Heat Forces Night Travel on Arctic Ice

Legendary explorer Will Steger and six young adventurers in their 20s have been traveling by dog sled across the Canadian Arctic for the last seven weeks. As the crew journeys across the ice, its goal is to chronicle the effects of climate change on the area. With dogs howling in the background, Sarah McNair-Landry, already an experienced sledder at 21, told ABC News her story.

The trip has been going great. Right now, we are on the east coast of Axel Heiberg Island. We traveled up the west coast and now we're traveling back south toward Eureka. We'll head back to New York from Eureka.

In the last week, we've had awesome weather. It's really hot right now. Right now, I'm standing outside and I have two thin layers of long-sleeve fleece and no hat and no mittens. So it's pretty warm Arctic conditions.

Because we have 24 hours of sunlight, the sun heats up the land quite a lot. We are definitely noticing signs of the snow melting off the land. Spring is definitely coming.

The heat definitely slows us down. It makes the snow a lot softer and deeper and the dogs have a hard time in the heat; with all their fur, they were built for cold temperatures. We have to stop more often so they don't overheat. You can tell when the wind picks up because the dogs pick up speed and it's a lot nicer for them.

It's been so warm that we've started traveling at night, when it's a bit cooler. Now, we're getting up at 11 a.m. and going to bed by midnight. We'll keep starting an hour later, so we don't get "jet lagged," until we're traveling completely at night. It makes it a little more complicated when we need to communicate with the outside world

In regards to global warming, it's hard exactly to pinpoint any difference in the terrain and the ice. Scientists will come back every year and they easily notice the difference. The main thing is just traveling out here you notice how fragile of an ecosystem it is, how beautiful it is: You see muskrats, rabbits and earlier on, polar bears. There is tons of wildlife living up here.

In the last couple of days, you do see how fast the snow tends to melt off the land. When the snow melts, the dark patches of land attract more heat. From all the stories I've heard, it's melting faster and faster every year. We've also encountered a lot of water on this trip that is normally ice.

Being one of two women hasn't been strange for me. In Iqaluit, I grew up dog sledding. I did a trip to the South Pole and back skiing and I did a couple of big trips in Greenland. I've also dog sledded to the North Pole. I'm used to going on a lot of expeditions where there's maybe one other woman. The team's been great. It's very equal.

The most challenging part of the trip was the beginning. Even though you're in shape, you're still building those muscles up. It was cold and dark at the beginning. The cold drains your energy. Normal tasks take five minutes instead of 30 seconds.

It's gone by so fast. We have 11 days left now. We had our 50th day on the ice yesterday. I can't believe it's all over. I think the whole team feels the same way. You've been out here for so long, you can't believe it's going to end. It's amazing.

You've been living on top of each other for 60 days on end and all of a sudden we'll split and go our separate ways. That's hard. But that said, taking a shower will be very nice.

There are a lot of things to look forward to: eating good meals, seeing friends and family. I'm craving falafel and fresh fruit and vegetables are definitely high on the priority list.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 4893075.
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...