Today was a “no fly” maintenance day, and also the start of the Thule AFB Armed Forces Day celebration weekend.
Thule Air Force Base traditionally celebrates with events on the North Star Bay sea ice including mukluk broom ball hockey featuring Air Force and Danish teams, and Inuit dogsled races. This year, 15 dogsled teams participated in the event, each carrying a Thule guest. The dogsleds start about 1 minute apart, and cover the sea ice course out beyond Dundas Mountain in about 20 minutes. The Inuit hunters and their families travel from Greenland villages to Thule to take part in this event, and stay for several days. Of course their dogs and sleds are an essential part of Inuit existence here in Greenland, both for travel and for hunting to survive. Greenlandic dogsled teams are not harnessed “two by two” like one sees in Alaska, but run roped as a pack slightly fanned out in front of the sleds. These are working dogs, not pets, and as a result are generally not approachable, but they are healthy, beautiful, and obviously want to run.
Today was overcast with light snow, and about 15 degrees F and light winds, and with interesting activities and unique events and scenic views it was actually a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
The road onto the North Star Bay sea ice, and the iconic view of Dundas Mountain. A shuttle bus carried many of us from the center of the base to this road (about 2 miles).
Military version of mukluk boots, which are fine for deep snow, but not so good for traction on hard sea ice. This makes mukluk hockey very interesting and entertaining.
Mukluk hockey, using brooms, a volleyball as puck, and hockey nets.
Some of the action on the ice
Team approaching the starting line, with Thule guest on the sled, and the driver staging the sled.
Waiting for the “go” command at the starting line. The driver now in front of the dogs will fall behind and jump onto the sled as the dogs take off at the start.
Another team and sled
The pack is ready to run
The driver and team waiting to stage at the start line
The sled is bound together with rope, to provide flexibility as the sled travels over uneven surfaces (such as the sea ice ridges shown in many sitrep airborne photos)
Driver (on the middle of the sled) and guest crossing the finish line
The dogs at the end of the race
One sled (#9) was decorated with an IceBridge and NASA stickers. Our stickers do get around! This team finished 4th overall.
Sled #9 driver- and NASA logo on sled. The driver is wearing the local version of mukluks.
The race is over, and the dogs are resting
The Thule crowd at the finish line and Dundas Mountain in the background.