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Trip into the Thelon

Flat light delayed Germans for several days

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 01/02) - A 700-kilometre dog sled trip by two Germans and their three aboriginal guides is drawing to a close.

Tom Faess will fly out to the upper Thelon River in a Twin Otter tomorrow to pick up Gerhard and Christian Hampel and their 20 dogs.

Faess is the owner of Great Canadian Ecoventures, which organized the expedition. He speaks with the trekkers every other evening by satellite phone.

"They seem very happy. I think it's been a mind-blowing experience for these German fellows to travel with the Chipewyan people. I think it was much more than they bargained for, in a positive way."

Faess last saw the expedition on March 18 at Fort Reliance, when he dropped off supplies and fuel.

The team is being led by Noel Drybones, a Chipewyan elder who lives at Fort Reliance. Marlene Michel and Norbert Watchepese also accompanied the team, which has been slowed by weather.

All three are Chipewyan, and are travelling by snowmobile.

"They have been delayed by several days due to high winds and flat light," said Faess. "Flat light" refers to cloudy days when depth perception is impossible on the snow-covered barren lands.

"You can't see the crevices or the cliffs and ledges," said Faess. "Everything is just a white sea and it's dangerous for travelling in snowmachines."

The expedition left from Yellowknife on March 10.

Drybones, Michel and Watchepese will return from the Thelon by snowmobile.