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Thread: Up-coming barren-lands trip

  1. #1

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    Up-coming barren-lands trip

    I have a big (for me) flight in the works for later this month.
    Our cabin is 100-miles south of here, on the edge of the tree-line, just east of the Coppermine River and 20-miles south of the arctic circle. We normally access the cabin during the summer months with the PA-12 on straight floats. In late September I change over directly to wheel-skis until June.
    Now a 100-mile flight would not be much of an expedition for most on here, but this is some of the most-remote country on the continent. I’m well-aware of the risks involved. You Alaskan guys know what I’m talking about! I think I’m well-equipped and prepared.
    The baggage compartment (unfortunately I have no extended baggage) is chock full of survival gear and the back seat will be loaded up with the generator, a couple of boxes of groceries, wing and engine covers. So there’s no room for a passenger. I’ve been working on my wife for the past week, trying to impress on her the need to carry all that stuff at this, possibly brutal, time of the year on a flight over very remote country.
    Today, the local store had Valentine’s Day flowers so I bought her some roses. The trip is now on! Hell, I could have got permission to go to Bangkok for a month!
    So now, over the next week, I’ll be digging out the airplane and checking her all over for this flight near the end of the month, when we get a few days of decent weather. If I go to all this trouble, I’ll be staying there for at least a week. I have a little Yamaha Bravo snowmobile down there and an ice auger so maybe I’ll try a bit of fishing. There will be caribou around, I’ll have my rifle but probably won’t hunt because I won’t want to carry the extra weight home or, alternatively, leave the meat there and have it go to waste. I have a chain saw but the cabin is heated with a little oil stove. I have no desire to cut the few measly trees, and besides – having constant heat all night long is just so luxurious.
    Normally, I stick close to home during the winter months but this trip will put me 100-miles from the nearest human being. Should be fun!
    Oh, and I’ll be 70 in May so I think it’s time to git ‘er done. I'm stoked!
    Last edited by NunavutPA-12; 02-12-2018 at 09:05 PM.

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    Send us a few pictures, please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tempdoug View Post
    Send us a few pictures, please.
    I sure will! I've never seen our cabin in the winter so I'll be taking photos and video, maybe even some drone footage.

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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    I'd make sure the fuel tanks, fuel lines, and carb are ice free. Have a little container of Isopropyl available in case they aren't. Plus I'd take a source of heat in the plane. You know all this but that's on my list of take alongs. My cabin is 90 miles west and camping is always an option. Breather lines freeze, fuel stops flowing, things happen in the cold to the best prepared of us.

    Gary
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    Here's why there's no room for a passenger:

    Expedition tent with fly
    Mattress pad
    Caribou hide for top of mattress pad
    Stove that will run on av-gas
    Butane stove as back-up
    Propane catalytic heater for back-up engine pre-heat
    1 kw Yamaha generator (have Reiff system on engine)
    Snowshoes
    Two snow shovels (large and small)
    Ice screws and tie-down ropes
    Engine and wing covers
    Rope come-along
    Expedition-type down sleeping bag
    Axe, saw, cooking pots, etc.
    Enough food for two weeks (I have more in the cache at the cabin)
    Rifle (.243) and a box of ammo

    Also have InReach, sat-phone, HF radio, VHF handheld
    406 MHz ELT
    PLB
    Visual signals - mirror and green laser pointer

    Will file flight plan

    (I can leave the bug dope and bear-spray behind at this time of year!)

    Good clothing (goes without saying)
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    aktango58's Avatar
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    Take some cheap Duct tape so you can seal the cabin up and get some warmth inside!

    I like to have two sources of heat to get the engine warm, Had a stove fail at an inopportune time years ago. Never forgot that lesson!

    If you have a SPOT or Inreach or someway to communicate safe arrival, maybe have another pilot on standby to get you if things don't work well.

    I really like to arrive at my cabin with enough time to figure out things are bad, reload and get home in the daylight. Not always possible but gives me a goal to shoot at.

    Have a great trip, just don't forget the good book!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Another thought or two. I guess like most campers you keep fuel reserves at the cabin? Just in case you get headwinds both ways or run into weather and have to extend the flight time or double the return route. I agree about oil stoves for comfort. I keep an oil drip stove T'ed into the stack of my wood stove. Always have 50 gallons of oil to burn in case I'm in a jam and can't fetch wood for a few until help arrives. Fuel oil lines and filters can plug so keep some of that deicer available if that's the source of heat.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    Take some cheap Duct tape so you can seal the cabin up and get some warmth inside!

    I like to have two sources of heat to get the engine warm, Had a stove fail at an inopportune time years ago. Never forgot that lesson!

    If you have a SPOT or Inreach or someway to communicate safe arrival, maybe have another pilot on standby to get you if things don't work well.

    I really like to arrive at my cabin with enough time to figure out things are bad, reload and get home in the daylight. Not always possible but gives me a goal to shoot at.

    Have a great trip, just don't forget the good book!
    Thanks for that.

    The aircraft cabin is fairly tight, but my heating system is quite anemic. Not bad heading south into the sun but coming home will be colder.

    One luxury I don't have is a buddy with a ski-plane. That would be nice, and I envy you folks in Alaska where 'planes and pilots are more numerous.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Another thought or two. I guess like most campers you keep fuel reserves at the cabin? Just in case you get headwinds both ways or run into weather and have to extend the flight time or double the return route. I agree about oil stoves for comfort. I keep an oil drip stove T'ed into the stack of my wood stove. Always have 50 gallons of oil to burn in case I'm in a jam and can't fetch wood for a few until help arrives. Fuel oil lines and filters can plug so keep some of that deicer available if that's the source of heat.

    Gary
    I have a small wood-stove but since fuel is in short supply (I'm still burning construction scraps) it's just used to get the cabin up to a reasonable temperature where the oil-stove can take over

    Yes, I've got 20-gallons of 100LL, 55-gallons of mogas, 200 gallons of Jet-A (burns nice in the oil stove), 10-gallons of naptha and 40-pounds of propane at the lake.

    Also, about a three-month supply of dry food in the cache, in addition to the tastier fare that I'll take with me.

    I won't be taking any chances - no intentional landings anywhere except within walking distance of the cabin!
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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Some cabin folk like to have a second shelter nearby in case of fires. I've had wood stack fires like most wood burners do, and light sources usually involve combustion which can tip over or heat up nearby flammables. Batteries and efficient LED's are the latest I've seen used. I keep three extinguishers and plenty of water handy. Near the cabin for me is a bathhouse with wood stove just in case, but some have a small storage shed or tent in the winter. Yea I know it'll never happen but fire in winter in my constant concern. I keep all my outdoor gear hung near the entry door to grab on the way out.

    We had a fire in Umiat at -55F once that burned an adjacent structure. Propane heater for the genset liquified and poof. Spent the night fighting fires and into the next day.

    Gary
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    Hey, what are the coordinates/lake? I fly for tindi on the dhc6, if I'm in the area I'll buzz over. I've seen your cub and the ultralight parked in that hangar in kug. Have fun and stay warm.
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  12. #12

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    Thanks Airwolf! 66 17N, 114 16W elevation 1,246. Next time you're in YCO give me a call 982-3161, cell 445-6552.

    I hope the exploration work picks up over the next year and we see more 'planes around.

    If you're ever in the area of the cabin when on floats and you see my PA-12 tailed in to the beach, feel free to drop in for a cup of coffee. We don't get many two-legged visitors!
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  13. #13
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Interesting country. We have nothing much like that in Alaska. The ancient Laurentide Ice Sheet left us pretty much alone, but gave you folks with a myriad of lakes and rivers with fish and game nearby.

    What weather would you expect for later February?

    Gary

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    I drop canoers off every summer just downstream of the fairy on the coppermine. I'll definitely check it out this summer.
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    I’m impressed you found flowers up there...! And Roses too..!
    No wonder your wife is letting you go.

    None of my business, but am sure they were spendy..

    Have fun..!
    "...We're fast enough to get there, But slow enough to see..."
    Fron the song "Barometer Soup". By Jimmy Buffett
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    After the thread about flying to Mexico last week some might say this sounds safer.

    Both sound fun fun to me.

    How long is there daylight at the arctic circle in February?
    "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Wyatt Earp
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    Are there Muskox there or farther north? Sounds fun. A member here on SC sent me a video of a wolverine last week. You'll have a chance to see all the tracks and hopefully spot some game, wolves, fox, etc.....I remember reading a book in elementary school called Lost in the Barrens. That set the hook on wanting to travel north and do some of the things I've done. Have fun
    Thank a sheepdog today for they are standing guard!

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    Wing covers and the engine cover make for a good shelter and thermal wrap. A couple of trekking poles and some parachute cord help. The tent, sleeping pad, and caribou hide wouldn't go. With limited space neither would a generator. My MSR stove is always on board so preheating with that would save space. Survival gear vs camping gear. That's always a good topic for discussion. By the sounds of it you could use a belly pod.

    I switched my cabin to oil heat 25 years ago. I wasn't fond of waking up cold in the middle of the night and having to feed a woodstove only to roast when it got blazing. And I have two lifetimes of firewood stacked in the yard!

    Have a fun trip.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by scout88305 View Post
    Are there Muskox there or farther north? Sounds fun. A member here on SC sent me a video of a wolverine last week. You'll have a chance to see all the tracks and hopefully spot some game, wolves, fox, etc.....I remember reading a book in elementary school called Lost in the Barrens. That set the hook on wanting to travel north and do some of the things I've done. Have fun
    A couple of pretty good movies some years ago, Lost In The Barrens & Lost In The Barrens 2.
    A Nordyne Norseman on floats had a bit part in one of them.
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  20. #20

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    Man, you guys are hard core - or just nuts!
    How about fly a bit further south, bring flip flops and shorts.
    you can send your wife some fresh cut flowers when you get here.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    Interesting country. We have nothing much like that in Alaska. The ancient Laurentide Ice Sheet left us pretty much alone, but gave you folks with a myriad of lakes and rivers with fish and game nearby.

    What weather would you expect for later February?

    Gary
    Yes Gary, this country (mainland arctic), like most of Canada, is a land made for the floatplane.

    Well, today it's -38C (-36F) but I won't fly unless it's in the -20C to -30C (-4F to -22F) range.

    We'll have eight hours of daylight by the end of the month and 12-hours three weeks after that.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruffair View Post
    I’m impressed you found flowers up there...! And Roses too..!
    No wonder your wife is letting you go.

    None of my business, but am sure they were spendy..

    Have fun..!
    $28 for six, but the pay-off was HUGE!
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  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by scout88305 View Post
    Are there Muskox there or farther north? Sounds fun. A member here on SC sent me a video of a wolverine last week. You'll have a chance to see all the tracks and hopefully spot some game, wolves, fox, etc.....I remember reading a book in elementary school called Lost in the Barrens. That set the hook on wanting to travel north and do some of the things I've done. Have fun
    Yes, muskox are common nowadays. Hunting bans for a few decades have brought the numbers up to the point where hunting is allowed once again. Caribou also fairly common, though the numbers are down and hunting is restricted (I think that's the case from Alaska to Labrador, though nobody seems to know the reason). Wolves are also frequent visitors to the cabin as well as wolverines. Plenty of marten. Beavers are rare. Red foxes have driven out most of the white foxes over the past 40-years.

    Edit: How could I forget the grizzlies!
    Last edited by NunavutPA-12; 02-13-2018 at 11:35 AM.

  24. #24
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    We like to use electric fence chargers and wire to keep the wildlife from messing with the cabins. They make solar powered units that have their own battery. Just in case you get curious visitors while gone.

    There's just over 8 hrs of light here now in Fairbanks but it's gaining daily. You should be good for light soon as well but that pesky cold tends to hang over that part of northern Canada: http://www.weatherstreet.com/states/...d-forecast.htm

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by BC12D-4-85 View Post
    We like to use electric fence chargers and wire to keep the wildlife from messing with the cabins. They make solar powered units that have their own battery. Just in case you get curious visitors while gone.

    There's just over 8 hrs of light here now in Fairbanks but it's gaining daily. You should be good for light soon as well but that pesky cold tends to hang over that part of northern Canada: http://www.weatherstreet.com/states/...d-forecast.htm

    Gary
    We had a "bear fence" at one time but it got in the way so much that I removed it. The parts are all still at the cabin and I might attach it directly to the walls one day.

    The exterior of our cabin is 1/2-inch plywood, which seems to deter the lazy bears, at least. The (4) windows are safety glass and just 18 x 28 inches so a bear would have a hard time squeezing through the opening. All the windows are shuttered when we're not there. The door opens outward so a bear can't use his weight to break it down. The entire outside of the cabin, including the shutters, is stained a uniform colour and I think the bear's poor eyesight means he fails to recognize where the windows are. Door and shutters secured with deck screws. Roof is steel.

    It's been a few years now without any trouble at all. The game camera reveals that the bears do a lot of sniffing around but (so far) have not done any damage.

  26. #26
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Sounds like you have it secured well so far. They tend to work on corners where the walls meet for some reason. Metal angles screwed to the wood make it harder for them to detect smells from inside and get their claws or teeth into a crack. I agree on the fence corral and find having it screwed to the structures with insulators is as effective and easier to maintain. All it takes is one food score and they keep coming back. Sharp drywall screws pointing out of deck boards or window covers tend to make it an unpleasant experience.

    I watched a momma griz push in the side of a metalized cabin once. No heavy underlayment just metal over thin wood on studs. She and her young returned there for years looking for treats in the spring.

    Gary

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    Cubus Maximus's Avatar
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    Had a friend of mine (Bill Linder) flip his Pacer (water on top of the ice in late Spring - running tires) down in that area while checking up on a mine prospecting crew. (tool box went through the front window between he and the mine manager's heads and red marker cre-paper got into the water..so they thought ouch!)

    Soaked but unhurt, the prospecting crew who watched all this got them up to the fire. 45 minutes after flipping, a DC-3 on wheel skis coming down from the DEW line spotted the Pacer upside down on the ice. Plane was empty except for 5 aircraft mechanics and their tools... So within a few hours alltogther, the Pacer was in the DC-3 and on the way to Churchill. Thank you Lord!

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    C-FIJK's Avatar
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    Wow sounds exciting sure would be nice to have a buddy fly with you, company is always good please keep us posted and take lots of pictures .Enjoy !!!!!!
    Gerry Marcil

    Every day spent flying is a great day !
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  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cubus Maximus View Post
    Had a friend of mine (Bill Linder) flip his Pacer (water on top of the ice in late Spring - running tires) down in that area while checking up on a mine prospecting crew. (tool box went through the front window between he and the mine manager's heads and red marker cre-paper got into the water..so they thought ouch!)

    Soaked but unhurt, the prospecting crew who watched all this got them up to the fire. 45 minutes after flipping, a DC-3 on wheel skis coming down from the DEW line spotted the Pacer upside down on the ice. Plane was empty except for 5 aircraft mechanics and their tools... So within a few hours alltogther, the Pacer was in the DC-3 and on the way to Churchill. Thank you Lord!

    Good story!

    What's the significance of the photo?

  30. #30
    Cubus Maximus's Avatar
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    Just a Norseman from that time period when Bill was flying for the mine at Rankin (I think this shot was at Whale Cove). This should be Bart Strachan's airplane.

    Fixing a Cub out in the middle of nowhere:


    TransAir PBY
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  31. #31

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    Great photos. That first one is definitely eastern arctic (pointed hoods, etc.). Could very well be on the Hudson's Bay coast somewhere. Looks like 1950's.

    Inuit don't dress like that anymore, unfortunately.

    That's a nifty "taxi" in the Canso photo!

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    I would be leaving some of that stuff home and taking Lyn, or for 100 miles I would take off at dawn with cargo, drop it at the cabin when I built a fire, then get back and get her and the dogs.

    It is nice to be alone some times, but even a 200 mile round trip to get Lyn is not a burden if she wants to go! Nothing like having your wife tell you you need skis so she can get to the cabin when she wants.

    While your gear list looks heavy to me, I don't think you are short. Instead of the Catalytic heater as heat backup, I might build a quick stove pipe collector to put heat into the engine and call that my back up. The size of it might make a difference, but remember that propane and butane are pretty worthless at those temperatures. I keep my propane inside the cabin and carry it out to the plane for preheat.

    The gen set would only go if I intended to use it for more than heating the plane one time. The tent I might keep, especially if you are looking at days before rescue, (snowshoes to walk home?), but I would have a 60 below bag and leave the caribou hide...

    Then again, if you got space- fill it to increase comfort! I can't fit everything in the Maule... and I used to fly a cub!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    best company for going to the cabin in the middle of the winter, almost full plane. FYI: She makes the best Nanaimo Bars you can imagine, and can bake a cake on our wood stove!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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    Ok George now you've done it! The recipe please. Never heard of them but I googled Nanaimo Bars and found recipes but since her's are the best lets have it. Pretty Please? Or I could just send you my address for a fresh batch.

  35. #35
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdafoe View Post
    Ok George now you've done it! The recipe please. Never heard of them but I googled Nanaimo Bars and found recipes but since her's are the best lets have it. Pretty Please? Or I could just send you my address for a fresh batch.
    Recipe: Open fridge, search for proper container, open and eat...

    Let me ask the boss, but you can pick up some when you visit

    Our address: 9AA9. Go left on road at end of airstrip, left after you cross the bridge, second drive on right

    Wickenberg, do you know Scott Mccasland? Or his wife Kathy? They grew up there but were in Alaska for years.

    Also there used to be a retired police officer Dallas Waddell.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

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    Last edited by BC12D-4-85; 02-14-2018 at 02:48 AM.

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    Ooops
    Last edited by NunavutPA-12; 02-14-2018 at 10:07 AM. Reason: double post

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    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    I would be leaving some of that stuff home and taking Lyn, or for 100 miles I would take off at dawn with cargo, drop it at the cabin when I built a fire, then get back and get her and the dogs.

    It is nice to be alone some times, but even a 200 mile round trip to get Lyn is not a burden if she wants to go! Nothing like having your wife tell you you need skis so she can get to the cabin when she wants.

    While your gear list looks heavy to me, I don't think you are short. Instead of the Catalytic heater as heat backup, I might build a quick stove pipe collector to put heat into the engine and call that my back up. The size of it might make a difference, but remember that propane and butane are pretty worthless at those temperatures. I keep my propane inside the cabin and carry it out to the plane for preheat.

    The gen set would only go if I intended to use it for more than heating the plane one time. The tent I might keep, especially if you are looking at days before rescue, (snowshoes to walk home?), but I would have a 60 below bag and leave the caribou hide...

    Then again, if you got space- fill it to increase comfort! I can't fit everything in the Maule... and I used to fly a cub!
    I've considered all of that and, believe me, it would be more fun to have my wife along (or at very least the dog!) but there's just no room. Yes, I could make a trip and leave that stuff down there but;

    1) It's mostly what I consider survival gear, so I'd have little to keep me alive if I went down on the return trip.
    2) I could take my wife down and leave her there while I bring in another load. She wouldn't like that one bit and I don't like "leaving a man behind" in case something went wrong with the 'plane.
    3) There's nobody around to come for us except commercial operators out of Yellowknife. A rescue could be 10 to 20 grand! Of course, if we're "seriously" hurt then it might not cost anything. One can only hope!
    4) The open, tree-less tundra is no place for a shelter made out of wing covers and ski-poles. We need a proper tent.
    5) Most of the weight is the food I'll take for two-weeks. The survival gear is actually fairly light but bulky.
    6) I have a "-60" bag. The pad and caribou hide could probably be left behind. That would save on bulk but they weigh very little.
    7) There's no "walking home" from that distance in this country!
    I've agonized over the generator, granted. Still contemplating, but that Reiff system works so well and is so safe.
    9) The butane survival stove is tiny, as is the tank. It would only be used if the gas stove failed. Weighs about 8 ounces, including the tank.

    As the season progresses and the weather improves I might well leave some of that stuff behind.

    Temperature last night was -44(F) and wind-chill -78(F)
    Last edited by NunavutPA-12; 02-14-2018 at 10:12 AM. Reason: spelling

  39. #39
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Out in Bethel last winter I had carb issues at -22F; I had to be very careful to keep her smooth and slow or she would not run right- no matter if she had been flying all day and been resting with the cover the last 20 minutes.

    I now have a policy that if I see -25F, I am not taking a carb engine out unless there is a life threatening emergency. Even with an inversion you have to take off and climb.

    Injected you can get a little colder.

    Below 5F the heater would not keep up, so she would get colder inside the longer I was out.

    Fun times!!

    Do folks use sno-gos to travel the tundra there? Seems the quickest rescue would be ground troops. Amazing how far and fast folks will go in 6" of snow on tundra!

    I believe you can get a pod for your bird, you are experimental? The best part of the pod for me was having the ability to load forward, or put things like covers in it so they did not melt inside and drip water everywhere!!!

    Lyn will disclose the technique of Naniamo bars soon... because we are 'Border Revers' we learn that Canadian stuff, ay!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  40. #40
    gdafoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    Recipe: Open fridge, search for proper container, open and eat...


    Let me ask the boss, but you can pick up some when you visit

    Our address: 9AA9. Go left on road at end of airstrip, left after you cross the bridge, second drive on right

    Wickenberg, do you know Scott Mccasland? Or his wife Kathy? They grew up there but were in Alaska for years.

    Also there used to be a retired police officer Dallas Waddell.
    Hmm, I don't think I know any of those people, sorry. I do know how to open the fridge and find the right container, I practice that regularly.

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