Just before I left one of the girls said that there was blowing snow, this often led to a storm. Me and Sister fay both checked the online and phone forecast, it all looked good.
"Oh, I don't have my camera, let me go back and get it." On the way out I met a taxi driver eager to take my picture, she returned few minutes later with her iPad.
The ice road although very smooth and slippery was filled with big cracks. They often run alongside the road and zig-zag from side to side. Crossing them on a fully loaded bike always makes me wonder if anything would break.
There are 3 ways to stop on the ice highway:
1. You fall.
2. You stop pedalling and the wind does the rest.
3. You get into one of those cracks and come to a complete stop and fly over the handlebars.
The girl was right. Snowstorm.
The wind increased, visibility was low and after all, it was still -20C.
There is barely any traffic here. A highway maintenance truck stops beside me.
"Are you okay? Do you need a ride?"
"How far is Reindeer Station?" -On the way north I saw some abandoned cabins there and that was my only chance to get shelter during this storm. I don't have the proper stakes to set up my tent in snow and my sleeping bag is rated to -9C.
"It's 45km. So that's 6 hours for you."
"I go faster than that."
"Not with what you got coming ahead of you."
SNOWBANKS. The whole road was snowed in.
It was already 10pm, I still had about 40km to go. My progress was slow and stopping to boil water was out of the question.
So, my first day? Biking on an ice road into a snowstorm in the Canadian Arctic.
Who said this trip would be easy? Isn't this what I wanted?
A truck approaches, I wave and pose for some pictures. Jerry drove a load full of geotextiles to Tuk for the new road construction and was now heading back. He heard about me on the radio.
I asked him for some water and went in the cab for few minutes.
"So yeah, they said this guy on a bike I almost ran into him. There was a whiteout. You better watch out for him Jerry on your way down."
"Was that the guy driving the oil tanker? I saw the truck so I thought I better take a good picture so I took out my camera but then I fall."
"Yeah he said that he fell over on his bike, he said: 'Yeah so I slow right down and then I look at my rear view mirror and he's on his bike pedalling again'"
12:30am, Reindeer Station. This used to be an outpost for the reindeer herd, but now the people herding it just move around. Only thing that stood between me and it was a mere 30m of deep snow.