Taking the scenic route
Duo cover Fort McMurray to Baker Lake in eight days
Yellowknife (May 03/00) - Talk about extremes when it comes to Sunday drivers. Bob Bruneau and Jim Lewis recently made an eight-day Ski-Doo and qamutik trip from Ford McMurray, Alta., to Baker Lake.
The travelling duo have taken about 12 trips in the past 20 years, but this was their first time arriving safely in Baker Lake.
Bruneau and Lewis made two previous attempts to arrive in Baker -- both unsuccessful due to bad weather.
The two have learned, "You don't travel in the Arctic with a schedule."
In fact, Bruneau laughs when he recalls what he said to his wife before departing.
"I'll be home when I get here," he told her.
Bruneau resides in Whitehorse, Yukon, while Lewis calls Fort McMurray, Alta., home.
Bruneau says Baker Lake was as good a place as any for the trip's final destination, adding they had also heard the community is home to some mighty fine coffee.
The pair put 1,408 kilometres on their machines during the trip.
"The last 208 kilometres between Baker Lake and Aberdeen Lake was the roughest we've ever travelled," says Lewis.
Bruneau and Lewis were welcomed to Baker by 58 km/h winds driving the temperature down to -35 C.
They use a compass, global positioning system (GPS) and maps to navigate, and can communicate with aircraft if necessary.
The pair package and prepared their own meals for each day they plan to travel, plus an additional day.
They also carry a month's supply of army-type rations each.
They sleep in an Arctic Oven tent -- which they often find gets too warm.
"We use a Coleman stove for heat and cooking, as well as a small wood stove we built. We use wood when it's available," says Bruneau.
There was no shortage of wildlife during Lewis and Bruneau's trip.
They say they saw thousands of caribou on the western portion between the Thelon River and Great Slave Lake. They also spotted several wolves and were surprised to see numerous moose on the Thelon River.
"We even saw a moose about 180 miles from Baker Lake," says Lewis.
"We also saw rabbits, wolverine, arctic fox and a heard of muskox, but we don't hunt."