Week 03 A Stick of Butter A Day!

Date Posted: 3.8.2010
Location: 44º54'N 92º47'W
Expedition Basecamp, Minnesota, USA
Weather Conditions: Sunny, 38°F (3°C)
A stick of butter a day means the mound of butter at this year's food pack was more than 77 pounds (35 kg)! That equals 308 sticks of the butter you probably use at home; each stick equals four ounces or eight tablespoons, making for a total of 2,464 tablespoons! Get the picture?! Every item going on the expedition has to be carefully measured into the right daily amounts. In total, we each get about 2.5–3 pounds (1.1–1.4kg) of food a day. Most of that weight is cheese and butter
- not least because these are two items we can share with the Polar
Huskies should we ever start running low on food supplies (perhaps
because we are delayed by sitting grounded in the tent through
a long snowstorm).

Watch the journey of the butter and cheese arriving at Basecamp with Tim and Paul…

Watch Tiff and Rachael packing it up!


Explore an isle with Tiffany:
   What is she shopping for?

Sixty-six roles of toilet paper, some 2,000 Ziploc bags, and a dozen pair of latex gloves ... sound like the beginning of a detective show? Well, its not. It's the last three lines on the GoNorth! Greenland 2010 Food Pack List. And please note, it's not just any toilet paper. Basecamp Manager Tiffany Simonsen, who heads up the food pack notes with a smile, "Of all the items on the list, the kind of toilet paper seemed to be what the team was most particular about - double-layered and the softest possible!"

[image left: Team members must drink 3 liters a day, Jeff, Tiffany's husband, goes tasty-drinks-hunting!]

We have to admit that there is a lot of truth to that statement. See, if you run out of toilet paper while on the trail... You are out of toilet paper! One cannot just make a quick dash to the nearest store, because there is no nearby store just around the corner. And as for Greenland, once we head up on the Ice Cap we will not be seeing any stores for more than several months!

    Watch Brant's wife, Stacey, mixing
  yummy gorp. Each team member eats
  24 oz of gorp in a week.

25 pounds (11.3 kg) of sugar, 60 pounds (27 kg) of dried fruit, 352 envelopes of soup mix, 924 tea bags, and more than 1,100 ounces of gorp. Those are just some of the items—besides toilet paper—that were packed during this week's food pack-out event. Gorp is short for "good old raisins and peanuts," but we admit our version is a bit fancier. Plus, it's probably the most fun to pack, getting out a big bowl to mix bags and bags of roasted almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, cranberries, and splashes of colorful M&Ms.

Eating enough food is essential to be successful when traveling on the land, and that means that packing the right amount of food is obviously a very crucial part of planning for an Arctic dogsled expedition. We really do not want to be carrying too much food when the mighty Polar Huskies have to haul the heavy sleds. At the same time, we cannot be in a situation where we are running out of food, given the danger that would put us in.

Polar Huskies in training to pull all that food!  

  Aaron ‘hammers out’ the salami for the
  trail, an important source of calories at
  both lunch and dinner!


Each team member on the expedition should eat 5,000-6,000 calories a day. That's a lot of food! Actually, it is about two to three times the amount recommended for adult human beings. Sleeping in the tent at minus 40° degrees—then skiing next to the sled for eight or more hours a day, pushing and lifting, and working in frigid temperatures makes our bodies require a lot of energy in the form of calories.

The way our bodies stay warm in the cold is by burning calories. When living outside in the Arctic environment, the best kind of calories, are those we can get from fat. The traditional diet of the Kalaallit, the Native people of Greenland is very heavy in animal fats such as blubber from seals or other fatty parts of animals. Since we do not hunt while traveling, we do not eat much seal blubber while on the expedition, beyond what the locals might generously share with us. But, we will surely eat a great deal of cheese - and butter! Each team member will eat at minimum of one stick of butter a day. Mostly this is eaten as "a-big-chunk-of-butter-in-pretty-much-everything-you-eat," like oatmeal, soup, and with the pasta. "But, at times, some team members can actually be so hungry that they sit and eat it like it is ice cream," says Aaron. He continues, "I know one of Mille's favorite snacks is to sandwich a good slice of butter between two pieces of jerky!"



       Lots of carbs for the trail too!

  Explore the food pack - How many
  people are helping pack food
  around the table?
     Listen to Mille talk about the portions,
   rationing and resupplies!

It can easily take almost a week for a few people to pack all the food. But bringing together friends and family for a grand "food pack out," it was done in merely seven hours! Tiffany, had purchased most of the food online and had Coborn’s Delivers bring it to Expedition Basecamp in a truck spread out over a load of totes. At nine in the morning, the food pack-out officially began. Color coded lists explains the quantities and how each item needed be packed: the exact amount (in pounds, cups, or spoons) to put into Ziploc bags (of varying sizes and quantities), whether it should be "double-bagged" (in two Ziploc bags), if it had to be assorted by flavor, and how every bag should be labeled. We each grab an item (candy bars, Kool-Aid, oatmeal, rice...) and start unwrapping, sorting, and packing it into rations per the "food list" instruction sheet.

All the food is then re-packed into Ziploc bags to make sure the team carries the exact amount of food necessary. It is also re-packaged so that we can get rid of as much unnecessary packaging as possible. We try to limit the amount of bulky trash we accumulate while on the expedition since we must carry all our trash on the sled, not leaving anything behind as we move along.

Thank you to Aaron's parents, Royce and Sharon, for the meat!  

Again, in incredibly less than eight hours later, all our supplies were packed out! Team work got the job done! We owe a huge "thank you" to the pack-out support crew of Mark and Rachael Haas, Charlie Miller, and Stacey Miller! As we set off out onto the snow pack with perfectly-loaded sleds and just the right amount of pancake mix, we will thankfully be thinking about you all.

This week’s chat expert is one who can really appreciate a great team to work with! Our own Cool Scientist Shari Gearheard not only is one of the most esteemed scientists doing research in the Arctic today, but also lives in the Arctic and travels on the land and ice with her own dog team. Shari lives in Clyde River on the Baffin Island with her husband Jake and their twenty-some sled dogs! Guess what! Shari even has a Polar Husky!  When our team ended last year’s expedition in Nunavut we stayed with Shari for almost a month (Thank you Shari!!) and now retired Hershey ended up staying behind to live with Shari, Jake and Umik, their ‘other house sled dog.’ Make sure to join Shari in this week’s chat, the last on the topic of Arctic Exploration, on Friday, March 12 at 12 PM.

The first people that came to Greenland walked over the Baffin Strait from Nunavut not far from where Shari lives, some 4000 years ago. A new and incredible cartoon book “The First Steps” is all about this journey. Explore where the book was made at the SILA studio at the National Museum of Denmark – can you find where the Greenlandic artist Nuka Godtfredsen stands to do his drawings?


       4,400 lbs of dog food

   Watch the dog food bagging!
It’s not only the pancake mix that was handled on the day of the food pack! It also included more than 4400 lbs of dog food - all wrapped and labeled by Brant and Charlie. On the expedition, the Polar Huskies eat about as much on a daily basis as us two-legged team members: 5 - 6,000 calories a day. They each eat about 1.5 – 2.5 lbs (0.70 – 1.2 kg) of dog kibble and fats. Most often this fat is chicken or lard!

Loving to eat even when the going gets tough is an important characteristic for a Polar Husky. This week’s Polar Husky Superstar, Trigger, is maybe the Polar Husky in the kennel with the greatest appetite – though we have to say his brother Goodie (as we call Good Thunder) is right up there with Trigger. But, Trigger actually earns his star this week for being the most improved in this year’s training. Trigger is by no means new to the team. Actually, by now he would be considered a veteran as he already has four adventure learning expeditions under his paws. His first expedition was GoNorth! ANWR 2006 in Alaska, the first in the GoNorth! series to travel the circumpolar Arctic!

Polar Husky Superstar Trigger
Immediately from the get-go we thought Trigger had all the right stuff to become an incredible lead dog. Spending 3 months as a puppy with the Hass Family (where the mightiest leader, Aksel is now living in retirement), Trigger became extremely loving and affectionate. He simply loves attention. He is athletic, fast, very intelligent and observant! But, he is also a bit of a ‘drama-king,’ easily bored, and can be quite the brat with other dogs. Year after year we have been hoping to see him mature—and this year, when Andrea started putting him into lead with Nazca, he is finally delivering! Trigger follows commands almost perfectly and is one happy guy! He exerts a great deal of energy to get the team revving at the highest possible output. To keep this high output, Trigger is always ready to eat—and he loves butter!

  Watch Trigger happy to get his daily treat!

  Watch a fantastic presentation about Trigger made by
  Ms Nyara's second grade student!

    See all the presentations posted by Ms. Nyara’s class
  in the Dog Zone! And make sure you share your
  explorations this week in the Explore Zone!


         Click to expand!

Oh, and now that you have read the report… Here is a cool thing to do from Teacher Explorer 2007, Jeff Sipper’s class: A report summary!