David Arbeau launches solo snowshoe journey across Great Slave Lake
‘It gives me time to be by myself, I'm in solitude. And I like that type of feeling’
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.
"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."
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.
"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.