Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dogs licking our plates clean. North Pole Reunion

Mary O'Donnell, Geoff Carroll, Gaile Antanaitis, Bob Mantell,  Indre Antanaiti, Richard Weber and Bob McKerrow.

Perhaps if we all got our dogs to lick our plates clean, we would save so much water and detergent, thereby slowing down the rate of climate change. Read on..... Brent Boddy

Monday was another wonderful day for the 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition that reached the North Pole on May 1 1986 using 49 dogs and eight people. Our 25th anniversary celebrations continue.

Today I had a long talk with Will Steger (Will left and me right) our expedition co-leader in 1986 about the remarkable work he is doing for climate change through the Will Steger Foundation

Steger has been an eyewitness to the on-going catastrophic consequences of global warming. A formidable voice calling for understanding and the preservation of the Arctic, and the Earth, Will is best known for his legendary polar explorations. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles by kayak and dog- sled over 40 years, leading teams on some of the most significant polar expeditions in history.

Will was also very interested in the climate change work I have been doing in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Maldive Islands for the International Red Cross.

Tracked vehicles camping on the sea ice en route to Cape Pointsett from Wilkes Station — the outpost that would become McMurdo — in 1957. (Olav Loken, National Science Foundation)

Martin Loken, the Canadian Consul General in Minneapolis put on a delightful lunch for the expedition today and invited a group of very interesting people. Martin's father Olav, was a member of the IGY in 1957 (International Geophysical Year) and spent a year at Wilkes Station in Antarctica and did amazing scientific work as a glaciologist. (The photo above is taken by his father in 1957) By setting up many meteorological stations on the continent, especially at the remote Wilkes Station and measuring the movement and size of glaciers, he was one of the pioneers in starting recording information that would coin the phrase Climate Change.

So the grouping at the Canadian Consul General's residence had a polar flavour and excellent food was served. We had lunch outside in a beautiful garden overlooking the lake. See photo below

The other highlight for me today was being reunited with Mary O’Donnell, Gaile and Indre Antantaitis, three volunteers who were the backbone of our 1986 expedition. They volunteered about a year of their lives to make our dream possible. It is the backroom and seldom heralded people who make these expeditions possible.

Three people I admire greatly, are Dick, Debbie and their daughter Ann Bancroft, the only woman on our North Pole Expedition. Ann went on to be the first woman to reach both the North and South Poles. Next year Ann is off on another expedition to the South Pole with a group of women from at least ten countries.

Ann, Dick and Debbie Bancroft.

After the buffet luncheon, Six of the team, and Geoff's son Quinn, and my son Ablai, went for a walk around Cedar Lake for about two hours.

We felt the need for a drink so we find a nice upmarket coffee bar, which backed on to a super-market. For a few minutes Brent disappears and comes in with a plastic bag of fresh carrots with stalks still on them. He pulls one out of the bag, and starts eating it and says. “ carrots are expensive up in Cambridge Bay, and these taste great.” He passess them round and only Geoff takes one. He reassures us that he washed the dirt off the carrots in the bathroom. Later while walking with Brent, I said “ did you do a good job washing the dirt of the carrorts,” and he replied he did, and told the story about his last dog sled trip in the Arctic where one of the dogs would sleep in the tent and to save water washing their plates and saving detergent, the dog would lick them clean.”
Bent lives close to nature and I admire his simple life style living in the Arctic, with his charming Innuit partner, and basically living off the land
Ablai helping Paul Schurke put skiis on the roof on the van. In two days time we join Paul and Sue Schurke at Wintergreen dogsleding

In the evening Wilderness Inquiry (WI) put on a BBQ for us. Paul Schurke was the co-founder of WI which is an organization dedicated to sharing the outdoors with others. They provide adventures for a wide variety of people. They offer canoe, kayak, hiking, horsepack, and dogsled trips throughout North America and the world. Each year we conduct over 250 events serving more than 16,000 people.

Left: Canoes stacked inside the WI store room.

The trips are designed for everyone from novices to seasoned outdoor veterans. Over the years, we have found that attitude is far more important than experience or ability. By their very nature, WI experiences have a way of fostering positive attitudes.

This is what they say on their website:

We are a nonprofit organization founded in 1978 and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. WI is run with 10 full-time staff, 60 part-time staff, and a volunteer board of directors of 21 people. We are not a subsidiary of anything, nor are we officially affiliated with any group or organization. We do partner with many organizations and our trip participants come from all 50 states and many countries around the world.

Our passion is making high-quality outdoor experiences accessible for everyone, including those who do not typically get out and enjoy the wilderness. In addition to trips, we have a variety of programs and activities that help fulfill our mission. We provide training for other organizations and outdoor skills workshops at community events. We also raise money to provide scholarships to make our programs financially accessible to everyone. see website wilderness inquiry

So the BBQ ended a memorable day. I enjoyed meeting the instructors and talking about their programmes, their dreams and aspiration.

Tomorrow we are going to canoe down part of the Mississippi River with some of the young instructors
' Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.......Proud Mary keeps on turning......


Donald said...

Hi Bob

Great to read and see the pics of you having such a great time.

Also great experience for Ablai! Well done.



Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

It is a very interesting event and now we are up at Ely Minnesota, living on a lakeside. Off on a canoe trip today.

steve cohen said...

Am friend of Jeff Blumenfeld's. Nice to read of your reunion good times.

steve cohen said...

Am friend of Jeff Blumenfeld's and he sent me link. Looks like a great time was had by all and that's what reunions are all about. I like the way you call him a raconteur. You know that's just nice for "old guy with funny stories."

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Dear Steve, We have enjoyed Jeff's company and stories/ He is a raconteur extraordinaire.

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