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Breaking Trail in Barrow for Whaling

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Postby MajikImaje » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:59 pm

In Barrow Alaska; Top of the World; The sun sets on November the 18th for the last time. The sun will not come above the horizon until January 24th !! Although we do not have any direct sunlight for 2 1/2 months; We still have dusk type light for about 2 hours every day.

There is no such thing; as 24 hours of darkness in the Arctic! We do have some light every day of the year; But in summer time we have 3 1/2 months of nothing but pure sunlight 24 / 7.

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It is that time of year again; Time to go whaling out on the ocean ice pack. I am going to show you how much work it requires - JUST TO EAT !!

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Can you imagine ? Chopping ice; with pick and axe by hand for SEVEN MILES to move skin boats and other equipment out to the lead opening. Just to gather food! No one gets paid for this work; One month of 12-14 hour days of chopping ice @ 20 to 50 below zero & colder - to make a flat smooth wide road for the snowmachines to transport supplies & equipment out to the camp sites - many miles from land; The most amazing aspect of breaking trail - no one ever complains !!

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Here are the three guides for this journey - The Eves brothers- They are living legends in the Arctic in all villages due to the quality of Ivory they create working at home.

Come along for a spectacular journey from the warmth & comfort of your home or office.

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Just in front of that snowmachine, you can see one of the markers placed on the ice. This lines up with others that are spaced out, to keep a visual record of which way the ice is moving.

Presently at this point in time, we have been out here almost daily for two weeks.

The days are cold, crisp, and refreshing. At the house of Whaling Captain - Eugene Brower - Sleds are dug out of the snow, cleaned off and make ready to head out to the ocean ice.. to ... .. BREAK TRAIL !!


This is it, hard back breaking work, for hours & days upon end, It is no easy task to break trail. I am going to show you .. the entire hunt. from breaking trail, setting up camp and living out on the ocean ice, also inside the umiaq, day by day.


We were requested to specificly join this crew, we received invites from The President of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling commission who is also a board member of the Internation Whaling Commission - Euguene Brower !

Day one was a 'test' to see and determine what type of workers the captain has on his crew.



Today, back out on the trail, they have a 15 foot high pressure ridge to go through, The Captain said, no sense going around it, lets just remove the whole thing and go right through it !

It may surprise you as to why this incredible immensive amount of work is done. Why not just go around the obstacles ?


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The whole idea is to construct a smooth wide STRAIGHT road; for when we have to evacuate the ice because of wind shifts and advancing ice towards our location.
Last edited by MajikImaje on Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MajikImaje » Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:20 pm

I am going to have to re-size these photographs to a small format to fit within these narrow windows. I will be back soon to fix it all right & proper.

Thank you for your patience and now I can continue to provide some entertainment and facts to ponder upon!!

One month work of incredibly hard work in a frozen world - no pay - 12-14 hour long days of backbreaking work; .. .. and .... no one ever complains !!! How long do you think you could actually last out here ?? (chuckle) !!
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Postby MajikImaje » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:02 am

I will show you the extremes in the temps and the difference in the manner of dress. Out here. it can turn vicious in no time, you must be prepared for what ever happens !

You must always be prepared for changes in weather conditions and temp changes; Do not ever think you are tougher than the Arctic. It can kill you if you are not prepared !!


VIDEO
We are miles from land; no place to go to warm up; We eat out here; on breaks and lunch. This is it all day long for 12 or 14 hours every day!!



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Miles and miles to go, to create this trail, I have gps photos of this trail, we received them on day 6. currently we are on day #14. We have had a few days off due to high winds (out on the ice) and temps that were just too darn cold.

Some days is was just wonderful to be out here, other days it was brutal !! Some of the younger members of the crew were trying to convince to the Captain it was too cold, Eugene laughed and said work harder, Mark said .. 'the heat is in the tools' !! to which Eugene burst into a huge belly splitting laugh !!




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Postby MajikImaje » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:09 am

Let me provide you with a map and a sign to better illustrate where we are located:

This way you will have the info needed when I speak about other places;

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This area is the "North Slope Borough" 8 villages that are twice as large as all the New England States ! Total population is somewhat very small; Point Hope has 700 residents - Point Lay 200 (if that). Wainwright 600+ Barrow 4,000+ Kaktovik and all the other villages are very small also. Total population is less than 7,000 people!!

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The Captain of each crew; foots the entire bill for his crew of 7 members. FOOD; ammunition; and FUEL for the vehicles. Eugene Brower purchased and spent the money for 3 - 55 gallon drums of Gas @ over 6 bux per gallon!! That was the price of making this road - so we can access the lead opening for FOOD!!

Some captains have jackets made for their crews' as you saw with Olemaun's crew member assisting us in making this road.

These are very proud people intent on giving thanks to the creator of all things. Nothing is ever taken for granted out here. Thanks is constantly given joyfully.

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Postby MajikImaje » Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:38 am

The Patkotak Sisters are extremely famous all throughout the entire state of Alaska; they have produced 4 big hit selling albums of gospel music which is heard regularly in all the households throughout the NSB region and stretching through the entire state.

Lets go back to the ice; it is a new day and there is so much work to do;
I will show you the extremes in the temps and the difference in the manner of dress. Out here; it can turn vicious in no time, you must be prepared for what ever happens


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Chop ice and remove what ever is in our way !!

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Charles Brower - working away, not bad for a man in his 60's. working hard all day long! TWO long weeks of this, no pay, no place to go, to warm up, once your out here, you are here, no place to go, cept to keep warm by working hard !

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Postby MajikImaje » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:11 am

Everyone works all day long; even the captain !! Out here; everyone is the same. work work work. We have an important job to do. We have to feed the entire community. Sharing food; is a Captains responsibility !! Cost is no object - whatever the cost - Native people need their food.

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Bunny boots; Are in a class all by themselves; nothing in this world can keep your feet as warm as bunny boots, in fact; if you were to go through the ice; and that boot fill up with water & ice. that water will be very warm before your foot ever begins to get cold. At $200.00 per pair. they are well worth the investment; you have enough to worry about out here with face & hands; There is nothing worse than frozen toes.



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When looking out, at the ice, you cannot possibly determine the size of the ice chunks, until you see something normal near or beside them !!

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distances are very confusing, as well as the actual size of objects.
Chop down the high spots, fill in the low this trail will only be as good as the amount of work that is put into it.
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Postby MajikImaje » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:32 am

Make a game out of it.. have fun. Lots of laughter. But the job has to be done and no one else is going to help. So work and get the task at hand finished.

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The entire month of March is devoted to chopping ice; April & May we hunt for food out at our new homes - many miles from land in a frozen world of ice.

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See how small the camera is we are using ?? it is the size of an iphone ! A $100 dollar LUMIX - 10 megapixel !! I am out to prove a point, here (at the point).

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According to the spec's for this camera, the temp range it will function at is 32 degrees ABOVE zero ! Well we sure proved that wrong !!

.Minus 40 below zero - & the wind is blowing the controls on the camera are very sluggish. It takes considerable slow effort to move something moveable. The steam coming off the water at the lead opening. The dark area of water (reflecting) up to the bottom of the clouds is what makes it possible to discern if there is open water - even when you are many miles inland.

Breaking Trail doesn't begin until first we have a destination to chop towards.

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When you see people dressed like this, it is darn cold, we all have frostbite marks on our faces, these temps are not bad, (- 40) at times. but the wind is what cuts your face up.

You best be prepared or your gonna be hurtin for certain !!

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I don't know how long these cheap-o cameras will last, but they sure do a great job !! Just goes to show you, you do not need top of the line equipment of the top name brands, virtually any camera will do the job in the hands of a skilled person. I like to compare photography to a 'pencil'. Everyone has a pencil in their house. everyone knows how to use a pencil, but not very many people can pick up that pencil and draw an exact likeness of a person or individual. It is a skill, the same is true with photography !!

The bottom photograph of this block of photos shows clearly what can be accomplished with a cheap-O camera in the hands of a skilled person!! White on white - and the textures of each 'white' are noticable


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