6633 Arctic Ultra: CP4 to CP5 (Mid-Point Peel River to Aklavik)
We set off from CP4 and it got dark very quickly. The fatigue was setting in, so we decided to bivvy up quite soon after setting off. As before, the alarm was set for an hour and I was asleep as I my head hit the pillow. On waking, it was freezing again, maybe -25'C and it took us a while to warm up this time, but we got there, eventually.
So far the arctic weather gods had been fairly kind to us, that was about to change! As we progressed through the night the wind started to pick up, nothing too serious but as soon as daylight arrived the winds started to really smash us. No matter where we were on the ice road, it seemed like we had a head wind. The wind was turning into a storm, snow was whipping across us and it was a real grind. It was head down action for hours, driving onwards, hoping that the storm would blow through.......but it didn't. This was a tough slog, I wasn't sure how long we could keep this up for! For a second the wind seemed to subside, we were knackered, so Hayley and I took the decision to try to bivvy out for an hour, hoping that when we woke the storm would have disappeared.
Whilst setting up our bivvy systems, some snow got blown into our sleeping bags, this had to be removed quickly as we couldn't allow our down sleeping bags to get wet, that could be catasrophic. Snow removed and we were both asleep within minutes.
An hour passes and we're back on the ice road grinding out the miles. The wind has died down a bit, it's still pretty strong but not a patch on the previous few hours, so we try to make headway whilst we can........except that we're knackered. The snow storm had really battered us and taken a lot out of our bodies. We're eating well but it just feels really hard. After a few more hours we decide to have another bivvy, we get off the ice road onto a soft snow bank and set up camp. We decide to eat first, then sleep. Whilst doing this more snow gets blown into our sleeping bags, which we have to remove quickly to avoid ruining the thermal properities of the sleeping bag. We decide on 2 hours sleep and, again, I'm sleeping like a baby before my head hits the pillow!
Next I hear Hayley shouting to me, "Mark, Mark, get up, I'm freezing cold, we need to move!" I think it's a dream, I stick my head out of my bivvy bag and see Hayley staring at me. She's cold. Very cold. We need to move. We need to move fast.
No more words were exchanged, we quickly got our bivvy systems wrapped up and into our pulks, got our big down jackets on and we were moving down the ice road within 2 minutes. This was quick and slick, and was testament to the hours of practise we'd both done prior to arriving in Canada. People talk about the fitness training required for this event, and that is massive, but if you don't know your systems and how to move quickly, then it could be an early end for you at this race.
After a few more hours on the ice road, we realise we still have 5 or 6 hours before reaching the next checkpoint, so we decide that we probably need another sleep. This bivvy was without issue and after an hour we were back on the road and heading towards CP5. It was now dark and as we approached the checkpoint Kev came out to guide us in (this checkpoint was at a community centre) and show us where everything was. The checkpoint was full of sleeping crew members and DNF'd athletes, so we had to be quiet, which wasn't ideal as tip toeing around and whispering wasn't the ideal scenario.
We got some food and decided we'd sleep for 3 1/2 hours. We got some good sleep here, unfortunately I didn't get woken by the crew until 20 minutes after the allocated wake up call time, so I was rushing around to pack up my pulk and get my food and fluids ready for my departure. Kev and Vlad were great here and really helped with my packing, and before we knew it we were out on the ice road again and heading towards CP6.
CP4 to CP5 (Mid-Point Peel River to Aklavik) 51 miles (total: 211 miles)