12 April 2007

SnowSTAR had a full day of travel today, moving 150km (93 miles) deeper into the barrens. They are following the tracks of several snowmachines that traveled this same route about a week ago. The tracks are now fairly faint and are sometimes very difficult to find. The call from Camp 28 tonight places them near the southern end of Napaktulik Lake (Kids....you can find this large lake marked on your SnowSTAR map.) We have a short soundclip from Matthew tonight talking about the remarkable landscape they are traveling through and how different it is from Alaska. We also have a rather garbled Spanish weather report from Henry Huntington--sorry about that--the satellite phone chose to fade in and out right when Henry was talking. But it makes him sound like he is in a very distant place--which he is! Tonight's dispatch talks about the very useful route advice they have gotten all along the way from local people.

Click Here for Matthew's Soundclip

Click Here for Weather in Espanol (poor satellite connection)


The Value of Local Knowledge

Camp 28 Location: 66 11'N 112 57'W

Weather: Overcast and Whiteout in AM, Partly Sunny in Afternoon. Temp. -12C (+10F)


(a special dispatch for Dan Ferguson)

What's beta?  It is a nice word that comes from rock climbing.  It means
getting essential hints and information about a route.  Which way to go.
Tricks about not getting stuck.  Telltale signs to watch for that indicate
where a change in course is needed.  Landmarks and key features like shelter

Wherever possible, we have gotten our "beta" from locals who travel on the
land and know the country well.  Without exception, they have been generous
with their time and information.  Most of the cabins we have stayed in would
have been hard to find if someone had not told us about them..basically
given us the beta on how to find them.

We have found that getting beta works best it you have a map and a pencil. 
The simplest way to get good beta is to hand the map and the pencil to the
experienced traveler and say "Where would you go?".  Then listen hard...real
hard.  One mistake can cost hours of being lost or stuck in deep snow.   
Another useful thing is to repeat the route description back to the source
and ask if we have it correct.

One thing we have learned:  most experienced travels omit the turns and
trails that they don't use.  Invariably, we have gotten lost when we have
turned down a trail that we thought was the correct one, but which in fact
was omitted in the description we were given.  Why do you think a seasoned
traveler would forget to mention a trail that turned off from the main
route?  Our theory is that to them, it is SO obvious it is the wrong way,
they don't even think about turning there.  Only inexperienced travelers
like us would make that mistake. Some of these wrong turns have been
interesting, but in most cases, they result in our getting stuck and having
to turn around.

A big thanks to all the people who have shared BETA with us.



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