25 March 2007

The expedition had their first non-travel day today, enjoying the hospitality of Old Crow, visiting with local people and preparing for their trek over the Richardson Mountains, which will begin tomorrow. We had good phone connections tonight and Henry Huntington recorded two soundclips for You. One is in English and describes some of today's activities. The second is a Spanish Language clip for Ms MacNaughton's Class at Chugiak Elementary School. A full dispatch follows below:

Click Here for Tonight's Soundclip in English

For Espanol Soundclip Click Here

A Day In Old Crow

Dispatch, March 25, 2007:  Old Crow, Yukon Territory

Hello to everyone at Chugiak Elementary, and welcome back from Spring Break!

Today, we stayed in one place for the first time so far, but we have still been (relatively) active. The main excitement was the start of the second half of the Dagoo 340, a sled dog race from the Dempster Highway to Old Crow and back again. There were three mushers who came in, and they were joined by David Lord and Vicky Josie from Old Crow for the return journey. We chatted with the mushers at a lunch for them, and then joined lots of people on the riverbank watching the re-start on a beautiful afternoon.

Two of the mushers, William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon, and Kyla Boivin of Whitehorse, Yukon, are Yukon Quest veterans. We told them how impressed we were by the trail they race over. William told us some great stories about going over the summits and also across the overflow in the trees that we had struggled with. The third visiting musher, Solomon Carrier from Cumberland House, Saskatchewan.  Solomon is one of the best marathon canoe racers in the world-he is known as "King Solomon" in marathon paddling circles. Besides trapping in the winter, he is now racing dogs again.  He is an old canoe racing friend of Matthew's and Dan's (Dan had been his partner in the 2000 Yukon River Quest). What a coincidence running into an old friend! But also in some ways characteristic of the Arctic, where people are few and memories are long for those you have met here and there through the years.

We also got some good information about the trail ahead, including the locations of several cabins. Peter Josie told us where to find his cabin, and invited us to stay there. "There's lots of wood, you can enjoy a nice fire!" Once again, we see the hospitality of the North and the gracious generosity of the people here.

Danny Kassi told us about a Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrol to Herschel Island on the coast north of here in 2004. He and five others had gone, in part to re-enact a journey made in 1969 by dog team. For Danny, it was a very moving experience to travel the route and see where his people have gone over many generations past. He said it was very windy north of the mountains and down to the coast.

Now guess what? It's Math Time with Dan! (Or in today's case, physics, for high school students .)

Trigonometry is one of the most important parts of mathematics that you can study in high school, particularly if you are interested in going into science or engineering. When I was sitting on my snowmobile being towed in yesterday, the approximate force that it took to pull the sled with me and my machine down the trail was about 700 Newtons, which is about 150 pounds. But, the tongue of the sled is at an angle of 30º, which means that to get 700 Newtons in the horizontal direction, you have to apply more force to the tongue because some of the force is being exerted in the vertical direction.  So, the question is, how much force do you have to apply to the sled tongue to get the towed snowmobile and rider moving down the trail? 

What would happen if the angle of the tongue were greater, say 45º , would you have to pull with more force or less to move the dead snow machine ? 

KIDS:  The U.S.- Canada Border runs up the 141st Meridian (ask your teacher to explain what a meridian is).  It was cleared in 1910-12 by HAND!  No chain saws and no motorized vehicles.  It is about 10' wide and hundreds of miles long.  How would you like to clear that with an axe? Here is a picture of what it looks like today.



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