White Falcon, White Wolf
Arctic Diary: Tracking Wolves: Monday, June 25: Getting Stuck In

With all this peace and tranquillity it was a little hard to get going and get ourselves organised.

The sky reminded me of one of those Scottish winter skies with dramatic clouds, fierce swathes of colour and hugely differing areas of contrast. 

Temperature-wise it was warm — around 10C (50F) — and quite alien to me.

I had nothing but my cherished tracksuit trousers, bog standard T-shirt and newly donated Mountain Hardwear over-trousers on (and, of course insulated wellies that I had bought in Resolute). When hauling equipment, this proved to be far too hot. No gloves or hat; very strange.

We unravelled the second largest tent and had some fun deciding quite how to erect it. “A deliberate ploy,” I said tongue-in-cheek to “H” (the producer), “to instil good teamwork from the start”.

The truth was I had never camped with this particular tent before in my life so was on the same voyage of discovery as H. Needless to say, he hasn’t let me forget it in the context of my “field expert” role.

Heavy going

Having finally erected the “monkey-puzzle” tent and got ourselves organised, we decided to have a quick recce up the shallow sloping hill reaching down to our encampment.

I recognised this location as being directly south of where I’d camped on a previous expedition, during which getting across the 11km (seven miles) peninsula was a major undertaking, taking us two whole days dragging sledges through heavy snow and undulating terrain. 

Ready with our all-terrain vehicle (ATV) suitably “armed” with all the necessary equipment for a complete disaster, we shot off up the hill.

Just 50m (160ft) later we began to get bogged down in very silty, heavy mud. The terrain that looked so easy to travel on turned out to be a quagmire and the only thing I could do was welly it as fast as possible to prevent us getting bogged down completely.

Over my left shoulder, H was hanging on for his life. After almost one kilometre of full throttle I found a relative dry spot and stopped the poor machine.

We turned to each other and each expressed the awful realisation that simply getting over the terrain was not going to be easy.

We eventually made it back to camp having got stuck a few more times. By now, we were absolutely shattered, somewhat disillusioned and pondering our next move. We slept on it!

And what a great night’s sleep we had; probably better than the four-star hotel accommodation we experienced on the way up.

Our spirits were high despite realising how difficult this job was going to be and we felt like two excited children about to undertake a fabulous adventure, straight out of an Enid Blyton novel.

I suggested we try travelling on the ice a bit to see how we faired. My concern here was obvious. It’s one thing getting the ATV bogged down on dry land but to lose it altogether in deep water is quite another!

We took it cautiously at first, still heading in a westerly direction with H riding “shotgun” behind me. The going was great until we reached the next river outflow where a wide open lead of water blocked our path.

There was no way of getting across this and reluctant to turn inland we headed back towards camp on the ice we knew to be good but rapidly melting.

We stopped for a quick brew and a lunchtime snack and off we headed on the beach in an easterly direction this time.

We quickly encountered the first of many rivers that were set to be the bane and the most exciting part of our continuing adventures. 

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