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Camps - great, bad and weird

Guest graunch1

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Worst camp was maybe Geoterrex on Maguse in the NWT.... All summer, two wall tents, we had to do our own cooking and the weather was the sh 1 ts..... Not sure about the best.... Jenpeg in the early days wasn''t to bad, but so were a lot of the others!


Hey, did ya hear...... They''ve started staying in trailers, hotels and the like! Running water, tv and everything! What next, cooks???


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Thought I''d experienced some primitive ones back in the 60''s and 70''s, but the fire camp south of Tsu Lake (north of Fort Smith) in ''98 took the cake.


Single wall canvas over sloping, bumpy dirt; stinking lake water for self-sluice and coffee; fighting the bugs and the ''boys'' for meals that were boiled in lard or that ''water.''


Getting ''eights'' every day was the only saving grace, as I was able to time out before I succumbed.


The Great Slave boys are welcome to it - the worst time ever, north of 60. Mobil Bistcho, Jackpine and Iskut Village were paradise in comparison.

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I had just finished 10 straight weeks on the 61 in the Arctic, slinging boxes for the UAR project. I was now on my 'time off' and found myself in Baffin Island to clean up a few 'quick jobs' that had come up. I started out slinging PCB contaminated soil from Resolution Island, then another quickie of 65,000 lbs of building materials from a barge in Gold Cove, now I was here, in Nettling Lake, banding geese.


August 24. Five AM. I am awakened by the sound of the ice growling in the lake as it makes its way toward the river outlet next to our camp. I reach up and touch the fabric on my one-man pup tent, and a shower of ice falls down in my face. The dew and moisture from my breath has frozen on the tent overnight.


It's -5º. Working up all my courage, I scrape myself from the comfort of my sleeping bag, and put on my frozen gauch, flight suit and boots. My muscles cramp from cold and the contortionist twists and turns I have to make to get my gear on in this 'confined area'. Finally, I zip the tent open and crawl outside. I briefly think about how nice it would be to have a hot shower, but soon get whipped back into reality. Our shower is a plastic 66-oz Old Sam bottle. Fill it with warm water from the stove and pour it over to get the soap off. If you don't lather too much, you can get it all with one bottle. Still, it's not a good idea at -5, because the other thing about our shower is that you have to do it outdoors.


There's an old shack on the side of the lake that we use as a cook house and warm-up, and the five of us can all fit inside, if we don't move our arms at the same time. I light the stove, fetch my coat off the hook, and head down to the lake to grab breakfast out of the 'jail'. I am sharing the lakeshore with a lone, white Arctic Fox, who is keeping an eye on me, but doesn't seem afraid.


The 'jail' is where we kept live char. It was nothing more than a rock barrier created to prevent them swimming away after we caught them. It was important to keep a few on hand, as we had nothing else to eat. When I arrived here, the Twin Otter that had brought the four customers and gear was just lifting off the esker. I landed, and introduced myself to the crew, and began helping with the set-up. I only saw one cooler, and it contained bread, eggs, and precious little else.


"Is the Twin Otter coming back with another load?", I inquired, hopefully.

"No, this is it." came the unwelcome, but anticipated reply.

"But there's no MEAT", I exclaimed, confident that I'd uncovered a huge mistake, for which they would be eternally grateful.

"We didn't bring any meat, we're going to eat char", said the moron.

"Char? Every day? We're going to eat cat food for breakfast, dinner, and supper?"

"Yup. Isn't it great?"


Hence the jail.


Breakfast retrieved, I cleaned the fish and headed back up to the cookhouse. The camp boss was up now, and he took over with the cooking. We would have char and eggs for breakfast, char sandwiches for lunch, and char lasagne for dinner tonight. It brought back memories of the Spam skit from Monty Python. Have you got anything without Spam in it? Well, we got Spam, eggs, sausage, and Spam, it hasn't got much Spam in it...


After breakfast my customer tells me they want to go about 110NM south today. Four of them, with their gear, and work all day. I am flying a 350D on pop-outs. Empty weight 2930 lbs. Add me, survival gear, and a tank of gas and we're up to 4100. That leaves 200 for them and gear. Mental note to throttle the marketing guy next time I see him.


The camp boss tells me there are two drums of fuel down there on an esker somewhere, dropped by Twin Otter last fall. Great, that helps.


Two more weeks of this 'time off' and I'll be back to work in the 61. Can't wait.


Don't get me started on the Labrador coast....Suzie's wasn't that bad....9.gif

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1970--Brock Island---AQUATAINE. Bunk beds, three beds high, 18 bodies to a trailer. Top bunk 24" from ceiling, sweat all night. Middle bed, normal sleep. Bottom bunk, frost on beard when you wake up in morning. Washroom trailer, but most just go out and ''do their thing'' during the night by the trailers. Average shower period, once a month. Exposed feet look like ''hoof rot'' on a horse, as a result. Snows melt, you walk to kitchen trailer like walking through ''mine field'' because of toilet paper and ......ya and the flies to go with it.


Came to understand two things: 1) why I was getting paid the ''big bucks'' and 2) that I would never work for a French oil exploration crew EVER again.


Thought I died and went to heaven when I was done and moved to Rae Point with ''Elmer Fudd'' working the camp radios. Crazy place as stated, but people knew what water was for.

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Ya, what was it with the French? See my comment on Geoterrex above. Maybe the didn''t understand the north or??? Was in a US Steel camp with tents on Quartzite Lk in the NWT and what a difference! So, I don''t think it''s what the accomodataions are, but more of an attitude thing......

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