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Aussie adventurers to try again with Victoria Island trek

Two adventurers from Australia say they'll be coming back to Nunavut this spring to finish what they started three years ago: their attempt to trek across Victoria Island.

Bad weather, equipment problems stymied pair's 2005 bid to cross Arctic island

Two adventurers from Australia say they'll be coming back to Nunavut this spring to finish what they started three years ago: their attempt to trek across Victoria Island, the world's ninth-largest island, on their own.

Chris Bray and Clark Carter want to make the first-ever documented and unsupported trip across the 1,000-kilometre span of the island, which stretches across both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Chris Bray and Clark Carter, shown in a 2005 photo, haul kayak-cart hybrids along a snow-covered esker on Victoria Island. ((Courtesy of Chris Bray))

During their first attempt in 2005, they struggled with bad weather, equipment breakdowns and threats from wolves and polar bears as they paddled and walked across the island.

After 58 days, they had made it only one-third of the way across.

Three years later, Carter said he and his friend are keen to return north and try again. In May, they will travel to Cambridge Bay, located on the southeastern shore of Victoria Island, and travel the remaining 660 kilometres toward the island's western coast.

"It's just sort of being out there in the wilderness, everything you experience is just so vivid. You learn a lot of good lessons," Carter, 23, told CBC News in an interview.

"It's just an addiction to go out there and experience that sort of raw essence and push yourself beyond where you would normally push yourself."

In preparation for their second attempt, Carter and Bray, 24, redesigned the specially-designed amphibious cart-kayak hybrids which they used to pull their 200 kilograms of gear during the first trip.

Clark Carter practices hauling the duo's redesigned cart at Avalon Beach in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year. ((Courtesy of Chris Bray))

The old carts were "essentially fancy aluminum kayaks with fold-down wheels," according to the pair's website. But their wheels kept getting stuck in the mud and tundra. Bray said the new carts have 1½-metre tall tires covered with bullet-proof material.

"The large wheels will let us roll over bigger rocks and should help to prevent breaking through thin ice and mud and all that kind of stuff," Bray said.

Bray and Carter are currently testing the new carts in their home country, by pulling them along rocks near the beach. Carter said the improved tires are holding up well so far.

"During low tide down at the beach, there's huge rock platforms with sharp jagged rocks and barnacles and shells that want to puncture our wheels, so we take them through there and give them absolute hell," Carter said.

Bray said they also plan to bring their carts to Canada by airplane instead of by truck, in order to avoid delays they faced in 2005.

Their attempt back then almost did not happen because a truckers' strike in British Columbia at the time kept the carts and gear locked up in Vancouver.

The two plan to film their trip, called the 1,000 Hour Day Expedition, and document progress on their website.

At more than 217,000 square kilometres, Victoria Island is about double the size of Newfoundland. The western third of the island is part of the Northwest Territories, while the rest is in Nunavut's Kitikmeot region.

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