The generator had been running for quite some time. Bad place for a bivvy, but even Bill didn't know the genset in the workshed would start so early. The routine begins...
Start the cooker, melt snow for water, make brekky, clean up, pack up, brush teeth, go. We were to repeat this routine many, many times on camp, to refine our packing strategies and improve efficiencies.
The lump under my back turned out to be a poorly stomped bivvy site, I didn't let the snow 'set up' long enough and ended up with big postholes and lumps under the sleeping pad. Learning all the time...
The snow was often full of spruce needles and other woody bits - no health risk if you leave them in, but if you are refilling bottles with delicate seals or bite valves, you might want to scoop out the floaties so they don't clog or jam the seals open and you end up with a critical leak.
Brekky each day began with a Clif bar, warmed in my jacket pocket (placed there the night before to thaw) munch this in my bag while the snow melts, prep the Quaker oatmeal and Swiss Miss hot chocolate.
Had a bit of time before our 9am class, great to soak up the atmosphere, the views over Flathorn Lake and Mt Susitna.
Today was a lot of theory and Q and A inside. Plenty of tech shared around, with such a diverse range of backgrounds and experience levels. We had pages of information to get through, Bill and Kathis knowledge is first rate, interspersed with some great stories from Iditarod.
Back outside, there was an equipment muster - we break our kit down, lay it out for inspection and adjudication by Bill (yes, this all went towards our passing the course). We learnt a lot, checking out each others setups and getting valuable feedback from both Bill and Kathi. Some of the guys had hired their kit (including bike) from outfitters in town, so was vital to get familiar with it real quick.
Here's my kit - needless to say I got full marks for my spares, tools, bike knowledge and preparedness - everyone wanted me at their side should they break down!
Kathi modelling a true -40 below jacket. Nome veteran.
Our afternoon test was a run through of basic navigation up the sloughs, along with a practice cooking stop and snow melt. Again, Rob bought along that beer keg:
Here's Kelly, the northern neighbour from, well, the north eh - Canada.
Guy Jennings, from South Africa, broke a mount on his bag or rear rack from a fall at Point Mackenzie, so had to lug all his gear on the front rack. Behind Guy is Will Muecke from Costa Rica - he is THE driving force to get a fatbike division in the 2013 La Ruta de los Conquistadores race.
We got to push up a nice, steep hill to get off the lake, what followed was couple of km of wooping singletrack under a full moon and crystal clear skies.
We stopped to melt snow and have a cuppa.
The glow from the stove was hypnotic.