It's going to be a very white Christmas for David Arbeau.
The Yellowknife resident left from the Dettah Ice Road on Monday on a solo snowshoe journey, setting out on a nearly 200-kilometre trek to Hay River. He expects it will take about two weeks.
Arbeau is making the trip to raise money and awareness for the Canadian Cancer Society, a cause he says is very close to his heart.
"My father passed away of cancer 18 years ago, in December actually. And I lost a close friend of mine not that long ago, in October," says Arbeau, who is originally from Fort Smith.
"And I've been planning this trip for a while, so I thought, if I'm going to do it, I might as well do something constructive."
Spending time on the land is nothing new for Arbeau, but he admits that this trip will be unlike anything he's ever attempted before. The longest he's ever spent on similar excursions is five days.
To prepare, he's been researching and testing outdoor equipment, as well as snowshoeing regularly. He's also been bulking up.
"I'm expecting to burn anywhere between five to seven thousand calories a day, so having that extra package is nice," he says with a laugh.
Wild animals, open water
Though he's well-prepared and confident, Arbeau knows there are risks associated with a long solo journey. He pointed to wild animals, hidden pressure points on the ice, and unpredictable weather as potential hazards. He'll be carrying a satellite phone and GPS locator in case things go wrong.
It's been a relatively mild winter thus far in the region, which should make Arbeau's trip easier. He chose to leave Monday in order to match his journey with a favourable long-range weather forecast. However, even warm weather is not without its drawbacks.
"From what I understand, there's still some open water out there," he says. "That's probably the biggest potential issue for me."
Arbeau is planning to complete his trip with no resupply, meaning he'll carry everything he needs — including his tent, warm clothes, and food — in a sled he'll pull behind him. When he runs out of water, he'll boil snow using a portable stove. His diet will mainly consist of dehydrated food, granola, pasta, and rice.
It's a far cry from holiday turkey dinners around the dining room table, but for Arbeau, it's a picturesque holiday of a different tone.
"I've always planned on doing a long trip like this," he says. "I really enjoy these types of trips. It gives me time to be by myself, I'm in solitude. And I like that type of feeling. It's really nice."
Arbeau expects to reach Hay River between January 4 and 6.
You can support his trip by donating to the Canadian Cancer Society.