Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seiffert Update: Norway House

An update from their parents, it looks like the boys are making great time...
It took them three tries, but Matt and David finally got through to us on the phone. They didn't call later last night because the people whose back yard they are camping in were gone at work, and they couldn't get to a phone. They decided to camp there rather than get a motel room for a couple of reasons. One is that lodging is not cheap in Norway House, and they are demonstrating a frugal streak that I find hopeful. The other is a matter of security - they figured that it would be less likely for anything to go missing if they stayed with it. It also helps that they were less than 100 yards from a police station and in the back yard of a Mountie.

I learned that their food packages and maps got there OK. They said that as soon as they walked in the door of the post office the clerk (postmaster?) was already going to get their packages. I had sent the postmaster a letter to alert him to the fact that these two tall, lean young men (one over two meters) would be showing up soon, and that must have been an adequate description. As has been the case before, they had more food than they needed, so they gave away some of it (including about twenty of their precious candy bars). Matthew told their host, "I know it's sort of like a cat leaving a mouse on your doorstep, but we can't take it with us and want to give you something." (The guys had also offered to take their hosts out for dinner, but that offer was declined.)

They were able to fill in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge, and either confirm or refute some of my speculation. I'll share some of that in subsequent notes, since I don't expect to have too much new info coming in for a couple of weeks. One thing they cleared up is why they stopped short of the town yesterday. It wasn't so that they could have an easy morning and early arrival (although it sort of worked out that way) but because they had some first-hand experience of why Playgreen Lake has the name it does. According to Sevareid's book, that name derives from "Plague-of-a-lake," a name given to it because all the islands and channels make it easy to get lost. At one point, Matt and David weren't even sure if they were still on their map, and wound up back-tracking a ways, to find that they had been about where they had wanted to be. Matthew commented to me that if they could have had a GPS device for only one day of the trip (remember that their Spot Messenger tells us where they are, but doesn't tell them) that would have been the day to have it. To add insult to injury, David's glasses are now somewhere at the bottom of Playgreen Lake (he still has contacts sufficient to last the rest of the trip). He considered diving for them, but his brother dissuaded him, which even David agrees now was the better choice.

They are off on the last long leg of their adventure in the morning, and estimate that they will get to York Factory about August 10-13. It looks like they will start this part in rain, but they are used to that, and are more than glad to get off the big lake, where even a gentle wind has enough room to build up big waves. Matthew pointed out that once they get over a particular portage in a day or two, the rest of the way is simply going downhill. I admire his confidence, but I certainly plan to keep on praying.
By the way, I found this fascinating website chronicling another trip up to Hudson Bay in 2005 - well worth a visit and a read...