Canadian NWT Arctic Expeditions
This is our featured offering, the trip of a lifetime! Join Dave and Kristen Olesen for a mushing expedition into Canada's interior arctic. Choose a minimum of eight days for a customized trip, more if you can. Fly into Yellowknife, NWT, Canada, the capital of the Northwest Territories and gateway to the Arctic.. Your trip will begin in Yellowknife, on an Air Tindi chartered Twin Otter or Cessna 185. You will be flown 150 air miles to land on the bay in front of Dave and Kristen's Hoarfrost River Homestead. You will settle in, joining their family, and begin your dogsledding expedition from there.
Dave Olesen and Kristen Gilbertson Olesen are our good friends and partners. With their daughters, Annika and Liv, they live at the mouth of the Hoarfrost River on the east arm of the Great Slave Lake, McLeod Bay. They are veteran racers of Alaska's Iditarod, Canada's Yukon Quest, Montana's Race To The Sky, and Minnesota's John Beargrease Marathon. We share a long friendship that goes way back to the days of Otter and Sister and the early days of the Beargrease. Dave and Kristen feel privileged to offer an expedition into the most expansive wilderness remaining in North America, the barrenlands of Canada, which lies just outside their door. Each trip will be customized. You may choose the spring sun of April, or the pervasive winter which begins in late November. In December and January, the sun will stay very low and you will feel its absence. Temperatures can drop to -60 F! Dave realizes, however, that if he can take his daughters out in this environment, he can take you. If you want to experience winter in the extreme, this is what you are looking for.
Travel either north or east, depending upon conditions, to the
tree line and beyond. The trees will begin diminishing almost immediately
as you leave the homestead and within 35 miles your trail will open up
into a windblown expanse which will invite you in all directions. 300 miles
to the north lies Bathurst Inlet and the Arctic Ocean. 550 miles to the
east is Rankin Inlet on Hudson Bay. This land of the spectacular also has
a colorful history of British exploration. In 1833, for example, an Arctic
land expedition heading for the Arctic coast, and led by Captain George
Back, over-wintered in quarters built at the mouth of the Lockhart River,
Reliance, just east of Dave and Kristen's homestead. The chimneys and
fireplaces of their structures still stand. South of Fort Reliance is Pike's
Portage heading to Artillery Lake. Then there is Walmsley Lake, which feeds
the Hoarfrost, and going north, Fletcher Lake, Aylmer Lake, and Clinton-Colden
Lake. The Thelon River and the Thelon Game Sanctuary lie about 150 miles
east of the homestead. The closest community of people to the north and
east is the Inuit town of Bathurst Inlet.
Dave and Kristen are experienced, professional guides, as well as thoughtful, engaging people. You will feel warmly welcomed and personally cared for. I am very proud to feature their trips on our web site.
Dave is the author of Cold Nights, Fast Trails
and North of Reliance, great pre-trip reading.
2008-09 NWT EXPEDITIONS
History of the Hoarfrost Homestead (in Dave's words):
"This place is our life. When we get old it will be, in essence, what we did with our years. Raising our family here, on the shore of the grand sweep of the lake, the dogs and the trails we travel, our little huts and camps up on the tundra, bushplanes coming and going. When you come you are a part of it, and when you leave you are renewed and refreshed.
We came here in 1987, and built
this place from scratch. From 1984 until 2000 we raced, and completed
8 Iditarods, 2 Yukon Quests, a half-dozen Beargreases, and so on, over
the years winning awards for dog care and sportsmanship in every one of
these races. In 1993, we first joined forces with Arleigh to offer
some spring trips up here, and now those have lasted and we are doing some
winter college courses with students also. Our dogs have circled
us back to home now, and our two young girls have focused our interest
away from racing and on to these trips. We continue to do other things--Kristen
teaching and guiding and cooking, Dave flying and writing and building."
"Arleigh walks toward his sled and our world is transformed.
The dogs bark, yip, but mostly howl. A cacophony my ears have never once
before endured, but would come to love and learn to gut chuckle at. Now
I deal with a pack of transformed wolves only moments earlier clothed in
dog skin. The tug lines jerk, suddenly I accelerate. The wind bites my
cheeks, I grip the handlebar and I can see, in my mind's eye, my knuckles
are white. I am wearing gloves. This will not be a stroll around the block.
I am glued to the runners by anxiety alone. I stay. I feel like I could
become a part of this team. I want to be a part of a greater whole I sense
is in this adventure. These dogs are magnificent athletes who love to run.
Arleigh was right, mushing came naturally, if not slowly, and the dogs
were as much the professor as our experienced mushers. I watch both the
dogs and mushers and slowly feel less like a foreigner. In later days,
I came to a deeper respect for these dogs and men as we made our way into
the subarctic barrens. After the first time or two, I could not stand by
my sled while the dogs were howling and wanting to run, without shaking
my head and laughing a deep wonderful belly laugh."
"As we started off it was much like riding across a blank
sheet of paper, any sign of life very quickly became evident in the snow.
We saw ptarmigan tracks, wolverine tracks, and then as we continued we
came upon the tracks of a lone caribou going in the same direction we were
headed. Shortly after spotting the caribou tracks, wolf tracks appeared
from over a dune falling in behind the lone caribou. Several miles down
the trail other wolf tracks came from both sides of the trail falling behind
the caribou. As we cleared the rise, we came upon a large clearing where
it was evident that a battle had taken place. There remained parts of the
hide and the rib cage and carcass that was being gnawed by a wolverine
as we approached. He quickly ran off and we were at the scene of the final
battle. This was clear evidence we were in the wild."
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