaco and David who are going on a Last Degree North Pole expedition with me in April, it was just another training opportunity. <br /> <br /> Before skiing, we spent about an hour practicing reviewing navigation techniques. There is a lot of information that I want to cover and I don't always get a chance to get through the whole course syllabus in he first few days. <br /> <br /> Even though temperatures had warmed considerably since a couple days ago, the morning was overcast and kept things relatively cool. Not a problem for our group now, of course, as everyone is adept at 'the polar striptease' adding and subtracting layers as your body temperature increases/decreases.<br /> <br /> At one break during the day, Brad pulled out a bunch fudgcicles that he had been pulling along in his sled. With big smiles, we sat on our sleds and ate ice cream on a frozen lake... with all of our polar gear on... <br /> <br /> Yesterday, we had seen wolf tracks and today we saw them were again. This time a few of his or her friends joined in and we followed the packs' tracks for nearly a mile.<br /> <br /> Finally, we found a nice patch of snow for camp and set up for the night. <br /> <br /> We have one more night left on the ice and it's hard to think that this experience will soon be over. But for now, we'll finish melting snow and then a much-deserved sleep.<br /> <br /> Image: polar selfie&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262196'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:05:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262196 50.7445 -96.5575 <![CDATA[Day 6. Sun and Snow]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262194 We woke up to a brisk wind and clouds speeding past. A weather check on the Garmin inReach revealed a chance of snow around six o'clock. We hustled to eat breakfast and get on the trail.<br /> <br /> After winding through the woods for a while, we emerged into a huge alpine field easily 10 football fields across. Surrounding the open areas were thick pine trees. Both sights were a stark contrast to yesterday's burned area. We stopped to film in a few locations as the scenery was so stunning. We all remarked how we had never expected to this area to be so incredible.<br /> <br /> Throughout the day, we passed several elk hunters. A few groups were on horses and we asked one of the guides, Josh, if we could interview him. Like many of the other people we have talked to about our adventure, Josh said that people are an important part of an adventure.<br /> <br /> We haven't seen that many people but most have been surprised when we mention that we started in Nebraska. <br /> <br /> Eventually, we followed a trail to a long canyon. Immediately, it felt like a different place. The soil was dry and sage brush lined the trail. <br /> <br /> Once again, we pushed farther in the dark to make up time but our trail disappeared and the steady drizzle turned to snow. We decided to set up camp where I am now writing this.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262194'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Thu, 18 Jan 2018 01:35:02 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262194 39.0142 -107.0091 <![CDATA[Polar Training - Day 5]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262195 Because simply camping is difficult and time consuming in polar environments, we spend a lot of time prior to heading out on Lake Winnipeg focus focused on learning 'tent time'. Each morning and evening follows a scripted routine that saves time and energy, and equally important, keeps us safe. Each task has enough subtle nuance that it takes some time to get use to. <br /> <br /> Luckily it's not rocket science and Day 5 of polar training means that the team is functioning like a well oiled machine.<br /> <br /> Side note: one of the students, Brad, actually is a rocket scientists and he has independently verified that our tent procedures are indeed not rocket science.<br /> <br /> Getting up and out of a warm sleeping bag and into a cold tent is never easy, but on Day 5 even that was a manageable task. We quickly broke camp and then skied toward the narrows where we turned around the day prior.<br /> <br /> Snow conditions are frustrating for sure but we were able to skirt the edge of the peninsula then wind our way to the southern shore of Elk Island, a provincial park. Skiing along the shore, we followed several large wolf tracks for over a mile.<br /> <br /> Throughout the day, temperatures increase enough for us to be able to ski without our hoods on. By the time we stopped for lunch and soup from our Stanley soup flasks, it was a comfortable 15 degrees. We lounged on top of our sleds and laughed knowing that an extra few minutes of relaxation was not creating a life threatening situation (compared to yesterday).<br /> <br /> A while later we encounter a wide swath of pressured is - big angular plates of four to six inch thick pieces of ice stacked up against one another eerily similar to what we get on the Arctic Ocean. For our situation, it simply meant 'a good training opportunity' and we spent the next two hours snaking our way through the shards and ridges. For one section we took our skis off and walked as the ice was so rough. During another, we set up a relay to get our sleds up and over.<br /> <br /> We eventually made our way to a small smooth swath of ice at the northern end of Elk Island. I wanted to keep pushing, but after a short scout, realized this was the only place suitable for camping. So, I made the call to stop for the day and the groups set up the tents and camp like seasoned polar pros.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262195'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:35:07 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262195 50.7803 -96.5188