After morning coffee, conversation and pictures, we were off. Immediately we crossed the Tsichu River. We'd heard that our boots would be wet for the whole trip, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to cross in dry boots, so we crossed in our sandals.
Snow from yesterday's storm hung higher on the mountaintops, but by 11:30 the snow started to come down on us. Although it didn't really accumulate, it snowed quite hard the rest of the day, driven by a strong wind. Luckily the wind was at our back. Near Oldsquaw lodge, the Kershaws passed us riding their bicycles in the opposite direction. Conditions were not conducive for chatting, so we didn't talk to them about the research they were doing on permafrost.
Along the Mackenzie Barrens I had to perform surgery on my boots. The foam in the ankle wasn’t compressing like it was supposed to, so I ripped out the problem section. It clearly helped, but it took two days for the pain in the ankle to disappear, during which time I realized that the hole was great for catching all the pebbles rushing down streams I crossed.
We finally attained our height in elevation and began our descent toward the Intga river valley. At 4:00 we found dry shelter in pump station #6, rolled out our bags and immediately jumped in. Our mood was quite dark. What kind of weather patterns do they have up here? Do storms at this time of year hang around for hours, days or weeks?
We coaxed ourselves out of our bags at about 7:00 to make dinner when it was clear the snow wasn't stopping and we weren't going to leave dry shelter. Our gear dried out near the fire in the stove and we contemplated the weather, two weeks of walking and the words from Monica at the Mackenzie Valley Hotel that still rattled in my head: "we haven't had rain here since June!"
Again, the tent stays dry…