A Natural Habitat group led by guide Karen Walker experienced some diverse weather as they journeyed to Churchill, Manitoba this week. Despite the blizzard-like conditions, the group of travelers braved the wind and cold in order to do some exploring on land. “We had a storm on our Town and Area tour day, but the group trekked out to Cape Merry, across the snow-covered rocks to the Battery,” reported Karen. Many guests also got out for several photos throughout the day.
Polar bear aside the Polar rover in Churchill, MB. Karen Walker photo.
Following an exciting week of wildlife viewing and northern cultural encounters, the group experienced a beautiful afternoon on the tundra on their last day in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area. The sun came out and highlighted the snow and frozen thermokarsts across the tundra. Calmer weather prevailed toward week’s end and Arctic animals were out and about all day. “We spotted an arctic hare running through the willows and a red fox on both of our drives to and from town. Several polar bears were napping and digging in the kelp, and we also had a couple bears visit our rover,” stated Karen. “On our departure day, another blizzard hit ushering in tremendous winds and blowing snow, but we made it safely out of Churchill with only a half hour delay.”
Polar bear investigating the polar rover. Karen Walker photo.
The group kept high spirits up throughout the trip while experiencing some wicked Arctic weather. Experiencing the harsh environment accentuates how animals in this region need to be opportunistic in their daily lives…every decision makes a difference.
View of the Port of Churchill grain storage building. Karen Walker photo.
Natural Habitat polar bear guide Brad Josephs filmed some footage of a mid-November blizzard in Churchill,MB. Blowing snow and drifting are the most dangerous factors with most of these storms. Enjoy some polar bear footage as well as a couple of frisky bears get energy from the cold and snow. Many more of these to come throughout the winter.
11 Teams Prevail in 10th Hudson Bay Quest Dog Sled Race
Written by Tom Terry of Sioux Lookout, Ontario (Team Handler and Father to HBQ race veteran Jesse Terry)
Churchill, Manitoba — Musher Peter McClelland of Ely, Minnesota and his team of ten hardy canines were first crossing the finish line in the 10th Hudson Bay Quest dog sled race, held March 15–18, 2013, with the last of the original 15 mushers and 150 dogs arriving in Churchill, Manitoba after more than two and a half brutally challenging days on the trail from the start at Gillam.
Churchill race organizer and musher Dave Daley. Tony Loewen photo.
Strong north winds (>70 km/h) and cold temperatures (–32° C) accompanying an arctic weather system proved to be the most daunting obstacle for all teams as wind chills exceeded -54° C for almost the entire race on the open tundra. Teams found little if any opportunities for shelter either on the trail or at the various checkpoints along the way, and race veterans stated the conditions this year were the most challenging faced since a three-day blizzard forced a mid-race cancellation several years ago – that year along the route from Churchill to Arviat, NWT.
Churchill musher Charlie Lundie. Tony Loewen photo.
After slipping away from the Lamprey checkpoint, McClelland maintained an average speed of almost 11 km/h over the remaining 120 km to Churchill, including stops. A group of four teams followed two and a half hours later, regularly changing places vying for position as the end neared, but McClelland’s team kept their pace and maintained their lead to the finish.
2013 HBQ champion Peter McClelland.
Four teams made the difficult decision to withdraw at the halfway checkpoint at M’Clintock (a mandatory six hour rest with a second veterinary check of all dogs), and several teams made extended stops there and at other checkpoints. Teams withdrew for a number of reasons, all related to dog and or driver health and well-being. The fact that more than one of the drivers and teams which withdrew were Iditarod and or Yukon Quest veterans attests to the challenges faced by mushers in the Hudson Bay Quest 2013.
2013 HBQ runner-up musher Sean McCarty.
In addition to the cash purse distribution to all finishers, a number of awards were presented to mushers at the HBQ Awards Banquet held on Monday, March18th at the Churchill Town Centre Complex. Troy Groeneveld, of Minnesota, won the Churchill Northern Store Award for the First Team to Halfway Point (M’Clintock Checkpoint). The Veterinarian Award, presented to the musher selected by the Race Veterinarians as having provided the best care for their dogs, was presented to Jesse Terry, of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The Calm Air Sportsmanship Award, along with the Red Lantern for being the last musher to successfully cross the finish line, was presented to Churchill musher Dan DiMuzio. The Award for the Best Checkpoint, selected by the mushers themselves, went to the Canadian Rangers (Churchill) manning the Lamprey checkpoint.
1st Peter McClelland, White Wilderness, Ely, Minnesota (37 h, 19 m, 47 s)
2nd Shawn McCarty, White Wilderness, Ely, Minnesota (38 h, 57 m 44 s)
3rd Troy Groeneveld, 10 Squared Racing, Two Harbours, Minnesota (39 h, 01 m, 21 s)
4th David Daley, Wapusk Adventures, Churchill, Manitoba (42 h, 09 m, 30 s)
5th Matt Groth, 10 Squared Racing, Two Harbours, Minnesota (42 h, 15 m, 44 s)
6th Jesse Terry, On the Land, Sioux Lookout, Ontario (45 h, 22 m, 25 s)
8th Ed The Sled Obrecht, Cayamant Kennels, Otter Lake, Quebec (49 h, 38 m, 08 s)
9th Jim Oehschleager, Ozone Sled Dogs, Newberry, Michigan (50 h, 35 m, 25 s)
10th Charlie Lundie, Charlie’s Tours, Churchill, Manitoba (54 h, 11 m, 21 s)
Red Lantern/11th Place Dan DiMuzio, Sled Dog Energy, Churchill, Manitoba (62 h, 58 m, 20 s)
Scratched: Ryan Anderson, Stefaan DeMarie, Julie Robitaille, Al Hardman.
The Hudson Bay Quest Race Committee and competitors are very grateful to the many sponsors and contributors, without whom this race would not be possible, including the Platinum sponsors (Calm Air International, the Canadian Rangers, The Churchill Mitigation Trust Fund, VIA Rail Canada), the Gold sponsor (Manitoba Hydro), the Silver sponsors (Aurora Inn, Churchill Chamber of commerce, Exchange Petroleum, Hudson Bay Railway, Churchill Wild, Frontiers North Adventures, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Town of Churchill, Town of Gillam) and the many friends of the HBQ!