Off-road trip
Snowmobilers making 1,000-kilometre journey from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay

by Doug Ashbury and Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 06/98) - Over the next 10 days, 11 outdoor enthusiasts -- many of whom who have just met for the first time -- get a good idea of just how big the North really is.

The group was scheduled to leave this morning to make the 1,000-kilometre trip from Yellowknife to Cambridge Bay by snowmachine.

One of the experiences Luke Coady says the Cambridge Bay participants are looking forward to most is some "time in the trees." About three days of the trip will involve travel below the treeline.

Coady, senior regional liaison officer with the Nunavut Planning Commission, is a part-time sled-dog tour operator. The Victoria Island contingent flew their gear down to Yellowknife last month.

Among the group from Cambridge Bay is Ron Wilcox, who is scheduled to fly to Yellowknife from Nova Scotia for the adventure.

Ron joins his son, Cambridge Bay Mayor Wilf Wilcox, who came up with the idea for trip two years ago.

Another Cambridge Bay resident on the trip is Brent Boddy, GNWT superintendent of public works, and a member of Steger Expedition to the North Pole in the 1980s.

"This group has logged a lot of Arctic miles," Coady said.

The rest of the Cambridge Bay crew are Bob Jancke of Nanook Woodworking, Johnny Oyakyoak of hamlet office and Doug Crossley with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Yellowknife residents making the trip include Glenn Zelinsky of Frontier Mining and Industrial Supplies. Zelinsky may have some trouble conditioning himself for the trip. He has just returned to Yellowknife from a week in Mexico.

Yellowknife's Range Lake North schoolteacher, Simon deJong, who is on a one-year leave of absence, and Dan Halldorson, owner of a small construction company, Woodland Interiors, are also going on the excursion.

Last Thursday morning both men were busy gearing up.

"I'm looking forward to the experience," said deJong, glancing at Halldorson. "There's a thousand things to learn on this trip and to see the sights."

Halldorson agreed. "Education and the challenge, to meet 11 individuals and make some friends," he said.

The men just came together over the weekend to discuss details of the trip.

Halldorson said it's important for them to have a "dress rehearsal" to figure out how to set up a tent and plan what items to bring along so there's no unnecessary duplication of supplies.

With the adventure, there is a fundraising component as well.

"While we were planning the trip, we wanted to give it a little more purpose. We recognize we are taking a trip out on the land. So we decided to use the trip to help raise money for Cambridge Bay elders," Coady said.

The men hope to raise more than $100,000 -- people are sponsoring riders by the kilometre or in lump sums -- with all proceeds from the trip going to help fly Cambridge Bay elders and youth to a traditional ancestral site.

The plan is to take the elders out by Twin Otter this summer.

"For the snowmobile trip, we will pay our own expenses," Coady said.

It will cost each snowmobiler about $1,000 to for supplies and the flight between Cambridge Bay and Yellowknife. "That's only a fraction of what it would really cost to do a trip of this magnitude," said Halldorson.

Coady and the other sledders plan to stop at mine sites along the way.

Each participant will carry six jerry cans of fuel and about 135 kilograms of gear on special three-metre komatiks as well as other less traditional cargo sleds.

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