Testing the Waters

Pre-Lake Preparations

The Route on Lake Winnepeg
Rima's Thoughts:
Hope I can sleep. Am so tired from jet lag and work.
It was full on this week.... Wow look at all the snow.

Darcy really does have all the clothing. Right on dude. 
Wonder if it would be too much to ask for underwear...





...And so I picked up Rima from the airport at 15:00 on Saturday 17th February and brought her to the "office" to pick up gear for our trip out on the lake.  After 10 months of emails and talks, this was our first meeting.  She had warned me that she had no idea about how to dress for the cold nor did she know how to cross country ski but was keen to do a camping trip out somewhere cold.  This was either going to be a bad dream or the start of moving towards a common goal.

The preparation plan before the main 100km trip across Lake Winnipeg was to go through the gear, get Rima comfortable with cross country skiing for 2 days, and test pulling the sleds.

On the first evening of skiing, Rima got used to working the skies; learning to step and glide; and use her poles more efficiently.  Took her on about a 4km tour around the golf park.  Unfortunately my left ski binding broke and so had to limp home for about 1km (1/4 of our entire journey).

Rima's Thoughts
Cross country ski so late at night (19:00). I've been up since 4am....eesh kebabs  Darn I was hoping to go to bed early.  Never mind, stop whinging girl and Go For It.

Man, am so incompetent can't seem to move forward on this terrain.  Some bad words in my head - slippery and slidey.  Darn a slope....woah....woah!  Hmm a bigger slopes. "Darcy don't watch me - yargh!" 

Good thing Darcy's binding broke - gives me time to catch up.

The second preparation day, Rima departed at 07:00 to practise skiing and I went to see if I could purchase new bindings. 

Rima's Thoughts
Step and slide, step and slide....
cool getting the hang of this dang thing

It seemed no-one had the required bindings and so my last resort was to see if I could fix them.  Found some plastic to bolt onto the old pair to reinforce the bindings plus use the good old "red neck" method of taping them together with duct/gaffer tape.

Rima's Thoughts
Wow pulling the sled feels easier than pulling a tyre. 
Maybe should put more weights in it!!

Tested them on a short 1.5km stretch, pulling sleds. 


The bindings held and the plastic reinforcement seemed adequate.

The Lake Crossing

Day 1: Can I Break Her?

Camp 1 at sunset


At 10:45 we set off from Patricia Beach.  The morning was a little breezy and decided 2 shirts would be adequate protection.  After a couple of breaks and 10kms, decided to test Rima's mental attitude and skied on ahead approximately 1 km ahead of her.  She appeared to work hard to keep up.  Feeling a little guilty, left a word of encouragement in the snow along my trail before stopping at approximately 17:30 to break for camp.

Rima's Thoughts
Gee I'm tired.....ahh stop whinging girl

First pressure ridge: "URGH!"
Skiing with Darcy: Man the guy is fast. Wonder if he feels frustrated? Oh well he's in the distance now.  Cool I can take my own slow pace..........time to sing a power ballad......."Summer time and the living is easy....."
Some hours later: Awesome a message. Thanks

She beamed a smile and thanked me and went straight to work, helping set up the tent.  No sign of annoyance or grievance from her.
Rima's Thoughts
Woo hoo, Darcy is putting the tent up.  Come on girl start moving otherwise he'll have done all the work.

Great sunset!




I cooked dinner: re-hydrated Chicken and Hawaiian Rice with a side portion of pita bread, cheese and deer jerky.  It was great.

Rima's Thoughts
Wow this freeze dried food tastes better than expected
although it's a bit crunchy. Never mind, taste is okay.

Final thought: bindings held, great conditions, fantastic sunset.



Day 2: Cooking Fiasco

Camp 2: It snowed last night


Got up at approximately 08:00, boiled water for breakfast and on the skis at 09:45 until 17:00. 

I continued to see if I could push Rima by again staying ahead of her for approximately 1-2km.  Although I allowed her to catch up a little, it was a bit colder and had to ski quick as got cold at break stops.  Had to bundle up more and due to the dull light could not see the bumps.

Rima's Thoughts
Gee Darcy you're fast. Okay Rima - no pressure.  To be able to
endure you've got to go at your own pace.  Oh well get to sing
more power ballads....."I've got the whole world in my hands...."

Wow I can hardly see him and my eyes are playing tricks with me. 
He's an ant flying on the horizon! Think I should navigate tomorrow.

Darcy motors away

Rima was 1/2 an hour behind, so at 17:00 decided to set up camp.  Due to the light winds and snow, I dug out the vestibule, set upon the task of anchoring the tent with the ski poles and placing the sleds on their sides to protect the tent from the winds.  Rima finally caught up and went straight to sorting out the cooking.  Still no sign of annoyance and she appeared in good spirit.

She cooked her famous Chinese soup - hot and sour soup which smelt like cow moose in rut!  She followed it up with textured vegetarian mince, seasoned with tomato + basil + my soup left over! She further followed that up with macaroni cooked in a thermos.  Not very good and she agreed with a few excuses.

Rima's Thoughts
Wow he ate the soup.  Impressed as am not keen on that soup!

Oh stodgy bad words....the macaroni is a low grade mush and adding the chillies from Darcy's soup has made the mince taste strange. Yuck! Hate doing this but since neither myself or him like it, going to have to bury it.  Time for the short bread biscuits to save the day


Called Carol (my wife) who warned us of bad weather conditions that would make driving to the planned pick up point difficult.  It was decided that we should divert our route to turn back to our start point around Elk Island, hugging the shore line.

Final thought: found new way of protecting tent

Day 3: Rima Takes Control

Rima tries to get over a ridge

Darcy gets over ridge


Got up at approximately 08:10, and on the skis at 10:00.  After giving Rima a crash course with compass and GPS, it was time to see if she could navigate us to our new location.  She looked at her compass and skied off confidently slightly off track.  She skied for approximately 10-15 minutes before taking another reading to correct herself.  After a couple of zig-zags she got into a rhythm of taking more frequent readings. 

Rima's Thoughts
Oooh scarey....I've got the compass! Let's see it should be fairly straightforward. Follow the black needle and look for something to aim for. Nothing on the landscape. Wonder if the clouds are slow moving?  Say I go for that bit of cloud......<@ 10 mins later> hmm bad idea. "Sorry Darcy wrong direction".  Right let's try again.  There is a blotch on the landscape over there, needle appears to point to the left of it.  <@ 10 mins later> eesh kebabs - slightly off course again. "Sorry!" Okay let's try taking 100 steps and taking a reading.  Bingo more consistency.  Okay got it.  Thanks Darcy for your patience.

Hmmm.... I wonder how long Darcy can last without a break?

Fish Find

8kms to go Rima appeared determined to not want to take breaks, so I went ahead nearly 2kms and met with local commercial fishermen.  Got 2 walleyes and one other fish. 

Before that crossed pressure ridge and open land.  Rima tried pulling sledge through slush (difficult). 

Rima's Thoughts
Okay so Darcy is in the distance. Oh look a pressure ridge. Let's see how to cross this dang thing. Oh "slush puppies" the skis ain't moving. This slush stuff is bad. Opps a ski has just gone through the ice.  Bad bad bad....back up girl and look for another route.

Darcy has got fish!

Fish gave high morale to all.  Winds all day @ 15-20km.  Camped in lea of Elk Island, nicely sheltered from winds.  Snow was drift and problematic.  I cooked boiled fish and freeze dried mash.  Very good!  Rima ate the head and tail of the fish.

Rima's Thoughts
Wah liow - the fish cheeks are good! 
The eyes ball are a little small.....
let's see what he thinks when I suck the lips!

Final thought: when putting up a tent on a snow drift, dig it out for more sleeping comfort



Day 4: Bad Weather Warnings

Darcy models miao miao with local fishermen


Up at 08:00 and ready to go by 09:45.  We shore crawled towards Grand Beach

Rima's Thoughts
I'm cooking tonight! I am going to cook black bean fish, complimented with cous cous and some seaweed soup followed by a bar of chocolate. I'll boil water first to keep the boy happy and then cook my fish.  Yes it is going to be a fantastic meal tonight!

Along route we met up with more local commercial fishermen.  They gave us more fish and an invaluable weather update.  Winds were forecasted to be up to 60 km/hr for our 5th day starting in the morning.

It was 17:30 but we decided to camp on the NE side of Grand Beach for shelter.  8km more to travel which means 2 more hours.  At Grand Beach, I dug out the tent and used bomb proof anchors in anticipation of the foreboding winds. 

Rima's Thoughts
Good wise use of information

So my task was to put up the tent whilst Darcy dug out the snow drift.  How hard is it to put up a tent when it is cold? Can't feed the tent poles properly.  Okay gloves off, but keep the thin ones on.  Man my hand is so cold.  Can't get the thicker gloves back on.  Oh "stumpy hands".  Never mind it's late, get the tent up 'cause I'm cooking......

We settled in at about 20:30.  Rima was cook and was having difficulty with the stove.  As we were both a little tired, we opted for freeze dried, but still had some fish soup and seaweed.  The soup was good but in small quantities.  Rima again ate the fish head.  Around 23:00 had a long burn in tent to dry out.

Rima's Thoughts
Oh "burn out" Swedish stove won't light. Think I'll change over to the MSR stove. Oh man it keeps puttering out, must be dirty. Back to seeing if I can get the Swedish stove to work. Oh "exploding fire lighters"......."Darcy can you please help me get this thing going".  Stove plate had fallen off, hence gas had not been able to disperse properly.

It's 21:15 and Darcy suggests eating freeze dried which I agree with a sigh.....no black bean fish.....but hey I could still cook a fish head soup......

Final thought: put the tent up facing the wrong direction!

Day 5: Homeward Bound

Minor frost bite blisters on
fingers from previous night


Up at 07:50 and ready to go by 09:30.  Rima cooked some sausages.  Was suspicious at first but it was pretty good. 

Rima's Thoughts
Think I'll try Darcy on one more dish - SOS mix - a vegetarian protoveg that you shape.  Won't ask him because he'll probably say no. Better warm up the solid olive bottle underneath my arm pits......


Started slower due to having to travel through slightly deeper snow.  As Rima was navigating, decided to ski behind her to travel easier from the trail being groomed by her.  Had good rhythm and breaks en route.  Occasional gusts threw us off balance.  Great timing back to the car saw us heading back home in time for a pizza.

Final thought: Good trip