Notes From Trail: Younger Branson Trains for Dog-Sled Journey

This month, explorer Will Steger and six young adventurers will travel across Ellesmere Island, following in the footsteps of other legendary polar explorers. The team will visit ice shelves that have all but disappeared because of climate change. The group is now training. Members of the group will regularly file reports from their 1,400-mile journey. This is their story.

The past few days have been pretty crazy. The expedition house has been full of boxes of food and expedition equipment has been bulging out of every corner.

It's great to meet the team and they are all obviously very experienced; at times, I have felt a bit out of my depth. I'm sure I will pick it up in time for our departure date.

It's quite a skill being patient enough to pack your food rations for the next few months. We pack our snack boxes in five-day increments, which adds up to 13 bags of food for the whole trip. There is a tight weight allowance so you have to measure out your food carefully.

Our snack bags (which are what we eat throughout the day, on the move) consist of:

  • 100g Chocolate
  • 70g Meat
  • 1 Cliff bar
  • 1 Cracker bar
  • 100g Nuts
  • Soup
  • 70g Cheese

    It's important to keep eating because you are constantly burning calories to stay warm. If you get hungry you will get cold and that saps all your energy, which out here is essential.

    I had a glimpse of that yesterday when we went out to drive the dogs. We were out on the trail for about four hours, but within five minutes of leaving I was freezing. It really shocked me. I hadn't worn nearly enough clothes. I was in my full body suit and outer jacket but had nowhere near enough warmth. Your under layers are essential and I won't make the same mistake again.

    We are now finishing packing for the dog sled race. It's a six-day round race to the next village and we've decided to join as training for the trip. It's going to be good to get out there and iron out problems while we can make some changes. Tomorrow we are expected to travel for 12 hours straight and we have to run alongside the sled. No skis allowed. That's 28 miles in snow. It's going to be a tough first day.

    Looking out tonight I saw the Northern Lights for the first time. They are truly beautiful -- dancing clouds of color.

    Anyway, till next time keep checking out our progress. I can say without a doubt it's going to be exciting.

    Sam Branson, son of Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, joined Will Steger on a past dog-sledding expedition Clyde River to Iglulik, Baffin Island.

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